Archive for July, 2009


matiseeAdd this title to other juvenile books concerned with missing works of art, like Baliett’s Chasing Vermeer and Broach’s Masterpiece. This one has an interesting, albeit incredible twist, because Matisse Jones, a talented eleven-year-old boy, dupes all the art experts by replacing an original Henri Matisse portrait of his son Pierre with his own reproduction. Jones knows he is in deep trouble and tries different ploys to return the original to the museum. There is even an appearance of Pierre Matisse, the subject of the painting, who teaches Jones to know what is real in art. Jones is not the only creative one in his family. His father invents oversized barbecue grills that can cook 130 pound porkers and even a wild boar. His older sister Frida dresses exclusively in purple and sews her own unusual outfits. Jones is deeply embarrassed by his offbeat family because the other kids laugh at his father when he marches down the road pushing his barbecue contraption. There are funny moments as when Matisse is forced to help drive the barbecue and it gets away from him. Bragg mixes slap stick, family relationships, and the meaning of art in this quick-paced novel.

J-Fiction  Recommended- Lillian Hecker (Pelham)


July 27, 2009 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

THE KIND OF FRIENDS WE USED TO BE by Frances O’Roark Dowell (Atheneum, 2009)

kind of friendsThis sequel to THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS stands reasonably well on its own, but will be better appreciated by those who have read about the preceding year of Kate and Marylin’s relationship, to which they allude so often.  Now the girls are moving beyond that wrenching time when they realized they were becoming interested in different things and they are attempting to salvage their previous closeness, while maintaining their individuality.  Told in alternating chapters, the recounting of their first months as eighth graders will strike a chord with girls of the same age or a tad younger.  Kate tries to teach herself guitar and write her own songs, Marylin begins to assert herself in spite of the queen of the cheerleaders’ pressure and discovers that she has good ideas for the Student Government.  Kate agrees and becomes her campaign manager.  So there is a rapprochement and Kate and Marylin become more comfortable with each other again.  They realize that they’ll never be exactly the friends they used to be—but they can be friends.

J-Fiction, recommended- Miriam Lang Budin (Chappaqua)

July 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

OUR CHILDREN CAN SOAR: A CELEBRATION OF ROSA, BARACK AND THE PIORNEERS OF CHANGE written by Michelle Cook. Foreword by Marian Wright Edelman, illustrated by 13 distinguished artists. (Bloomsbury)

soar“Rosa sat so Martin could march.  Martin marched so Barack could run.  Barack ran so our children can soar!”  An inspiring celebration of African American history and the power of individual lives to make a difference—this beautifully illustrated book puts the pieces together into a single story that is thrilling.  Westchester artist Eric Velasquez did the spread on Obama, capturing the excitement and the promise of his campaign.

Nonfiction/Picture Book, highly recommended- Judith (WLS)

July 1, 2009 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

YOU? written and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky (Harcourt)

youA tender romance between a lonely little dog and a lonely little girl plays out with visual humor, gentle tension and leads to a satisfying and inevitable climax.  Both are in the park and both watch a parade of dogs and owners pass by—each one thinking how they would love that dog (or that owner) until finally they notice each other and it’s destiny fulfilled.  The artwork has a quirky hip feel which gives it spice.  Nice to pair this with Chris Raschka’s Yo! Yes?

Picture Book, recommended- Judith (WLS)

July 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

HOMEGROWN HOUSE by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (McElderry)

homegrownWhile her 65-yr-old grandmother has lived in just two houses, our 8-yr-old heroine has already lived in three.  Having finally adjusted to her latest home, the prospect of another move looms in the near future.  Wong captures the girl’s frustrations and anxieties as well as her resiliency and resourcefulness in coming to terms with the situation—aided by a loving grandmother whose own house becomes the inspiration for ideas for the new house.  Lewis’ light-filled illustrations afford some unusual perspectives and add greatly to the appeal of a story that hits its mark.

Picture Books, recommended- Judith (WLS)

July 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment