Literacy Daily

Children's & YA Literacy
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • Librarian
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Job Functions
    • Teacher Educator
    • Reading Specialist
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • Literacy Coach
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Classroom Teacher
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • Student Level
    • Book Reviews
    • Children's & YA Literature

    Stories in Verse

    By Skye Deiter and Carolyn Angus
     | May 13, 2019

    Stories in verse are popular with readers of all ages. The books reviewed this week include picture books with the auditory appeal of a rhyming text paired with expressive artwork for young children and novels that fuse poetry and narrative in a more engaging and accessible format for older readers. 

    Ages 4–8 

    The Cook and the King. Julia Donaldson. Ill. David Roberts. 2019. Abrams.

    The Cook and the King“There once was a very hungry king / Who needed a cook like anything,” but none of the offerings of applicants for the job satisfy him. Finally, the king gives Wobbly Bob (“I’m a bit of a wimp, but I’d love the job.”) a chance to make him some fish and chips. When it’s time to do each step in the preparation of the king’s favorite dish, however, Bob declares, “I’m scared! I’m scared! I’m terrible scared!” It is the king who ends up preparing the dish (from catching the fish and digging up the potatoes, to frying up and serving the fish and chips). After sharing the meal with Bob, the king is well pleased with the delicious dish—and the cook. “Congratulations, Wobbly Bob. / You may be a wimp, but you’ve got the job!” A clever, rollicking rhyme and colorful, expressive artwork make this book a read-aloud treat.
    —CA

    Hello, I’m Here! Helen Frost. Ill. Rick Lieder. 2019. Candlewick.

    Hello, I'm Here!Employing the perspective of a newborn Sandhill crane, Helen Frost poetically describes the chick’s first moments after hatching as it boldly announces itself to the world (“Hello, I’m here!”) and discovers family (“Look, I’m standing! / One step. Another. / Hey, who’s this? / Are you my brother?”). Simple, four-line stanzas with an ABCB rhyme scheme on double-page spreads chronicle the chick’s adventures and discoveries in the marsh while loving crane parents shield it from possible dangers. Frost’s lyrics are accompanied by Rick Lieder’s stunning full-color photographs, which depict interactions between adult cranes and their chicks. Back matter provides additional information on Sandhill crane families.
    —SD

    My Heart. Corinna Luyken. 2019. Dial/Penguin.

    My HeartAuthorillustrator Corinna Luyken scatters short lines of rhyming text across pages to deliver a timeless message of the heart’s role in our ability to love, heal, grow, and be self-guided. “My heart is a shadow, / a light, and a guide. / Closed or open . . . / I get to decide.” Luyken’s lyrical text, rich in metaphors, offers assurance to young readers that the heart is a place to turn to when shadows of self-doubt or sorrow creep in, and that it serves as a personal guide to help “mend” broken parts of one’s life. Lovely, monotype print illustrations (created with water-based inks and pencil) featuring a young child and camouflaged hearts enhance the mood of this delicate text as yellow and shades of grey, both separate and intermingling, echo the joys and sorrows our hearts endure.
    —SD

    Never Trumpet with a Crumpet. Amy Gibson. Ill. Jenn Harney. 2019. Boyds Mills/Highlights.

    Never Trumpet With a Crumpet“Now if perchance Her Majesty / so happens to ask you to tea,” you should definitely not do what a group of animals do when they receive an invitation from the Queen. Colorful, digitally created cartoon illustrations show animal guests breaking the rules of good table manners. “No wolfing food or snapping jaws. / Use your fork and not your paws…. // And—goodness, gracious!—never trumpet / when you’re nibbling on a crumpet.” A double-spread illustration shows the appalled queen and a delighted young prince witnessing the elephant’s trumpeting sending the teapot, dishes, platters of food, and even a small guest flying from the table. Nonetheless, as the guests depart, the gracious Queen smiles, waves, and extends an invitation to come again before she falls asleep amid the wreckage.
    —CA

    The Tall Man and the Small Mouse. Mara Bergman. Ill. Birgitta Sif. 2019. Candlewick.
     
    The Tall Man and the Small MouseAlthough they live in the same house, the tall man and the small mouse have never met. The tall man did tall things that needed doing during the day, while the small mouse crept around at night doing small things that needed doing. When their paths cross unexpectedly one morning, the tall man realizes the small mouse’s help is just what he needs to complete work on the town’s broken clock. The pair discover they make a great team, become good friends, and “come rain or shine, whatever the weather, / they do the things that need doing / TOGETHER!” In the cheery illustrations (done in pencil and colored digitally) that complement Mara Bergman’s rhythmic narrative, Birgitta Sif effectively elongates details to parallel the man’s tallness.  
    —SD

    Tomorrow Most Likely. Dave Eggers. Ill. Lane Smith. 2019. Chronicle.

    Tomorrow Most LikelyThis whimsical bedtime story explores the promises of what the next day might bring as a young black boy is tucked into bed. “Tomorrow most likely / there will be a sky. / And chances are it will be blue. /  Tomorrow most likely / there will be a squirrel. / And chances are his name is Stu.” The playfulness of Dave Egger’s rhythmic text is perfectly matched by Lane Smith’s colorful, textured illustrations that show the ordinary and extraordinary experiences the boy might have in his urban neighborhood tomorrow, including an encounter with a big bug who is worried about his missing friend, Stu. As the boy falls asleep, the story ends with a reassuring “Tomorrow most likely / will be a great day / because you are in it. / and Stu is okay.”
    —CA

    Wings. Cheryl B. Klein. Ill. Tomie dePaola. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    WingsCheryl B. Klein’s spare, rhyming text (one word per spread) and Tomie dePaola’s charming collage and mixed media illustrations tell the story of one baby bird’s determination to take flight for the first time. The timid bird “clings” to its nest, then finally “flings” itself downward in hopes of soaring and instead lands headfirst in a puddle. Almost defeated by the initial “stings” and “dings” of the first failed attempt, the sight of wriggling worms (“things”) brings hope to the baby bird as its hungry siblings wait back in the nest. “Things. / Brings? / Springs… / Sings!” The punctuation used in the poem eventually evolves from periods and ellipses to exclusively exclamation points, mirroring the change in tone from the young bird’s initial uncertainty to its later delight and triumph!
    —SD

    Ages 9–11

    Birdie. Eileen Spinelli. 2019. Eerdmans.

    BirdieTwelve-year-old Birdie Briggs is having a difficult time dealing with the changes in her life which are becoming so confusing that even her love of birds—and playing Scrabble every Saturday with her best friend, Martin Stefano—can’t lift her spirits. Birdie and her mother have been living with her grandmother, Maymee, in the small town of Hadley Falls since the death of her father, a Philadelphia firefighter who died three years ago while on duty. Now her mother is dating a police officer; Martin has a crush on Nina, a new girl in town; and even Maymee has a boyfriend. In short free-verse poems, Birdie’s narration reveals how she comes to understand that change is a part of growing up and that making room for others in her life can be a good thing. 
    —CA

    The Moon Within. Anita Salazar. 2019. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.

    The Moon WithinCeli Rivera, who lives in Oakland, California, and describes her heritage as “Black-Puerto Rican-Mexican,” loves dancing bomba and participating in the traditional Puerto Rican drum dance performances in which her father is a master drummer, but also has a troubling concern about another cultural expectation. Her mother insists that they will celebrate her first period with a traditional Mexican “moon ceremony.” When her childhood friend Magda Sánchez asks to be called Marco, identifying as one of the xochihuah, “people who danced between or to other energies than what they were assigned at birth,” Celi’s loyalty to her best friend is tested by her first crush, “black-xican” Iván’s cruel and insensitive jokes about Mar’s genderfluidity. Aida Salazar tells this engaging coming-of-age story with beautifully crafted first-person poems.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air. Margarita Engle. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Soaring EarthThis companion memoir told in verse through a combination of simple and complex stanzas that occasionally mix in Spanish words conveys the identity struggle Margarita Engle faced as a Cuban-American teenager during the Vietnam War era. The first of the memoir’s six sections, “Wide Air,” reveals Engle’s yearning to visit her Cuban family (despite a travel ban), which was initiated by her struggle over identity—a struggle which was further compounded by additional adversities mentioned in the “Drifting” section, including discrimination, failed education, abuse, drugs, poverty, and conflict over war. Engle finally rediscovers herself and poetry when she realizes her passion for agronomy. “This time, I won’t give up. / I need to learn how to help feed the hungry / with roots, shoots, seeds, fruit, / and perseverance/” Short titles beautifully capture the mood and subject-matter of each poem.
    —SD

    Ages 15+

    White Rose. Kip Wilson. 2019. Versify/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    White RoseBased on a true story, this lyrical narrative recounts German Sophie Scholl’s involvement in White Rose, a World War II resistance group organized by her older brother Hans. To chronologize the historical events and build context, the novel in verse switches between “The End” (the period of interrogation and sentencing for the “treasonous” acts of creating and distributing anonymous wartime leaflets) and “Before” (Sophie’s upbringing and life events leading to her disapproval of the Nazi regime). “How can we expect / justice / in this world / if we’re not prepared to / sacrifice ourselves / for what is right?” Back matter includes a Dramatis Personae of Sophie’s family, members of White Rose, and individuals involved in the Gestapo interrogations and sentencing. A German glossary and bibliographical references are included.
    —SD

    Skye Deiter is an elementary classroom teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate from Pennsylvania State Harrisburg’s Masters in Literacy Education Program. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on 
    Literacy Daily.

    Read More
    • Student Level
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Children's & YA Literature
    • Teacher Educator
    • Librarian
    • Reading Specialist
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Job Functions
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • Book Reviews

    Graphic Novels

    By Barbara A. Ward and Carolyn Angus
     | May 06, 2019

    As temperatures start to rise and classrooms move into their last month of school before summer vacation, many educators will be looking for engaging books to keep students reading and learning all summer long. With their appealing visual format, graphic novels often seem to be just the right choice for enjoyable independent reading. Here are some of our recent favorites.

    Ages 4–8

    Captain Barbosa and the Pirate Hat Chase. Jorge González. 2019. Graphic Universe/Lerner.

    Captain BarbosaWhen a seagull flies on board Captain Barbosa’s sailboat and steals his black hat, the pirate and his crew of an elephant, mosquito, and crocodile set out to recover his favorite hat. After battling stormy seas and surviving an encounter with a green, one-eyed sea monster (who fortunately is friendly and deposits their ship on the very island that is home to the seagull), Captain Barbosa spies his hat. Scaling a tall cliff to retrieve it, Captain Barbosa is in for a surprise. His hat is being used as a nursery for seagull chicks. Softly colored pencil drawings make this humorous, wordless picture book (an import from Spain) a great introduction to graphic novels for young children.
    —CA

    ¡Vamos!: Let’s Go to the Market. Raúl the Third. Color by Elaine Bay. 2019. Versify/Houghton Mifflin.

    VamosLittle Lobo (an anthropomorphized wolf) and his dog, Bernabé, deliver supplies to shops and booths in the Mercado and visit with the friendly vendors selling food, sombreros, puppets, hand-carved masks, piñatas, and other items. When he delivers some clothespins needed by Señor Duende to display the magazines and comic books he sells in his stall, Little Lobo is given a Lucha Comix featuring his favorite wrestler, El Toro. On the last delivery of the day, he unexpectedly meets El Toro, who autographs his comic, and Little Lobo gives his hero a ride home in his wagon. A humorous narrative, which smoothly mixes English and Spanish and paneled and full-page cartoon artwork, invites young children to read ¡Vamos! again and again. A Spanish–English glossary is appended.
    —CA

    The Wolf in Underpants. Wilfrid Lupano. Trans. Nathan Sacks. Ill. Mayana Itoïz & Paul Cauuet. 2019. Graphic Universe/Lerner.

    The Wolf in UnderpantsA community of woodland animals lives in fear of the wolf. Even the anti-wolf brigade shakes with fear as the here-comes-the-wolf alarm is sounded. But when the wolf arrives, no one can believe he’s the wolf with crazy eyes and fangs like ice picks that they fear. The wolf is wearing red-and-white striped underpants that have, he explains, changed his life by taking care of his “cold butt problem.” No longer having the fear of the wolf central to their lives leaves everyone confused until someone points out a missing-person poster. “If it wasn’t the wolf, what happened to those Little Pigs who disappeared?” The final page provides a clue—and something new to fear. The colorful cartoon artwork of this funny and slightly scary graphic novel/picture book hybrid, originally published in France, will delight young children.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Mutts Summer Diaries (Mutts Kids #5). Patrick McDonnell. 2019. Andrews McMeel.

    The Mutts Summer DiariesThis amusing collection of comic strips featuring best friends, canine Earl and feline Mooch, enjoying summertime is as refreshing as a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. Like many of us, Mooch and Earl laze the days away as they savor the slower pace of life and deal with the hot weather. When their human companions head to the beach for their family vacation, Mooch and Earl go along, snacking on ice cream while pondering the mysteries of life, watching whales, and getting to know the other creatures on the beach. An appended “More to Explore” section offers brief information on dolphins, squids, blue whales, seagulls, mussels, and other sea life the two friends encounter during their summer adventures. Readers of all ages can continue enjoying the clever humor of Patrick McDonnell’s syndicated cartoons about Mooch and Earl in the earlier books in the Mutt series.
    —BW

    Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice (Get to Know Your Universe!). Jason Viola. Ill. Zack Giallongo. 2019. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Survival on the IceThis entry in the informative and entertaining Science Comic series takes readers to the Arctic, the home of polar bear cubs Anik and Ila, where they will learn about the biology of polar bears as the mother of these two playful cubs teaches them everything they need to know about polar bear life and survival on the ice. The lessons, delivered in colorful illustrations, include learning about the characteristics of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), its environment, and the essentials of polar bear behavior. The cubs must master skills and strategies related to hunting and eating seals, establishing a home range and protecting it, the “dos and don’ts” of mating, and awareness of threats to the survival of polar bears. Back matter includes a glossary, ice terminology, notes, and further reading.
    —CA

    Rocket to the Moon! (Big Ideas That Changed the World #1). Don Brown. 2019. Amulet/Abrams.

    Rocket to the MoonIn this first book in his new informational graphic novel series, Rodman Law, career parachutist, building climber, and movie stuntman, narrates this history of rocket-building and spaceflights (both successes and failures) that led to NASA’s Apollo 11 landing of the first humans on the moon on July 20, 1969. Rocket to the Moon! ends with Rodman Law’s reminder that “one bright idea followed another, until the big idea to fly to the moon changed the world forever.” Brown’s graphic artwork adds visual humor to the accessible and well-researched account of key events. Back matter includes a timeline (from the publication of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon in 1865 to NASA’s launch of the Parker Solar Probe on August 12, 2018), a brief biography of Rodman Law (18851919), source notes on quotations, a bibliography, an author’s note, and an index.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Hephaistos: God of Fire (Olympians #11). George O’Connor. 2019. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    HephaistosAs George O’Connor’s popular graphic novel series about Greek gods and goddesses comes to an end, readers will be delighted to see several of the immortals living on Mount Olympus finally get their comeuppance. Hephaistos highlights just how messed up the family dynamics of the Olympians are as Zeus pursues woman after woman and his long-suffering wife, Hera, berates him in a pointless attempt to change his ways, and Hephaistos, the god of fire, is duped by his beautiful wife, Aphrodite, who dallies with Ares while he is distracted with a task Ares has given him. When the cuckolded god finds out what’s going on right under his nose, he exacts revenge in a fitting way. O'Connor has brought these ancient stories of the Olympians to life in graphic format, making them easier for modern audiences to understand. Although the setting may be Mount Olympus and ancient Greece, these stories have much to teach readers about human nature.
    —BW

    The Iliad. Homer. Adapt. Gareth Hinds. 2019. Candlewick.

    The IliadGareth Hinds retells Homer’s epic poem The Iliad,set during the tenth year of the Trojan War, in which the Acheans (Greeks) lay siege to Troy to return Helen (the daughter of Zeus and wife of Menelaus), who was seduced by Paris, Prince of Troy, and seek revenge and treasure by conquering Troy. With stunning, paneled artwork (done in pencil, watercolor, and digital media) and accessible prose, Hind’s well-researched and beautifully crafted adaptation of The Iliad will be enjoyed by those familiar with Homer’s epic of war as well as newcomers. Front matter includes a chart with portraits, names, and identifications of Achaeans, Trojans, and Gods who play important roles in the tale and a prologue. Back matter includes an extensive author’s note, a map of the armies that gathered at Troy, page-by-page notes, and a bibliography. Readers will also be interested in Hind’s graphic novel companion volume Odyssey (2010).
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos. Lucy Knisley. 2019. First Second Books/Roaring Brook.

    Kid GlovesAs she has in previous books, authorillustrator Lucy Knisley shares her own journey, this time focusing on the ups and downs in her education on sexual health as a teen, contraception, fertility problems, and miscarriages before she finally successfully gives birth to a son following a difficult pregnancy. Along with her personal story, Knisley provides information on the science and history of reproductive health and debunks myths and old wives' tales about it. Kid Gloves is not only informative but also filled with love, heart, and warm humor. The book’s graphic novel format makes it an appealing and accessible choice for teens.  
    —BW

    Kiss Number 8. Colleen AF Venable. Ill. Ellen T. Crenshaw. 2019. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Kiss Number 8It’s 2004, and life is good for Amanda (Mads), a senior at a Catholic high school who enjoys spending time with her good friends, Laura, Adam, and fun-loving Cat, and her best friend, her father, with whom she loves attending minor league baseball games and watching TV. Overhearing a phone conversation that upsets her father and the behavior of her parents that follows lead Mads to believe they are hiding a secret from her. Mads is also beginning to realize that she has a crush on Cat. The results are a messy and confusing tangle of relationship with her family and friends. How can she confront her parents about this family secret? Is she really more interested in kissing girls than in kissing boys? Panels of expressive black-and-white artwork and realistic dialogue, with a balance of angst and humor, make Kiss Number 8 an engaging and thought-provoking story for teen readers.
    —CA

    Barbara A. Ward teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy at Washington State University, Pullman. She spent 25 years teaching in the public schools of New Orleans, where she worked with students at every grade level, from kindergarten through high school as well as several ability levels. She is certified in elementary education, English education, and gifted education. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications, a master's in English education from the University of Tennessee and a PhD in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

    Read More
    • Student Level
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Book Reviews
    • Literacy Education Student
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • Teacher Educator
    • Librarian
    • Reading Specialist
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • Job Functions
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • Children's & YA Literature

    Read Now, Read Forever

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Apr 29, 2019

    The 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week is being celebrated April 29–May 5 at bookstores, libraries, and schools across the country. This year’s theme, Read Now, Read Forever, “looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of children’s books.” In reflecting on the importance of free choice in our own development as lifelong readers, this week we review books that we were especially eager to read.

    Ages 4–8

    Circle. Mac Barnett. Ill. Jon Klassen. 2019. Candlewick.

    CircleIn the conclusion of this shapes trilogy, Circle invites Square and Triangle to play hide-and-seek anywhere except behind the waterfall where it is dark, which is exactly where Circle has to rescue frightened Triangle and where they both are scared by a pair of eyes. Jon Klassen’s minimalistic illustrations (created digitally and with watercolor and graphite) morph from outdoor scenes against expansive white backgrounds into black double-page spreads featuring only eyes. Back safely from behind the waterfall, Circle talks about what they saw deep in the cave and muses, “It might have been a good shape. We just could not see it.” Circle instructs her friends to close their eyes and imagine what kind of shape it was. On the final black page, the question “If you close your eyes, what shape do you picture?” invites readers to do the same. 
    —NB

    The Donkey Egg. Janet Stevens & Susan Stevens Crummel. Ill. Janet Stevens. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Donkey EggBear sleeps in his chair instead of taking care of his farm until Fox tricks him into buying a big, green donkey egg for 20 dollars, and his life changes. He cares for his “egg” by sitting on it, singing to it, telling it stories (and acting out parts), dancing and playing with it, and rocking it—until he drops it when he falls asleep. With the egg “on the loose!” Bear and friends chase after it until the green donkey egg cracks open. Disappointed, Bear and good friend Hare plant the seeds found inside and grow watermelons they sell to buy a donkey! Expressive, mixed-media illustrations, inserts with fun facts, and playful text provide a laugh-out-loud trickster tale.
    —NB 

    Good Boy. Sergio Ruzzier. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Good BoyWith only one or two words on a page, Sergio Ruzzier tells a delightful story of a small boy and his dog that begins with the boy training the dog with simple commands (sit, stay, roll over) and then moves on to tricks (stand, shake, bow) and playful activities (fetch, jump, juggle). After the clever dog cooks and serves a meal, they eat, clean up, and head outdoors. Colorful illustrations (rendered in ink and watercolor) show the pair heading to the beach in a pedal-powered cart, fixing a damaged boat, sailing to an island, building a rocket, and soaring to a planet where they make new friends before returning home. Young children will become aware of an apparent shift in their relationship during their bedtime routine (wash, brush, dress, read, sing) that ends with “Stay. Good boy.”
    —CA

    Motor Mouse (Motor Mouse #1). Cynthia Rylant. Ill. Arthur Howard. 2019. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    Motor MouseCynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard introduce Motor Mouse, who delivers packages all around town in his little red motorcar, in three short stories with colorful, boldly outlined cartoons. In the first story, when their end-of-week celebration is ruined by the closing of the Cake Shop, a friendly hedgehog takes Motor Mouse and Telly (his otter pal) to eat pie on Cake Friday. “And it was QUITE ACCEPTABLE.” In the second, on his day off, Motor Mouse hires a cab so he can look around town without having to keep his eye on the road and ends up sharing memories and making friends with the cabbie (a raccoon). In the final story, on Saturday at the movies, Motor Mouse has the perfect solution to a weekly dispute with his brother, Valentino, over sharing popcorn: a “biggest bucket” for each of them.
    —CA

    Ruby & Rufus Love the Water! (Gossie & Friends). Olivier Dunrea. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    Ruby & RufusIn this twelfth book in his series begun with Gossie (2002), Olivier Dunrea introduces two new goslings: Ruby in a red bathing cap with white polka dots and Rufus in a red-and-white striped cap. They swim on the pond all day and every day, until one cold snowy morning, they find the water is frozen. Still in their bathing caps, they slide across the ice and streak across the ice in their red-and-white inner tube throughout the winter until warm weather returns and they play once again in the water. “Ruby and Rufus love the pond all year round.” The spare text and charming ink-and-watercolor illustrations featuring the two small friends at play and set against expansive white backgrounds make this small book perfect for sharing again and again with young children.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Parrot and the Merchant: A Tale by Rumi. Marjan Vafaeian. Trans. Azita Rassi. 2019. Tiny Owl.

    The Parrot and the MerchantMah Jahan, a traveling Persian merchant, collects beautiful birds that she keeps in cages or in chains. When Mah Jahan asks her favorite bird, a talking parrot, what gift she could bring her when she returns from a trading trip, the sad bird requests that she say hello to her parrot friends who live wild and free in the Indian jungle and ask if they have any messages for her. Upon returning home, Mah Jahan reports, “I’m afraid that they said nothing at all, but one poor parrot fell out of the tree, dead.” The parrot’s response to this message teaches Mah Jahan a surprising but important lesson about freedom, happiness, and love. Iranian illustrator Marjan Vafaeian’s choice to make the merchant a woman provides the opportunity to dress Mah Jahan in voluminous, exquisitely patterned gowns in the stylized illustrations for this ancient fable.
    —CA

    Trees: A Rooted History. Piotr Sacha. Trans. Anna Burgess. Ill. Wojciech Grajkowski. 2019. Abrams.

    TreesThis oversize compendium on trees includes spreads of colorful, intricate drawings with explanatory text on the vertical margins covering the characteristics and diversity of trees, their place in the natural world, and roles they have played from ancient times to the present in the lives of humans. Browsers will be attracted to topics such as endemic species, the oldest trees, treehouses from around the world, and tree monsters in mythology, folklore, and literature. The final entry, “Trees for the Future,” picturing a giant sequoia being chopped down by lumberjacks, is a reminder of the importance of planting trees and thinking twice before we cut them down.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    The Giver (Giver Quartet #1). Lois Lowry. Adapt. P. Craig Russell. Ill. P. Craig Russell, Galen Showman, & Scott Hampton.  2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    The GiverP. Craig Russell’s graphic novel adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver closely follows the dialogue of the original story, and the paneled artwork (rendered in blue pencil, pencil, ink, blue ink wash, and grey ink wash) provides a dramatic visual representation of events as they unfold. After he is selected by the Committee of Elders to be the next Receiver of Memory, 12-year-old Jonas begins to question the colorless, conforming, and controlling Sameness of the community in which he lives as the Giver begins to transfer all the memories of the whole world to him—and he learns disturbing secrets about this seemingly utopian society. Conversations with Lowry and Russell about the graphic adaptation of this provocative 1994 Newbery Medal-winning fantasy are appended.
    —CA

    The Weight of Our Sky. Hanna Alkaf. 2019. Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster.

    The Weight of Our SkyIt’s 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and 16-year-old Melati Ahmad, a Muslim Malay, struggles with OCD, which arose after the death of her father the prior year. Counting and tapping objects while performing daily rituals (compulsive phone calls, blinking, flicking light switches) is exhausting, and her thoughts are often hijacked by an inner djinn predicting her mother’s horrific death unless she follows his specific instructions. On May 13, Melati is rescued by a stranger, Chinese Auntie Bee, from a movie theater where her best friend, Safiyah, is killed by terrorists, and she finds herself in the middle of a violent race riot between Malays and Chinese. To survive, Mel must fight against her inner demon and crippling compulsions and let strangers into her life while she searches for her mother and promotes unity. “We make our own sky, and we can hold it up—together.”
    —NB

    Ages 15+

    The Gilded Wolves (Gilded Wolves #1). Roshani Chokshi. 2019. Wednesday/St. Martin/Macmillan.

    The Gilded WolvesIn this complex fantasy set in 1889 Paris, the Exposition Universelle (world’s fair) is about to open. Séverin Montagnet-Alarie (illegitimate French-Algerian disowned heir of the disbanded House Vanth) is enlisted by former childhood companion Hypnos (French-Haitian and Patriarch of the House Kore) to bring him the Eye of Horus in exchange for restoring Séverin’s inheritance. Séverin, assisted by an international team of experts, each with secrets, solves riddles and puzzles to uncover the artifact before it can be used by revolutionaries to transform themselves into gods. Chokshi threads postcolonial themes into this steampunk-esque thrilling opener to this new series told through the points of view of a cast of memorable characters.
    —NB

    The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe. Ally Condie. 2019. Dutton/Penguin.

    The Last Voyage of Poe BlytheAfter engineer Poe Blythe loses Call, her childhood love whom she met in an orphanage, in a raid on the ship they’re working on, she vows revenge on the raiders who killed him. The Admiral (protector of the settlers in the abandoned Outpost)names Poe, now 17, Captain of the Gilded Lily, for which she’s designed the most failsafe raider-proof ship armor ever created so its crew can safely trench gold from the river. Beginning with her first day on the ship, she receives threatening messages from someone on her crew. Betrayal, sabotage, and challenges cause her to question who the raiders are, why the Admiral needs so much gold, and if her loyalties are being wrongly manipulated—and result in her ripping apart her beloved ship to fight the almost-inevitable course of events in this action-filled dystopian novel.
    NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.  

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

    Read More
    • Children's & YA Literature
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • Book Reviews
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Teacher Educator
    • Librarian
    • Reading Specialist
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Job Functions
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • Student Level

    Just for Fun

    By Skye Deiter and Carolyn Angus
     | Apr 22, 2019

    As the season of end-of-year testing and projects approaches, don’t forget to make time for “just for fun” independent reading. This week’s column includes reviews of recently published, engaging books that will set the tone for enjoyable summer reading.

    Ages 4–8

    Animalicious: A Quirky ABC Book. Anna Dewdney & Reed Duncan. Ill. Claudia Boldt. 2019. Penguin.

    Animalicious“The world is full of animals / of every single kind. / This book contains some special ones / that you won’t often find.” Young readers will have fun exploring the animal oddities in this quirky alphabet book. Colorful, cartoon portraits offer clues to understanding the nonsensical names created by clever wordplay, puns, and double entendres. For example, the letter “P” is represented by a green, pear-shaped “pearrot,” a blushing “polar bare,” and a “piethon” wrapped around the “P” with its mouth open, ready to eat the pie perched on the end of its tail. Readers will have fun deciphering some of the more challenging names, such as “macawbre” (a macaw dressed in a Poe-inspired coat).
    —CA

    Bikes for Sale. Carter Higgins. Ill. Zachariah OHora. Ill. 2019. Chronicle.

    Bikes for SaleMaurice (a chipmunk) always rode his yellow bicycle around town, selling lemonade from his mobile stand. Lotta (a porcupine) always rode her red bike through the woods, collecting sticks in the basket to hand out all over town. Unfortunately, fate steps in one day for Maurice and Lotta as their bikes are wrecked in separate accidents. “But what looked like a small stick was really a smashup, and that was the end of this one...and what looked like some petals was really some peels, and that was the end of that one.” Fortunately, fate steps in once more with a chance encounter at Sid’s bike shop, where Maurice and Lotta find a bicycle built for two made from recycled parts from their wrecked ones. Young readers will enjoy this humorous tale of a serendipitous friendship as it unfolds in colorful, richly detailed acrylic illustrations.
    —SD

    Flubby Is Not a Good Pet! (Flubby #1). J. E. Morris. 2019. Penguin.

    FlubbyDisappointingly, Flubby, a chubby cat with an aloof attitude, doesn’t do anything that other kids’ pets do. Flubby does not sing like Kim’s pet bird, catch a ball like Sam’s dog, or jump like Jill’s frog. Even when it begins to rain, Flubby does not heed the warning to run and slowly ambles to the house. When thunderous KA-BOOMs frighten them both, however, the young narrator adds, “But he needs me…. And I need him,” and they cuddle up. The simple text with short, repetitive sentences and uncluttered, expressive cartoon-like illustrations make this book and simultaneously published Flubby Will Not Play with That fun-to-read fare for beginning readers.
    —CA 

    I’m a Baked Potato! Elise Primavera. Ill. Juana Medina. 2019. Chronicle.

    I'm a Baked PotatoReaders of all ages will get a laugh out of this endearing story with vibrant illustrations about a potato-loving lady and her cherished little brown dog named Baked Potato. One day, Baked Potato gets separated from the lady, and as he walks farther and farther searching for her, he gets lost. Along the way, Baked Potato encounters an angrybig dog who calls him a groundhog and a hungry fox who sees him as a yummy bunny. These responses to his pleas for help leave poor Baked Potato questioning his identity. Is he a baked potato? A groundhog? A bunny rabbit? Finally, a wise owl helps Baked Potato discover his true self as a dog who can use his keen sense of smell to find his way back home.
    —SD

    Most Marshmallows. Rowboat Watkins. 2019. Chronicle.

    Most MarshmallowsMost marshmallows settle for ordinary lives of watching TV, eating dinner with their families, and falling asleep to dreams of nothing. These marshmallows go to school to learn to be squishy, to stand in rows, and to not breathe fire. “But some marshmallows / somehow secretly know / that all marshmallows / can do anything / or be anything / they dare to imagine.” Watkins’ humorous collage illustrations, which feature marshmallows with human-like characteristics in familiar scenes at home and school (created with construction, cardboard, and found objects), and a lyrical text offer a child-friendly message to live boldly and dream big that will stretch children’s imaginations.
    —SD

    Ages 9–11

    How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth. Paul Noth. 2019. Bloomsbury.

    How to Properly Dispose of Planet EarthEleven-year-old Happy Conklin Jr. is busy deciding how he will ask his crush, Nevada Everly, to be his lab partner at school when his lizard, Squeep!, starts bringing him shells, kazoos, and other mysterious doodads. Happy soon realizes the vanishing lizard may be using a second portal in his manic sister’s “Doorganizer,” an infinite closet powered by a black hole. Now, Happy not only must find the courage to speak to Nev but also travel through Squeep!’s portal to save planet Earth from disappearing into a black hole forever. Paul Noth’s cartoon drawings and comic-style panels add to the fun of reading this middle-grade science fiction novel. Readers will also get a kick out of How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens (2018), the first book in Paul Noth’s series.
    —SD

    Just Like Rube Goldberg: The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines. Sarah Aronson. Ill. Robert Neubecker. 2019. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    Just Like Rube GoldbergThis engaging picture book biography tells the life story of Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg (1883–1970), who gained recognition as a “famous inventor without ever inventing anything at all.” Young Rube loved to draw, but to please his father he studied engineering. He hated being an engineer and quit his first job with the San Francisco Department of Water and Sewers after just six months. Determined to become a newspaper cartoonist, he drew and drew until he eventually got a job as a cartoonist at the New York Evening Mail. It was his cartoons about inventions that solved problems in crazy, complicated ways—Rube Goldberg machines—that made him famous. Robert Neubecker’s full-color illustrations cleverly pay homage to Goldberg’s creativity. “The Only Sanitary Way to Lick a Postage Stamp” and seven other of Goldberg’s original black-and-white cartoons are reproduced on the endpapers. Back matter includes additional information on Goldberg’s life and work and sources.
    —CA

    Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat. Johnny Marciano & Emily Chenowith. Ill. Robb Meommaerts. 2019. Penguin Workshop/Penguin.

    KlawdeWhen he’s exiled from the planet Lyttyrboks and transported across space to Earth, deposed Lord High Emperor Wyss-Kuzz vows to return and take revenge. The transported feline lands at the Bannerjee’s home in the small Oregon town of Elba where Raj, who is unhappy about the family’s move from Brooklyn, bargains with his parents to keep the fearsome cat, who’s given the name Klawde, if he attends Camp Eclipse. In alternating chapters, Klawde (who learns English and mind-melds with Raj so they can communicate) and Raj relate the events of a summer in which Klawde develops a means of teleporting back to Littyrboks and Raj struggles to survive nature camp. Klawde does successfully take off and return to Lyttyrboks and Raj completes “Camp Apocalypse” but that’s not the end of this funny sci-fi story because “the evil alien warlord cat” makes an unexpected return to Oregon. Readers can immediately read the next published volume, Enemies.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Bake Like a Pro! (Maker Comics). Falynn Koch. 2019. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    Maker ComicsYoung wizard Sage is disappointed in her apprentice assignment with alchemist and baking master, Wizard Korian. When she ignores helpful hints from basic ingredients (they talk), misuses baking tools, and doesn’t follow the step-by-step instructions in the spell book (a recipe book), her first baking project, a classic pound cake, is a disaster. Readers learn that baking is “a tangible form of magic” by joining Sage in the enchanted kitchen to learn the science behind baking from Korian. By working along with Sage and Korian in this fun-filled, “ultimate DIY guide” with eight baking activities, readers can learn to bake like a pro. Back matter includes recipes, notes on baking methods, baking tips, conversion and measurement charts, and references. Fix a Car! is a second book in First Second’s new informational graphic novel series.
    —CA

    Revenge of the EngiNerds. Jarrett Lerner. 2019. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

    Revenge of the EingiNerdsIn the sequel to EngiNerds (2017),Ken, Dan, Edsley, and the other EngiNerds return to track down the last one of the food-eating, “butt-blasting” robots that presumably caused the power outage in town and led to the disappearance of all the food at Food-Plus. But when an alien-crazed girl with a suitcase of gadgets and theories on alien activity shows up, the alliance of the group quickly becomes threatened. Will Ken find the last robot in time to restore his good standing with the EngiNerds? Are aliens really to blame for the bizarre weather of late? Organized into mini chapters of two or three pages each, this sci-fi adventure will keep middle graders reading in anticipation of what wacky things will happen next.
    —SD

    Ages 15+

    I Love You So Mochi. Sarah Kuhn. 2019. Scholastic.

    I Love You So MochiKimiko Nakamura, who has been accepted at a prestigious art school, seems to be on track to fulfill her artist mother’s dream of Kimi being recognized as an up-and-coming Asian American artist in the Los Angeles area, although she would rather be sewing Kimiko Originals than painting. Accepting an invitation from her estranged maternal grandparents to visit them in Japan over spring break becomes Kimiko’s means of escaping her problems. When she meets handsome Akira Okamoto (who works part time as a costumed mochi mascot to attract customers to his uncle’s mochi shop), his offer to be her guide in exploring Kyoto soon becomes a journey of self-discovery. While visiting cultural sites, eating delicious mochi, and having her new friendship blossom into a romantic relationship, she discovers that her passion for fashion design promises amazing experiences for the future. A delightfully sweet and funny novel.
    —CA

    Skye Deiter is an elementary classroom teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate from Pennsylvania State Harrisburg’s Masters in Literacy Education Program. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

     

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

    Read More
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • Student Level
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • Librarian
    • Reading Specialist
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Literacy Coach
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Job Functions
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • Children's & YA Literature
    • Book Reviews

    Debut Authors and Illustrators

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Apr 15, 2019

    Each year we look forward to reading the first books by children’s and young adult authors and illustrators. In this week’s column we review debut picture books and novels that caught our attention and left us eagerly anticipating the next literary offerings of these authors and illustrators.

    Ages 4–8

    Dust Bunny Wants a Friend. Amy Hevron. 2019. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    Dust Bunny Wants a FriendEveryone craves love, even a lone dust bunny under a chair. In this almost wordless book (words are limited to “hi,” “bye,” “achoo,” and “byeee!”), Amy Hevron makes her debut as an author with the story of a little dust bunny seeking friendship with all the wrong creatures (a bug, ants, a cat, a teddy bear) which gives young bookworms lots to “read” in the humorous and colorful illustrations (rendered in acrylic and marker on wood and collaged digitally). When Dust Bunny finds himself swept under a bed by a broom, he finally discovers his people, a community of dust bunnies who happily welcome him.
    —NB 

    How to Walk an Ant. Cindy Derby. 2019. Roaring Brook/Macmillan.

    How to Walk an AntAmariyah, a self-proclaimed Expert Walker, shares with readers her very own nine-step “How to Walk an Ant” guide with handwritten instructions, tips, rules, and occasional footnotes. Debut authorillustrator Cindy Derby’s black ink-and-watercolor artwork with a distinctive goth vibe shows Amariyah working her way through the steps, including securing a leash to an ant and practicing walking it. A collision with a ladybug walker results in a tangle of leashes (and the need to reference “How to Conduct a Funeral” in the appendix) before step nine: “Celebrate when you reach your goal,” which Amariyah does with her new friend and business partner.
    —CA

    Ruby’s Sword. Jacqueline Véissid. Ill. Paola Zakimi. 2019. Chronicle.

    Ruby's SwordRuby’s brothers consider her a pest and always leave her behind. One day, Ruby finds three “swords” (long sticks hidden in the grass), gives two of them to her brothers so they will “swashbuckle” with her, and, after they run off without her, uses her imagination to fight a dragon, have a royal feast, and save loyal subjects all on her own. When she begins building a castle with sticks and a sheet, her brothers return with “honorable offerings” (twigs, rocks, dandelions, their swords), and together they build a magnificent castle perfect for three noble knights. Argentinian illustrator Paola Zakimi’s illustrations, rendered in watercolor and pencil as well as digitally, capture the challenges and sweetness of sibling relationships in author Jacqueline Véissid’s first book. 
    —NB  

    Snakes on a Train. Kathryn Dennis. 2019. Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan.

    Snakes on a Train“The conductor takes the tickets / as the snakes all slither on. / The tracks are checked. / The whistle blows. It’s time to move along. / Hissssssssssssssss goes the sound of the train.” The rhythmic text with a repetitive refrain and graphic illustrations with simple shapes and bold colors of Kathryn Dennis’ first picture book take young children on a day-long train trip with carloads of snake passengers reading books, enjoying snacks, and gazing at the scenery. At the end of the journey, as the snakes slither off to sleep in their dens, “the train rests for the night. / Snakes wrap themselves in little balls / and tuck their tails in tight. / Ssssssssssssssssh goes the sound of the train.”
    —CA

    Spencer and Vincent, the Jellyfish Brothers. Tony Johnston. Ill. Emily Dove. 2019. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    Spencer and VincentJellyfish siblings Spencer and Vince share a special ditty: “My brother, my brother, / he’s sweet, not smelly. / I love him from down in / my jelly belly.” After Vincent disappears in a wave of “superior magnitude,” Spencer asks friends (a whale, mermaid, seahorse, and sea star) to help locate him, and with Spencer’s singing of their special song for encouragement and a helpful smack of the water by the whale, Vincent, so weak he can barely “slurp” forward, floats back to Spencer. “In a tenderness of tentacles the brothers clasped each other, an embrace of superior magnitude.” Debut illustrator Emily Dove’s imaginative illustrations, rendered digitally and with watercolor in oceanic hues, work in tandem with Tony Johnston’s clever text. An author’s note provides information about jellyfish.
    —NB 

    Ages 9–11.

    Hurricane Season. Nicole Melleby. 2019. Algonquin.

    Hurricane SeasonIt is storm season, and 11-year-old Fig fears the arrival of a hurricane that would draw her father (who has an undiagnosed bipolar disorder) to the dangerous beach of their New Jersey coastal town during a manic state. Her father, a once-accomplished pianist and composer, has not performed or written music since Fig’s birth, after which his wife abandoned them. In doing research for an art project on Vincent van Gogh, Fig sees similarities in the mood swings of her father and Van Gogh as well as parallels in their fatherdaughter relationship with that of the painter and his brother Theo. As a relationship between her father and a new neighbor, Mark, grows, Ruby is conflicted. Mark has a calming effect on her father, but is he interfering with the special bond she has with her father, who has always depended on her alone? Debut author Nicole Melleby’s novel is beautifully written, realistic, and thought-provoking. 
    —CA

    Ruby in the Sky. Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo. 2019. Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan.

    Ruby in the SkyRuby Moon Hayes and her mother have just moved to the small town of Fortin, Vermont. They never stay long in any one place so Ruby plans to be “invisible” and not involved until she convinces her mother to return to Washington, DC, their home before her father, a police officer, was killed. Although not intending to, Ruby becomes friends with Abigail Jacobs, the reclusive “bird lady” who is considered a town nuisance by the mayor. Finding the courage to speak as Abigail in front of the whole town at the sixth grade’s Wax Museum project, in which the students imitate historical figures, is just what Ruby needs to do to make Fortin her true “forever home.” Ruby in the Sky is Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo’s first novel.
    —CA

    The Simple Art of Flying. Cory Leonardo. 2019. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

    The Simple Art of FlyingDebut author Cory Leonardo’s characters are working their way through losses. Alastair, a cantankerous grey parrot, who composes original poetry based on books he’s eaten, longs to escape to a faraway island with Aggie, the sister he’s been separated from. Twelve-year-old Fritz, who journals about ailing animals he cares for at the pet store where he works part time and misses his deceased grandfather, adopts Aggie. Eccentric, 80-year-old Albertina Plopky, who writes letters to her dearly departed husband, adopts Alastair. Leonardo uses free verse poetry, letters, and narrative with zippy dialogue in the different storylines of her engaging middle-grade work of magical realism, which ends with Alastair concluding, “You don’t always get everything you want in this life. But sometimes what you do get is better than you imagined…”
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Cursed. Karol Ruth Silverstein.2019. Charlesbridge Teen/Charlesbridge.

    CursedFourteen-year-old Ricky Bloom was recently diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Since her parents’ divorce, her mother has sent her to sleep on a sofa couch at her father’s “Batch Pad,” and she’s attending a new school where she’s bullied. Ricky curses everyone around her, and after a truancy streak and swearing at Mr. Jenkins, her public speaking teacher, she may flunk ninth grade. Through the unexpected help of Mr. Jenkins (and his afterschool assignment make-up sessions) and new friend, Oliver (a cancer survivor), she learns that words have power and that sometimes the most important one is “help.” Debut author Karol Silverstein drew upon personal experiences with juvenile arthritis in writing her first novel.
    —NB

    The Line Tender. Kate Allen. 2019. Dutton/Penguin.

    The Line TenderWhen local fisherman Sookie catches a great white shark in his net off Rockport, Massachusetts, 12-year-old artistic Lucy and her best friend, science-savvy Fred, want to include the great white in their summer project, an illustrated field guide. Then Fred drowns during a nighttime swimming party in a nearby quarry, and his body is recovered by Lucy’s dad, a member of the police dive team. Learning how research currently being done on the relationship of the great white shark and gray seal in the Cape Cod area is related to a study proposed by her mother, a shark biologist, just before her death when Lucy was 7, becomes a way for Lucy, her depressed father, Sookie (a family friend), and Mr. Patterson (an elderly widower and neighbor) to connect and deal with grief over what they have lost. Each chapter in Kate Allen’s debut novel is introduced with a double-page pencil sketch of a shark.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Four Dead Queens. Astrid Scholte. 2019. Putnam/Penguin.

    Four Dead QueensSeventeen-year-old Keralie, a Torian skilled thief working with her childhood friend Mackiel and Varian Boltt, an Eonist messenger, become unlikely allies when his attempt to reclaim a case of comm chips with embedded memories she stole from him outside the Concord (where the queens of Toria, Eonia, Ludia, and Archia, the four Quadrants of Quadara, live and rule) leads to their shared knowledge of the memory embedded in the comm chips of the killing of the four queens and their subsequent life-endangering involvement in uncovering the identity of the assassins and who is behind the diabolical conspiracy. With masterful worldbuilding and complex timeline manipulation accomplished through alternating points of view, Astrid Sholte creates an action-packed suspenseful novel that will intrigue and delight both fantasy and mystery fans.
    —CA

    Genesis Begins Again. Alicia D. Williams. 2019. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Genesis Begins AgainThirteen-year-old Genesis Anderson adds what she dislikes about herself to “100 Reasons Why We Hate Genesis” (created by two girls in her fifth-grade class), including her hair and skin color. When her troubled father doesn’t pay the rent and they are evicted, she and her mother temporarily live with her grandmother, who tells her that only light-skinned blacks succeed. After her dark-skinned father finagles another home in which she, her mother (who could almost pass for white), and him to live together, and Genesis attends a suburban school of mostly white students where she struggles to fit in by straightening her hair with frenemies and secretly trying to lighten her skin. After she develops relationships with two new friends and her music teacher who don’t care about these things, Genesis finds her voice, literally and psychologically, as she performs a medley of songs from Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James for the school talent show. Debut author Alicia Williams draws on personal experience as she takes on sensitive issues of “colorism” (color prejudice) from outside, and inside, the African American community.
    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    Read More
Back to Top

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives