November 24, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Holiday House Presents a Menagerie of New Animal Characters | Fall Preview 2014

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Mike Wohonoutka’s artiwork for  his book “Little Puppy and the Big Green Monster” out in September.

The recent preview of the Holiday House Fall 2014 titles can be best described as a menagerie of books that featured more than just cats and dogs. A woodchuck named (what else) Chuck makes an appearance in Pants for Chuck written and illustrated by Pat Schories. It is a story about Chuck’s attempt to fit into a pair of blue pants that are definitely too small for him. Part of the publishers I Like to Read series, it is a story about friendship and self-image. The theme of animal in clothing continued with There’s a Pig in My Class (both titles July 2014) by Swedish author and illustrator Johanna Thydell and Charlotte Ramel. Besides a woodchuck trying to squeeze into pants, students disguise a pig so that he may become a member of the class use a hat and sweater.

The World’s Best Noses, Ears, and Eyes is another picture book by two other Swedes, Helen Rundgren and Ingela P. Arrhenius, is an informative book about the senses of sight, smell, and hearing that certain animals have. Rundgren, a trained zoologist, presents the facts in an amusing way. More animal information is available in Animal School: What Class are You? This book written by Michelle Lord and illustrated by Michael Garland explores the five vertebrates classification and is richly illustrated with color woodcuts by Michael Garland. It can go hand in hand with Ted Lewin’s Animals Work (all titles July 2014) that depicts the types of work animals do.

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A special 25th anniversary edition of “Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins” will be issued this year.

A mouse named Mary and another named Andrew—who is a wannabe Stuart Little—take center stage in The Orphan and the Mouse (August) by Martha Freeman, with illustrations by David McPhail. This adventure chapter book takes place in an orphanage in 1940s Philadelphia that involves a mystery baby. Cats and dogs were indeed represented with Little Puppy and the Big Green Monster written and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, and Cats Are Cats (both titles July 2014), Valeri Gorbachev writes story about a lady who brings home a kitten that grows to be a tiger.

Girls also are well represented this fall by Holiday House especially in The Girls of Gettysburg  (August). In this historical novel by Bobbi Miller three girls serve as the narrators of this story about Pickett’s Charge, the “suicidal assault led by [General] Robert E. Lee on the last day at the Battle of Gettysburg” (according to Holiday House’s website).

Mary Poppins step aside for Nanny X (August), a member f the Nanny Action Patrol who wears a motorcycle jacket, sun glasses, and carries a diaper bag filled with spy gear. Another crime fighter is Sophie Margaret Catronia Seade who is Sleuth on Skates (August) by Clementine Beauvais. Meanwhile, Nicoletta Costa revives an Italian classic Olga the Cloud (July) about a cloud, who to the dismay of her friends, wants to rain.

However, the ultimate women of the day were Midge “Toughie” Brasuhn and Gerry Murray whose story is told by Sue Macy in Roller Derby Rivals (July). This well-researched picture book gives us a glimpse into the sport and two strong woman athletes. Matt Collins’ illustrations give us a feel 1948 New York City where people gathered to view the roller derby on televisions in an appliance store window.

Sue Macy discusses how she came to write about the Roller Derby Queens:

For the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Holiday House is presenting Russell Freedman’s Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America (July). In his famed style, Freedman has written a riveting account of the event that is richly documented with photographs from the period. It is also interesting to note that this year marks the 25th Anniversary of Eric Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman’s Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. Holiday House is marking the occasion with a special anniversary edition that will include notes from Kimmel recalling his relationship with the illustrator, Trina Schart Hyman who was recognized with a Caldecott Honor for this book.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.

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