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#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women

Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale. Annick (PGW, dist.), $12.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-55451-957-6

The team behind Dreaming in Indian again celebrates a range of indigenous perspectives through a vivid mixture of poetry, essays, and artwork. The book’s four sections correlate to themes of connection, abuse, stereotype, and power. Lianne Charlie contributes a grid of collages and photographs that reflect her creative output and cultural influences while mimicking the platform (Instagram) where she shares them. Sexual abuse and drug addiction surface in several entries (“girls like me/ break every day/ in this great city,” reads Gwen Benaway’s haunting “Honor Song”), and Tiffany Midge’s blistering “What’s There to Take Back?” scoffs at a publication’s call for submissions on the subject of reclaiming Peter Pan’s Tiger Lily (“Would anyone want to reclaim Frito Bandito? Aunt Jemima?... They are made from the same poison”). A closing section highlights stories and images of hope—athletes who have found success, an interview with a Cree doctor who overcame a traumatic youth, and a spread dedicated to teenage Standing Rock activist Anna Lee Rain Yellowhammer. A moving and powerful collection that draws strength from the variety of voices and lived experiences it represents. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation

Monique Gray Smith. Orca, $29.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4598-1583-4

Smith (My Heart Fills with Happiness) thoroughly and compassionately examines the history and traumatic aftereffects of Canada’s residential schools, the longest-running of which only closed in 1996. The forced relocation of indigenous children into these schools over a period of more than 160 years—separating them from their families and culture, and frequently subjecting them to harsh punishments, as well as physical and sexual abuse—is a subject that needs to be faced head-on, Smith explains: “It is critical for us as a country to tell his truth and for you as a young citizen to know this history.” She assumes readers are coming to the book without prior knowledge, and she clearly describes the history behind the schooling system and how its abuses came to light while defining relevant terms (assimilation, Indian agent, systemic racism, etc.). Period photographs and accounts from living survivors of the schools make a gripping narrative all the more real, and reader-directed questions appear frequently in sidebars. Smith informs without overwhelming or sugarcoating, and she emphasizes the power readers themselves possess: “I hope you see that we have a beautiful opportunity for profound change.” Ages 9–13. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Roger Is Going Fishing

Koen Van Biesen, trans. from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson. Eerdmans, $16 (42p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5491-9

As this follow-up to Roger Reads a Book begins, the dapper gentleman and his young neighbor Emily are zipping through town on a shared bicycle, en route to a fishing trip. “Roger! Roger! I’ve got a bite,” shouts Emily again and again, as she snags a postal worker’s parcel, a woman’s umbrella, a boy’s skateboard, and other not-fish. The growing chain of men, women, children, and animals the duo leaves in their wake results in a messy tumble into the water when they reach their destination—and an impromptu party. There’s a constant sense of movement in Van Biesen’s elegant mixed-media illustrations, which balance a chic urban environment with loads of physical comedy. The repetition and sound effects built into the storytelling add to the fun (“Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Bumble-de-bump! Bumble-de-bump!”) as Van Biesen shows how serendipity and misadventure can result in an unforgettable day. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Hedgehugs: Autumn Hide-and-Squeak

Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper. Holt/Godwin, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-250-11248-4

In this companion to Hedgehugs and Hedgehugs and the Hattiepillar, hedgehog friends Horace and Hattie are a bit despondent as fall gets underway: the falling leaves are “pretty, but Hattie felt sad that the branches would soon be empty.” Sad thoughts are banished when the two run into a “squeaky thing” hanging from a tree; it’s a purple bat, and the three dive into a game of hide-and-seek that lasts for several pages (and is just challenging enough for younger readers to take part in). Collaged bits of photographic images add warmth to the autumn setting—fabrics with plaid, herringbone, and other patterns bring a cozy texture to leaves, pumpkins, and mushroom caps. It’s a straightforward story but also a helpful reminder that friends new and old can help make unwanted changes easier to bear. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Hooray for Books!

Brian Won. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-544-74802-6

Turtle is on the hunt for his missing favorite book in this follow-up to Hooray for Hat! and Hooray for Today! He knows he lent it to someone, but who? Zebra doesn’t have the book anymore, nor does Owl, Giraffe, or Elephant. The animals offer Turtle other reading options, but he’s committed to the hunt. Set against white backdrops, Won’s airy digital artwork quietly shows how the animals’ literary interests bleed into their lives—Giraffe loves a book about roller skating, and he straps on a pair as the group races to find the missing book. Plot-wise there isn’t much tension, and the repeated cheers of “Hooray for books!” don’t build much excitement around reading, but Won’s story makes it clear how shared passions and goals can bring friends together. Ages 4–7. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Rufus Blasts Off!

Kim T. Griswell, illus. by Valeri Gorbachev. Sterling, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4549-2099-1

Having fallen in with pirates in Rufus Goes to Sea!, book-loving pig Rufus seeks extraterrestrial adventures in his third outing. Griswell sticks to the rough script she used in the previous books: this time, instead of being denied a place in school or on a pirate ship because he’s a pig, Rufus can’t join a mission to Mars. But his ability to read eventually earns him a seat on the ship after a mission specialist falls ill; Rufus shares a story with all of Earth after he arrives on the Red Planet. Gorbachev’s scrappy ink-and-watercolor illustrations match the story’s sense of out-of-this-world fun, especially when Commander Luna is running down all the reasons pigs don’t belong in space: “They do loop-the-loops in the crew cabin.... And they always want to push the buttons.” Rufus’s fans should be tickled, but the plot retread may not win him many new ones. Ages 3–up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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There’s Nothing to Do!

Dev Petty, illus. by Mike Boldt. Doubleday, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-55803-0

The malcontented frog from I Don’t Want to Be a Frog and I Don’t Want to Be Big is at a loss about what to do with his day. “You can’t think of anything?” his father asks, working on a crossword puzzle. “I can think of lots of things... buuuuut I don’t want to do any of them,” replies the frog, wearing an expression that suggests he can’t believe his father would even ask such a question. Friends’ suggestions do nothing for the frog (“You should lick between your toes for a while,” proposes Cat), who eventually realizes that doing nothing—or at least being present in the moment—can be something in itself. Snappy, spot-on dialogue pairs ideally with the outsize drama of Boldt’s artwork; reading this book belongs on families’ to-do lists. Ages 3–7. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Monkey: Not Ready for Bedtime

Marc Brown. Knopf, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-101-93761-7

Having previously adjusted to kindergarten and a new sibling, Monkey struggles with falling asleep in this simultaneously funny and sympathetic story. Brown again uses childlike handwriting, pencil scribbles, and splotches of paint to give the sense that Monkey is telling his own story. Monkey’s complaints will be familiar to many families (“I’m thirsty,” “I’m not tired”), as will his parents’ efforts to help (warm milk, a backrub) and the effects of not enough sleep (a young lion stares at Monkey with concern the next day—he has fallen asleep mid-swing on the playground). Counting dinosaurs at bedtime leads to raucous fun (“He flies with the Dimorphodons. He rocks with T. rex”), an outpouring of energy that sends Monkey to sleep. Brown’s attention to detail in his gouache and colored pencil images elevates an otherwise familiar struggling-with-sleep story. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Lost Picnic

B.B. Cronin. Viking, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-101-99922-6

The bulldogs from The Lost House head out for a picnic in this subtle and elegantly surreal follow-up. Like that book, it’s also a seek-and-find story, but readers unfamiliar with The Lost House may not realize it until the end. Instead, Cronin traces Granddad and his grandchildren’s journey while quietly mentioning the food items that—unbeknownst to the bulldogs—are falling out of the wicker basket strapped to their vehicle. “They stop to take some pictures by a river and think about the three big pretzels they will eat later,” he writes, letting readers know what to look for. Like The Lost House, the book is filled with odd, mesmerizing details and eye-popping colors—even without something to search for, Cronin’s acrylic paintings are worth lingering over. Ages 3–7. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Max and Bird

Ed Vere. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4926-3558-1

Max, the black kitten introduced in Max the Brave, makes a new friend in Bird, but can birds and kittens be friends? “It’s a rule of nature. Birds get chased by kittens,” Max tells Bird, who has no interest in being chased or becoming a snack. “But friends don’t eat each other up!” protests Bird. Instead, they resolve to learn how to fly, resulting in a trip to the library and lots of ineffectual flapping on the part of both animals (Bird eventually gets the hang of it). Vere’s pared-down cartooning keeps the focus on this developing friendship (the two friends, both inky black with huge white eyes, appear against brightly colored, mostly empty backgrounds), and his droll narration (“They flapped in the morning. Not a bean. They flapped in the afternoon. Not a sausage”) provides lots of laughs along the way. Ages 3–6. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/18/2017 | Details & Permalink

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