Spring 2003  ShoppeTALK
San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe 

Our Spring newsletter features a sprinkling of this season’s new titles and a look at some of the award winners from last year’s treasures. This issue is filled with outstanding informational books we know will be welcomed by kids who love to know about “real” things. Stop by to see all the books we are busy unpacking. Here’s a good start to your reading for 2003 with more to come in the summer issue.

Information Please! Engaging New Nonfiction
Picturebook Biographies

Three new books celebrate the contributions of twentieth century Americans: Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Rachael Carson. They are fine additions to a growing collection of handsome picturebook biographies written for children ages five and up. 
 

MY BROTHER MARTIN; A Sister Remembers Growing up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a stunning and touching insight into the lives of the King family growing up in the segregated South in the 1920’s. Christine King Farris recalls the close-knit family, the life centered around home and church, and the way her parents handled the painful bigotry directed at them. Her mother’s optimism that “someday it will be better,” was echoed by her brother M.L. who promised, “… one day I’m going to turn this world upside down.” Farris’ loving recollections are reflected in absolutely breathtaking watercolors by Chris Sontpiet. (Ages 6-10, $17.95)
The first ten years of Cesar Chavez’s life on his family’s thriving Arizona ranch, according to author Kathleen Krull, were relatively carefree surrounded by a large extended family. Then came the terrible drought years of the 1930’s. Cesar’s family lost their ranch and like so many families in the Southwest, migrated to California to find work on the farms. Living conditions were a far cry from the idyllic life they were forced to leave behind. After attending thirty-five different schools, Krull says, Cesar “considered his eighth-grade graduation a miracle.” He left school then and went to work full time as a migrant farm worker. Remembering a better life, he began to think that if the workers would unite, they might be able to change the terrible working conditions that were their lot. Just as his mother taught him to try to settle his disputes with words rather than his fists, he urged his fellow workers to do the same. Krull describes his remarkable march, more than three hundred miles, from Delano to Sacramento that led to the official recognition of the National Farm Workers. Krull’s HARVESTING HOPE; The Story of Cesar Chavez, richly illustrated by Yuyi Morales, gives young readers a clear understanding of this dedicated crusader for worker’s rights. (Ages 6-9, $17.00)
Amy Ehrlich, who has had a long and distinguished career in children’s books, both as an author and an editor, presents RACHEL; The Story of Rachel Carson. She has chosen to highlight some of the significant times of Carson’s life in a series of vignettes dating from 1912, when Carson first discovered a sea fossil many miles from the ocean near her family’s home near the Allegheny River in Western Pennsylvania. Carson’s most crucial contribution to the world was the publication of Silent Spring, in 1963, which Ehrlich says is generally believed to have launched “today’s environmental movement.” Her findings triggered debates and prompted the Congress to begin the investigation into the use of DDT and other poisons that had been so carelessly used in the environment. It is a limitation of the “picture book biography” that subjects are introduced in “sound nibbles.” The hope is that this brief introduction with its stunning paintings by Wendell Minor will invite further investigation.  (Ages 5-9, $16.00)
Cheryl Harness has assembled an impressive album of women who fought to make America a better place for all. RABBLE ROUSERS; 20 Women Who Made a Difference introduces reformers like Ann Lee who fled England’s oppressive laws to establish the Shaker faith. She tried to create a life of religious equality within a harmonious and hardworking community. Other women like Mary Ann Shadd Cary spoke out against slavery, Susan B. Anthony for women’s suffrage, and Dolores Huerta for the rights of migrant farm workers. Harness also includes time lines for four major movements in which these women played a significant role; abolition, the women’s movement, labor reform, and civil rights. This handsomely illustrated, sixty-four paged book also includes an index, suggestions for civil action and further reading, a glossary, and a short list of resources including website addresses. (Ages 8++, $17.99) 
Illustrator James Warhola writes and illustrates a story about a trip in August of 1962 when his family piled into their station wagon to visit his grandmother AT UNCLE ANDY’S in New York City. His father’s brother had moved from Pittsburgh to the City to pursue a career in commercial art and was beginning to make a name for himself. His enormous house was a treasure trove of art objects including a top floor filled with wooden Campbell soup boxes. Uncle Andy (who had dropped the final “a” in his last name) was always going out to parties with other famous people and then regaling the kids in the morning with tales of his adventures. Warhola paints one funny moment when one of his sisters surprised their uncle by coming into his bedroom too early one morning before he had put on his wig. This is an affectionate look at Andy Warhol by his nephew Jamie who grew up to be an artist too. Perhaps Warhola’s path was set when his uncle gave him a set of art supplies at the end of that visit in August 1962. (Ages 5-9, $16.99)

A Potpourri of Fascinating Subjects
Aliki, with her consummate skill as a picture book illustrator and writer of informational books, has introduced us to a myriad of subjects from “feelings” and “communication” to “medieval feasts” and “mummification”. She enchants us this season with AH, MUSIC! She takes us through a clear explanation of the elements of music, what it is, how it’s created, its history, diversity, and universality. All this wealth of information is accomplished through short clear sentences and lots of accompanying artwork with her signature “sound bubbles” that extend the text. It’s a beautifully conceived and executed book and belongs in every child’s library. (Ages 5+, $16.99)
Okay. “I’m letting the cat of the bag.” Loreen Leedy and Pat Street’s THERE’S A FROG IN MY THROAT; 440 Animal Sayings a Little Bird Told Me is “the cat’s meow.” You’ll be “happy as a clam” browsing through this forty-plus paged compilation of animal related sayings and their translations. A helpful index references the dozens of animals featured in six themed chapters from “around the house” (dogs, cats and other pets) to “under the waves.” Youngsters learning to play with words will make a beeline to this treasure trove. It will be more fun than a barrel of monkeys for “English as a Second Language” learners who probably wonder why we “talk turkey” as well as eat it. (Ages 5++, $16.95) 
PICK, PULL, SNAP; Where Once a Flower Bloomed a fruit or vegetable appears. Lola M. Schaefer explains, with the help of Lindsay Barrett George’s detailed paintings, how flowers produce seeds and fruit. She uses a variety of examples so that children understand the same principle applies whether the flower is on a peach tree or a peanut plant, a pumpkin vine or a raspberry bush. The illustrations are colorful and large enough to use in a classroom setting or as a resource for a garden curriculum.  (Ages 5-9, $15.99)
Amazing what can grow from TWO OLD POTATOES. From April until September one girl and her Dad work together preparing the soil, planting, weeding, watering, picking off the potato bugs and piling on compost. Not only do they harvest sixty-seven new potatoes but they’ve also grown a comfortable camaraderie. John Coy’s story is set off by colorful collage pictures by Carolyn Fisher. (Ages 4-8, $15.95) 
Twelve-year old Carey Monroe is a reluctant tag-along on his wacky Aunt Elaine’s Safari. While she is taking photographs Carey finds himself a friend, the son of the driver/game keeper. Aunt Elaine has given him a journal book which he decides to use for his “wildlife story.” Dutifully he begins to record what he learns about elephants, lions, buffalo, leopards, giraffes, and cheetahs while visiting the Amboseli National Park. Then Carey manages to “lose” his aunt and her entourage to spend more time with his new Maasai friends. The “journal” transitions into an adventure diary that includes a showdown with evil poachers. Carey’s SAFARI JOURNAL is the invention of author/illustrator Hudson Talbott who provides his readers with an information filled adventure story centered on the land and cultural life of the Maasai in Kenya.
(Ages 8-12, $18.00) 

A new look at our Nation’s Capital
The history of the planning, design and construction of our nation’s CAPITAL is the subject of Lynn Curlee’s handsomely illustrated narrative. Anyone who has visited Washington, DC is struck by its architectural beauty, the soaring monument to Washington, the elegant Jefferson Memorial and the incomparable Lincoln Memorial. The story behind these buildings as well as the U.S. Capitol and the White House will add meaning to a visit to our CAPITAL for anyone lucky enough to travel there. Curlee’s CAPITAL conveys the significance of the key structures to those who have not yet had the opportunity to visit in person.  (Ages 8+, $17.95) 
For younger readers, a visit to Washington D.C. should begin with Laura Krauss Melmed’s CAPITAL; Washington D.C. from A to Z with Frane Lessac’s colorful and detailed art, The book previews most of the important sites from the Air and Space Museum to the National Zoo. End papers provide an overview of the alphabetical tour. Melmed’s rhyming text is supplemented by additional factual sound bites tucked into the informative artwork. As accessible as this delightful book is for children, even adults will enjoy revisiting our nation’s capital courtesy of Lessac’s folksy artwork. (Ages 5+, $15.99)

Picture Books
Children, ever intrigued with Russian nesting dolls, will appreciate the story of SASHA’S MATRIOSHKA DOLLS by Jana Dillon with pictures by Deborah Nourse Lattimore. Sasha paints the boxes her grandfather builds. While she waits to paint, she plays with her rag doll. One day mice steal her doll’s soft stuffing to line a nest so Grandfather fashions a thumbling doll from a scrap of wood to replace it. Sasha paints it to look like a “little mother,” a matrioshka. So pleased is she with the miniature figure that Grandfather creates a box for it in the same shape. Sasha paints the little box to look like the original doll. But the little doll nested inside its box is stolen by the same pesky mice. Grandfather has to build six boxes in all, each a bit larger than the one before, to finally make a safe hiding place for the original matrioshka doll. He discovers his work has only just begun when orders start pouring in for more of the appealing nested dolls. Dillon’s humorous story offers a great opportunity for Lattimore to fill her bordered pages with colorful folk art details. (Ages 4-8, $16.00)
Yoon resists the efforts of her parents and new teacher to write her own name in the strange unconnected symbols of English. Her name written in Korean looks happy because the “symbols dance together.” Gradually she makes the adjustment to her new country, new school and new language in Helen Recorvits’ lyrical MY NAME IS YOON with paintings by Gabi Swiatkowska. When she finally writes her name in English, she assures us that Yoon still means “Shining Wisdom.” It’s a great jumping off place for other youngsters to learn the meanings behind their own names. (Ages 4-8, $16.00) 
A child with an appealing sideways grin peers out from the cover of Sandy Turner’s GROW UP. The cover gives very little warning of the quirky pages within. We hope you are as charmed as we were by one child’s speculations on what he’s going to be when he grows up. It’s a scrapbook of possibilities, drawn in pencil, with occasional color. If it feels random, don’t be deceived. The text is rhythmic and the artwork playful; full of surprises and entertaining asides. Information on the back flap of GROW UP says Turner “creates truly innovative books for the child in the adult and the adult in the child.” Yep. This one certainly has appeal across the generations. (Ages 4-88 [it says that on the book! We didn’t make that up.], $15.99) 
And scrumptious is what a rich broth STONE SOUP becomes with Jon Muth’s lovely watercolors and retelling set in a distant time in China. Three Monks traveling through the countryside are pondering the nature of happiness when they happen upon a village where there is none. No one comes to greet them, all doors are locked against them. The wise men know this is a place in need of a good nourishing pot of STONE SOUP. Their first volunteer is a child who brings a generously sized pot for this unusual broth. Soon the other villagers, drawn out by their curiosity, are adding their own contributions to the bubbling pot. And before we know it, the broth is as rich as a good story.
(Ages 5-9, $16.95)
The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman begins in Uncle Ray’s carpentry shop in South Carolina. Unfortunately Uncle Ray’s work commitments prevent him from visiting his niece Tameka during summer vacation. Instead he substitutes a wooden man sculpture named Oliver. He sets the wooden man alongside the highway with a sign that says “California or Bust” and a note in his backpack to please give him a ride and to let Uncle Ray know of his progress on the route to “Redcrest, California.” Darcy Pattison tells the story of this unusual hitchhiker through letters and postcards between Uncle Ray, Tameka, and the folks who participate in Oliver’s journey. Joe Cepeda’s bright artwork, oils on an acrylic under-paint, tells the rest. (Ages 5-8, $16.00) 
Saba fears the trip from her house to the bathhouse because the route takes her through the courtyard populated by a flock of very nasty chickens. They have been “the terror” of her life. One day, inside the bathhouse she spies something even scarier … a snake coiled up in the corner. Bravely she captures it under the very bucket that had carried her bathwater. And when she examines her captive she laughs and laughs … for it is her grandmother’s sash she has conquered along with her fear of these bullying chickens. Saba may be Pakistani; her nemesis, chickens. It’s true she bathes in a bath house with water from a bucket. But her story RULER OF THE COURTYARD created by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie is refreshingly universal.
(Ages 5-8, $15.99)
We know author/artist Eric Carle as an innovative picture book author. And once again, in a unique collaboration with Japanese artist Kazuo Iwamura, comes another multi-layered book for children, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?; TO SEE MY FRIEND!Carle and Iwamura have written and illustrated a simple script for a cumulative tale which can be read in English from one side of the book, left to right, or from the other “front” in Japanese, reading right to left. The two stories meet smack dab in the middle of the book and the two children and all the animals invite each other to sing and dance. What a great opportunity to have a bi-lingual performance. (Ages 4+, $19.95) 
Flag Day is June 14 but in most classrooms and at many public functions the pledge of allegiance is recited, standing at attention practically every day. Bill Martin, Jr. and Michael Sampson offer clear explanations for the meanings of individual words and phrases. It will enable children to better understand what it is they mean when they say, “I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE …” with such earnestness. Chris Raschka’s appropriately red, white, and blue illustrations complete this attractive volume.
(Ages 4-10, $15.99)

Special Needs
MAX’S LOGBOOK starts out as a place to write “scientific stuff” like his microwaved marshmallow experiment. Soon it is apparent that the logbook is also a place where he can express his concerns about his parents’ arguments. Interspersed in the journal are comic strips that he and his best friend Omar are creating about “alien eraser.” Max is an inventive kid and he wishes he could reinvent his family as easily as he designs characters out of his erasers. Marisa Moss, noted for her Amelia’s Notebook series, has created a very “boy friendly” format that deals with concerns children have about parents whose quarreling leads to separation.  (Ages 7-11, $12.95)

Fiction for Older Readers
For the High School Girls in Your Life
In the fall of 2001, THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS arrived and did its magic. Ann Brashares first novel charmed the pants off … well not quite the pants … but it did find an eager readership looking for a good read about friendship. Four girls, Carmen, Lena, Bridget and Tibby have known each other since birth. Their moms were in a pre-natal aerobics class and the girls were born within seventeen days of each other. Their close friendship has survived long after their own mothers’ friendship faded away. Their fifteenth summer is their first ever away from each other. Lena is going off to Greece to meet her grandparents, Bridget to soccer camp in Baja California, Carmen to see her father in South Carolina. Tibby will be the only one stuck at home. Just before their time to say goodbye for the summer, Carmen buys a pair of jeans at a resale shop that appear to be almost magic. Each girl has tried on the pants, and in spite of their different figures, for each they are a perfect fit. The girls agree to share the pants over the summer, keeping them a week and then sending them on. Brashares gifted writing allows for a delightful, multi-layered story that never gets tangled in the threads of its plot. The book is now in paperback to keep company with its sequel. 
(Ages 13+, $8.95 paperback)
It’s THE SECOND SUMMER OF THE SISTERHOOD. Tibby is away for a special summer college filmmaking course, Bridget heads to Alabama to get to know her maternal grandmother, Lena and Carmen both have summer jobs. Ann Brashares once again weaves a story of the “traveling pants” together with two major themes. All the girls come to terms with some conflict concerning their own mothers and they each have to work out a boyfriend relationship. Throughout their individual trials is the encouragement and friendship of the other three. The SECOND SUMMER will be ready by the end of April. Readers will find the “traveling pants” are still a comfy fit.  (Ages 13+, $15.95) 


Newbery & Caldecott Award Winners
The Newbery Medal & Honors
The American Library Association conferred their annual awards at the end of January. The Newbery Committee chose Avi, for his “action-filled page-turner” CRISPIN: The Cross of Lead. The novel set, in 14th century England, tells the tale of a 13-year-old who becomes orphaned, stripped of all possessions and is accused of murdering the village priest. Fleeing his persecutors he’s captured by Bear, a juggler and a giant of a man, who teaches him to sing and play the recorder. Ultimately Crispin uncovers his true identity and is able to repay Bear for befriending and protecting him. The librarians found Avi’s tale “riveting” and although its setting is seven-hundred years in the past, they felt young readers would find a connection with “our contemporary search for freedom.” Avi has been honored twice before by the Newbery Committee with silver Honors (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth) and now the librarians have conferred on their fellow librarian the coveted gold Newbery Medal. (Ages 9-12, 15.99)
The librarians also bestowed the Newbery Honor on five other novels. We were pleased to see they agreed with us about Nancy Farmer’s THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION. This compelling coming of age story, also winner of the National Book Award, takes the reader into a foreseeable future where clones are bred for body part replacements. Matt is the latest in a line of clones that belong to El Patron, the powerful overlord of a country called Opium. Farmer’s novel raises thought-provoking questions about the ethics of human engineering. (Ages 11++, $17.95)
Some of the honor novels deal with kids who are “trouble.” Patricia Reilly Giff’s THE PICTURES OF HOLLIS WOODS protagonist is 12-year old Hollis, a talented artist, abandoned at birth. She’s been in a succession of foster homes. She’s tough and tries not to care. She knows she’s “trouble” but still, she wishes for a real family where she can truly belong. (Ages 9-13, $15.95)
Humor pervades Stephanie Tolan’s novel SURVIVING THE APPLEWHITES. Jake Semple is a chronic school dropout, one step away from juvenile detention. The Applewhites with their quirky home schooling program and lifestyle are the last chance for this resistant thirteen-year old.
(Ages 9-13, $15.99) 
Adult author Carl Hiaasen scored an honor his first time out as a children’s writer with his action-packed ecological adventure, HOOT. Roy, the new kid in town, intrigued by the bare-footed teenager he sees running through town, accidentally gets himself embroiled in an ecological protest when he tries to find out who the kid is.  (Ages 10-13. $15.95)
Ann Martin, probably best known for her long running Babysitter’s Club series, was honored for her novel A CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE. One summer Belle discovers her family’s secret. She has an Uncle Adam, her mother’s youngest brother. The institution where he lives is closing and he is moving back into Nana’s home. This mysterious and charming uncle is a loving companion for Belle. But he is also erratic and mentally ill, and ultimately turns their world upside-down.  (Ages 11+, $15.95) 

The Caldecott Medal & Honors
The Caldecott Medal and honorees represent a wide range of art styles. The top award was given to previous Honor winner Eric Rohmann for MY FRIEND RABBIT. The committee said his “hand-colored relief prints express a vibrant energy through solid black outlines … and a robust use of color.” Rabbit is an adventurous fellow who, without meaning to, gets himself into innocent trouble. With a minimum amount of text, Rohmann’s bold, bright art carries the humorous tale. (Ages 2-6, $15.95)
Tony DiTerlizzi’s stark black and white gouache and pencil sets off THE SPIDER AND THE FLY and earned him a Caldecott Honor. Based on a nineteenth century cautionary poem by Mary Howitt, poor foolish fly succumbs to wily spider. His flattery proves fatally irresistible. DiTerlizzi’s art, while enticing, is fortunately not at all fatal. In fact, it will prompt many revisits. 
(Ages 6++, $16.95)
Two additional books received Caldecott Honors. Peter McCarty’s gentle colored-pencil drawings for his book HONDO AND FABIAN set the right tone for a quiet story of friendship between a cat and a dog. (Ages 3-6, $16.95) 
In contrast, Jerry Pinkney’s lovely, realistic watercolors fill the pages of NOAH’S ARK. Employing spare text, Pinkney’s magnificent brushwork covers the pages to bring scripture to life. 
(Ages 2++, $15.95)

Michael L. Printz Awards
Michael L. Printz Award is given to the most outstanding young adult books published each year. This year’s winner and honor books are:
Winner
POSTCARDS FROM NO MAN’S LAND
by Aidan Chambers(Ages 13+, $19.99)
Honors

MY HEARTBEAT by Garret 
Freymann-Weyr
(Ages 14+, $15.00)
HOLE IN MY LIFE
by Jack Gantos 
(Ages 13+ $16.00)
THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION
by Nancy Farmer
(Ages 11+, $17.95)



Newsletter text Copyright 2003 © by Jody Shapiro.  All Rights Reserved.