On the blog:
- A slice about coffee shop playlists and listening to music while writing
Now that I’ve started reading Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, I don’t want to stop! This week’s choice was his latest, Lafayette!, about one of my very favorite historical figures, the Marquis de LaFayette, who traveled from France to America during the Revolution to fight the British and whose friendship with Washington, military creativity and craftiness, and money were a huge help to the initially not-so-successful Revolutionary army. The book has all you hope for in a Hazardous Tale: humor, compelling storytelling, memorable characters, and plenty of lethal scenes. If I had my way, the lettering would be a tiny bit larger (those tiny little drawings and tiny little words are tough for middle-aged eyes!), but everything else is historical graphic novel perfection.
Another #MustReadin2019 title, Meet Yasmin is the first in a welcome new series about a spunky second-grader. In each chapter, Yasmin has some kind of adventure. Most are fairly tame–entering an art contest, figuring out a building project at school, but the first adventure–getting lost from her mother–may be too intense for more sensitive readers, though thankfully it’s resolved quickly. The illustrations are very colorful and fun (and created by Hatem Aly, which is a treat). I liked the scenes with Yasmin’s Pakistani-American family best.
Such an incredibly clever wordless picture book, and I didn’t even guess where the ending was headed, though I probably should have now that I’m looking a little more carefully at the cover. A new favorite and one that pleased everyone in my house.
More fascinating nonfiction from Barb Rosenstock, wonderfully illustrated by Katherine Roy (don’t skip the illustrator’s note at the back that explains her process–so interesting!). This is the story of the two inventors who create the first bathysphere, which allows scientists to withstand the pressure of deep-sea diving and explore the deep ocean. Roy’s fold-out spread of the first view of the deep ocean, with all its unusual creatures, is a stunner.
Art Coulson’s picture book biography of Jim Thorpe is well-researched and well-told. The focus is the 1912 football game between the students of Carlisle Indian School, coached by the innovative Pop Warner, and the students of West Point, where the football team included four future generals, including Dwight Eisenhower. Even though the focus is on this one football game, Coulson provides the larger context that readers will need to understand this extraordinary story through details about Thorpe’s life and information about the atrocities of the boarding schools. There is fantastic back matter, including mini-biographies of the other players on the team and what they went on to do with their lives (many became professional athletes!). The illustrations weren’t always my favorite (I didn’t think there was enough differentiation among characters), but this is an engaging story that would have appeal for a wide age range.
I’m still trying to catch up on a few possible Caldecotts before next week’s announcements of the ALA Youth Media Awards. Lauren Castillo’s illustrations for Juan Felipe Herrara’s Imagine are really strong, the perfect backdrop for Herrara’s inspirational poem-memoir.