July2016 Booklist 49 www.booklistonline.com
The Singing Bones.
By Shaun Tan. Illus. by the author.
Oct. 2016. 192p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $24.99
(9780545946124). 398.21. Gr. 7–10.
Acclaimed author, artist, and illustrator
Tan is no stranger to things wondrous and
strange, so it seems only natural that his latest book taps the world of Grimms’ Fairy
Tales for inspiration.
Seventy-five are included here, ranging from
well-known favorites to
the downright obscure.
Rather than straightforward retellings, Tan has
carefully selected one
pivotal moment that
captures the essence of each story: a young
woman agrees to marry a bear-man in repayment for his kindness; a blacksmith captures
the devil in a sack; a queen holds the key to a
room containing coffins for her 12 sons; and
so on. Accompanying each tale is a full-page
color photograph of an original mixed-media
sculpture. Miniature in size, these, too, are
whittled to their most essential elements—
most figures are little more than mere
suggestion, but others are exaggerated to the
point of grotesque. The creep factor of the
sculptures, shrouded in shadows and dimly
lit, is heightened considerably through a masterful balance of the foreign and familiar, of
nefarious action and trademark whimsy. A
brief history of the Brothers Grimm by scholar Jack Zipes and an annotated index provide
a broader context for the collection. A foreword by Neil Gaiman only heightens appeal.
A stunning, eerie addition to fairy tale and
folklore collections. —Summer Hayes
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Tan is
renowned for his odd, striking illustrations.
Expect his fans to line up for this collection of
his sculptural work.
Abracadabra! Fun Magic Tricks for Kids.
By Kristen Kelly and Ken Kelly.
2016. 96p. illus. Skyhorse/Sky Pony, $14.99
(9781510702967). 793.8. Gr. 4–8.
A veteran British stage magician and his extroverted, preteen daughter pair up to present
30 easily learned feats of small-scale legerde-
main, misdirection, and illusion. Arranged
primarily by level of difficulty, the tricks each
feature several bright color photos of the coau-
thors in action, separate explanations of what
the audience sees and how the effect is man-
aged, a materials list, and colored sidebars with
handy tips. Each also comes with a QR code
that links to an online video demonstration,
and a few include pictorial props or patterns
with cut-outs that will need to be copied or
printed out. Materials range from coins, play-
ing cards, and rubber bands to magician’s
wax, colored scarves, and plastic bowling pins.
Though the notion that magic is more fun
when performed before an audience gets almost as much play as the many reminders that
practice makes perfect, would-be prestidigitators in need of an example script will find only
a few general suggestions. Still, this animated,
upbeat collection should disappear quickly
from library shelves. —John Peters
Animals That Make Me Say Look Out!
By Dawn Cusick.
Aug. 2016. 80p. illus. Imagine, $14.95 (9781623540807).
590. Gr. 3–5.
This latest in the Animals That Make Me
Say . . . series provides a wide array of information on how animals in the wild behave
when threatened. Split into two parts, the
first, “Look Out for Animals on the Defense,”
breaks down the various types of defense
mechanisms animals use when protecting
themselves and their young. Organized by
behavior rather than by animal, this provides
examples of creatures using tactics that range
from a threatening charge (bears, rhinos, even
birds) to camouflage and playing dead (
opossums, many species of frogs and snakes). These
behaviors are utilized both by animals avoiding
predators and those hunting for prey. Glossy
close-up photos of the animals discussed accompany facts on teeth and tusks, animal
fighting styles, and the difference between poison and venom. The second part, “Look Out
for Ways to Protect Animals,” discusses the
ways animal survival can be threatened, both
by other animals, as with invasive species, or
because of human interference. An interesting,
if introductory, overview of a subset of animal
behavior. —Maggie Reagan
Fight to Learn: The Struggle to Go to
By Laura Scandiffio.
Sept. 2016. 176p. illus. Annick, $24.95
(9781554517985); paper, $14.95 (9781554517978).
306.43. Gr. 5–8.
Many a reluctant young scholar has fanta-
sized about a world without school. For the
estimated 124 million children around the
globe without access to education—because of
“poverty, discrimination, and violence”—the
notion of a permanent vacation only ensures
a future with no chance of improvement. The
populations described here forgo schooling
for survival: sharecropping or scrounging for
scraps (India’s “untouchables”), begging on
the street (Europe’s itinerant Roma), or cow-
ering at home for fear of reprisals by Muslim
fundamentalists (Pakistan’s “other Malalas”)
or street gangs (residents of Chicago’s South
Side). Scandiffio relates a half dozen inspir-
ing stories, starting with that of a Bengali boy
who, at age nine, started sharing what he’d
learned at school with less fortunate friends;
before long, hundreds of knowledge seekers
began flocking to his backyard, rechristened
“The Home of Joyful Learning.” The closing
chapters, about education-reform protests in
Canada’s First Nation reserves and in Chile,
are less dramatic but could serve as a road map
for students dealing with inadequacies in their
own school systems. —Sandy MacDonald
By Candace Fleming. Illus. by Eric
Sept. 2016. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, $18.99
(9781596435995). 594. Gr. 2–5.
Against a deep blue background, tentacles
creep from the bottom of the page, drifting through the water and winding around a
passing fish. Fleming spares no detail: in clear,
straightforward text, she relays how the eight
limbs of the giant squid are lined with “
suckers ringed with saw-like teeth / that rip into
skin and hold on tight.” In a close-up of the
squid’s birdlike beak, she refers to the “
terrifying tongue-like ribbon of muscle” inside
the mouth. Rohmann’s oil paintings focus on
one aspect of the squid at a time. Double-page
close-ups are excellently detailed, and the dark
color palette adds to the eerie, deep-sea feel.
Amazingly, as Fleming says in a final author’s
note, people have more photos of the surface of
Mars than of the giant squid, and that elusive
nature is captured by focusing on only specific
parts of the beast at any one time (except for
one dramatic foldout four-page spread). A final diagram and a list of further reading add a
scientific bent to this visually stunning exploration of a mysterious creature. —Maggie Reagan
Inside Your Insides: A Guide to the
Microbes That Call You Home.
By Claire Eamer. Illus. by Marie-Éve
Sept. 2016. 36p. Kids Can, $17.95 (9781771383325).
579. Gr. 3–5.
This upbeat book encourages kids to consider their bodies as microbiomes by pointing
out that everyone carries “tiny hitchhikers,”
microbes living in and on the human body.
After introducing common varieties such as
bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, protists, and
mites, Eamer discusses Earth’s invisible “sea
of microbes,” which enables the existence
of more complex life-forms. One two-page
spread focuses on microbial “bad guys” that
cause problems from bad breath and dandruff to diseases such as colds, malaria, and
plague, and the next spotlights the “good
guys,” such as those that help with digestion
of food and breaking down waste materials.
Each large spread carries a good bit of information in both the main text and “Did You
Know?” sidebars, while colorful illustrations
of people and cartoonlike microbes keep the
pages looking bright and inviting. Shedding
light on common misunderstandings about
microbes, this clearly written, informative
book offers a good introduction to their roles