Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Ellie Anders: The Playground Fundraiser

Craig Kunce. Windhill, $14 paper (164p) ISBN 978-1-944734-20-6

This optimistic addition to the Ellie Anders chapter book series shows that small decisions can bring about enormous change. On the last day of third grade, Ellie Anders, her little brother, Will, and her friend Lex go to their local park to celebrate the start of summer vacation. On the old, worn-down playground, Will breaks his arm (“you bent your bone, like a little tree branch bends”) when a swing chain snaps. After being told by City Hall that the playground equipment isn’t due to be replaced for four years, the kids raise money to replace the swings themselves, holding several events to reach their goal of $600. Kunce populates the story with adults who are eager to help, and with few obstacles to overcome, Ellie and her friends easily succeed in their fund-raising efforts, which spotlight the kids’ math skills. Line drawings reinforce the text throughout this encouraging tale, which introduces kids to the idea of raising money for worthy causes. Ages 5–10. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Gothamites

Eno Raud, trans. from the Estonian by Adam Cullen, illus. by Priit Pärn. Elsewhere Editions, $18 (44p) ISBN 978-1-939810-28-1

Famed Estonian children’s writer Raud first published his retelling of these traditional folktales decades ago; this edition offers new illustrations by his countryman, cartoonist Pärn. The first of the 11 stories, all serviceably translated by Cullen, explains that the men of Gotham, originally wise, were always away advising foreign rulers. They then vow to become foolish so they can stay at home. In the stories that follow, they try trapping heat from a stove with a rabbit snare, condemn a crayfish to death by drowning, and many other equally idiotic endeavors. Slapstick-style dialogue runs heavily to random shouts and epithets: “Fire and faraday!... Oh, you scamps and vagabonds!” Readers may find laughs in Pärn’s manic, outsider-art-style spreads, but it’s dark laughter. Multitudes of tiny, lumpy Gothamites dance, gesticulate, and simply stand gaping, like Where’s Waldo? crowds that have lost the power of reason. The same characters appear again and again: one parachutes off roofs with an open umbrella; another battles an overcoat as if it were a living thing. An unusual take on traditional tales. Ages 5–8. (June)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
We Are the Gardeners

Joanna Gaines, illus. by Julianna Swaney. Tommy Nelson, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4003-1422-5

Persistence and teamwork pay off in this picture book debut by the costar (with husband Chip Gaines) of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, who recounts her family’s gardening exploits. Relayed in the communal voice of four Gaines offspring, the narrative retains its chirpiness even when things go awry, as when the very first plant their father buys—a wispy fern—droops and dies, a victim of the kids’ overzealous watering efforts (“death by overhydration”). In pastel-hued pictures, Swaney (Mermaid School) underscores the young gardeners’ good intentions as they line up, each holding a watering can, to do their part, but they soon acknowledge that “by mistake, we loved that plant to death.” A replacement fern sips from a teacup after library books teach the children that “most plants have good manners and like to sip, not gulp.” The family eventually moves their garden outdoors, where their diligence yields bountiful vegetables and flowers, charmingly depicted in the art, despite occasional interference by villainous insects and “sneaky” animal trespassers. The arrival of a new baby boosts the feel-good quotient of this book about hard work and “everyday miracles,” a surefire hit with the Gaines family’s followers. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks

Evan Turk. Atheneum, $18.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3282-6

Splendid landscapes by Turk (Heartbeat) celebrate America’s national parks. In free verse that enumerates their natural riches, he pays homage to a number of parks (labeled in corresponding spreads) with the incantatory refrain of the title: “to the herds of elk/ trumpeting the arrival of fall;/ to the forests of twinkling aspen/ turned golden by the shortening days./ you are home.” The title phrase applies to park visitors, too: “to the child in the city,/ surrounded by windows,/ noise, and crowds... you are home.” In the text—and more fully in an author’s note—Turk acknowledges that the parks’ establishment sometimes meant the removal of their indigenous inhabitants: “to the child whose ancestors/ lived on these lands before the stars and stripes/ took them as their own./ you are still home.” In consistently powerful spreads, the artist highlights the play of sun and shadow over mountains and canyons with fiery oranges, deep rusts and cobalts, and velvety black. There are 58 U.S. national parks, and 22 appear here, from Yosemite and Yellowstone to Biscayne Bay. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting testament to their grandeur. Ages 4–8. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (June)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Where Are You From?

Yamile Saied Méndez, illus. by Jaime Kim. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-283993-0

A girl with brown skin and dark curly pigtails encounters variations on the title question over and over. “Is your mom from here?” asks her ballet teacher. “Is your dad from there?” asks a friend’s mother. From her Abuelo, the girl learns she comes from the Pampas region of Argentina, and that she descends from “the gaucho, brave and strong” and those who were once “in chains because of the color of their skin.” As text by Méndez (Blizzard Besties) transports the duo, Kim (La La La) places them at the center of a series of expansive digitized-watercolor spreads that celebrate various natural wonders and history (with no afterword, however—readers are on their own to decode the historic and geographic references, such as the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an Argentine human rights organization). Although the book begins as a gentle riposte to narrow cultural and ethnic categorizations, its conclusion reaches out to all readers, evoking both heritage and the human family: pointing to his heart, Abuelo says, “You’re from here, from my love and the love of all those before us.... You are from all of us.” Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Linda Camacho, Gallt and Zacker Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Claire Easton, Painted Words. (June)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Codzilla

David Zeltser, illus. by Jared Chapman. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06257-067-3

In this comical story of individuality and ingenuity, a giant orange codfish must find a way to embrace his size. Gentle giant and shark-fact enthusiast Bertie towers over his classmates, making an easy target for Maxwell, a fellow cod who persuades classmates to call the fish Codzilla. Pushed to his limit, Bertie snaps; he eats Maxwell and hopes that’s the end of it, but when others protest, the enormous cod is forced to gobble up more classmates (even the school nurse). The opportunity to set things right soon presents itself in the form of a hungry, jacket-wearing shark, against whom Bertie’s size and shark expertise proves deeply useful. Cartoon illustrations by Chapman (Vegetables in Underwear) plainly convey the silliness of the fishy tale by Zeltser (The Night Library) while communicating the very real emotions—anxiety, guilt, and satisfaction—that Bertie’s situation evokes. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (June)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Tooth & Claw: The Dinosaur Wars

Deborah Noyes. Viking, $18.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-425-28984-6

The title of this account aptly references both the breakthrough discoveries and the obsessive rivalry between two 19th-century American paleontologists. Born into a Quaker family in Philadelphia, Edward Cope was a self-taught prodigy with a passion for the natural sciences. While traveling in Europe, Cope met Othniel Charles Marsh, who would become Yale’s first professor of paleontology, and the two bonded over their shared ambition—before “the blade of rivalry” severed their friendship. Noyes (The Magician and the Spirits) provides a snappily written account of the equally indomitable scientists’ frenzied race to be the first to locate, excavate, and assemble dinosaur bones and name species. Laced with jealousy, betrayal, sabotage, and revenge, this quest brings them to various sites as their professional and personal enmity plays out in the press. The author provides insight into the rivals’ outsize personalities and casts their story against the volatile political, territorial, and economic landscapes of the era. Still, while she acknowledges that white Americans were then conducting an “attack on the Plains Indians’ way of life,” her language veers into bias in places, generalizing the Crow as “congenial” and “peaceful” and some lands as “unknown terrain.” Sidebars and cameos give the book additional historical context. Ages 10–up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer

Emily Arnold McCully. Candlewick, $19.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9356-5

McCully (She Did It!) dramatically details the life of Augusta Ada Lovelace (1815–1852), the person first credited with understanding a computer’s potential beyond mathematical calculation. Lovelace’s father was the poet Lord Byron, and her childhood was framed by her principled, domineering mother’s determination to eradicate all traces of his paternity. Privately tutored in mathematics to ward off any poetical instincts, Lovelace thrived intellectually even as she endured physical ill-health and her mother’s emotional coldness. Her introduction at age 17 to her future mentor and collaborator Charles Babbage, inventor of the earliest computer prototypes, changed her life, offering intellectual food and challenge. McCully proceeds with clear explanations of Lovelace’s intellectual activities—in particular, Note G, in which Lovelace proposes an algorithm considered to be the first for a computer—while blending a largely sympathetic view of her personal life: marriage, offspring, gambling and other addictions, and early death from uterine cancer. Archival photos and illustrations, appendices, source notes, a glossary, and a bibliography deepen the portrait of this singular figure whose impact on science and technology has long been understated. Ages 10–14. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Martin and Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank

Nancy Churnin, illus. by Yevgenia Nayberg. Creston, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-939547-53-8

Churnin (Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing) adds to her repertoire of biographies for children with this side-by-side comparison of Martin Luther King Jr. and Anne Frank. Both born in 1929, though an ocean apart, each endured discrimination and, eventually, death because of who they were. A straightforward narrative points out that, while they never met, the contemporaries were connected by shared experiences: being shunned by their peers as children; experiencing injustices small and large (“Everywhere Martin went, he saw signs that said, ‘Whites Only’... Every day, more signs blared, ‘No Jews Allowed’ ”); and finally finding power in words and self-expression. Stylized illustrations by Nayberg (Anya’s Secret Society) initially employ a muted color palette of tawny, brooding hues, while ending spreads in brighter greens and blues strike a hopeful note. As the teenage diarist and civil rights leader stand together, the timeless, powerful themes they heralded form the conclusion: “Love is stronger than hate. Kindness can heal the world.” A timeline and selected bibliography are included. Ages 8–14. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel: A Modern Retelling of Little Women

Rey Terciero, illus. by Bre Indigo. Little, Brown, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-316-52288-5

This graphic novel retelling of Little Women reimagines the March sisters as a blended family—Meg and her father are black, Jo and her mother are white, and their younger siblings, Beth and Amy, are biracial—in a modern-day Brooklyn setting. With their father in the military, fighting in the Middle East (“making the world a safer place” for “my little women,” he writes), and their mother struggling with the emotional and financial stress of single parenthood, the girls vow to think beyond themselves to help their mother and “be strong,” like her. Readers familiar with the original will find the sisters’ personalities familiar, but Terciero and Indigo give the sisters timely concerns. Eldest sister Meg must make serious decisions about her future, youngest sister Amy faces racist bullying at school, and Jo is hiding her queer identity from her family and friends, including neighbor Laurie. And for shy budding musician Beth, recent tiredness hints at an illness that can’t be ignored. Journal entries and emails to their father give readers a deeper understanding of the siblings’ inner emotions and turmoil while adding dimension and realism to comfortable sibling banter. Smart and thoughtfully rendered, this modern retelling will resonate with today’s readers. Ages 9–12. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 03/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.