Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Just Another Day At The Beach?

A solemn promise has to be made first.  When shopping with certain friends this is a requirement.  A pledge has to be taken to not stop in any book shops.  When you've been known to spend hours wandering around the shelves, especially in the children's and young adult areas, people tend to err on the side of caution.

In a conversation this past week I even remarked given a choice I would rather be reading.  Surf's Up (North South Books, Inc., February 1, 2016) a brand new book by Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander (The Crossover) with illustrations by Daniel Miyares (Floatis about more than a day of fun in the sun.  It's about sharing the jubilation found in reading.

Not yet, Dude.

Dude is shocked his friend Bro would rather read than head to the beach for surfing. Bro is completely buried in his current book.  The conclusion has captured his attention.

Eyes glued to the pages, Bro does ride along on Dude's scooter to the sandy shore.  While reading he explains how this book is anything but boring.  An introduction to the characters, the plot and several exclamations get Dude's attention.

With each shout Dude's curiosity grows and his questions keep coming.  He has to know what is happening.  A minor mishap throws the surfing soulmates into the thick of the action.  They are surrounded in story.  The beach has vanished replaced by a raging storm, wild waters and an angry monstrous mammal.

When Bro throws his hands up is celebration at the ending, Dude needs answers but his pal is not talking.  Bro knows some things just have to be experienced in person.  A turnabout continues the fun but that's what books and buddies do best.  Totally stoked, readers!

When you think of frogs, their croaking and leaping immediately come to mind.  Those sounds and sights permeate the personalities of Bro and Dude in the dialogue given to them by Kwame Alexander.  Their sentences are short but they hum with lively surfing lingo and plenty of action.  Here are a couple of sentences.


What happened? 

The colors called to mind when you think of frogs, the beach and surfing pop from the matching dust jacket and book case.  Dude, in the red swimming trunks is ready to roll with the waves but he's taking Bro, even though he's reading, along for the ride.  A glimpse of another central character is gliding along the surface in the background as sea, sand and sky supply a glorious blend of blues and tan.  On the back, to the left, on a canvas of the same bright yellow as the title text, Bro's mind is focused on his book shown in the imagination bubble above his head.  Dude is asking a question about the book.

The opening and closing endpapers are washed in sand and sea with foam along with edge.  The first is empty but the second shows remnants of the story amid strands of seaweed.  The verso and title pages are a lovely two page spread with houses in a small town lining the beach and edged in trees as the sun rises.  A card and pocket seen on books prior to automation holds dates and the friend's names; a reminder of the joy of shared books and reading.

Most of the images rendered by Daniel Miyares extend across two pages bringing the real and imagined adventures right to the reader.   At pivotal points (three times) he asks us to pause with smaller pictures on a single page.  Miyares' close-ups of Bro's and Dude's faces are full of animation as are their body movements.  When they are riding on the scooter to the beach, wearing helmets and dressed in their swimming garb with the surfboard strapped to the back, you can't help but smile.

One of my many favorite illustrations is during the first conversational exchange between the friends.  There are two open windows in Bro's bedroom.  A breeze is blowing the curtains even though blue sky with a few clouds is seen.  Dude is poking his head in the first window, the tip of the surfboard visible.  In front of the second Bro is cozy in his blue chair, legs across one arm, reading his book.  There are hints of the adventure taking place in the book around Bro's room; a small whale on his bed and a model ship hanging from the ceiling.

Written by Kwame Alexander with illustrations by Daniel Miyares Surf's Up is a happy, high-octane ode to the fun to be found in reading and books.  It clearly portrays the transformation that takes place when a reader speaks about a compelling story.  Words are a powerful thing.

To discover more about both Kwame Alexander and Daniel Miyares please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  At the publisher's website are some activities associated with this title.  At the home page to their site if you click on the catalog you can see additional illustrations from this book including the first two double page spreads.  At Scholastic's Ambassador for School Libraries, John Schumacher's blog, Watch. Connect. Read., the book trailer is revealed along with an interview of both Alexander and Miyares.  Kwame Alexander is interviewed on Let's Get Busy, Episode #226.  Daniel Miyares answers questions at Read It Real Good with Alia Jones.  At author, reviewer and blogger, Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Daniel Miyares is a guest sharing lots of art work, his process and answering pivotal questions. Share in the festive occasion of the cover reveal in the video shown below.

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