This is one in a series of monthly reviews of books for young people written by area teachers of children’s literature.
As the Ohioana Library Association prepares to name its 2013 juvenile award winners, here are some of the contenders. Each is by an Ohio author or illustrator. The reviews are by Melissa Cain of the University of Findlay, who is a member of the screening committee.
THE CROWN OF EMBERS. By Rae Carson. Greenwillow. $17.99.
This is the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns, winner of Ohioana’s 2012 Award for YA fiction. Elisa, bearer of a powerful godstone, used its power to overcome a fearsome army of sorcerers. Now she must show that she is a brave and wise queen. But between court intrigue and enemies operating under her nose, Elisa finds herself wondering whom to trust and struggling to survive.
THE END OF THE LINE. By Angela Cerrito. Holiday House. $17.95.
Locked in a room with nothing, not even a bed, Robbie is starving and must figure out how to earn points for basics, like socks or using the bathroom.
He is at Great Oaks School aka The End of the Line. Why? He committed murder. Readers go on a roller coaster of emotions as Robbie’s story unfolds: outrage, sympathy, humor, and understanding. This book will provoke thoughtful discussion.
LAST LAUGHS: ANIMAL EPITAPHS. By J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins. Farrar Straus Giroux. $16.99.
This hilarious collection of epitaphs for animals will make readers laugh out loud and can introduce young people to dark humor. A favorite is:
‘‘Owl Be Seeing You’’
Hit by a pellet
some other owl cast,
he asked, “Who?” quietly
as he passed.
Timmins’ color palette is appropriately somber, but his characters are quirky, making hysterical facial expressions as they meet their odd demises.
SAILING THE UNKNOWN: AROUND THE WORLD WITH CAPTAIN COOK. By Michael J. Rosen. Illustrated by Maria Christina Pritelli. Creative Editions, $17.99.
Rosen used the writings of Captain James Cook and his crew of sailors, scientists, artists, and builders to recreate the voyage of Endeavor as the diary of Nicholas Young, an 11-year-old forced into service to tend the ship’s milk goat, Navy. Where’s Waldo? fans will enjoy finding Nicholas in his red-and-white striped shirt on each page as the highlights of the 1,056-day adventure are illustrated.
EACH KINDNESS. By Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Nancy Paulsen Books. $16.99.
Impressionistic watercolors illustrate this thoughtful story of how Chloe ignores Maya, the new girl in school. Though Maya makes friendly overtures, Chloe can’t get past her second-hand clothes. Then, their teacher demonstrates how every kindness we do sends ripples out that make the world a better place, just like a stone dropped into water. But for Chloe it is too late to make amends: Maya has moved away.
THE YOUNG BIRDER’S GUIDE TO BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA. By Bill Thompson III. Peterson Field Guides. $15.95.
In this engaging introduction to bird watching, Thompson first tells the basics of birding, how to outfit yourself, birding manners, birding by habitat, and green tips for helping birds. The majority of the book describes the species of birds of North America.
Each page includes a color photograph, a description of the bird and the sounds it makes, where to find it, and some special tips and facts.