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August 2011
One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street
Joanne Rocklin

A lovely starred review for the audio version of Joanne Rocklin's book, read by Lisa Baney. Joanne's next book, also a middle grade, THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT ZOOK, is due out spring 2012, also by Amulet/Abrams.

Gr 3-6: It all starts with a bright orange construction cone, inexplicably placed in front of the curb at 306 Orange Street. Strange and magical things and ideas ensue on this empty lot, the site of a single surviving tree from a formerly huge orange grove. This glorious tree with its deliciously sweet, yet tart oranges is at the center of the drama, and almost metaphysically keeps the history of the people and pageantry of time through the ages on Orange Street. It is as if the empty lot is a stage, and all the residents of Orange Street are the actors. Alli; her mute toddler brother, Edgar (a cancer survivor); Manny, the gentle nanny; Leandra, the bold; Robert, erstwhile magician; and anxious Bunny all meet under the majestic tree to argue, plan, and dream. Meanwhile, an aging neighbor lady slips into increasingly disturbing dementia. All bear witness to the secrets and history of the community. The fate of the tree, as well as their friendships, rest in their hands, and stories about each neighbor are revealed in surprising ways. Along the way, we find that words can hurt, heal, and make magic. Lisa Baney’s voice has a mysterious, dark timbre that lends a warm and rich interpretation to Joanne Rocklin’s novel (Amulet Books, 2011). The bits and pieces of individual stories are skillfully woven together. The love of words encompasses the story, from the use of the Oxford English Dictionary to the importance of the characters really listening to each other to the unexpected joy of advice given in rap style. The rich language is the star of this exquisitely written and beautifully performed selection.—School Library Journal, starred audio review

Congratulations, Joanne!

—Erin

Stars

Stars
Mary Lyn Ray

Starred review from the August 15, 2011, Publishers Weekly for Mary Lyn Ray's STARS!

Ray (Christmas Farm) and Frazee (The Boss Baby), two big talents beating as one, assemble a cast of junior philosophers to help them muse on why stars—as celestial bodies, as shapes, as symbols, as talismans—hold so much meaning and mystery for us. There’s not a lot of action, per se, although a spectacular sledding scene (“Snowflakes are stars”) will remind Frazee fans of the visual agility of 2003’s Roller Coaster. Rather, most of the vignettes are moments of reverie that come from staring at a night sky, sitting on a fence (“Yellow stars on pumpkin vines become October pumpkins”), or blowing on a dandelion (“...you blow thousands of stars into the sky). But while the prevailing tone is contemplative, it’s more quirky than languid, capturing the delicious freedom of Ray’s mind at play. Her prose wanders in the best sense of the word, and Frazee is happy to connect the dots and explore the detours, showing readers how stars can turn sticks into wands, cheer us up, or remind us, gently, of how much of the universe is beyond our grasp. Ages 2–6.

Congratulations, Mary Lyn!

One of my favorite ways to learn about historical important events is through the eyes of children. It just seems that it's easier to see how other times affected real people every day when a child is in the picture—it's no longer theoretical or abstract at that point for me. Hence Cynthia Levinson's WE'VE GOT A JOB, due out early next year from Peachtree.

Susan Lynn Meyer's middle-grade novel BLACK RADISHES portrayed rural France in World War II through the eyes of a character modeled after her father, and it was recognized with great reviews and a Sydney Taylor honor. The sequel is underway. But Susan has also turned her attention to another period of history now: the South during the struggle for Civil Rights.

In Susan's picture book manuscript NEW SHOES, the simple act of trying on new shoes becomes a symbol of this struggle when two children boldly find their own creative way to take their rights into their own hands. I am thrilled to announce that this manuscript has just been acquired by Sylvie Frank at Holiday House. I can't wait to see it brought to further life with amazing illustrations!

Congratulations, Susan!

—Erin

Shattered Souls

Shattered Souls

With her much-buzzed debut novel SHATTERED SOULS still several months pre-release (look for it everywhere in December 2011!), Mary Lindsey has some more good news to celebrate: This week she accepted an offer for her second novel, which will also be edited by Jill Santopolo for Philomel Books.
 
Tentatively titled ANNABEL, this dark YA is loosely based upon Edgar Allan Poe’s final poem Annabel Lee, and tells about a pair of star-crossed lovers caught in a doomed struggle between forces of ancient malice and evil. Rooted in Celtic mythology and steeped in creepy Gothic lore, this is a riveting read that you will not want to miss!
 
Many congratulations to you, Mary!
 
—Joan

Elliot and the Pixie Plot (Underworld Chronicles, Book 2)

Elliot and the Pixie Plot (Underworld Chronicles, Book 2)
Jennifer A. Nielsen

August got here fast, didn't it? To encourage even more reading all afternoon in the hammock with a glass of lemonade—we've got a new book by an EMLA client: 

Elliot and the Pixie Plot by Jennifer Nielsen (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky) is the continuing story of Elliot, King of the Brownies, as he learns a thing or two about elf magic and saves his kingdom from the ongoing antics of feisty goblins.

We wish this book into readers' hearts! 

—Joan



Light Up the Night

Light Up the Night
Jean Reidy

Kirkus gives a starred review to LIGHT UP THE NIGHT, an upcoming picture book by EMLA author Jean Reidy (published by Disney/Hyperion, October 2011).

The coziest of quilts becomes a rocket ship in this gorgeous, mesmerizingly rhythmic read-aloud that explores a boy’s small place in a vast world. Sporting star-spangled pajamas, the not-too-sleepy astronaut wraps his red-and-white quilt around his shoulders and zooms off into outer space. The slow-building rhyme echoes the cumulative structure of “The House That Jack Built”: “These are the planets that circle the sun, / which hides its face when the day is done, / while stars glow bright / and light up the night, / in my own little piece of the universe.” The soothing rhythms and comforting refrain are just right for very young ears, and the geographical terms will stretch young minds. During the boy’s fanciful flight, his aerial view of Earth includes hemispheres, continents and countries—eventually zeroing in on his own town, house, street and bed. Caldecott Honor–winner Chodos-Irvine’s colorful illustrations are fun and friendly, from the retro linocut spot art of the boy in his bedroom (“This is me”)—to dramatic full-bleed spreads that capture the expansive galaxies, complete with a smiling moon, animal constellations, planets and four-eyed aliens. The richly textured mixed-media artwork—incorporating various printmaking techniques and what looks like cut-paper collage—offers many clever self-referential moments and something new to discover with each reading. A dreamy-yet-instructive ode to the universe. (Picture book. 2-6)

Congratulations, Jean!

—Erin