A breath of fresh air.

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CHASING FIREFLIES

A HAIKU COLLECTION

A collection of classic haiku accompanied by original music and lush seasonal backdrops.

Modjeski has assembled more than 150 Japanese poems written over centuries by haiku masters, including Basho, Shiki and Issa—to name only a few. The overall presentation is both lovely and in keeping with the spirit of the ancient Japanese art form, as the soft, muted illustrations and the mesmerizing score encourage readers to linger over verses and ponder their meaning. “Each Haiku,” says Vickerman in the foreword, “is dedicated to freezing a particular moment in time, like a miniature word photograph.” The app opens to a table-of-contents wheel that has no beginning or end and can be dialed to various “chiming” points on the circular spectrum. Once launched, the background image is static in composition, meaning the basic scene never changes (except that tilting the screen will change the orientation.) However, with each swipe of the text box, more poems appear, and the seasons not only change, but the music and sounds do as well. Stormy skies give way to brilliant sunsets and gently falling snow. The tree loses its leaves and later buds again. There’s very little interaction, which seems fitting for this meditative offering; the beauty lies in its simple invitation to tune in to the wondrous sights and sounds that regularly surround us.

A breath of fresh air. (iPad poetry app. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Honeybee Labs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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SMILE

Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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