In the stacks: This week at the library - juvenile illustrated fiction

These books are more sophisticated than ordinary picture books

Posted: Sunday, November 09, 2003

This week I've got new juvenile illustrated fiction for readers of all ages.

These books feature plenty of pictures and a more sophisticated story line than picture books.

They have a broader age appeal and, even though they are shelved in the children's section, adults often come and browse through them.

These books have fluorescent yellow letter labels that sit at the top of the book spines, and are shelved at each branch on spinning carousels.

"Lisette's Angel," by Amy Littlesugar, illustrated by Max Ginsburg. It is 1944, and Lisette, who lives in France, barely remembers when everyone had enough to eat and no one was afraid. She prays to an angel for help. Then, one night, her prayers are answered when an angel falls from the sky and lands with a thud. The D-Day invasion has begun...

"Tiger, Tiger," by Dee Lillegard, illustrated by Susan Guevara. This gem is proof that picture books can be full of suspense! Though little Pocu wants to play, everyone else in his village wants to nap. So he creates his own playmate with the swish of a peacock feather - a hungry tiger, who wants Pocu to lead him back to his village for dinner. The beautiful, moody pictures and the spare, elegant text work together to create a story so immediate that readers can almost hear the monkeys and parrots in the trees.

"Ruby's Wish," by Shirin Yim Bridges, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. This is the story of a bright little girl named Ruby (the author's grandmother), who grew up in China with a grandfather who had so many grandchildren that he hired a tutor to come to teach them all. Though Ruby loved school and did well, she was unhappy because she knew that girls never went to university. But then, one New Year's Day, instead of the traditional lucky money, her grandfather gave her a present she never expected.

"Action Jackson," by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker. Fictionalized, but true to life, this book about Jackson Pollock shows the artist as he might have appeared to a friend: Looking for inspiration while walking on the beach with his dog, contemplating a new, blank canvas, helping his wife fix dinner, then going back to the canvas to work again. Pollock's unconventional style was shocking and mystifying to many, but ultimately became the basis for a new movement in American art.

"Me and Uncle Romie," by Claire Hartfield, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue. Another book about an artist, this time Romare Bearden, a collage artist who grew up in Harlem. Told from the point of view of Romie's young nephew, James, who is excited about visiting New York City - it is so different from his small town in North Carolina. As he comes to know his uncle, he begins to understand why Uncle Romie needs more than paint to create his art. Ending with instructions for kids on how to make their own collage paintings and an author's note about Romare Beardon's life, this is a fantastic introduction to a style and artist we hear little about.

"The Grandma Hunt," by Nina Matthis, illustrated by Gunilla Kvarnstrom. Jacob and his little cousin Linnea, who are spending a week with their grandfather, are on the hunt for their grandfather's birthday present. They know exactly what to get him - a grandma - so he won't be lonely when they go home, but they don't have much luck looking for a grandma in stores or at the beach. Finally, they have a great idea.

"The Upside Down Boy," by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Elizabeth Gomez. This simply-told story of a young boy who starts school speaking only Spanish and knowing only a migrant lifestyle is written in English and Spanish. There's a lot Juanito doesn't know, like the alphabet, and the difference between recess and lunchtime. Balancing that is what he does know, like how to write his name in chilies when finger painting and how to write poetry. Adorned with pictures that leap off the page with color, this book sings!

"Henrietta and the Golden Eggs," by Hanna Johansen, illustrated by Kathi Bhend. A fanciful tale of a young chicken who lives with 3,332 other chickens inside a huge (but still cramped) chicken house on a farm. Henrietta dreams big: While she waits to become old enough to lay eggs, which she says will be golden, she decides to learn to sing, swim and fly. And by digging a hole under a wall and escaping to the great outdoors, where it doesn't smell of chicken droppings, she teaches herself (and others) how to do all three. But can a chicken really lay golden eggs? Beautifully intricate black and white illustrations emphasize action and the individual expressions of the chickens in this lighthearted plea for the free-range life.

"The Skull Alphabet Book," by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Ralph Masiello. Each page in this beautiful book is devoted to the skull of one animal, but you have to guess which one. There are plenty of clues, both visual and verbal, to help you out. Aimed at kids (and adults) who already know their alphabet.

"Paul Revere's Ride," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Charles Santore. Formal, richly-colored drawings bring to life Longfellow's poem recounting Revere's midnight ride alerting the countryside of imminent British attack. The artist's note at the end of the poem reveals how he researched the time period for authentic details, and includes information about the original Wayside Inn, where Longfellow met with friends to tell stories.

• If you'd like to place a hold on any of these titles, call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249. If you have Internet access, your library card and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site (www.juneau. org/library) and looking at our catalog. Placing holds on items featured in this column is now even easier. The new columns are hyperlinked to the catalog: Simply look up the column and click on the title you want.

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