News From All Over…

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 With chocolate bunny in hand, I’ve been catching up on the children’s book news and, as always, came across a few items to pass along.

 –    Jon Klassen, author and illustrator of the picture book I Want My Hat Back, has a new hat-themed story coming out in October. The new one is titled: This Is Not My Hat.  The original hat adventure was named one of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2011. Here’s the thing though….I was kind of mixed about it. The pictures are amazing. The story is clever and unexpected, and Klassen was immediately added to my list of illustrators to follow. But….as you may know by now, the bear (the character in search of his hat) eats the rabbit that is responsible for the hat’s loss.  Sorry to point that out on Easter!  I should be beyond sentimentality about a bunny who pays for his (her?) crimes, but I’m not.  Anyway…fingers crossed that the next Klassen story ends with all of the characters alive! 

 –    Mattel, the company behind Barbie, is coming out with a Katniss Everdeen doll that in their words is “created specifically for the adult collector.”  I’ve been thinking a lot about the Hunger Games phenomena because everyday I’m asked by younger students if we have the book in the library. On Thursday, when I was at a conference for school librarians, this was the first topic another librarian brought up while we were waiting for a session to begin. She asked what I was doing about 9 and 10-year old children who ask to check-out The Hunger Games.

I love the books. We read The Hunger Games with our middle school students and talk about reality television, adolescence as its own “arena,” and what the books say about the value we place on appearance. All three novels are compelling and thought provoking, but they are not, in my opinion, for 4th and 5th grade readers. They are incredibly violent, dark and complicated books. School Library Journal recommends them for grades 7 and up.  I know it’s risky to assign ages to books, but in general, I would recommend The Hunger Games to readers ages 12 and over.  By the way…in answer to the question, I tell younger students that the book is in our middle school book collection which is in a different building.

 –   The Guardian has this really fun list of the ten best Geeks in Children’s Books. Of course, Hermione made the list!  Here’s the link:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/childrens-books-site/2012/apr/04/geeks-in-children-s-books-top-10

–    I read a cute new picture book yesterday – King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bently and Helen Oxenbury. It actually reminds me of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.  When “King Jack” and his friends are building their fort (out of a cardboard box, an old sheet, some sticks, and a few other things), the illustrations are in black and white. But when this book’s “wild rumpus” begins, the “fighting dragons and beasts” fill the two page spreads with color and magic.

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