Monday, December 10, 2007

New Books That We Love

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic $16.99

Just released in August, this middle grade book has already been gathering awards. We say look for it when the Newbery Awards are announced in January 2008. Curtis is a storyteller, whose historical fiction is full of adventure, suspense, fun, and characters that you care deeply about. Elijah is the first freeborn child in Buxton, Ontario, which is only a riverbank away from the United States and slavery. Although escaped slave families arrive every few weeks, Elijah can’t imagine not being free, until he gets hoodwinked into crossing the river, and makes not one, but two daring escapes. Curtis laces heartbreaking and heart-pounding scenes with humor, and Elijah’s inborn optimism gives him confidence when he desperately needs it. A thrilling and moving story for ages 11 and up.

Star Wars A Pop-up Guide to the Galaxy by Matthew Reinhart
Scholastic $32.99

More than 35 intricate pop-ups from x-wing starfighters tucked into corner pockets to a two-page spread of the Millennium Falcon or another of the spaceport cantina at Mos Eisley with over 24 creatures conversing and spying over drinks fill the pages of this extravagant pop-up book. Already beyond amazed we reached the final spread where Darth Vadar’s shriveled visage is covered by his black mask as you open the page. In the top corners we found Luke Skywalker and Darth Vadar armed with lightsabers that light up, and we could manipulate them and make them engage in combat! Take that Vadar!
Absolutely splendid for ages 8 through adult.

First Discovery Night Creatures by Gallimard Jeunesse and Sylvaine Peyrols
Scholastic $5.99

I am so glad to see this series back in print. Night Creatures is one of my favorites, because the transparent pages are used very effectively. For instance to show an owl’s camouflaged feathers viewed from above and its white underbelly when you flip the page. In text written at two levels of difficulty, the owl’s eating and nesting habits are described with an entire page depicting all of the tiny contents of an owl pellet. Bats are given a few pages and other nocturnal birds are mentioned, but the section on owls is the most engrossing. Recommended for ages 4-8.