An ingenious, confident, and pretty cool exploration of literary delight.

A CHILD OF BOOKS

A young girl reader helps a boy discover the imaginative art of stories in this insightful, intertextual ode to literary curiosity.

“I am a child of books. / I come from a world of stories.” So says the nameless girl narrator as she sits and reads on a raft that floats atop a sea made up of words from various classic books. She sails a wave and approaches an awestruck boy to whisk him away. Following a trail of words pulled from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—an apt inclusion—the girl leads him into a world of adventures. Jeffers and Winston's mixed-media artwork, an inventive combination of watercolor, pencil, and digital collage, elicits strong notice from readers. Jeffers’ uneven, hand-lettered text contrasts dramatically with Winston’s digitally manipulated lines of classic prose. Collaged-in photos of actual books share space beside drawn buildings and act as tree trunks in a forest; sentences and lines taken from a diverse set of stories populate each spread, bowing to gravity or bursting from the world in unexpected ways. “For this is our world / we’ve made from stories…” sums it all up. Readers may find themselves smiling along. The girl wears her dark hair in pigtails and is depicted as either blue or paper-white, and the boy is also paper-white, with wavy, short hair.

An ingenious, confident, and pretty cool exploration of literary delight. (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9077-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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