Written reviews – CYAPodcast

Category: Written reviews

Best of 2013 List of Lists

If you aren’t familiar with Largehearted Boy now is the time to become so. Each year he puts together a list of “Best of” lists. I searched and found all the links that lead to “Best of” list for “children”, “teen”, or “young adult”. The below list was made just before the holidays so make sure you check Largehearted Boy’s website for the latest updates and other “Best of” lists ranging from nonfiction to adult books. Also check his site for daily free music downloads.

From Largehearted Boy’s Best Books of 2013 List, Children and Young Adult

The Book Diaries (best children’s picture books)

Brain Pickings (best children’s, illustrated, and picture books)

BuzzFeed (best children’s books)

Canadian Children’s Literature Awards (children’s books)

Cate’s Book Nut Hut (top children’s books)

Chicken Spaghetti (list of children’s book lists)

The Children’s Book Review (best books for kids)

Christchurch Kids Blog (best children’s books)

Columbus Dispatch (best children’s books)

Flowering Minds (best children’s picture books)

Guardian (best children’s literature)

Horn Books (children’s books)

Huffington Post (best children’s picture books)

Independent (best children’s books)

Independent (best illustrated children’s books)

Iowa Public Radio (children’s books)

Kirkus (best children’s books)

KPCC (best children’s books)

The Library Ninja! (best children’s picture books)

Meridian Magazine (children’s fiction)

Nerdy Book Club (children’s and young books)

New York Times (best illustrated children’s books)

New York Times (notable children’s books)

New Zealand Listener (best children’s books)

Newsday (top children’s books)

Omnivoracious (best children’s books)

Parents (best children’s books)

Publishers Weekly (best children’s fiction)

Publishers Weekly (best children’s nonfiction books)

Publishers Weekly (best children’s picture books)

Random Musings of a Bibliophile (best children’s picture books)

Readings (best children’s picture books)

ReadKiddoRead (children’s books)

Redeemed Reader (favorite children’s picture books)

Spectator (children’s books)

Stories with Ms. Jenna (best children’s picture books)

Summer Edward (top children’s and YA books)

Tablet (best Jewish children’s books)

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award (Canadian children’s books)

Teaching Authors (favorite children’s picture books)

Telegraph (best young children’s books)

Walk the Ridgepole (favorite children’s picture books)

Wall Street Journal (best children’s books)

Bookworld (best kids books)

The Children’s Book Review (best books for kids)

Globe and Mail (best kids books)

Metro (best kids’ books)

Mingling with Words (favorite kids books)

St. Louis Public Library (staff’s best kids’ books)

Stories with Ms. Jenna (best middle grade books)

The Observer (best fiction for 8- to 12-yearolds)

The Gluten-Free Girl (best cookbooks for kids)

Youth Media Awards 2014

Adrienne here,

Every January the American Library Association honors the previous year’s books and media created for children and teens. There are nineteen awards given at this event with other selected lists released in the days after.

The ceremony will be held during ALA Midwinter, 8 a.m. ET, January 27, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. There will be a award archive of awards.

The award that has become a favorite of Emily and mine is the William C. Morris Award. This award honors authors whose first publication was written for young adults. Having served on this committee it is exhilarating to discover new and emerging talents. Each year the five finalist titles get better, more interesting and diverse in subject matter.

This year’s finalists are the following:

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Sex & Violence  by Carrie Mesrobian

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

You can view a video of the Morris Finalists here, http://youtu.be/CgcHkQ_Ls1w.

The winner will be announced during the Youth Media Awards. Immediately following the winner and finalists of both the Morris Award and the Nonfiction Award will speak at a reception. Tickets are $19 and well worth it.

Find out more about the award on the YALSA Morris Award website, http://www.ala.org/yalsa/morris-award. You can sign up to volunteer to participate here, http://www.ala.org/yalsa/getinvolved/getinvolved#sign%20up.

Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty and Bryan Collier

Knock Knock: My Dads Dream for Me

A written review by Adrienne

A father’s absence is strongly felt in a young boy’s life.

Every morning a father and son begin their ritual. The son waits under the covers for his father to come knock, knock on his door. Hearing no response from the pretending son the father enters the room. The son jumps into his father’s arms to say good morning. They then start their day with the son’s favorite breakfast, getting ready for school and helping with homework. One morning the father is not there to do the morning ritual and begin their day.  As the days and weeks pass the son is missing his father and all that they did together. He writes a letter to his father leaving it on his desk in the hopes it will be found while the son is at school. Time passes before there is a response. The father cannot return home, it is not explained why, but he loves his son and he hopes that he will continue knock, knocking on doors and opening them to a better future.

Collier’s illustrations use of watercolor collage truly captures the mood and tone of the story. Everyday life is beautifully created with nuances that make the pictures real.

Beaty writes a loving story between a father and son and the immense impact an absence of a caring and giving parent can have on a child. Not knowing what happened to the father is a large hole in the story that begs conversation between parent and child on the possible outcomes. Beaty’s authors note at the end of the story cites his own relationship with his father as the basis of the story and the reason why his father left. By leaving that information in the author’s note it does create a problem in the actual story which could have had potential gain in the discussion between parents and children. The question remains: is the story about the father and son relationship more central to the story and what the author wanted to convey as opposed to including what actually happened?

Swimmy by Leo Lionni


A written review by Adrienne

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

There is strength in friendship.

Swimmy looks different from the fish he plays with. This is not an issue as they all enjoy each other’s company. One day while playing a big fish comes along and starts eating the little fish. Only Swimmy is able to escape this fate. As he swims along he starts exploring his environment. He learns about different kinds of fish noting their range of size and color.

In his exploration Swimmy discovers a new school of fish. He is ready to play but the other fish are too scared because of the bigger fish they will prey on them. Swimmy uses his new-found knowledge and gets the small fish to band together so the big fish will leave them alone. This is a wonderful story about friendship, loss and learning to work as a team. Recommended for Pre-school and up.

Pretty Penny Makes Ends Meet by Devon Kinch

Pretty Penny Makes Ends Meet

A written review by Adrienne

Often children can feel helpless when it comes to family financial problems. Kinch’s story shows how being resourceful and using one’s talent may not solve the problem but can help ease a burden.

Sitting in her room, Penny hears a boom and she and Bunny rush down to the basement to find it flooding with water. Poor Bunny has spent is worried about going over her repair budget to get it fixed. Penny figures out a way she can help by using her talents. She purchases some items and uses found materials to make jewelry and other decorative clothing. After a good day of selling, Penny is successful in helping Bunny.

Kinch uses financial terms in a way that children can easily understand and learn. The story also shows that even though Penny didn’t come up with the full amount every little bit helps. Recommended for 2nd grade and up.


That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems

That Is Not a Good Idea!

A written review by Adrienne

That Is Not a Good Idea!

A written review by Adrienne

Willems rewrites an old version of a folktale with a twist. The story of Fox and Goose is told in style of an old black-and-white movie. The text is separated from the illustrations using white lettering, black background and framed. All that’s missing is the dramatic piano music. The illustrations make the most of two-shots and close-ups.

Fox meets Goose on the street and asks her to go on a stroll with him. Goose acquiesces and Fox leads her into the woods. In the woods is his house where Fox requests Goose’s help in making soup. They both determine a key ingredient is missing. What happens next is both surprising, funny and demands an immediate re-read to find the clues hidden in the story. Readers may think Goose is too gullible and agrees too quickly to Fox’s requests. Her replies are always in close-up showing vulnerability and innocence, worrying the reader about her inevitable outcome.

The tension is slowly ratcheted up by the chicks who adamantly exclaim throughout the story how each request by Fox is not a good idea. Williems’ talent is his sophisticated humor which he is able to make clear for children to understand and get without dumbing it down. Librarians can utilize call-and-response to really get the children involved in the story. Recommended for Pre-school and up.

Penguine and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon

Penguin and Pinecone

A written review by Jenny

Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon- When Penguin finds a lost pinecone one day, an unlikely friendship blooms. Reminded that pinecones can’t live in the snow-Penguin embarks on a journey to return pinecone to his home dreaming of the day they can reunite. When he finally returns to the forest to check on his friend, he finds that not only has the pinecone grown, but also the love between them.  Spare illustrations and text make this lovely story of caring and unselfish friendship good for one on one reading or storytime.

The Witch’s Curse by Keith McGowan

The Witch's Curse

A written review by Jenny

Witch’s Curse by Keith MCGowen is another funny hair-raising adventure based on the Brothers Grimm folktale Brother and Sister. Sol and Connie- who were almost EATEN in The Witch’s Guide to Cooking with Children—are fleeing Grand Creek before the witches cronies can find them. They jump on the bus to the next town and all seems well until the bus breaks down.

Connie has to do some business and they soon find themselves lost in THE forest. It isn’t long before they meet a cursed hunter, a kindly forest ranger (or is she?) an unexpected witch, a mysterious elk, and a vegetarian. Connie and Sol have to use their wits to break the curse of the enchanted forest and escape the evil witch.  Can’t wait for Sol and Connie’s next adventure.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

“Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” by April Genevieve Tucholke

A written review by Adrienne,

Violet is a quiet girl who prefers reading to friends. She and her twin brother Luke live in Citizen Kane, a majestically down-on-its-luck mansion. The mansion belonged to their past wealthy relatives but it was Freddie, their grandmother, who made it grand. Violet has not only kept Freddie’s clothes after she passed, she still wears them as she still misses her.

The twins have been on their own after their parents left for Europe to spend through the last of the family wealth and are slow to return. Realizing money for food that was left to them by their parents was starting to run out, Violet offers the guesthouse for rent. Showing up is River West, a charming, self-assured, mysterious with more than a hint of danger boy. River IS mysterious and VERY dangerous as a reluctant Violet discovers. River has what he calls the “glow” which allows him to manipulate people to see what the most wish or most fear. He can also make them hurt no only their selves but others, too.

Violet does ignore much of what River does even when it’s right before her eyes. The attraction she has with River and overlooking his misdeeds are explained by his ability to manipulate her emotions. This is plausible but if readers aren’t paying attention it can become annoying how she refuses to stop River. River’s powers can last up to several hours so he has to be around in order to keep the others from stopping him.

Violet, Luke, and a friend to both twins, Sunshine, slowly unravel the secret of River and his ability. Even though Violet was warned by her grandmother about the danger of holding the hand of the Devil, she is entranced anyway as is the reader. Tulcholke writes a moody, atmospheric story full of surprises and pearl-clutching scenes.

The house and the small town in which they live, called Echo, are characters in their own right. Both have a personality that is worn but welcoming and hiding secrets. The ending is overstuffed with exposition to set up the next book in the series but the ride is worth the trip. Recommended for High School and up.

P.S. [reviewer note]
Fans of the TV show “Supernatural” will notice a cross between the episodes “Croatoan” and “Good God, Y’all” in Tulcholke’s story. I don’t know about you but those two episodes freaked me out but good.