I am really happy that several of these novelizations of superhero comics for middle-grade readers exist, and I think Black Panther: The Young Prince will fly off the shelves of most classroom libraries. But I do wish the book were better written. I read it aloud to my son, and it makes for a very poor read-aloud. Sentences are choppy and repetitive; characters and plot are underdeveloped. It does have a great cover, and it will probably be very welcome in most libraries as a high interest/low level selection.
Ordinary Extraordinary Jane Austen was just as delightful as I hoped it would be–a real treat for Jane Austen fans. Hopkinson locates many of the interests and themes of Austen’s novels in her childhood and young adult experiences and interests. As always when I read a biography of Austen, I’m amazed all over again at the actions her father took to try to get her books published. Qin Leng’s illustrations are particularly charming.
Mommy’s Khimar is a sweet story about a little girl who wants to be just like her mother. Her imagination soars as she plays dress-up in her mother’s headscarf. A book that celebrates the strength and joy that come from tradition.
Sam & Eva is a very funny story about what happens when drawings come to life and battle it out. Sam is happily drawing on the wall until Eva shows up and insists on joining in. Their artistic styles and preferred subject matters clash, and artistic chaos ensues. The crayon art Ohi creates to represent the children’s drawings is just marvelous. A story about imagination and teamwork.
There are a couple of Patricia Polacco books that I really like (Thunder Cake, Thank You Mr Falker), but I have to admit that she is an author and illustrator I sometimes struggle to appreciate. I know part of it is that her books are so loooooong. I had to read The Mermaid’s Purse in two sittings! (My stamina for picture book text must be very low…) I think part of it is also her style, which often reads like oral storytelling transcribed into print. I tend to get antsy with storytelling about other people’s families–too many tangents, too much repetition, I don’t even know these people! Still, I tried to appreciate what I could in The Mermaid’s Purse, which is about Polacco’s book-loving grandmother who becomes the unofficial librarian in her town, traveling to different farms with a cart of books to lend.
I’m Sad is brilliant stuff: it manages to treat feeling sad with the gravity it deserves while also being quite funny. A book that’s helpful for the person who’s feeling sad and also for the friends who are trying to support them.