August 27, 2015

Review: Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger By Rebecca Stead
Available now from Wendy Lamb Books (Penguin Random House)
Review copy

Rebecca Stead won the Newbery Award for her second novel and became the first non-British author to win the Guardian Award for her third novel.  It's quite the pedigree, so expectations are understandably high for GOODBYE STRANGER, her fourth novel.

GOODBYE STRANGER mostly focuses on a group of thirteen-year old girls.  Like its protagonists straddle the world of children and teens, GOODBYE STRANGER straddles middle grade and YA.  It is a book that lives in liminal spaces.  Bridge, who narrates the most often, survived a horrific accident and has internalized that that means she's meant for more.  But more what? 

Her best friends Emily and Tabitha seem to be growing away from her, and all three struggle to navigate the changes in their friendship.  Emily has physically matured the fastest, and she's getting resulting attention from guys.  Tabitha, meanwhile, has fallen into the first blush of feminist fervor.  Sherm is a boy who tells most of his story through letters to his grandfather that he doesn't seem.  An unnamed narrator tells her story aside from the others, in a different time and an older place but still struggling with past friends and who she wants to be with or without them.

The threads of Bridge, Sherm, and You's stories come together in delightful ways.  Stead writes with a deft lightness that conceals just how much work she's doing to make all the pieces fit.  It also helps keep the book suitable for younger readers while appealing to older ones.  The darkest storyline in GOODBYE STRANGER involves scandalous photos texted between an underage girl and guy.  It's tackled perhaps with too much optimism, but I liked how the consequences and hurt were dealt with in a way that made it clear that made it clear that many dumb decisions were made but that it wasn't wrong for the girl to have sexual feelings.

GOODBYE STRANGER is another terrific novel from a celebrated author in children's fiction.  There's definitely a reason to get excited about a release from Stead.

August 26, 2015

Welcome Bodleian Children's Books!

Bodleian Library Publishing has launched the Bodleian Children's Books imprint, which will be distributed by University of Chicago Press in the US.

The press release says that this imprint will focus on forgotten gems and beautifully illustrated volumes.  I don't know about you, but I'm hoping for something that will rival The New York Review Children's Collection.  (Which, by the way, has several books on sale for the summer.)

The first two books published by Bodleian Children's Books will be Penguin’s Way and Whale’s Way by Johanna Johnston and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. The 2016 list includes Veronica by Roger Duvoisin and The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff.

(via Shelf Awareness)

August 25, 2015

Review: Space Dumplins

Space Dumplins By Craig Thompson
Available now from Graphix (Scholastic)
Review copy

Craig Thompson is the author of numerous acclaimed graphic novels, including BLANKETS and HABIBI.  His first graphic novel for young readers is a heartwarming tale of family, both the kind you're born with and the kind you find, and whale diarrhea.   All in all, it's a space adventure that all ages can enjoy.

Violet, her mother, and father live happily in a space trailer park.  He salvages whale poop, which is used for energy.  Her mother works in fashion and just got a job on a satellite, a job that could move their family up in the world.  I think the class conflicts that run through SPACE DUMPLINS are well done.  There are arguments kids might've heard in their own homes, but translated into space (which makes everything more exciting).  The environmental themes are also presented well, just goofy enough not to be overly heavy handed.

My favorite thing about this graphic novel might be all the puns.  I think I'm going to have to read it again to make sure that I get all of them.  There's a lot of cleverness flying about in the text and the images.  Thompson's space is a busy place, full of activity and bright colors.  (The contrasting colors make it easier to see what's happening.)  There's all sorts of details to distract and catch your eye.  I think the hyperactive style suits the wackiness of the story as well as the age group.

I don't think SPACE DUMPLINS will be a graphic-novel classic like BLANKETS or HABIBI.  But it is fun, sweet, and silly.  That makes it a pretty appealing read.

August 19, 2015

"Waiting On" Wednesday: The Legend of Lyon Redmond

Legend of Lyon Redmond "Waiting On" Wednesday is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

I've been rereading the Pennyroyal Green series by Julie Anne Long, and I am now pumped for the release of THE LEGEND OF LYON REDMOND.  Long has been building up to this one throughout the series.

With ten books so far, the series has been up and down.  But when Long is on, there are few better.  I really hope this one is as winning as its cover.

Bound by centuries of bad blood, England's two most powerful families maintain a veneer of civility . . . until the heir to the staggering Redmond fortune disappears, reviving rumors of an ancient curse: a Redmond and an Eversea are destined to fall disastrously in love once per generation.

An Enduring Legend

Rumor has it she broke Lyon Redmond's heart. But while many a man has since wooed the dazzling Olivia Eversea, none has ever won her—which is why jaws drop when she suddenly accepts a viscount's proposal. Now London waits with bated breath for the wedding of a decade . . . and wagers on the return of an heir.

An Eternal Love

It was instant and irresistible, forbidden . . . and unforgettable. And Lyon—now a driven, dangerous, infinitely devastating man—decides it's time for a reckoning. As the day of her wedding races toward them, Lyon and Olivia will decide whether their love is a curse destined to tear their families apart . . . or the stuff of which legends are made

August 18, 2015

Review: A History of Glitter and Blood

A History of Glitter and Blood By Hannah Moskowitz
Available now from Chronicle Books
Review copy

A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD is an aptly named novel.  Half of it is a disco teenage fever dream and the other half is haunting violence and mutilated bodies.  It is a strange novel and I absolutely loved every second of it.

The narrator of A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD is an unreliable fellow.  He centers the story around Beckan, although he isn't her and cannot know the minutiae of her days and thoughts.  (She points this out to him, even.)  He also admits frequently that he's making stuff up, or eliding a nasty bit of the story, or doubles back on himself because he's not telling it well.  It takes a bit to get into the rhythm of the story, but I thought the way it was told in fits and starts suited the subject matter.

Beckan and three other faerie teenagers were the only faeries who survived the war.  (Except not really, because Cricket is dead.  Not dead-dead, because faeries are immortal.  But he's been rendered into pieces so small, conscious somewhere, that his friends can't find them.)  Beckan, Cricket, and Cricket's brother supported the household through prostitution.  Of course, the main people they could sell themselves too were the trolls, who eat faeries.  It's taken a toll on them, both because they were all too young to handle any of it and they feel a mix of blame and shame and not regretting it at all because they survived.

There is such horror in A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD.  There are images in this book that haunt me.  And the characters, faerie and troll and other, wormed their way under my skin.  The worldbuilding is both deft and dreamlike.  It is a tale of an impossible place, yet all the pieces fit together.  I loved the complicated situation between the races and the lengthy exploration of what happens after trauma and disaster.

I've been meaning to read Hannah Moskowitz's novels forever, and A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD definitely convinced me that I need to give her backlist my full attention as soon as I get a chance.  This book shoved it's way into my heart like sudden violence following on the heels of laughter.


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