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Children's books reviewed for grownups.
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I live in Baltimore City. If my city were a character in a middle grade novel, it would be described by reviewers as "a mass of contradictions," "quirky" and proud, "intensely loyal," and the kind of kid whose self-destructive outbursts camouflage a wounded heart. Readers would be fascinated by Baltimore's mercurial nature: he is strict but playful as he distributes lunch money to his younger siblings; goofy and creative hanging out with his friends; but can become ferociously confrontational when he believes himself opposed. Anger and love, the urge to destroy and the will to build - not mutually exclusive,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2015 at
Sometimes my children like a book. Ok, if you are at all familiar with my two sons you might be rolling your eyes right now. Yes, Milo and Ezra are enthusiastic readers. But that doesn't actually mean that they just loooove all books. The fact is that they, like most enthusiastic readers, have developed into fairly critical readers as well. They'll race through a book and then when you ask about it, say, "Ehh." That's good intel. I need to know that. It doesn't do to falsely praise a book to a kid. I won't give an ehhh book to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2015 at
Hi. Hi there. Let me tell you a little story. When I was approved to read an advance copy of The Royal We , the first adult novel by the snarky minds behind the fashion commentary site GoFugYourself, the timing could not have been better. It was four days before Christmas. My husband had ruptured his Achilles tendon and was in a fracture boot and on crutches. His injury had briefly cast our long-planned holiday travel into a gutter of despair and frenzy. But at long last, I was on an airplane with my whole family headed for the Caribbean.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2015 at
Something bad has happened. It was a long time ago, but it was really bad, and Sean's life is now carefully constructed from and around the consequences of that thing. He's not lonely, exactly. He's not sad, exactly. He's also maybe not reliable, exactly. While Sean was in the hospital, he distracted himself from his pain by imagining a world, a ruined America in which desperate survivors have constructed one giant fortress, the Trace Italian. The world of the Trace turns into a quest, and several years after his ordeal (or during the latter phase of his ordeal, depending on... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at
By now, everyone has seen that Ugly Volvo post on everything that is wrong with Goodnight, Moon. Many of us were already quite firm in our understanding that Goodnight, Moon is abominable - in my case I find it suspicious that we say goodnight to AIR and to SOUNDS - much as one might if one were being nailed into a COFFIN because of premature burial, which people are not afraid of as they once were but maybe that is just because we're not reading as much Poe as we ought to be. RIGHT?! Here in Baltimore, where we are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2015 at
Locked down and blizzarded up, you need a dose of color, don't you? The kids are kind of eating each other and you're sick of telling them to get off YouTube. Time to hit the graphic novel section: The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (His Dark Materials) "You're going to have to realllly convince me," I can hear famous curmudgeon Philip Pullman mutter as he surveys the latest in what I imagine must be a never-ending parade of proposals to adapt his 1995 masterpiece trilogy His Dark Materials into graphic novels. He probably imagined himself as Penelope at her... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2015 at
The ALA Youth Media Awards were just announced about an hour ago. These honors are awarded by committees of librarians who read, evaluate, and discuss approximately a femto-jillion books in a year and decide which book in a given category is THE BEST of the year and which few are THE RUNNERS UP. I generally don't comment on these awards on this blog because, like any other award, calling any given anything THE BEST in a year is ridiculous. YOU ARE THE BEST TOMATO. WORLD'S BEST JOKE 2014 IS WHAT EDDIE IZZARD SAID ON TWITTER NOVEMBER 13th. THE AWARD FOR... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at
So, uh, hi. I changed the name of my blog. I mean, come on, "Pink Me" was always kind of dumb. The day I decided to spin all the children's book review posts off my (ahem) other blog, I had to quickly come up with a name that was short and memorable (having learned a valuable lesson from that other blog, whose name is 25 letters long and includes at least one difficult-to-spell word). I named Pink Me after my hair color at the time. I guess it could have been worse. Giant 13-year-old boy voluntarily reading a picture book... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2015 at
Here I am back at work after a little Holiday holiday. I can see my tan hands on the keyboard and still don't actually believe that they were paddling through salt water a little more than a week ago. SIGH. SIGH! Before we get down to this big ol' stack of picture books I've devoured since returning (FROM THE CARIBBEAN HOLY CRAP), may I politely mention a series of posts on Pink Me's red-headed step-sister blog, Your Neighborhood Librarian. Children's literature devotees of legal drinking age may enjoy these posts featuring authors and characters from teen and young adult fiction.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at
I'm a generalist. Professionally. Personally, I'm a bit of a specialist, but - hrmhm - that's just between us. No, I'm a generalist librarian - a librarian who serves both adult and juvenile customers. Most public library systems don't expect their professional staff to be proficient with teens, children, adults, and seniors, but the one I work for... does. As you might imagine, librarians in other systems sometimes scoff at this arrangement. School librarians in particular are kind of amusingly horrified. Generalists are expected to maintain at least a glancing knowledge of the adult best-seller list and genre fiction (I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at
Detail from Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke But first! the ballots have just been announced for the 2017 Newbery and Caldecott award committees. I am so proud and overjoyed to see the names of talented friends on there - Betsy Fraser! Jamie Watson! and Lovely Laura Lutz! are nominated for the Newbery Committee! Stacy Dillon (mytweendom) is on the Caldecott ballot and Laura Given (liblaura5) is on the 2016 Caldecott Committee!! If you are a member, vote for these fabulously smart and well-read women! That is all. Our new baby Tumblr. So cute! So bloody! SO! I... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2014 at
What the heck. Let's do this. For some reason - it's not like I've got nothing else going on - I have been unusually aware of upcoming titles recently. I've spent a bunch of time on Edelweiss and Netgalley scanning publisher catalogs, and just yesterday attended the Book Buzz that the AAP put on at DC Public Library. Reps from Scholastic, Penguin, Sourcebooks, Quirk, Tor, and many others gave a roomful of librarians a preview of what they've got coming down the pike. Here are the books that I thought really stood out, plus books that weren't represented at the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2014 at
I don't know about these passion-project picture book biographies. Don't get me wrong - *I* love 'em. My colleagues love 'em. Awards committees love 'em. Parents sometimes love 'em. But I have to heave a heavy sigh and admit that I have trouble getting a kid to take Andrea Davis Pinkney's marvelous, swingy Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa into his or her hands, or The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos , or the new picture book biography of Golda Meir, Goldie Takes a Stand!: Golda Meir's First Crusade . Golda. Meir. WHO...... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at
It's 2014, the centennial of the onset one of the bloodiest, most devastating wars in history. A war which should have taught the world the dangers of nationalism, military escalation, and imperialism. Well, we all know how that went. On the UP side, the WWI centennial gives us (educators, parents, librarians) an excellent opportunity for engaging the kind of reader who connects with nonfiction, especially history, and especially the kind of history that involves guns. I'm not using the word "boys," but you know what I'm talking about. Author Laurel Snyder's male-variety offspring enjoying a Civil War reenactment and Nathan... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2014 at
Who says the dog days are uneventful and slow? Over here in the picture book section we're playing with trains, learning about numbers, traveling the world, and experiencing minor peril! I love the plots of picture books. Let's see what we've got... Me First by Max Kornell I like this book a little more every time I look at it. I like the way that Martha and Hal compete, cheat, and cooperate. I like that Martha ACTUALLY tries something a little bit dangerous and falls in the creek, and I like that both kids are a little bit shaken up... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at
I am going to have a teenager in my house. In - wow - 11 days, I will suddenly have a teenage boy in my house. Somehow, this person... ...turned into this person. Relax, that's root beer. And that's MY jacket. He looks better in it than I do, the swine. His feet are bigger than mine. His tan is better than mine. God, I think his hair might be better than mine! Sigh. His taste in reading material is pretty good, though. And he reads faster than I do, so lately I've been relying on him to vet titles... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2014 at
Do you mind if I take a moment to talk about Australians? I kind of have a need to talk about Australians (and their neighbors, New Zealanders). Just for a sec. I don't know any jokes about Australia. Sorry! At the pool the other day I was pimping a book to my friend Marnie and her little girl. There we were, half-naked, bobbing in the water, and I'm throwing out book titles. I really need a life, or at least a second hobby. Marnie was looking for readalouds and I had an absolute howler to recommend: "The main character is... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2014 at
The warmness, it is all around. I live in Baltimore, and a large percentage of our Gross Domestic Product this time of year (mid-April til October) is humidity. Humidity and 90-degree temperatures. It's kind of ridiculous. I have spent an August weekend in New Orleans that was more temperate. I have crossed the Equator and been more comfortable. I have ridden in an open boat on the AMAZON and not chafed so badly. Camped in THE SAHARA. Hiked THE BADLANDS. I experienced nicer weather in THOSE PLACES. Where else have I been that's hot? MADURAI, INDIA. No, Madurai was hotter... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2014 at
I know what you want. I see you. You come in to the library with that little-bit-panicked look in your eye: "Oh shit there's no school for like MONTHS and they're going to do nothing but play Minecraft and moan about being bored." Or pull scary crap like balance-beam on an 8-foot fence. YEESH. I am right there with you. Milo is in the basement right this second watching those awful Sky Does Minecraft YouTube videos. Or porn. No I did not just write that. I take it back. Wait, let me just get him up here, I'll be right... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at
NO THANK YOU. Although I think that's my friend Lori off to the left there. DAY FOUR I did two full Javits Center days at Book Expo this year, and swore I wasn't coming back on Saturday, when the show opens to the general public and the signing lines GET REAL. But I did. I skated in quietly on Saturday to see who won the Boston Globe / Horn Book Awards. These awards are less well-known than the big ALA awards, but to some they are more prestigious. The committees that award them are small and thoughtful and savvy. Grasshopper... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2014 at
DAY THREE Apparently, for picture books, brown is the new blue. My Day Three was actually Day Two of Book Expo. People had settled in, figured out where the hell they'd stashed the Disney/Hyperion booth, and patiently assembled into signing lines. But first! The Children's Book Author Breakfast. With your host, Jason Segal. Unlike BJ Novak, I know who this guy is. He does stuff on Funny or Die sometimes. He was in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which was not about my friend Sarah Marshall, who is a printmaking professor at 'Bama. AND! I have read the sample chapters of his... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2014 at
DAY TWO You have to maximize your time when you're in New York. Even when you live there, you're grouping errands geographically in your head, trying to do at least two things at once, strategizing time and transit and factoring in how much crap you are hauling with you at any given time. E.g., it is darn convenient that NYPL's Jefferson Market branch is so close to C.O. Bigelow. Which is how I found myself in the sale racks at Brooklyn Industries during the ten-minute gap before the shuttle came to ferry a group of us back to the Javits... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2014 at
SO much happened at Book Expo (BEA) last week and this weekend. I'm breaking it up into four posts. Four! (Don't worry, they're each pretty short. Except maybe for this one.) DAY ONE The School Library Journal Day of Dialog BEA preconference! I have said it before - possibly THE best single day of the year in children's literature. Smart, insightful authors - hell even the audience is better qualified than the presenters at most events... Oh my gosh we saw Cabaret this week and I must paraphrase the Emcee: The authors - are beautiful! The presentations - are beautiful!... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2014 at
I do this about quarterly, don't I - maybe I should make it a regular thing. Oh who am I kidding. One of the benefits of writing your own blog is you don't have to adhere to any schedule. Well, that and you can swear. Froodle by Antoinette Portis YES I like books by Antoinette Portis and NO I am not going to change my mind. Just like Crow is not going to fall victim to the silly craze sweeping through the yard. Little Brown Bird is supposed to say "peep." Cardinal is supposed to say "chip." THAT'S JUST THE... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2014 at
This is what's wrong with me. This is what's very very WROOONNG with me - and that was Bill Murray in Stripes in case you missed the reference ("We're ten and one!") (Not anymore, brother). I have been neglecting the crap out of Pink Me for MONTHS because I've started reviewing for Booklist Online and those guys send me I swear 5 books a month. And not five 32-page picture books, although sometimes yeah I get picture books. No. I get five NOVELS. Five middle-grade books about burping and zombie pets. Five YA sci-fi barnburners. Shit involving fairies. And some... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2014 at