Bird, Eugenie, illus. by David Dowton. Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand. Candlewick, 2002. ISBN 978-0763614133. 130 pp. $40.00
The fashion-magazine size and layout of this weighty volume is no mistake; Fairie-ality is an imaginative presentation of haute couture for fey folk. Based on the premise that faeries have a season, like the tony upper class, and thus require costumes for spring balls and summer swim parties, Bird and Dowton present a photo essay of tiny designer clothing concocted from natural objects: flowers, leaves, acorn caps, feathers and more.
Gowns take shape with peacock feathers, grass blades and petal skirts, paired with birchbark stilletos. Snakeskin adds pattern and texture to basic-cut undergarments. Seeds and shells add embellishment. Pheasant feathers reveal their glorious tones in a pullout section on cotillion collections. Not just for ladies, there are coordinating outfits for men as wel, including a sleek black crow feather jacket adorned with periwinkle shell buttons. There is even a ready to wear section, with pages cut into three horizontal strips for mixing and matching of tops, bottoms, and stylish caps. The pieces de resistance are outfits for a royal family, and the wedding party garments, including a mother of the bride gown augmented with fluffy feathers, a top hat and peacock lined coat for the groom, and a gossamer white lily and feather gown for the bride.
In addition to the crisp, closeup, full-color photography, designer’s sketches and watercolors accompanying many of the final products. The font matches each collection, by turns formal, hip or romantic. The textures are so clear the urge to run one’s fingers over the pages is irresistable. The accompanying text could be straight out of the pages of Vogue. The captions are lush and descriptive, and narrative accompanies each section, outlining the events appropriate for each collection, or whom each piece might be worn by. Readers will spend hours pouring over the pages and marveling at the tiny details. Although not a must have, the excellence in execution and high re-readability rate a high recommended for most browsing collections.
Review by Beth Gallaway
Anderson, M.T. The Pox Party: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, book one. Candlewick, 2008. ISBN 978-0763636791. 384 pp. $10.99
Young Octavian–a black boy born to an African princess but a slave nonetheless–has his life chronicled in narrative, letters, diary entries, etc, detailing his upbringing in a wealthy household as a science experiment.
This particular title has won a Printz Honor Award as well as the National Book Award for Young People’s literature, and quite deservedly so. Many librarians and educators question if teens will voluntarily pick up this tone, written in the formal educated speech of the late eighteenth century. Because the themes of the novel–identity, loyalty, duty– are YA issues, they will surely be of interest to YA readers. Once the reader gets into the cadence, the formal educated speech is a treasure; just as Feed’s inventive vocabulary required a certain level of deciphering, so does Octavian.
The voice of an experiementally educated black in an historical time period is unique and clear, and a voice not yet heard in the canon of YA literature. The format is daring and innovative. The convention of the reader figuring out what is going on alongside the protagonist is effective showing not telling. When such unspeakable things happen to the narrator that he can no longer share his story, the novel switches to letter format that has a strong impact. The technique of using thick dark strike throughs to convey difficulty in expression is also brilliant. What is NOT being said reveals a great deal about the character.
Set during the American Revolution, the initial focus is a scientific society, rather than the rebellion. The accuracy is high; details are based in fact and meticulously researched. And the faintly hideous cover art hints at a dark event to come that is shudderingly real and very discomforting.
A must have for all collections, this can be cross-marketed to adults who may be fans of titles dealing with this time period.
Barner, Bob. Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere! Chronicle Books, 2010 (reprint). ISBN 978-0811877244. $6.99 24 pp.
In January in libraries across America, the penguin storytime is obligatory; this week we are experience April snowstorms in New England, so it’s the perfect time to revisit those funny little tuxedoed birds. Penguins, Penguins Everywhere is a bright cut-paper collage picture book that delivers penguin facts in a rollicking rhyme. Both Arctic and Equator dwelling penguins are covered, and the vibrant blues of the North contrast appealingly with the yellow and orange heat of the South.
Regardless of locale, all penguins swim, eat fish and care for their young, and these feats are acrobatically and charmingly demonstrated. The sparse text concludes with a two page spread on penguin facts, and two more pages detailing all seventeen penguin species, with incredible attention to detail; each type is distinctively portrayed. Beautifully done, and sure to be popular on the heels of such films as Happy Feet and March of the Penguins.
Review by Beth Gallaway