Thursday, August 30, 2012
Drummer Boy of John John, by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frané Lessac received a starred review in Kirkus:
A roti (a folded pancake "filled with chicken and secret herbs and spices") might not seem like a rich enough prize to inspire the creation of a musical instrument, but Winston is hungry, and he knows that the best band in the Carnival parade will win one. He discovers that cookie tins and paint cans in the junkyard make sounds ("tom ping tom pah") and that he can "tune" the metal surfaces by hammering them. This is a biography of a real person: Winston "Spree" Simon is the creator of Trinidad's signature steel drum. Working in gouache, Lessac, who worked with Greenwood on THE DONKEY OF GALLIPOLI, combines bright tropical backgrounds of lemon yellow, sky blue, and palm green with the crowns, feathers, streamers, and rhinestones of Carnival costumes to make folk art–style paintings with firecracker energy. Funky onomatopoeia should give out-loud readings pizzazz ("The chac-chac players rattled rustling sounds. Shoush-shap shukka-shap shoush-shap shukka-shap"), and dynamic type makes the words shimmy on the page. Valuable both for its portrait of a child inventor and a vibrant community of color.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Frané Lessac and Mark Greenwood celebrate their new books, THE GREATEST LIAR ON EARTH and THE DRUMMER BOY OF JOHN JOHN, with a tour in the U.S. in October 2012
If you've ever wanted the award-winning husband and wife team Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac to come to your school to speak to your students, now is the time to book them. This Australia-based couple will be coming to the U.S. in October to celebrate the publication of their new books, THE GREATEST LIAR ON EARTH and THE DRUMMER BOY OF JOHN JOHN.
In their picture book, THE GREATEST LIAR ON EARTH (Candlewick), they tell the story of Louis de Rougement, a penniless Frenchman who claimed to have been a castaway who survived a terrible shipwreck, slain fantastical creatures, and discovered whole mountains of rubies and gold. His tales caused an international media frenzy, but soon his credibility was brought into question. Was this man, who was eventually reduced to become a homeless street vendor, really a great adventurer or merely a fraud? Living now in a time of "instant" fame and celebrities' rapid falls from grace, Mark and Frané believe de Rougement's story is as relevant today as it was in the 19th century. "THE GREATEST LIAR ON EARTH is, on the surface, an adventure story.... But beneath the surface it is the "true" story of an unusual character, perhaps an overly enthusiastic dreamer, perhaps a charlatan, who is forced to confront the consequences of his storytelling," says Mark.
THE DRUMMER BOY OF JOHN JOHN (Lee & Low), also coming out in October, brings readers to Carnival in Trinidad, the most significant event on the island. Numerous cultural events lead up to the music-filled street parade filled with costume-clad revelers. With Carnival coming, the villagers of John John, Trinidad, are getting ready celebrate with music, dancing, and a parade of their own. Best of all, the Roti King has promised free rotis—tasty fried pancakes filled with chicken, herbs, and spices—for the best band in the parade. Young Winston dreams of feasting on those delicious rotis, but he’s not in a band! Wandering through the village junkyard trying to figure out what to do, he discovers something that may help him achieve his goal. With ingenuity and some friends’ help, Winston drums his way to victory and wins the tasty prize. Sun-drenched paintings and musical text joyously transport readers to the Caribbean, and to this exuberant story inspired by the early life of Winston “Spree” Simon, a pioneer in the development of the steel drum. Here are just a couple of Frané Lessac's illustrations for the book.
Here is the couple’s most current U.S. tour schedule:
OCTOBER 6, 2012
125 West Bay Road
Amherst, MA 01002
OCTOBER 10, 2012
10 Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11238
OCTOBER 13, 2012
Autographing at this Soho bookstore:
52 Prince Street
(between Lafayette & Mulberry)
New York City, NY 10012
Frané and Mark will be in the New York Metropolitan area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) the week of October 8-13, 2012. As they visit the U.S. only twice a year, now is the time to book tie-in school visits around these dates. For further information about their school visits, please visit Balkin Buddies and contact Catherine Balkin to book them.
Monday, August 27, 2012
We're pleased to present this wonderful review of THE CUP AND THE CROWN from Kirkus:
THE CUP AND THE CROWN
Author: Stanley, Diane
Review Issue Date: September 1, 2012
Online Publish Date: August 8, 2012
Price (Hardcover ): $15.99
Price (Library Ed ): $16.89
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
ISBN (Hardcover ): 978-0-06-196321-6
ISBN (Library Ed ): 978-0-06-196322-3
The further adventures of Molly, the kitchen maid who saved a king (The Silver Bowl, 2011), provide an explanation for her magical abilities and suggest that the future holds even more changes and challenges.
Brief mention of earlier events will remind returning readers of how Molly, along with her friend Tobias, saved the life of King Alaric and helped him to claim his throne. Readers unfamiliar with Stanley’s earlier foray into the kingdom of Westria may feel a bit lost as Molly is charged with finding a special cup for King Alaric, and the action picks up quickly. However characters new and old are effectively drawn, and the plot moves smoothly, ensuring that both sets of readers will follow the ensuing journey with enthusiasm and interest. Mysterious visions, a secret city, a family reunion of sorts and kidnapping all figure into the tale, as do a clever rat catcher and a magical protector. Stanley’s storytelling is polished, her imaginary world clearly constructed. She doesn’t shy away from serious subjects, but her light touch enables readers to ponder them as part of the whole rather than as overt messages about life, love and politics. Savvy readers will suspect (or hope) that Molly’s story will continue, but this section of her saga comes to a satisfying end.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
William Joyce’s THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE reviewed in School Library Journal
William Joyce’s THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE received a great review in the August 2012 review in SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL and since we couldn’t have said it better ourselves, we’d like to share it with you:
Joyce, William. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. illus. by author. 56p. S&S/Atheneum. 2012. ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-6489-6; Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5702-7
Pre-Gr 3 – Joyce’s Academy Award-winning animated short-film-turned-app that celebrates those who care about (and receive nourishment from) books is, ironically, now a picture book. The wonder and mystery inherent in the wordless film and the ability to manipulate the visuals and play the soundtrack on the app’s piano beg the question: Can the book compete? As it turns out, the book has its own rewards. Clarity comes from Joyce’s well-chosen words. In the opening on a New Orleans balcony, readers learn that Morris “loved words…stories…books.” Every day he would “write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for.” When an Oz-like storm turns everything topsy-turvy, the melancholy man in the pork-pie hat spots a lady held aloft by a “festive squadron of flying books.” Her gift leads Morris to a book-filled sanctuary set in a landscape staged and lit like a Maxfield Parrish painting. He tends to the volumes, distributing favorites to visitors, whose once-gray bodies blossom with color. Every life and every story ends, and those struggling with their own goodbyes (and yearnings about printed books) may find comfort in seeing the fading elder revert to his younger self in order to be transported by the joyful squadron—just as a little girl arrives to choose Morris’s story. The author’s motivations (explained on the flap) will resonate with adults in the reading business. The best part? Lingering quietly while savoring the atmospheric scenes of Joyce’s narrative vignette. — Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library