Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
A Handful of Stars

Cynthia Lord. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-545-70027-6

It is a summer of change for 12-year-old Lily, who lives with her grandparents above their general store in rural Maine. Having grown apart from her boy-obsessed best friend and coping with her dog’s increasing blindness, Lily finds a kindred spirit in Salma, whose migrant family works in the local blueberry fields. One constant in Lily’s life is her longing for her absent mother, whose personality and fate Lord (Half a Chance) reveals measuredly. Salma, too, is grieving, having lost her own dog and many friends due to her family’s frequent moves. Lord links images beautifully: Lily shows Salma how the fluted top of a blueberry resembles a star, and Salma confides that she is comforted knowing that the stars overhead are the same ones shining on her loved ones far away. Salma’s artistic creativity and gumption awaken Lily to the power of imagination, the importance of embracing change and knowing when to let go of the past, and the rewards of venturing beyond one’s comfort zone. Ages 8–12. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (May)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Nuts in Space

Elys Dolan. Candlewick/Nosy Crow, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7609-4

Dolan follows Weasels with another goofy, geeky spoof, this time tipping her hat to The Odyssey, Star Wars, and Star Trek, with a little Tolkien included for good measure. Having secured the “Lost Nuts of Legend,” the Forest Fleet’s finest starship crew is out of food, out of patience, and determined to get home. But after one of the ravenous crewmembers eats the map, the crew has to navigate the old-fashioned way: by asking for directions. Throwing the Prime Directive to the winds, the crew sows mayhem at locales that include a nut-free planet full of allergic aliens and a Death Banana populated with monkey storm troopers. Dolan skillfully choreographs her densely populated and detailed spreads with an array of compositional tricks, using short text blocks to help readers track the story. She shows no signs of slowing down as a joke machine: there are dialogue bubbles galore to giggle over, as well as visual nudges: note that the Vader-like leader of the Death Banana has a coffee mug that reads, “World’s Best Evil Overlord.” Ages 5–8. (May)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Boy Who Loved the Moon

Rino Alaimo. Familius, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-939629-76-0

Italian filmmaker Alaimo offers a book adaptation of his 2012 short film, The Boy and the Moon. It’s a classic romance in which a knight pursues a lady—but the knight is a boy with an upturned nose, and the lady is the moon hanging in his window. Night-black spreads lit with warm, copper-tinged light show the boy diving into the sea for an exquisite pearl, then slaying a dragon for its diamond eye. But the moon rejects his gifts. At last he ties a rope around her to keep her in the sky as the sun rises, giving her, in a dazzling revelation of light, “the beauty of the colors of the day” and winning her love. Some readers may be puzzled by the boy’s devotion to the moon; it’s a crescent shape hanging in the sky with no visible reactions or expressions—a celestial object rather than a character. And while the book stops when the boy and the moon unite, the film continues on to a different conclusion. Still, it’s clear that Alaimo is a polished craftsman in both mediums. Ages 5–8. (May)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Princess and the Pony

Kate Beaton. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-63708-4

Beaton, whose “Hark, a Vagrant!” webcomic has won her a devoted audience, makes her picture-book debut with a story starring Pinecone, a Viking princess, and the dumpy, walleyed pony sometimes seen in her comics. The pony functions as a (very) blank canvas onto which other characters project their expectations; here, it’s what Pinecone’s parents give her when she asks for a “real warrior’s horse” for her birthday. She’s appalled, “but you can’t say no to a birthday present, so she took the little pony to her room, where it ate things it shouldn’t have, and farted too much.” When it’s time for the great battle, Princess Pinecone fears the pony will humiliate her. Instead, it melts the heart of Otto the Awful, the meanest warrior of all. “Awww, what a cute little pony!” he murmurs. Beaton champions a bouquet of affirming themes: strong girls, acceptance of difference, and battling with nothing more violent than dodgeballs, spitballs, and other related objects. It’s a smart, brisk story that tosses aside conventional ideas of what princesses (and ponies) are “supposed” to be. Ages 4–8. Agent: Seth Fishman, Gernert Company. (June)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Only Fish Fall from the Sky

Leif Parsons. PowerHouse/Pow!, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-57687-757-9

On the opening page of Parsons’s debut, a boy stretches luxuriously. “When I woke up,” he says, “I remembered I had the strangest dream. I dreamt that water fell from the sky.” On the right-hand page, a huge fish hurtles downward. “How ridiculous,” the boy continues. “Everyone knows only fish fall from the sky.” The spread that follows makes the point as dozens of fish pour down on a dense agglomeration of buildings, vehicles, and pedestrians whose upside-down umbrellas are perfect for catching them. This is the book’s running gag—the boy’s dream world is our humdrum reality, while what’s ordinary in his world is surreal in ours. A spectacles-wearing squirrel writes in a workbook (“Why wouldn’t everyone want to go to school?), and a lemur pirouettes with a hot dog (“Everyone knows, it is only polite to dance at dinner”). The story’s final pages slip the boy gently back into (our) world. The first reading will offer giggles, while Parson’s jam-packed pages supply a stream of details for subsequent viewings. Ages 3–7. (May)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Go to Sleep, Maddie!

Maureen Wright, illus. by Elizabeth Schlossberg. Amazon/Two Lions, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4778-2627-0

A pigtailed girl named Maddie is trying every trick in the book to forestall bedtime, asking her parents for water and a story (she’s had both already), complaining about the dark (the nightlight is on), and worrying about monsters (family dog Roofus is standing guard). Her parents calmly deflect each delay tactic, and Maddie gets a taste of her own medicine when her toys spring to life, peppering her with similar requests. “Quackers! Quackers!” cries Duck, dressed like a pirate and demanding a snack. “Mo-o-o-o-n!” wails Cow, asking Maddie to open the curtains. “The mo-o-o-o-n is my nightlight.” Schlossberg’s (On the Way to Kindergarten) gauzy pastel cartoons exude just enough mischief to keep things interesting without derailing the book’s “No, really. It’s bedtime” messaging. Wright (Grumpy Groundhog) has great fun with the animals’ onomatopoeic demands (many children will be tempted to request future bedtime stories with a “R-read it. R-read it,” like Frog). And by allowing Maddie to play the roles of both needy child and patient caregiver, Wright and Schlossberg simultaneously cater to children’s desires to be doted on and to show off their competence. Ages 3–7. (May)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Troto and the Trucks

Uri Shulevitz. FSG/Ferguson, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-374-30080-7

Shulevitz (Dusk) tells an underdog story about a little green car that could. Troto—whose name presumably rhymes with auto—“liked to go places,” and one day he trundles past saguaros and boulders to the town of Cactusville. There he meets three oversize, unfriendly vehicles. A locomotive-shaped truck called Big Red taunts Troto, and the others follow suit: “ ‘It’s a bug on wheels,’ said Big Blue. ‘Careful, don’t step on it,’ said Big Yellow.” Troto challenges them to a race at high noon, through dusty Cactus Canyon, where one truck succumbs to a flat, another teeters off-balance, and the third catches its monster tires between rock walls. Victory enables Troto to “[drive] off into the sunset, casting a big shadow.” Shulevitz’s closing-curtain reference to a Hollywood Western suggests missed opportunities for development. Cactusville resembles a clapboard ghost town, with a lone “gas saloon” marquee but nary a soul (or car) in sight, and Troto’s triumph yields nothing more than a “Congratulations!” from his foes. Self-propelled, competition-minded machines are popular fare in books and film alike, but this slight tale gives no motivation for its drama. Ages 3–6. (May)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Ah!

Géraldine Collet, illus. by Estelle Billon Spagnol. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3199-1

Originally published in France, Collet’s (All by Myself!) offbeat story traces a white rabbit’s befuddling day as it explores a tunnel, gets bitten by a mosquito, tries to shake off a spider, and falls in love. With ears like TV antennae and the rotund body of a wombat, the rabbit isn’t much of a talker (the text consists mostly of exclamations and sound effects), but he makes up for it with his dramatic antics. Having realized that a tiny blue spider is resting on his head, the rabbit leaps, twirls, and sweats his way across two spreads before collapsing into a nap (at which point the spider climbs right back onto him). Spagnol (Little Benguin) carries the visual comedy into the story’s climactic love sequence, in which the hero woos a similar-looking female rabbit. Their courtship is short-lived—she has a blue spider on her, too, and the rabbits run screaming in opposite directions after they spot them—but the spiders get a happy ending, at least. An amusing, if somewhat thin, adventure for those who like their humor absurd. Ages 2–5. (May)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Clockwork City

Meredith McClaren. Image, $15.99 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-63215-253-4

Upon awakening, a bewildered girl named Orio becomes the newest resident of Cobble, a mechanical city inhabited by all manner of robotic people and their familiars, known as "odds." Orio's odd is a troublemaking, skull-faced feline named Bauble, but there's more to the little scamp than meets the eye, as revealed in a flashback/nightmare in which Bauble gives a dormant Orio a pocket watch. As Orio acclimates to her surroundings and tries her hand at a series of pre-approved jobs, Bauble's past catches up with them in the form of a terrifying predator—it resembles a panther created from bolted-together sheet metal—that appears to be after Orio's watch. While there is a resolution, myriad questions remain, likely to be answered in future installments. In this first book in the Hinges series (which originated online), McClaren strongly establishes the look and feel of Orio's analog world and its inhabitants with her polished, almost carved-out forms. Orio's continued silence (her first and only words arrive in the book's closing pages) emphasizes her disorientation and otherness while revealing McClaren's talent for wordless breakdowns and timing. Ages 9–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Invisible Girl

Mariel Hemingway and Ben Greenman. Regan Arts (S&S, dist.), $19.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-941393-24-6

This YA counterpart to Hemingway's adult memoir, Out Came the Sun (which is being published simultaneously), focuses on the childhood and early teenage years of the actor, born into a famous (and famously tormented) family. Writing in the voice of her young self ("I don't know if I told you, but my grandfather is Ernest Hemingway, one of the greatest writers of all time and in the whole world, I think"), Hemingway candidly describes her home life, darkened by her parents' frequent drinking and fighting. The youngest of three, Hemingway recalls feeling like an invisible observer at home, while at school, her earnest attempts to fit in lead her to wonder, "Why am I one person in the outside world and another in my head?" Interspersed lists titled "Things to Think About" give readers added insight into Hemingway's observations and emotions, and she provides numerous resources for those facing problems that plagued her family, including substance and domestic abuse, depression, OCD, and eating disorders. A well-intentioned account of a family's struggles, but its impact is undercut by a naïve narrative tone that borders on condescending. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.