“A Tale Dark & Grimm” by Adam Gidwitz

  This is a bloody good book.  Literally.  Hansel and Gretel are the main characters, but their story is not confined to just meeting the witch with the candy house in the forest.  Rather, Gidwitz mines the complete collection of the Grimm’s Fairytales and has the brother and sister show up in stories with which younger readers will probably be unfamiliar.  Along the way, heads are cut off, fingers are severed, and people are cooked.  Because of this reason, this book may be too much to handle for younger readers (in fact, the narrator pops in and out warning the reader to keep the younger kids away).   I would definitely recommend A Tale Dark and Grimm to older readers looking for updated fairytales with a lot of blood.  Grades 5+

“Brendan Buckley’s Universe And Everything In It” by Sundee T. Frazier

  Brendan Buckley is a ten year old boy interested in rocks and Tae Kwon Do.  He keeps a journal called  Brendan Buckley’s Book of Big Questions About Life, the Universe and Everthing In It.  Lately he’s had plenty of questions for that journal.  While at the mall looking at a rock collection, his grandmother vigorously drags him away from an old man.  Brendan realizes that the man is his estranged granfather of whom no one in his family speaks well.  Using his curious and scientific mind, Brendan questions his mother and other family members in an attempt to figure out what happened between his grandfather and the rest of the family.  He soon discovers that it might have something to do with his racially mixed family.

I found this book pretty slow going.  I just didn’t feel any real energy to the book, any real crisis that moved the plot along.  I would, however, recomend it to readers who are looking for a book involving rock collecting or Tae Kwon Do.  Ages 9-11  Corretta Scott King New Talent Author Award Winner 2007

“Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave” by Hill and Collier

I finally got around to taking a look at some of the Caldecott finalists for this year.  I truly enjoyed the lively Interrupting Chicken, but Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave has really captured me. Laban Carrick Hill’s spare prose captures the mysterious character of Dave, his art, and his circumstances.  A slave in South Carolina in the 19th century, Dave spends his time making clay containers and inscribing small poems on the side of some of them.  Bryan Collier’s award winning art combines painting and collage to give life to Dave’s world.  As we read along, we discover that pottery is his balm and escape from his cruel circumstances.  Perhaps Dave best expresses his pain and hope in this simple poem he etches into the side of a jar in 1857: “I wonder where is all  my relation/  friendship to all—and, every nation.”  This book gave me goosebumps.