Friday, September 10, 2010

And the hits just keep coming...

I heard about The Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters in an online fall books preview, and I can't wait to read it. It's Christmas-time, and someone has offended the matriarch of the Sullivan family. Indignant, the elderly Mrs. Sullivan disinherits her entire family. If someone brings forth a confession by New Year's Day, she will put the family back in her will.

Or maybe not.

It's already received excellent reviews from the major review journals. And for those of you who love books with a strong geographical setting (me!me!), you'll be pleased to know that Baltimore figures prominently in the story.

Jane Yolen's latest picture book, Elsie's Bird, sounds scrumptious. After her mother's death, Elsie and her father leave the sophisticated streets of Boston for the desolate prairies of Nebraska. Her only friend is her canary, Timmy Tune. When Timmy flies from the home, Elsie must finally confront the prairie.

*eyes shifting from right to left*

She does find him, right?!

Oh, hello. Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin looks pretty cool. I don't have much information on it, other than that it involves a young Rothschild who befriends a faerie (although she doesn't know that her new friend is of the faerie folk)/boarding school student, who must fulfill a promise made to the Queen of the Faeries. Admittedly, I'm not big on faerie/fairy stories, but I think I'll have to check this one out.

I tried to get an advance reader copy of A Family of Readers at the recent ALA convention, but no such luck. I've been anticipating this book ever since Roger Sutton blogged about it some time last year. As editor-in-chief and executive editor of The Horn Book Magazine, Roger Sutton and Martha V. Parravano have vast knowledge of current trends, top choices in a wide variety of fields, and contacts with the best names in children's and young adult literature. If you're looking for cream-of-the-crop suggestions and insights into children's literature, don't miss this book.

When a children's or YA novels strikes it big, we quickly see similar books hoping to get in on the trend. We saw this with Harry Potter, which started an enormous trend for children's fantasy series (not to mention thick novels). Twilight made vampires and paranormal romances cool, to the consternation of those who prefer their vampires sparkle-free. And with the gigantic success of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, we're seeing similar books that incorporate middle-school humor with stick drawings.

Fortunately, Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze is not a poor knock-off of Wimpy Kid. This one goes a little deeper; Milo is struggling with the death of his mother. "Silberberg takes on a tough topic and always stays true to the age of the character through dialogue and artwork while maintaining that wisecracking, 12-year-old humor. Added to this, he manages to convey Milo's pain and fears without ever becoming maudlin or depressing," says School Library Journal. And just in case you think this is just the opinion of one reviewer, Kirkus Reviews also gives it a great review, noting that the story is "accessible" and that "[M}iddle school readers will find his school life familiar and painfully funny, but they may be surprised by the poignancy of the story." Wow, wow, wow. I ordered this because I'm on the lookout for Wimpy-Kid read alikes, but this is so much more. Definitely going to the top of my to-be-read list.

Time-travel children's novels can either be rollicking reads or entirely unforgettable. If the author doesn't go beyond describing the character's awkward ways of dealing with his/her new life, the story gets old pretty quickly. Fortunately, On the Blue Comet does not seem to be the case. Rosemary Wells has, from all the reviews I've read, written a rip-roaring time travel adventure set during the Great Depression. There's a lot of plot that I won't be able to describe until I read it, and although Kirkus Reviews says that the story occasionally "teeters on didactism's edge" (I thought the same thing about Wells's Red Moon at Sharpsburg, even though I think the story is remarkable), what's important is that the time travel is believable. If it's not, then you've lost me. Thankfully, because I admire Wells's stories very much, the authenticity of the story has been noted in reviews. Sounds fantastic.

War Horse was originally published in 1982 and has just been reprinted. Might be something to do with the fact that a Mr. Steven Spielberg is directing a movie version of the story. We are prepared.

(Speaking of movies made from children's books, Fall 2010 brings us a movie based on the Guardians of Ga'hoole and, of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part I. Both movies are in 3-D. I'm assuming that War Horse is not.)

Can you handle all that? ;-)

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