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Charcoal Boys by Roger Mello
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Charcoal Boys

Best Seller
Charcoal Boys by Roger Mello
Hardcover $20.00
Oct 08, 2019 | ISBN 9781939810199

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  • Oct 08, 2019 | ISBN 9781939810199 | 5-8 years

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  • Oct 08, 2019 | ISBN 9781939810205 | 5-8 years

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Product Details


“What to make of this idiosyncratic picture book from Brazilian author-illustrator Mello? Told by an observant hornet, it’s the story of two boys in a coal yard where fiery ovens make charcoal … The book is filled with haunting enigmas that are as tantalizing as the vaguely expressionist, non-representational illustrations executed in black, white, and shades of grey (there is smoke everywhere) and accented with neon pink and orange (there is also fire everywhere) … The fascinating mix of words and images invites—almost demands—rereading to tease out meaning.” — Booklist starred review

“The lives of a hornet and a boy unexpectedly intertwine in this vividly illustrated, unusual glimpse of child labor at a coal yard…An ambiguous ending makes this book truly haunting—and vital.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The unique and stark illustrations, created in highly textured layers of paint and paper, are gallery-worthy … This book is a work of art.” — School Library Journal

“Haunting… Mello’s distinctive work burns with poetic truth.” — Publishers Weekly

“Roger Mello’s flame oranges and reds, gray washes, ash white, and black foretell a serious story that reflects those hues—of a child who works in Brazil’s coal mines tending an oven that turns wood into charcoal. A poetic but focused wasp follows the young boy and narrates his story, which turns out to be the wasp’s story as well—seemingly insignificant beings on the periphery of more powerful thrusts. Mello has crafted a story that invites children (and their adult friends) to participate in the narration itself, by filling in gaps the wasp has left for them.” —Kerri Arsenault, Orion reviews editor

“The striking illustrations paired with the lyrical text create a real gem. The perspective of the book is unique in that it is narrated by a small hornet living in a charcoal mine and following a boy around making observations. The hornet’s focus on finding food for her egg pairs well with the boy trying to survive life working and hiding in a charcoal mine … The entire story is great, but the illustrations really make it shine!” — Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, in Youth Services Book Review

“It is the spaces between these snapshots of narration by the hornet, the deliberate holes left open to interpretation, imagination, and invention, that leave the reader questioning long after the reading is done. Charcoal Boys has a depth that would be a delight to unpack.” — Glass of Wine, Glass of Milk (blog)

Praise for Roger Mello’s You Can’t Be Too Careful! (Elsewhere Editions, 2017):
ALA Batchelder Honor Award 2018
Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2017
USBBY Outstanding International Books List
2018 ALSC Notable Children’s Book

“A marvel of art, story, and imagination.”–Laura Farmer, The Gazette

“Elegant linework mixes with torn paper and soft, textured colors as a parade of luminous, exotic caricatures and their accoutrements unfold against a white backdrop; the effect is magical. The interactions probe issues around wealth, possession, and compassion…Complex and provocative.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Through wordplay, dreamlike images, and a playful lightness of touch, You Can’t Be Too Careful! expresses serious questions about the importance of kindness and the dangers of greed.”–MPR News Staff

“Roger Mello’s illustrations challenge and excite the imagination… it’s great to see some of his work available in English at last.”–Center for Literacy in Primary Education

“This is a book for puzzle-lovers… Complex and provocative, it’s just right for children who love a challenge.”–Bookwitty

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