Part fairy tale, part historical fiction, “Echo” by Pam Muñoz Ryan tells the story of three characters united by one unique harmonica. The story begins when the harmonica is entrusted to a boy named Otto by three magical sisters in an enchanted forest. It then resurfaces during World War II and finds its way into the hands of three other characters. The harmonica has a powerful impact on each person who hears and plays it, and eventually it is responsible for saving a life. “Echo” is one audiobook I cannot recommend enough! While I’m sure reading the physical book is great, listening to the audiobook was pure joy. Besides having a full cast of characters to read each part, all of the of music that is referenced in the book is played in the audiobook. The harmonica is truly its own character within the book. Continue reading
Each year the American Library Association honors books, videos, and other outstanding materials for children and teens. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media. The following titles and contributers are some of the 2016 YMA winners.
“Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear,” illustrated by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick.
A woman tells her young son the true story of how his great-great-grandfather, Captain Harry Colebourn, rescued and learned to love a bear cub in 1914 as he was on his way to take care of soldiers’ horses during World War I, and the bear became the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. Continue reading
“The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art“ by Barb Rosenstock is about the artist Vasily Kandinsky, or Vasya as he is known in the book. When young Vasya is given a box of paints by his aunt, the paints began to hiss and sing when mixed together! Vasya’s reserved family never knew what his paintings were supposed to look like (was it a house or a flower?), but to Vasya it wasn’t representation, it was about the music that the combinations and arrangements of different colors made. Vasya eventually uses his talents and creativity to paint the first completely abstract painting. It is thought that Kandinsky had synesthesia, a rare condition where the senses are blended, which is why he could hear the colors. Kandinsky turned this possible challenge into a gift which gave him unique perspective on his art.
Throughout the book, Vasya tries to do everything that is proper and expected of him, but in the end he listens to the sound of paints and follows his dream. This book is a great conversation starter for a variety of different topics, such as taking chances, the senses and abstract art. Continue reading
“Jinx” is a juvenile fiction book that was first brought to my attention when participants in DBRL’s own Heavy Medal: Mock Newbery program decided it their winner last year. Its win nudged me into giving it a read, and I am so glad I did.
“Jinx” is the story of an orphan (of course he is an orphan, you have to get those pesky parents out of the way so that our young characters can have any sort of adventures, right?) who lives in a magical world with fantastical facets presented though humorously matter-of-fact narration. The story kicks off with a stepfather attempting to leave young Jinx in a dense and dangerous forest, called the Urwald, that surrounds all of the cities in Jinx’s world. After an unlikely rescue by a grumpy old wizard named Simon, Jinx finds himself a wizard’s apprentice and gathers some sidekicks along the way. Adventure naturally ensues, and the story does a lovely job of examining the fact that “good” versus “bad” is not always a black-and-white concept. Jinx’s internal ruminations on the subject are particularly touching. Continue reading
This award is presented annually to the author and illustrator of the picture book voted most popular by preschool children in Missouri’s public libraries, and almost 22,000 Missouri children voted this year. In at second place is “It’s a Tiger!” written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard with 3,200 votes. “Cat Secrets” by Jef Czekaj narrowly captured third place with 2,625 votes.
Earlier this month, voters from DBRL were in tune with the rest of Missouri children and picked the same winner!