Here are the Books that Mrs. Zayon is Currently Reading:
A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door. Coraline's parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family's new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman's (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child's fears-and the child's ability to overcome those fears. "I will be brave," thinks Coraline. "No, I am brave." When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child's-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child's ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own-and every child's own-reality. As Coraline's quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing. Not for the faint-hearted-who are mostly adults anyway-but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
It's bad enough that Jen is forced to move to a farm in the country with her mom's new boyfriend, Walter, but when he brings his daughter Andy into the mix, Jen's feelings of isolation deepen. Walter is bossy and condescending, and Andy is "Miss Perfect." As the makeshift family establishes their farm and a booth at the weekend market, Jen's struggles with math and clashes with Andy stoke familial tensions. Knisley's first foray into children's comics-a fictionalized version of her own experience-beautifully captures the loneliness of childhood. Dropped into a new life with relative strangers, Jen's only refuge is her notebook, the doodles of which serve as full-page chapter breaks and occasionally intrude on panels. Knisley's storytelling style is a natural fit for middle-grade readers, with her clean, inviting art tracking Jen's emotional journey through subtle shifts in expression and posture. While Walter's antagonism will make readers red in the face, Jen's growth and relationships ultimately provide a heartwarming arc to this quietly charming tale. Grades 4-6. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.
Badger's definitely not ready for his new roommate, Skunk. The sole resident of his aunt Lula's brownstone, Badger devotes his days to a life befitting for a rock scientist. Naturally, the semirecluse spends his day in his rock room, where he can do all of his Important Rock Work. Then someone's knocking politely at the door one day. It's Badger's new roommate, Skunk, along with his red suitcase. (If Badger had read those letters from Aunt Lula, he would've known....) Skunk swiftly makes himself at home, disrupting Badger's Important Rock Work in the process. Sure, Badger spends some sweet moments with Skunk, including a discussion of Shakespeare's Henry V. Skunk even apologizes for the abrupt changes to the living arrangements. Then the chickens arrive, all hens and no roosters (though Skunk does invite Larry), infuriating Badger. When a stoat-shaped menace appears at the door, Badger reacts with little consideration for Skunk or his flock of guests, and Skunk leaves the brownstone after harsh words from Badger. Badger's left alone and unsure. "It would never work out! But Skunk certainly has his moments," he ponders. A splendid entry in the odd-couple genre, Timberlake's spunky series opener posits that compassion and inner transformation can strengthen the unlikeliest of friendships. It's an approach that gestures toward broader societal conversations (consider the word that prompts Skunk to leave: "vermin") without losing focus on the story's delightful central duo. The use of fragmented sentences, repetition, and onomatopoeia makes for a fun read. Klassen's muted, wistful artwork, meanwhile, invokes sweeping sentiments during key events. Exceptionally sweet. (Fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.