Pub 1-2013, HarperCollins
Tom Watson started writing books for his kids. Everyone liked them, so he started writing them online. Then he was discovered by a publishing company, HarperCollins, and recently published Stick Dog, a good book with kind of bad drawings. Tom Watson lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, and son.
Stick Dog is a dog that loves food. He has dog friends, including Mutt, Poo-Poo, Stripes, and Karen. They love food also. The story takes place near Picasso Park. It’s summer, in the afternoon. The dogs can smell the hamburgers grilling on the barbeque, so they make it their mission to steal hamburgers from the humans. They make a plan, but soon discover they didn’t need to.
I enjoyed Stick Dog because it is hilarious! The whole book is about getting hamburgers, and the characters all have funny names! Stripes has dots, not stripes. Stick Dog isn’t called Stick because he likes sticks; it’s because a stick dog is the only kind of dog that Watson can draw. Watson’s illustrations are like kids’ drawings. At the beginning of the book, he demonstrates how he draws trees and broccoli, and they look very, very similar. I like his pictures because it makes the book sillier.
During their mission to get hamburgers, a lot funny things happen. Stripes thinks a fork is a sword and walking is the same as charging. It shows what Stripes thinks of the world. When the other dogs are thinking of plans for how to get the hamburgers, Mutt has a funny idea: he would first get the car keys from the humans and then drive the car and stick his head out of the window while the other dogs get the hamburgers. I liked the character Poo-poo because he makes an enormous deal about a squirrel dropping an acorn on his head. Why make a big fuss over a squirrel dropping a teeny-tiny acorn on someone’s head?
If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate, then Stick Dog is for you! Tom Watson wrote it like a kid would: off the lines with terrible pictures. If you like funny books, Stick Dog should be number one on your list. Tom Watson’s Stick Dog is a big must-read!
- Krish G., 8
If we wind up in a dystopian society where The Little Prince is currency, I shall rule the world.
We had a great time participating in the NYC Teen Author Festival this past weekend:
Clockwise from top back: A.S. King, Diana Peterfreund, Michael Northrop, David Levithan, Sharon Cameron, Victoria Schwab, Nova Ren Suma.
Thanks to everyone who came out! And thanks to Michael Northrop for wearing that sweet Huey Lewis and the News tshirt. Made my night.
Our April YA events are detailed below- hope to see you there!
April 16- Gayle Forman in conversation with publisher Julie Strauss-Gabel
April 28- YA Author panel, hosted by David Levithan. Featuring:
- Jennifer E Smith
- Elizabeth Eulberg
- Caela Carter
- Barry Lyga
- Lindsay Ribar
- Jessica Verdi
Seriously excellent week for new releases.
Back when I first started out as a professional children’s book snob, I looked upon board books as, at best, second class citizens because of the whole cardboard pages thing. This is dumb. I was dumb. If you find yourself drifting toward that mindset, think about how a board book is almost always a human’s first interaction with the written word AND their first experience with art, and then sit down and read the below titles, each of which was partly responsible for my conversion to Rabid Board Book Enthusiast.
We recently started displaying Staff Picks downstairs in our children’s section. Frankly, it looks awesome:
One of the best things about this display is that it gives all of our booksellers, not just the ones obsessed with children’s books, a chance to highlight either a book they loved as a child or a children’s book they’ve grown to love as an adult. They responded to the challenge in typical McNally Jackson fashion, which is to say all of the entries sound like they were taken from the keynote at some hyper-intellectual children’s literature symposium. Here are some examples:
1. Who can say what separates dream from reality, especially, as we fear what we can’t perceive. Although, there are moments when we must succumb to discover that there is greater living in unreal being. ~Kevin (Philosophy)
2. I wish that everyone who’s yelling in fear of change could appreciate the quiet stillness of this book. ~Nicholas (Film)
3. When you feel small, or sad, or alone, reach for this book. Simple and profound—as often the best stories are—it is a wordless reminder of the joy of creating art and a balm for the spirit. ~Raffe (Book Machine)
4. Customer: But do you think it’s a good idea to have children reading scary things? R: Oh, I think it’s a great idea. ~Rachel (Memoir)
5. Unbelievably wonderful. ~Kate (Children’s)
… and here are the books they were talking about:
Can you tell which quote is for which book? Answers after the jump.
Written in Stone
Pub 6-2013, Random House
Written in Stone is the story of a determined young Makah girl named Pearl who lives on a Native American reservation in Alaska. It is set in a time when Native Americans were mistreated by our nation. Award-winning author Rosanne Parry takes us on Pearl’s journey to preserve her parents’ spirits, thoughts, and traditions.
When Pearl’s father dies in a fatal accident on a whaling trip, Pearl is devastated and longs to have him back. She thinks that the closest she will ever be to him is to keep something from his Regalia (belongings). Typically these items would go to other Native Americans on the reservation. As if being lonely isn’t enough, Pearl is constantly worried because her extended family, with whom she is left to live, struggles to earn enough money for food. When an art collector comes to the reservation, Pearl’s family thinks about selling items from Pearl’s father’s Regalia. Although it seems like the perfect solution, Pearl is immediately suspicious of him and sees him as another obstacle to having a connection to her parents. Persistent and determined, she is sure there is another way to feed her family without selling her only connection to her parents.
Rosanne Parry captures Pearl’s emotions so well that the reader can’t help but share her sadness. Pearl’s heart aches when she thinks of her mom and baby sister, who died from the flu. She longs for her family even more after her father passes away. Pearl holds back her tears, and I found myself doing the same while reading her story.
Although this book is emotionally difficult to read, it reminds me of how lucky I am. For example, Pearl is excited when she receives a pencil with which to write in her diary. Normally, I would take having a pencil for granted, but now I realize that it is a luxury for some. In addition, Pearl’s aunt, who weaves baskets, is always telling her that basket weaving is the perfect profession because it pays more than blanket weaving. Pearl resents her advice because she would rather be a blanket weaver like her mother. I am lucky that the career advice I receive is to do what I love: writing. I would feel trapped if I were Pearl. I am grateful that I do not have the same struggles as her.
Written in Stonemay be a little heavy, but it is a perfect book for discussion. While there are many differences between Pearl’s life and modern childhood, Parry shows us that the emotions caused by circumstances are often universal. In addition, she shows a side of American history that many people overlook. With a book like this, who knows where a discussion could go?
Written for today’s reader, but set in a completely different time and place, this book opens the door to Makah life in the 1920s. Written in Stone is the perfect addition to a young reader’s collection of literature!
- Mira M., 9
Sherri L. Smith
Pub 3-2013, Putnam Juvenile
Sherri L. Smith’s new novel, Orleans, takes place in the future city of Orleans. Orleans has been destroyed over and over again by ongoing hurricanes. A Delta Fever has killed off most of the citizens, and the government has the city under quarantine. The remaining survivors, in the walled off city, all have the fever in their blood. People live with their blood type tribe. The book’s protagonist, Fen de la Guerre, has O positive blood, meaning that she carries the fever in her blood but will not have health problems from it.
Fen knows nothing about life beyond the wall; for all she knows, there is no life beyond the wall. Fen grew up in a religious school. When she was little, her parents decided to leave the school and go back to tribe life. Blood hunters attacked the family of three as they looked for a safe home. Fen’s parents told her to run, and not to come back. They died that night and Fen was left on her own. She made friends along the way; some who betrayed her, and others who saved her. Lydia was the last friend Fen made, when the story begins.
Lydia is also an O positive and is pregnant. Lydia had taken care of Fen ever since she walked into the tribe. She is almost like an older sister to Fen, and Fen a sister to her. One day, during the tribe powow, blood hunters attack. Horrors occur and, once again, Fen has to learn to live on her own.
As Fen is living her life inside the wall, Daniel is living life outside the wall. Daniel is a young man trying to “save the world” after his brother’s class was affected by the Delta Fever, causing his brother to die a painful death. Daniel is determined to find the cure. Hundreds of scientists before him have tried, but none has succeeded.
When Daniel’s science sponsors send him over the wall, he is unprepared for what lies on the other side. No one goes into the wall, and no one leaves the wall. Daniel wants to cure the fever, but he has to make sure he doesn’t fall ill. Once he’s on the other side, Daniel meets Fen. Together they use their strengths to try and survive. At first, Fen doesn’t like Daniel. But soon, the companions begin to see each other another way.
Orleans is an absolutely wonderful story. Sherri L. Smith creates a vivid world that’s easy to fall into. Reading it, I felt I had to keep turning pages; the excitement never stopped. Though her language isn’t very challenging, in order to comprehend the story, and take in the message of the book, readers have to pay attention. Meanwhile, I felt that I knew every character intimately.
If anyone needs a great adventure, this is the one! I love to read, and have read many of this year’s new books, but this one goes on my list of the year’s best.
- Grace B., 12
The Odd Squad: Bully Bait
Pub 2-2013, Hyperion
I recommend The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry to people who have bullies at school because that’s what it’s about. Nick is the main character, and he thinks he is the shortest seventh grader in the history of the world! His bully’s name is Roy and he always stuffs Nick in his locker. Finally, Nick finds a grown-up, Mr. Dupree, to help him figure out how to stop Roy from being mean. It’s still difficult to do because they have to make a deal with Roy so that he’ll stop bullying Nick, using his stuffed animal as bait.
I really liked this book because it taught me that I should not be afraid of bullies. The book is funny and a little bit serious at the same time, but not sad. One funny story is about Karl: he’s afraid of heights and the only thing he is more afraid of are spiders, so they tell him there is an army of spiders behind him, and he comes down from the super high place he’s standing on.
This book taught me that sometimes bullies can be bullies at school but at home somebody else might be bullying them, so you shouldn’t just do mean things back to bullies. Instead, you should learn more about them. They have feelings too, like Roy for his stuffed animal.
This is the first book that I read in the “Odd Squad” series. But I would like read more books from the same series!
- Manu B., 7