My Bio

My Bio
My name is Sharon Levin and I've been reviewing children's literature for 20 years. I founded and run the Bay Area Children's Literature List. My biggest passion (outside my family) is getting books into the hands of children and teens. My favorite thing is getting non-readers to realize that they're readers. I also LOVE t-shirts that have to do with books or literature. As soon as I figure out how to do it, I'll have a click through on the above picture so you can see my entire collection (and where to get them).

November 10, 2015

'Bout Damn Time! A Couple of Reviews.

Hmm, realized that since I keep going off on tangents, it’s been forever and a day since I’ve actually written reviews.  I keep talking about books and I’m all over the Twitterverse (@sharonreader, come find me), but I haven’t used this space to review. Let’s remedy that now, shall we?

Let’s start with a little bit older book, Dangerous by Shannon Hale (Bloomsbury, 2014).  Ms. Hale is a New York Times bestselling author.  Her book Princess Academy won a Newbery Honor  (Its sequels and companion books have all been devoured by her legions of fans.  I’m one of those fans and yet, somehow, I missed this book and from what I’ve heard, I’m not the only one. 

So, let’s talk Dangerous.  It’s Science Fiction about a Latina girl named Maisie Danger Brown.  Her parents name her that because then she'll always be able to say “Danger is my middle name.” (In the truth is stranger or equal to fiction department: Shannon and Dean Hale DID give one of their daughters the middle name of Danger, and for precisely that reason. Damn, I LOVE children's lit people!)

Maisie D has been born with one arm and has been homeschooled by her scientist parents her whole life.  She’s very bright and has an adventurer’s spirit, so when she sees a contest on a cereal box, a scary, bright blue cereal that possibly turns your poop green (this is not in the book, but I have parental experience with blue food dyes)   to win a free trip to Astronaut Camp, she enters and wins (well, of course she wins, otherwise the book ends here, making for a VERY short, not really exciting book)

Space camp is awesome and there’s the good looking bad boy (oh, those bad boys) who seems interested in Maisie. The camp is run by a passionate, somewhat crazy scientist who may have some other motives for running Astronaut Boot Camp. 

I hate reviews that give away too much, so let’s just say that superpowers, aliens, saving the world and some major Kicking of Ass all combine to make one of those books you’re sorry you missed and you’re THRILLED to find now.

Antoinette Portis, the creative author of Not a Box one of my FAVORITE preschool books EVER, has a new one out.  Honestly,Wait (Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press, 2015) is a MUST READ for all busy parents who forget to just wait, take a breath and look around.  However, the book is gentle and beautifully told, not in the least pedantic (I HATE pedantic books with a passion!)

Wait is deceptive in its simplicity. It starts on the cover with the title (duh) and a little boy holding his mother's hand but looking and reaching back toward a mother cat and kittens. the illustration wraps around the spine and back of book, a nice touch, since the reader has to take an extra moment to look at it.

Even though there are only two words used: Hurry! and Wait. (and always punctuated that way, so one is rushed, the other pauses) the illustrations show us when the mother does take a bit of a moment to let her son do what he'd like, but she is still obviously in a hurry.

The book ends on such a lovely peaceful moment (and the addition of, gasp, a third word) that you will come away from reading it feeling calmer and ready to partake in the world around you just a bit more.