Saturday, February 18, 2012

February Frenzy

Hoooo boy. The 2012 publishing year is in full swing. We've already had some firecracker reads, namely The Fault in Our Stars and The Lions of Little Rock.  But February promises a ton of very cool-sounding titles. Let's jump right in.

First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Gordon Low

This is the Girl Scouts book that I've been wanting to talk about. Look at this cover; now, that's a way to design an attractive cover. Luckily, the reviews indicate that the writing is just as intriguing and thoughtful--Kirkus cheers that "unvarnished prose, plentiful images, and vivid anecdotes set in historical perspective makes this chronological account lively and accessible for middle-grade readers" and School Library Journal anoints it as being "exemplary nonfiction."  Younger readers will appreciate Here Come the Girl Scouts, a picture book biography also receiving fine reviews.  As this is the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, these books are welcome additions. 

And Then It's Spring

Ahhh, it's nearly time for spring books.  This looks quite lovely. And four starred reviews is very impressive. A young boy plants seeds and anxiously awaits for spring. Horn Book says that Erin Stead's illustrations are even better than her Caldecott-winning illustrations for A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Wow!

Beneath a Meth Moon

Jacqueline Woodson's latest novel is receiving a lot of advance buzz; it's already received four starred reviews.  Laurel moves to rural Iowa from Pass Christian, MS after her mother and grandmother die due to Hurricane Katrina.  Laurel falls in love with the co-captain of the basketball team, who introduces her to meth.  Meth is a big problem in rural parts of this country, so this book is quite timely.  Jacqueline Woodson's main characters are usually African-American, so it's an interesting switch that Laurel is a blonde cheerleader.

(And just FYI for readers unfamiliar with Gulf Coast Mississippi--Laurel's hometown is pronunced "pass krish chee-ANN" and not "pass CHRISH-tian." I don't know if Woodson address this in the novel. Some folks say a form of "pass chris-CHAN," but the emphasis is always on the last syllable. The town was named after a Frenchman. My grandparents lived near Bay St. Louis--in Diamondhead--for many years. The vast majority of Pass Christian was leveled by Katrina. Katrina had an absolutely devastating effect on Gulf Coast Mississippi;  I went to Mississippi several months after Katrina, and it was incredibly shocking.)


Moving on to something more cheerful, Bliss is a fantasy about a young girl and her family's bakery. Mmmmm. VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates" calls it "cannot-put-it-down delectable" and School Library Journal notes that "[H]umor abounds in this sweet story that stresses the importance of family." Oh, yay! I like the sound of that.

The Camping Trip That Changed America

I'm a huge fan of our national (and state) parks, so I'm eager to read The Camping Trip That Changed America.  After Theodore Roosevelt read John Muir's book-length plea to save America's mountain forests, Roosevelt invited him on a camping trip to further discuss the matter in the remote wilderness of Yosemite.  Convinced of the importance of sanctuaries and protected wildnerness, Roosevelt embarked on a a lifelong friendship (conducted through correspondence) with the famed naturalist.  Kirkus enthuses that it is "[W]onderfully simple, sweet, and engaging," while School Library Journal  enjoyed it so much that they starred it. 

Cold Cereal

You can count on Adam Rex to deliver weird humor. Cold Cereal, his latest, features a half-boy/half-changeling and a leprechaun on a mission to save the world from an evil cereal company intent on world domination.  This first title in a planned trilogy should be snapped up by "[R]eaders who enjoy fantasies that are equal parts hilarious and exciting," so sayeth School Library Journal.

The Dead of Winter

Although I'm not a big horror fan, I'm planning to read The Dead of Winter. Set during the Victorian Era, this suspense novel about an orphan who goes to live at a haunted house come Christmas time sounds like a must read. Reviews have pointed out that it's in the vein of a more classic horror, relying on suspense rather than outright gore.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny--Detectives Extraordinaire!

Polly Horvath is one of my favorites, so I'm super stoked to read her latest about a girl who teams up with a pair of detective bunnies in order to find her kidnapped parents. While School Library Journal gave it a rather "meh" review, the other major journals raved: " a romp," declared The Horn Book, while Kirkus Reviews called it a "wickedly funny ramble. With bunnies." Publishers Weekly even starred its review.

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No Crystal Stair

I found Vaunda Micheaux Nelson's Bad News For Outlaws (a Coretta Scott King award book) a fine read, so I have high hopes for her latest, a middle grade fiction novel about Lewis Michaux, an influential Harlem bookstore owner.  Reviews have been very encouraging (including a starred review from Kirkus).  Nelson is not only an outstanding author, but she's also (still, as far as I know) a young adult librarian in New Mexico!

Penny and Her Song

Happy happy joy joy--Kevin Henkes has a new book out. Better yet--it's the start of a new series. Penny wants to sing, sing, sing, but shhh! Her baby siblings are sleeping. It really should be against the law for Kevin Henkes to write books that are so cute and lovely. I mean, honestly. What is the deal?

Z is for Moose

When Roger Sutton announced The Horn Book's March starred review, he quipped that Z is for Moose made him wish that he was still doing story hours. That made me sit up and take notice! Moose is a very impatient representative of the letter "M", much to the dismay of Zebra, who is directing the alphabetical lineup.  I won't say much more, but this sounds hysterical. Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred this as well.

That is an awesome lineup--and I've deliberately left out other amazing-sounding titles in our February corner.  2012 is going to be a fun reading year!

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