Blue on blue.
White on white.
Moving swiftly as the onset of a summer thunderstorm, Dianne White’s rhyming couplets capture the rush and roar of an approaching squall, right on through to its gloriously messy end:
Sun sneaks back.
Warms the air.
Muddy, muddy . . .
Carefully calculated word placement, intelligently designed page-turns and a deft rhyme scheme underscore the musical quality of the text. The book’s masterful design encourages curious eyes to linger and makes reading aloud a joy. Caldecott-winner Beth Krommes, working in her signature style — precise scratchboard enhanced with translucent washes of watercolor — creates layers of storytelling not mentioned in the text: a wind-tossed sailboat races for shore, a fat dog seeks shelter under the blankets in the bedroom, a mare and her colt are hustled into the barn, a child bursts out of the house to wallow in the downpour’s aftermath. Look for all those tempest-tossed creatures again — now safe and snug — on the final pages when evening at last descends:
Glitter stars, twinkling light.
Black on gold . . .
on silver night.
This lovely homage to ever-changing nature reminds us of all the things rain brings us, including a few extra moments to sit inside, warm and dry, sharing a wonderful book.
— Kristi Elle Jemtegaard
Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956), the godfather of frozen food, may seem an unlikely hero for our locavore age, but this new biography shows off the drive and curiosity he displayed throughout his adventurous life. Born in Brooklyn to a prominent family whose fortunes were declining, Birdseye was both fearless and entrepreneurial from an early age. He enjoyed nature and looked for ways to earn money from it. At 11, for instance, he advertised his own taxidermy instructional services. During college, he profited from a nearby rodent infestation by identifying the rats as a nearly extinct species and shipping some to a scientist for $135 — enough money to cover one year of his tuition at Amherst College. Birdseye’s inquiring mind led him to remote places, including a scientific expedition in the Rockies and a hospital ship off the coast of Labrador. He recognized a business opportunity selling fox furs, but it was Labrador’s cold climate that inspired his most famous achievements. In this edition, an adaptation of his adult book “Birdseye,” Kurlansky delivers a clear explanation of the food-preservation techniques that Birdseye helped develop, as well as the personal qualities and business prowess that helped make him a success. Young readers will be drawn as much to the story of his accomplishments as to the infectious enthusiasms that endeared him to many.
— Abby McGanney Nolan
This surprising, deeply affecting novel seems destined to become a classic. Ann M. Martin, best known for her popular “Baby-Sitters Club” series, has created a memorable first-person narrator in Rose, an 11-year-old on the autism spectrum who is obsessed with homonyms. Rose also likes rules, prime numbers, routine and her dog, Rain. While Rose’s voice is matter-of-fact, her isolation and confusion come through in her dealings with her troubled father and often scornful classmates. Rain and her kindly Uncle Weldon are her only friends, so when the dog goes missing in a hurricane, Rose is determined to find him. All this may sound rather bleak, but the richly drawn characters — Rose especially — make this a warm, enthralling read. Brave Rose draws us into her struggles to figure out what’s right in a world where the rules constantly seem to shift.
— Mary Quattlebaum
BLUE ON BLUE
By Dianne White
Illustrated by Beth Krommes.
Beach Lane. $17.99. Ages 5-8
FROZEN IN TIME
Clarence Birdseye’s Outrageous Idea About Frozen Food
By Mark Kurlansky
Delacorte. $7.99. Ages 10 and up
By Ann M. Martin
Feiwel and Friends, $16.99. Ages 9-12