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
Goodnight, Ark

Laura Sassi, illus. by Jane Chapman. . Zonderkidz, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-310-73784-1

Sassi's debut offers a fun twist to the oft-told story of Noah's ark. After boarding the ark, the animals, frightened by the storm, clamber two by two into Noah's bed. Short, dramatic rhymes full of onomatopoeic words and ellipses build suspense: "Crash! Boom! Rumble! Thunder quakes./ Wakes the... ELEPHANTS AND SNAKES!/ Thump, stomp, slither, up they scurry./ Curl by Noah in a hurry." With animals all piled in one room, the ark tips, and Noah's bed breaks, terrifying the skunks with humorously stinky repercussions. From this chaotic apex, Noah restores calm: "Softly, Noah starts to croon/ a soothing, sleepy nighttime tune." Chapman's (Bear Snores On) paintings in hues of brown, orange, and blue capture the story's manic energy and playful tone. A scene of Noah snoozing soundly while boars burrow under his red patchwork quilt, quail fly, sheep leap around the room, lightning zigzags outside his window, and the skunks sleep peacefully under his bed creates anticipation of the frenzied drama to unfold. A fresh addition to the crowded shelf of Noah's ark books. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Bubbe's Belated Bat Mitzvah

Isabel Pinson, illus. by Valeria Cis. . Kar-Ben, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-1949-0

Naomi's 95-year-old great-grandmother Bubbe never had a Bat Mitzvah; she grew up in an era when "girls didn't study Hebrew and weren't called to the Torah." Determined to set that to rights, Naomi persuades Bubbe to celebrate an adult Bat Mitzvah, and she mobilizes all her cousins across the country to lend their talents and ensure that Bubbe's bima appearance garners a resounding "Mazel Tov!" Naomi helps Bubbe practice the Hebrew of her Torah portion and quells the older woman's last-minute nerves, another cousin plays writing coach for the obligatory speech, and so on. Pinson makes an assured authorial debut with a much-needed story about an increasingly common Jewish life cycle ritual. The concise, straightforward prose sidesteps sentimentality while emphasizing Naomi's calm, focused, take-charge style; this girl has future CEO written all over her. Cis's (A Tale of Two Seders) warmhearted acrylic illustrations have naïve touches and recurring circular elements that convey an extended but close-knit family rolling up its collective sleeves on behalf of a beloved matriarch. Ages 3–9. Illustrator's agent: Mela Bolinao, MB Artists. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes

Juan Felipe Herrera, illus. by Ra%C3%BAl Col%C3%B3n. . Dial, $19.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3809-6

California Poet Laureate Herrera (The Upside Down Boy) profiles 19 famous Hispanic-Americans in this collection of short biographies. Each entry opens with a light-infused mixed-media portrait by Colón (Abuelo), followed by nearly three pages highlighting the person's life and career. The vignettes don't overwhelm with dates and places, instead providing interesting snippets about the scientists, entertainers, civil rights workers, doctors, artists, politicians, educators, and judges. Readers learn, for example, that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor "read every Nancy Drew novel she could get her hands on" when growing up, and that Civil War naval commander David Farragut's ("Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!") father hailed from Spain. Two final spreads break from the pattern of biographies, with one focusing on Hero Street in small Silvis, Ill., home to numerous war veterans of Mexican-American heritage. The last spread pays tribute to Victoria Leigh Soto, a teacher killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, with a poem: "your heart was strong/ To learn, to explore.../ A leader with heart, for all occasions." Source notes, a bibliography, and recommended reading conclude this retrospective look at some of the Latinos and Latinas who helped shape the United States. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Isla and the Happily Ever After

Stephanie Perkins. Dutton, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-42563-2

Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss) completes her trilogy of interlinked romances with a strong finale that examines the emotional intensity of a relationship from its earliest stages. Isla, a senior at the School of America in Paris, has had a crush on fellow senior Josh since freshman year, but it is only now that he reciprocates her feelings; their relationship quickly gathers steam. Perkins takes full advantage of her romantic Parisian setting, though the intimacy she establishes between her characters through penetrating dialogue and insight into the agonies and ecstasies of first love would shine anywhere. When Josh gets expelled and the couple becomes estranged, Isla spirals into despair that Perkins explores with aching intensity. Isla's vulnerability, coupled with her burgeoning sense of identity and desire to maintain her individuality in life and in love, makes her an especially rich character. The supporting cast, including Isla's high-functioning autistic friend Kurt, her prickly younger sister, and Josh himself are equally well realized, and the author's fans will enjoy appearances from characters from past books, too. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kate Schafer Testerman, kt literary. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Bombay Blues

Tanuja Desai Hidier. . Scholastic/Push, $18.99 (560p) ISBN 978-0-545-38478-0

Dimple Lala, the Indian-American shutterbug whose teenage identity crisis and romance with the deejay Karsh were chronicled in Born Confused (2002), returns in this lovingly detailed homage to Bombay. As Dimple and Karsh arrive in India—she for her cousin Sangita's wedding, he to find closure after the death of his father and to break into the local club scene—they become increasingly estranged. Hidier's eye for awkward moments of cultural collision remains strong, as demonstrated in the cringe-inducing scene when the expatriate Karsh attempts to play traditional Punjabi music at a hip club more interested in electronica. When Karsh pushes Dimple away, seeking consolation in a religious sect, Dimple has a fling with a fellow photographer. Meanwhile, her soon-to-be-married cousin is disappearing at odd hours, and Sangita's lesbian sister, Kavita, plans to come out to the family. Once again, Hidier delivers an immersive blend of introspection, external drama, and lyricism, though the densely allusive prose ("my avast went ahoy. I gave my family the slip, took that last ship, akinship to Chuim Village. Left the banks of sense for the undercurrent") may leave some readers in the dust. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Can't Look Away

Donna Cooner. . Scholastic/Point, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-42765-4

In a story about loss, sensationalism, and the double-edged sword of fame, pretty, popular Torrey has "cultivated a loyal following" by posting beauty tips and "haul videos" (showing off recent purchases) online as Beautystarz15. After a drunk driver kills her younger sister, Torrey's views surge into the millions, even though she hasn't uploaded a video since the tragedy. Moving with her parents from Colorado to Texas, Torrey tries to retain her social status but is plagued by nightmares and insensitive online comments, especially after a video leaks, showing her fighting with her sister the day of the accident. When Torrey meets handsome Luis, the outcast son of a funeral home owner, they form a close and candid bond that will never fly with the popular girls at her new school. She also must decide how to handle her return to being Beautystarz15 and grapple with her grief both personally and publically. While Cooner (Skinny) builds Torrey's emotional life skillfully and tackles complex moral questions, the ideas she introduces are not explored in enough depth to make Torrey's transformation entirely believable. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary. (Aug.) Ghosting Edith Pattou. Amazon/Skyscape, $16.99 (392p) ISBN 978-1-4778-4774-9 Pattou (East) establishes a precarious narrative structure for this story of a prank gone tragically wrong, told in eight different voices (nine counting the police chief) and through free verse. The results are mixed: some characters are vividly drawn, including Maxie, who used to live in town and has moved back in time for senior year; Anil, the smart boy who's astonished to find himself dating beautiful Chloe; and Chloe herself. But that leaves more than half the characters—Emma and Felix, once Maxie's best friends; Emma's boyfriend and sister; and the lonely boy who lives near the graveyard—feeling more like outlines. Pattou's verse is frequently lovely, providing arresting imagery, yet the format can seem arbitrary, often scanning more like sentences with line breaks than words that have found their necessary form. The chief strength in this tale of the bad luck and bad choices that lead to violence isn't the climactic central event; it's watching these disparate teens, particularly Anil and Maxie, relate to one another. The overburdened storytelling provides only glimpses of these powerful moments. Ages 13–up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Rise of the Undead Redhead

Meghan Dougherty, illus. by Alece Birnbach. . Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $6.99 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-4022-9535-5

In Dougherty and Birnbach's debut, 11-year-old Dorothy and her younger sister have been sent to stay with their costume-wearing, fun-loving grandmother, who lives in a funeral home and has a warm heart beneath her nutty exterior. It turns out that Grandma was a roller derby queen in her day, a story that includes the mysterious death of a teammate who haunts Galactic Skate, the place Dorothy and her new friends begin training for their own roller derby team. They are coached by Grandma and assisted by Max, the cute worker who becomes Dorothy's crush. Meanwhile, the popular Pompoms tease the misfits on Dorothy's team, though lead mean girl Alex has secrets that set her apart. Birnbach's spot illustrations and comics sequences pepper the story, showcasing skating action and hinting at the characters' vivacious personalities. Speaking to the insecurities of middle school, parental abandonment, and the thrill of a crush, this first book in the Dorothy's Derby Chronicles series should easily drum up excitement among readers who aren't afraid to get their elbows bruised. Ages 9–up. (July)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Kinda Like Brothers

Coe Booth. . Scholastic Press, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-545-22496-3

In her first novel for middle-grade readers, Booth (Bronxwood) introduces an African-American family in Newark who open their home to foster children. By the time Kevon, 12, and his two-year-old sister, Treasure, arrive in the middle of the night, 11-year-old Jarrett has had enough of his mother's charity. Jarrett is forced to share a room with Kevon, who acts distant and ungrateful, and he's also annoyed to be attending summer school, with the threat of having to repeat the sixth grade. Even his usual joys—crushing on his down-to-earth friend Caprice, taking step class at a neighborhood center, and making horror movie trailers with his best friend—are overshadowed by Kevon's presence. Jarrett snoops into Kevon's past in hopes of getting rid of him, but, predictably, the truth he uncovers evokes sympathy. Booth offers candid insight into racism, poverty, and the foster care system without becoming heavy-handed; she also sensitively depicts a character's coming-out moment. Jarrett's evolution from a position of resistance to an acceptance of circumstances beyond his control is believably subtle. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Flat Rabbit

B%C3%A1rdur Oskarsson, trans. from the Faroese by Marita Thomsen. . Owlkids (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-77147-059-9

Bittersweet subject matter is handled with dark Scandinavian wit as a scraggly cartoon dog and rat regard a flattened rabbit lying in the street. Author-illustrator Oskarsson, who hails from the Faroe Islands, is discreet about how the rabbit has arrived at her two-dimensional state, but her shocked expression and outstretched limbs make the scene funny rather than grisly. "I think she's from number 34," says the dog. "I've never talked to her, but I peed on the gate a couple of times, so we've definitely met." The rabbit's plight moves the dog and the rat to act. They carefully remove her from the road, and, after a night of hard work, produce a kite, tape her to it, and send her aloft: "The kite was now so high up in the air they almost couldn't see the rabbit on it anymore." The rat takes a turn on the kite with her, and the last image shows the town from above. It's a touching scene of liberation from gravity, Earth, and city living—though also a startlingly abrupt ending for the story. Ages 4–up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Scarecrows' Wedding

Julia Donaldson, illus. by Axel Scheffler. . Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-72606-1

Scarecrows Betty O'Barley and Harry O'Hay are getting married, and it promises to be an endearingly DIY affair, requiring only "A dress of white feathers/ a necklace of shells/ Lots of pink flowers/ two rings and some bells." But what seems to be an innocuous wedding planning story, with lots of cute farm animal friends eagerly helping the happy couple, takes a dark turn when Harry goes missing while searching for flowers. His scarecrow replacement is a cigar-smoking, esteem-crushing ("You're really quite pretty, apart from your hair") scarecrow, aptly named Reginald Rake, who tries to woo Betty (and then inadvertently sets her on fire). Donaldson and Scheffler (Superworm) are in sync as ever, from the simple rhymes that move the story forward at a fast clip to an expressive cast (even the grasshoppers seem to have rich inner life) and a dastardly villain, who readers will be glad to see depart. The only downside is the story's shopworn path to its happy ending, with Betty as a hapless damsel in distress and Harry as her fortuitously reappearing knight in tattered garments. Ages 4–8. (July)

Reviewed on 08/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
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.