Review of the Week – A Piece of Cake


Pham, LeUyen. A Piece of Cake. LeUyen Pham, Illus. Picture Book.
Balzer & Bray, 2014. 40p. $16.99. 978-0-06-199264-3.

Whatever you do, don’t show this story to the pack rats in your
life. Mouse, generous to a fault, exchanges the birthday cake
he’s baked, piece by piece, for “a cork, a wire, a net, and a
flyswatter.” The resourceful recipient, Little Bird, manages to
trade each piece of junk for an ingredient with which they can
bake another cake for all to share. The fun of this story is that
the odds and ends are not used where they seem most obvious,
as when Little Bird gives Bear not the flyswatter for his
bee problem, but the cork, to trap the bees in the hive. LeUyen
Pham’s digital illustrations are as expressive as ever, but she’s
brightened her palette and dropped her usual thick black outlines,
giving her characters a soft and fuzzy feel. It’s too bad
the other animals don’t face any consequences for taking advantage
of Mouse’s generosity, but Mouse and Little Bird are
content in the end to have kindness and cleverness, which is a
fine message. This book will make a lovely, funny read-aloud
and perhaps a great birthday present.
Amy Martin, Oakland PL

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Oakland Library Garden Project, Jordan Middle School Helps Libraries in Africa

Oakland gardensOakland Library and ACL Recognized in Article on Library Gardens: School Library Journal has an article in their August 2014 issue about library gardens, where children can learn about growing vegetables and good nutrition. “Dig It!” by Grace Hwang Lynch, p. 24-27 describes various urban library garden projects. The Oakland Library is recognized for its garden, and there is a nice mention of the Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California. The article mentions the 2012 ACL Institute on healthy food (check out our bibliography from that Institute at: ).

annie-mcqueen11-300x200Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto Starts Libraries in Africa: Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, CA, will receive the Compassion in Action Award from the African Library Project, to celebrate eight years of donating books for 13 libraries in Africa. The project at Jordan Middle School was started by school librarian Annie McQueen, who retired this year. For the full story, see: .

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Read-Alikes for Lois Lowry’s The Giver

GiverRead-alikes for Lois Lowry’s The Giver:

 Albin, Gennifer. Crewel. Square Fish, 2013.

 Booraem, Ellen. The Unnameables. Harcourt, 2008.

 Brown, Rachel M. and Sherwood Smith. Stranger. Viking, 2014.

 Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic, 2008.

 Condie, Allyson Braithwaite. Matched. Dutton, 2010.

 Dashner, James. The Maze Runner. Delacorte, 2009.

 DuPrau, Jeanne. The City of Ember. Random, 2003.

 Fama, Elizabeth. Plus One. FSG, 2014.

 Farmer, Nancy. The House of the Scorpion. Atheneum, 2002.

 Fells, Kat. Dark Life. Scholastic, 2010.

 Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron. Dial, 2010.

 Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Hidden. S&S, 1998.

 Hall, Teri. The Line. Dial, 2010.

 Hautman, Pete. Hole in the Sky. S&S, 2001.

 Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Houghton, 1993.

               Gathering Blue. Houghton, 2000.

               Gossamer. Houghton, 2006.

               Son. Houghton, 2012.

 Lubar, David. Hidden Talents. Starscape, 2003.

 Matson, Lynne. Nil. Holt, 2014.

 Oliver, Lauren. Delirium. HarperCollins, 2011.

 Oppel, Kenneth. Airborn. HarperCollins, 2004.

 Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life As We Knew It. Harcourt, 2006.

 Shusterman, Neal. Unwind. S&S, 2007.

 Stahler, David. Truesight. Perfection Learning, 2005.

 Swain, H.A. Hungry. Feiwel, 2014.

 Unsworth, Tania. The One Safe Place. Algonquin, 2014.

 Wilkinson, Kerry. Reckoning. St. Martin’s, 2014.

Penny Peck, San Jose State Univ. School of Information Science

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Review of the Week –

crossoverAlexander, Kwame. The Crossover. Houghton, 2014. 237p. $16.99. 978-0-544-10771-7. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 5-10.

Josh and Jordan Bell are kings of the court headed for the championship. Seventh grade twins, theyhave been taught the game by their father, Chuck “Da Man” Bell, who played pro ball in Europe. But Josh’s bright future starts to unravel when his brother gets a girlfriend, and Josh’s loneliness turns to anger. Told in free verse and concrete poetry from Josh’s perspective, this fast-paced novel about an African American teen and his strong family touches on tragedy, talent, passion, and the hard work of growing up. Alexander has successfully crafted an energetic novel with a love of basketball at its center that will satisfy readers who love action and introspection.

Melissa McAvoy, Live Oak Sch


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New ACL BayNews Posted

GiverNew ACL BayNews Posted:

The August 2014 BayNews (the newsletter for the Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California) is now available on our website: . You will find information on do-it-yourself programming, read-alikes for Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk (short novels), and other stories. Three new Storytime outlines have also been posted, with the themes of Underwear, Hats, and Zoos. Special thanks to our webmaster Joshua Rees for posting jacket art to the read-alikes, and Bibliocommons lists for the new storytime outlines!

Thanks! Penny Peck

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Author L.A. Meyer Dies, Nonfiction Recommendations

Bloody JackAuthor L.A. Meyer Dies: Louis A. Meyer, Jr., author of the “Bloody Jack” series of tween adventure novels, died on July 26, 2014 at age 71 from refractory Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Meyer’s “Bloody Jack” series is distinctive for its combination of pirate adventure with a strong female protagonist. The first book, Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy, was published in 2002 by Harcourt; the final book in the series, Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life & Times of Jacky Faber, will be released this September.

New Nonfiction Titles to Booktalk: port-chicago-50

Check out this link to ACL’s BayViews Homepage, and near the top is a link to a document with favorite new Nonfiction Titles you can booktalk, offer to those seeking Common Core materials, or just read for enjoyment!

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Of Special Note – Branded by the Pink Triangle

Branded by the pink triangleSetterington, Ken. Branded by the Pink Triangle. Second Story Press, 2013. $15.95 (paperback), ISBN 978-1926920962.

The Stonewall Honor Books in Children’s and Young Adult Literature are named annually to recognize English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. In 2014, ALA’s GLTB Round Table recognized three such titles. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle was reviewed by ACL in November, 2012, while Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan has not been reviewed in BayViews.

I have recently finished the third, Ken Setterington’s Branded by the Pink Triangle (2013, Second Story Press) and highly recommend it for young adult and middle school library collections. Ken Setterington is the author of several other children’s books (e.g. Mom and Mum are Getting Married, and Clever Katarina, a Tale in Six Parts), and is retired from the fabulously-named position of Children and Youth Advocate for the Toronto Public Library (full disclosure: I served with him on a Newbery Committee). The subject of his Stonewall-winning title, the Nazi persecution of lesbians and gays in World War II, is not often discussed in books for young people, making this well-written and illustrated book as important as it is well-crafted.

In personal stories, well-selected photographs, and clear narrative prose, the book documents the Nazi policy of identifying homosexuals with pink cloth triangles and details the many types of abuse they subsequently faced. The openly gay community that flourished in pre-Hitler Berlin, and the repression that continued worldwide long after the end of World War II (and complicated the recognition of gay Nazi victims) are documented; also included are the official acknowledgments of the persecution that began in the late 20th century and the current “It Gets Better” campaign.

A wide range of experiences, touching and tender as well as horrifying, are presented as much as possible in the words of those who lived them. Small pages with generous white space make the book easy to pick up and browse through and the clarity of the writing and thoughtful selection of detail keeps the reader focused and engaged. Back matter includes a time line covering “events crucial for homosexual men in Germany” from 1871 through 2012 (when the last gay Jewish Holocaust survivor died), a bibliography, index, notes and photo credits.

Elizabeth Overmyer, retired

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