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    Adventure Stories

    By Lesley Colabucci and Leigh Kaliss
     | Jul 16, 2018

    Summer is a great time for stories of adventure, big and small. In the books featured in this column, readers will encounter characters who take on all sorts of challenges; some require them to go on long journeys while others happen close to home. These stories involve eager risk-takers, stubborn survivors, and curious adventurers.

    Ages 4–8

    Night Out. Daniel Miyares. 2018. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    Night OutThis nearly wordless book opens with a young boy in a boarding school who eats separately at dinner and lies awake while his peers sleep. After receiving an invitation with the words “the honor of your presence is requested,” the boy looks out the window at a full moon, trying to decide if he will accept the invitation or not. Who could the invitation be from? What kind of adventure awaits? Should he follow the enclosed map? The boy exits the window and takes off on his bike under the moonlight. The gouache and colored pencil illustrations capture the mystery of nighttime as the boy travels across the countryside. The color palette changes as he meets new friends and enjoys a party at his destination. The story unfolds much like a dream, allowing children to bring their imaginations to the narrative as they wonder what adventures they might have on a night out.
    —LC

    Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-setting Dive of the Bathysphere. Barb Rosenstock. Ill. Katherine Roy. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Otis and WillThis nonfiction picture book tells the story of two men obsessed with the sea. Otis Barton, an engineer, and Will Beebe, a naturalist, both wondered what the deep ocean looked like. In the 1930s they worked together to build a diving tank called the Bathysphere that would allow explorers to go deeper than ever before. The dramatic text and mixed-media illustrations chronicle their record-setting dive in increments of 100 feet. A wordless double gatefold captures the blue-black beauty of the ocean at the depth of 800 feet. Roy’s lush illustrations portray the time period, the technical details, and action of the underwater world. Sea life is featured on the endpapers with labels. Readers will not be disappointed in the accuracy and depth of content. The ample back matter includes archival photographs as part of the author’s and illustrator’s notes.
    —LC

    The Treasure of Pirate Frank. Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham. Ill. Jez Tuya. 2018. Nosy Crow/Candlewick.

    The Treasure of Pirate FrankA boy and his faithful dog set out to find the fabled treasure of Pirate Frank, but the unexpected appearance of the treasure’s owner turns out to be the truly priceless discovery. Readers meet the intrepid explorers while traveling to the island of spice and gold. Once there, the pair hunt high and low and follow clues to Pirate Frank’s treasure. Children will be delighted by the rhythmic quality of the cumulative text and the charming digital illustrations. The emphasis on the journey is good news for readers who will thoroughly enjoy returning to the pages of this amusing adventure again and again.
    —LK

    Ages 9–11

    The Last Grand Adventure. Rebecca Behrens. 2018. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

    The Last Grand AdventureIt is July 1967, and 12-year-old Bea is not looking for adventure. She struggles with anxiety and feels safer experiencing adventure through the pages of National Geographic. However, her grandmother Pidge, whom she barely knows, is taking her on a cross-country expedition. Pidge has a suitcase full of letters from her sister, Amelia “Meelie” Earhart, all inexplicably written after the pilot’s disappearance in 1937. The last of the letters hints at a possible reunion for the sisters on what would be Amelia’s 70th birthday. With Meelie’s letters in hand, the duo has four days to travel more than 1,000 miles to the rendezvous point on the banks of the Missouri River. Their journey is long, hard, and rife with disappointment, but Bea blossoms during their trip.
    —LK

    Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea. Lynne Rae Perkins. 2018. Greenwillow/HarperCollins.

    Secret Sisters of the Salty SeaA family road trip to the beach may be a common summer adventure for some, but for Alix and her younger sister, Jools, it’s exciting because it is their first time seeing the ocean. Readers get to know Alix best in this story, which is accompanied by black and white drawings highlighting key elements in the text. While on the beach searching for periwinkles for dinner, Alix discovers sea glass and then learns to make jewelry. On a visit to a wildlife refuge, Alix holds an injured peregrine falcon and later gets to release it back into the wild. From small challenges like flat tires to drifting too far from their beach umbrella to taking risks in a variety of ways, Alix’s first beach vacation will be a memorable one for readers as well.
    —LC

    Wed Wabbit. Lissa Evans. 2018. David Fickling/Scholastic.

    Wed WabbitWhat if you found yourself transported into the world of your favorite children’s book? In Wed Wabbit, Fidge finds herself in her little sister Minnie’s favorite book, The Land of Wimbly Woos, where Minnie’s stuffed rabbit has taken over control of the Wimblies. When Minnie gets hit by a car and is hospitalized, Fidge is sent to stay with her anxiety-ridden cousin Graham. After a fall down the stairs, the two find themselves in Wimbly Land and set out to save the Wimblies, recover Minnie’s stuffed rabbit and other toys, and return home. This action-packed story will have readers on the edge of their seats as Fidge and Graham, along with friends they make in Wimbly Land, figure out how to overthrow Wed Wabbit and restore Wimbly Land to peace. Ella, the stuffed elephant, and Dr. Carrot, Graham’s comfort object, add humor to the story, and various Wimblies surprise themselves and their friends with their bravery. The heroes in the story all bring different strengths to the challenge of getting everyone home safe again.
    —LC

    Ages 12–14

    The Book of Boy. Catherine Gilbert Murdock. 2018. Greenwillow/HarperCollins.  

    The Book of BoyBlending elements of historical fiction and fantasy, this story takes place in Medieval France and involves a long and dangerous journey. The main character, known only as Boy, is a servant in a manor in France who is mistreated because of the hump on his back. Boy travels across Europe with a mysterious and questionable man named Secundus. The land has been ravaged by pestilence, and Secundus is on a mission to find seven relics in order to be reunited in the afterlife with his wife and son. Boy believes that when he arrives in Rome, he will be transformed from a hunchback to a real boy by a miracle. Boy and Secundus have a contentious relationship as they journey to find and steal the relics. While historical and religious vocabulary may challenge some readers, the Indiana Jones-style heists to secure the relics make this an exciting read. The ending is especially satisfying as both Boy and Secundus discover much more about who they really are.
    —LC

    The Boy from Tomorrow. Camille DeAngelis. 2018. Amberjack.

    The Boy from TomorrowTwelve-year-olds Josie and Alec meet and form a bond while using the same Ouija board in the same house on Sparrow Street although they are living 100 years apart. Through late night “discussions,” Josie and Alec solidify their friendship and their commitment to helping each other resolve their respective predicaments. When Josie finds new ways to communicate with Alec after her mother takes away the Ouija board, it gives him strength to deal with the pain of his parents’ divorce and the stress of starting over in a new town. Bolstered by Alec’s research and encouragement, Josie finds the courage to plot her escape from her mother’s abusive ways. This fast-paced story stays with the reader long after the book’s conclusion.
    —LK

    Chasing Augustus. Kimberly Newton Fusco. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    Chasing AugustusRosalita, who prefers to be called Rosie, was abandoned by her mother. Her mother also gave away her dog, Augustus, to a stranger. Rosie is determined to find Augustus despite being told repeatedly to give up. Rosie lives with her grumpy grandfather because her father is in a rehabilitation center after suffering a stroke. While he works, Rosie is supposed to help their neighbor, who is mothering a handful of foster kids. Instead, Rosie sneaks out on her bicycle in all kinds of weather, manipulates friends into helping, and even comes up with a complicated plan involving snakes in one of her attempts to rescue Augustus. Rosie is a stubborn risk taker who is fully convinced she will find her dog. Readers will enjoy going along with Rosie on her adventure to find Augustus.
    —LC

    Ages 15+

    The Summer of Broken Things. Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    The Summer of Broken ThingsThere are two sides to every adventure. Take, for example, Kayla and Avery, the two teenage narrators thrown together in The Summer of Broken Things. Kayla, who comes from a disadvantaged family, is excited about spending the summer in Spain. For the privileged Avery, accompanying her father on an international business trip interferes with plans to attend soccer camp with her friends and being chaperoned by Kayla adds insult to injury. The reader slowly discovers there is more at stake than a quintessential summer adventure as the girls experience the complicated emotions that come with their evolving relationship. When Avery is not sulking, she is somehow managing to always say or do the wrong thing, an exhausting combination, though a realistic personality trait of a spoiled 14-year-old. Kayla makes the best of the situation. In the end, it is a brush with death that brings the girls together when their surprising shared history cannot.
    —LK   

    Time Bomb. Joelle Charbonneau. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    Time BombA high school is bombed, trapping six students inside. All six have their reasons for being at the school during summer break, but only one of them is there to blow it up. The students manage to find each other amid the wreckage and hole up in a classroom on the second floor. Bit by bit, Charbonneau reveals potentially incriminating details of each student’s backstory, a tactic that keeps the reader on their toes. Time is running out. Bombs continue to detonate, and the students realize they must work together to survive. However, the students do not trust each other and infighting threatens to thwart their tenuous escape plan. Although some readers may guess the bomber’s identity early on, it is a compelling story of survival that is part adventure, part thriller, and part mystery.  
    —LC

    Lesley Colabucci is an associate professor of early, middle, and exceptional education at Millersville University, Millersville, PA. She teaches classes in children’s literature at the graduate and undergraduate level. Leigh Kaliss is the volunteer and outreach coordinator at Lancaster Public Library in Lancaster, PA.

    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.

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    O Canada!

    Chelsey Bahlmann Bollinger and Carolyn Angus
     | Jul 09, 2018

    We are crossing our country’s northern border in this week’s column and reviewing recently published books by Canadian authors and illustrators. Included are books in various genres that feature perspectives of diverse voices in children’s and young adult literature. As you share these books with readers, mention the cities and provinces where the authors and illustrators live and have students locate them on a map of Canada.

    Ages 48

    Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Kyo Maclear. Ill. Julie Morstad. 2018. HarperCollins.

    BloomWritten in first person and illustrated using watercolor, gouache, and pencil crayons, Toronto author Kyo Maclear and Vancouver illustrator Julie Morstad’s picture book biography tells the story of Elsa Schiaparelli’s (1890–1973) “bloom” to becoming a fashion designer. Growing up in Rome, Elsa feels “brutta” (ugly) and finds flowers to be the most beautiful things. Following a visit to a flower market, young Elsa plants seeds in her ears, mouth, and nose, hoping she becomes beautiful. This only makes her sick, but does not stop her imagination from growing. Elsa finds inspiration in flowers, the night sky, and books. As a fashion designer, she famously introduced the world to wildly creative women’s apparel and her signature colors: shocking pink and ice blue. Back matter includes a note from the author and the illustrator, endnotes, and a bibliography. Before reading the book, take time to admire the artistic details of the cover.
    —CB

    The Honeybee. Kirsten Hall. Ill. Isabelle Arsenault. 2018. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    The Honeybee“Shhh! / What’s that? / Do you hear it? / You’re near it. / It’s closer, / it’s coming, / it’s buzzing, / it’s humming…./ A BEE!” A lively, rhyming text and vibrant double-spread artwork invite young children to follow a bee as it makes its way to a field of flowers to collect nectar and pollen and then returns to the bustling hive. Quebec illustrator Isabelle Arsenault’s double-spread illustrations (rendered using ink, gouache, pencil, and colored pencil) include eye-catching touches of neon yellow gold and playfully present the activity of a colony of honeybees throughout a year. Arsenault also designed the font, named Honeybee, for the text that is incorporated into the illustrations. An appended letter to the reader addresses the importance of honeybees in the ecosystem, their threatened status, and ways to help the species survive.
    —CA

    Ocean Meets Sky. The Fan Brothers. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    Ocean Meets SkyOn a day that his grandfather would have described as “a good day for sailing,” young Finn builds a boat from odds and ends on the beach near his seaside home. It’s the perfect way to honor his grandfather on this day that would have been his 90th birthday. After falling asleep on the boat, Finn awakes and, guided by a gigantic golden fish, makes a wonder-filled journey to “the magical place where ocean meets sky” that his grandfather had told stories about. Exquisite double-page spreads, rendered in graphite and digitally colored, are filled with a mix of different species of whales and other marine animals, ships of all shapes and sizes, and hot air balloons as Finn travels to the moon—until he is awakened by his mother for dinner. The rich detailing of Toronto-based Terry and Eric Fan’s artwork invites readers of all ages to explore this magical picture-book story again and again.
    —CA

    Wallpaper. Thao Lam. 2018. Owlkids.

    Wallpaper
    Toronto author/illustrator Thao Lam’s almost wordless picture book, created with paper collage, tells the story of a young girl whose family has just moved. As she sits in her new room, she hears voices and, peeking out the window, sees children outside but is too shy to join them. Sitting sadly on the floor, she notices a lifted corner of wallpaper and decides to investigate by peeling it back. To her surprise and fascination, a flock of yellow birds fly out from behind it. She continues to peel back the wallpaper to reveal the habitat in which these birds live, and feeling curious, she steps to explore. She hears footsteps and sees the frightening face of a monster. With the monster close behind, she peels back layer after layer of wallpaper and moves other hidden worlds. Overcoming her fears, she approaches the monster to say hello and discovers he is friendly. She has learned an important lesson about courage and friendship.

    —CB

    Ages 9–11

    Ebb & Flow. Heather Smith. 2018. Kids Can.

    Ebb & FlowThe narrator of this free-verse novel, Jett has been sent by his mother, who says he needs a change of scenery, to spend the summer with Grandma Jo. Jeff thinks she needed one too after the “rotten bad year” that was his fault. “I wondered if a summer spent / in a little wooden house / on a rocky eastern shore / would help us forget that.” Details of that rough year are revealed as Jett and his grandmother exchange stories while collecting sea glass on the beach: his father’s imprisonment for the drunk driving accident that killed four people, anger over his mother moving them to the mainland for a fresh start, and the despicable activity he got involved in after teaming up with the school bully and troublemaker, Junior. It’s a summer well spent as Grandma Jo helps Jett to deal with a lot of regrets, to forgive himself, and to be hopeful that he can make amends by taking responsibility for his actions.
    —CA

    The Fake-Chicken Kung Fu Fighting Blues (Lorimer Illustrated Humor). Aaron Lam. Ill. Kean Soo. 2018. James Lorimer.

    The Fake-Chicken Kung Fu Fighting BluesWhen his grandmother, Po Po, informs him that his family will be moving from Chinatown in the heart of Toronto to the small town of Berksburg in northern Ontario, where there are no Asian families, 12-year-old Anthony Chung is bummed about the move, especially because he’s leaving his best friend, Jackson. When they arrive at their new home, Po Po, who also is struggling with the move, places a fake chicken above the door for good luck. Most of the residents of Berksburg are hockey fanatics. Anthony is not interested in hockey. How will he fit in? His desire to help Po Po feel more comfortable in the new town leads Anthony to create a video documentary of Berksburg, and he meets interesting community members as he records their stories. At the end of this humorous story, illustrated with black-and-white spot art and comic-strip panels, Anthony finds himself the star of his new hometown—and a new hockey fan.
    —CB

    Ages 12–14

    Sadia. Colleen Nelson. 2018. Dundurn.

    SadiaFifteen-year-old Sadia loves playing basketball and even makes the coed basketball team. She won’t be allowed to play in a tournament unless she removes her hijab, but is determined to stick to her vow of modesty. Her best friend, Mariam, has been de-jabbing, removing her hijab, at school, which causes Sadia to have conflicting feelings about wearing her own hijab and their friendship. When Amira, a Syrian refugee, arrives at school, Sadia serves as her translator and mentor. As they become friends, Mariam and Sadia’s friendship grows further apart. A class project called "If You Give a Kid a Camera" (in which students are given cameras to take pictures reflecting their perspective of the world) inspires Sadia and other students to take on projects that involve standing up for others and fighting for what is right.  
    —CB

    A World Below. Wesley King. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    A World BelowA day trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park for Mr. Baker’s eighth-grade class becomes a disaster when an earthquake hits and the students are trapped deep underground. This action-packed adventure tale is told from the point of view of three characters: Eric, the class loner, who is separated from the other students as they are swept away by a swift-moving underground river; Silvia, a popular student with personal problems her classmates don’t know about (she’s prone to panic attacks), who takes the leadership role in organizing the group; and King Carlos, the insecure 13-year-old leader of the Midnight Realm, a group of humans who have lived secretly in a remote area of the caverns for four generations in fear of discovery by “surface demons.”  Survival in this bizarre world filled with oversize flora and fauna (including deadly spiders, bugs, and aquatic creatures) and hidden dangers—as they attempt to find a way through dark tunnels to the surface—depends on help from the Midnight Realm.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Fire Song. Adam Garnet Jones. 2018. Annick.

    Fire SongAnishinaabe Shane is grieving over the recent suicide of his younger sister, Destiny, while trying to deal with his mother’s overwhelming depression. What keeps him going are the stolen moments he has with his secret boyfriend, David, and his dream of attending university in Toronto.  Life gets complicated when he learns that he will not receive government funding for the upcoming school year and that David does not want to go with him to Toronto. What kind of future does he have without options or choices? This moving and insightful novel by Cree/Métis debut author Adam Garnet Jones (adapted from his 2015 award-winning feature film, Fire Song) ends on a hopeful note: “For the first time since he can remember, he isn’t terrified of what the future holds. He doesn’t have a plan and he doesn’t need one. For once, all paths are open and there is no pressure to choose.”
    ­—CA

    Here So Far Away. Hadley Dyer. 2018. HarperTeen/HarperCollins.

    Here So Far AwayGeorge has always been a loyal friend, and her family is well respected in the community where her father is a police officer. She plans to party with her friends during her senior year and to leave town after graduation to attend university. However, her plans begin to fall apart. Her father is involved in a life-changing accident, she begins dating an older guy named Francis, and her friendships deteriorate. Her relationship with Francis must be kept a secret because Francis is on the police force and George is a minor. George nearly loses everything and must learn how to keep a gut-wrenching secret to herself. George’s father’s saying that “life is a bad writer” rings true at the end in this humorous and poignant realistic novel by award-winning Toronto author Hadley Dyer.
    —CB  

    Chelsey M. Bahlmann Bollinger is an assistant professor in the Early, Elementary, and Reading Department at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. 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.

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    More Sequels and Series

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Jul 02, 2018

    This week’s column includes new books in episodic series that can be read in any order for younger readers and first books or much-anticipated sequels in lengthier and more complex series for older readers. All of these books should leave fans eager for the release of the next book or lead them to earlier books in the series to read—or reread.

    Ages 4–8

    Lots More Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing. Judi Barrett. Ill. Ron Barrett. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Lots More AnimalsIn this follow-up to Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing (1970), simple “because” statements are paired with clever portraits (rendered in pen and ink with digital color) of 14 more animals who have definitely erred in donning human apparel. The humorous illustrations match the playfulness of the language. For example, “Animals should definitely not wear clothing because it would hamper a horse” (a racehorse is shown being tripped up by the untied laces of the sneakers it is wearing) and “because a turtle has a turtleneck of its own” (a none-too-happy turtle looks uncomfortable sticking its neck out of a turtleneck sweater). The reasoning is sensible—in a silly way.
    —CA

    Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake (Mr. Monkey #1). Jeff Mack. 2018. Simon & Shuster.

    Mr. Monkey Bakes a CakeThe ingredients for Mr. Monkey’s cake include a gigantic sack of bananas. While the cake is in the oven, he devours all the extra bananas and ends up too full to eat it. An alternate plan to enter a cake show goes awry as a series of mishaps occur on the way there. He luckily arrives with the cake intact, but is too late to win a ribbon. What else can go wrong? A great deal. The limited vocabulary and repetitive narrative along with one-word interjections from characters in speech balloons and colorful cartoon illustrations make this first book in Mack’s new series perfect for emergent readers, who can immediately turn to simultaneously published Mr. Monkey Visits a School.
    —CA

    Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard’s Roost (Roxie and the Hooligans #2). Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Ill. Alexandra Boiger. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Roxie and the HooligansNine-year-old Roxie Warble’s excitement about a Hooligan-free seaside vacation with Uncle Dangerfoot and her best friend, Norman, gets dampened when she discovers that the Hooligans (Helvetia Hagus, Simon Surly, Freddy Filch, and Smoky Jo) have come along as stowaways. Uncle Dangerfoot chose remote Buzzard’s Roost as the perfect site to work secretly on a new invention, the Blasto-Sonic-Liftomatic, with Lord Thistlebottom, the famous author of Lord Thistlebottom’s Book of Pitfalls and How to Survive Them. When the arrival of nemesis Alfred Applejack (who wants to steal their invention and patent it as his own) inadvertently leads to the kidnapping of little Smoky Jo, Roxie and the Hooligans join together to rescue her and the project.
    —CA

    This Book Is a Classic (Cilla Lee-Jenkins #2). Susan Tan. Ill. Dana Wulfekotte. 2018. Roaring Brook.

    This Book is a ClassicBiracial third-grader Cilla Lee-Jenkins wonders who she is, if she’s only half Chinese and can’t speak the language. As “best friend” problems heat up at school, things change at home as well. Chinese Auntie Eva is engaged to Korean Paul Kim, and wedding-planning tensions are increasing between the Chinese, Korean, and Caucasian families. At the wedding, Cilla stops a meltdown by her younger sister, Gwendolyn, and, with help from the three grandmothers, averts her flower-girl responsibilities from turning into a disaster. Accompanied by pencil sketches and ending with an epilogue and glossary, this humorous story blends cultures, new and classic traditions, and languages. Readers will look forward to Cilla Lee-Jenkins: The Epic Story (due out in March 2019).
    —NB

    The Un-Friendship Bracelet (Craftily Ever After #1). Martha Maker. Ill. Xindi Yan. 2018. Little Simon/Simon & Schuster.

    Craftily Ever AfterEight-year-old best friends Emily and Maddie always wear matching friendship bracelets. After Maddie befriends new student Bella, Emily feels left out and bonds with classmate Sam over birdhouses. When Emily loses her friendship bracelet at her soccer game and Maddie doesn’t notice, Emily decides it must have been an un-friendship bracelet. Things sort themselves out when Bella invites Emily, Maddie, and Sam to help her transform a shed in her backyard into a crafting clubhouse, and they celebrate by creating new bracelets for each other. This realistic story, accompanied by an abundance of black-and-white illustrations, includes step-by-step instructions for making a friendship bracelet. Crafty emerging readers will want to continue crafting with these friends by reading Making the Band, published simultaneously, and three more books in the series coming in 2018.
    —NB

    Ages 9–11

    A Dash of Trouble (Love Sugar Magic #1). Anna Meriano. 2018. Walden Pond/HarperCollins.

    Love Sugar MagicEleven-year-old Leonora Logroño longs to join her family at their popular bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, to prepare goodies for Día de los Muertos, but her mother tells her she is too young. When Leo sneaks into the bakery in the middle the day, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and five sisters are brujas, who sweeten their baking with magic. Finding the hidden Recipes of Love, Sugar, and Magic, Leo experiments on her own with results that go awry, and when she tries to help her best friend, Caroline, with a problem, her solution proves to be a hilarious recipe for disaster. Readers will beg to make baked goods from Leonora Logroño’s Lucky Recipe Book, I Love Sugar Magic, at the end of the story. This sweet series will continue with A Sprinkle of Spirits (due out in February 2019).
    —NB

    The Quest of the Cubs (Bears of the Ice #1). Kathryn Lasky. Ill. Angelo Rinaldi. 2018. Scholastic.

    Bears of the IceIn this series opener, polar bears, rulers of the Northern Kingdoms, are threatened by Roguers, renegade bears who snatch cubs and kill resisting mothers. Svenna, mother to cubs First and Second, who makes a deal with Roguers to exchange her reading and writing skills for the lives of her babies, is delivered into bondage to the Timekeepers of the Ice Cap. Feeling deserted, First and Second search for their Da, discover unique survival gifts (ice gazing and riddling), and meet allies: Third, a runaway cub who joins them, and Skagen, a snow leopard who sends them on a quest, in the right direction, to find their legendary father. Readers will be eager to continue the adventure of the bears of the ice with The Den of Forever Frost (due out in September).
    —NB

    Ages 12–14.

    Ash Princess (Ash Princess #1). Laura Sebastian. 2018. Delacorte/Random House.

    Ash PrincessWhen she was 6 years old, Princess Theodosia witnessed the murder of her mother, the Fire Queen, during the Kalovaxian invasion of Astrea. Following mass killings, those Astreans kept alive were enslaved to mine the country’s magical gems and Theo became the captive of the Kaiser, the cruel Kalovaxian ruler. For 10 years she has been physically and psychological abused. She suffers frequent public whippings, is forced to give up all ties to her Astrean heritage, and must appear at court functions wearing a crown of ashes. When the Kaiser forces her to kill Ampelo, her father, who has been captured after escaping from the mines, Theo realizes that surviving is not enough and puts into motion a complex plan to save herself and her enslaved people, setting fantasy fans up for the sequel, Lady Smoke (due out in spring 2019). 
    —CA

    Sunny (Track #3). Jason Reynolds. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    SunnyAlmost-13-year-old African-American Sunny Lancaster, one of the four newbies (Ghost, Patina, Lu, and Sunny) on the elite youth track team, the Defenders, is the fastest runner in the 1600 meter. He’s a “wih-winner,” but, as he confesses in his diary, for him it’s “buh-boring.” His father expects him to run and to keep running for his mother, who dreamed of being a marathon runner but died after giving birth to Sunny. What’s not boring to Sunny is dancing. He loves to practice dance routines with Aurelia, his home-school teacher. How can he remain a member of the track team and not run? Coach may have the answer, and Sunny begins to train at discus throwing, which for him is just like dancing with its rhythmic spin, step, spin-step, throw.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    The Cruel Prince (Folk of the Air #1). Holly Black. 2018. Little, Brown.

    The Cruel PrinceJude was 7 years old when Madoc murdered her human parents and stole her, her twin sister Taryn, and older sister Vivienne (the half-fey daughter of Madoc) away to Elfhame in Faerieland. Now 17, mortal Jude knows she will never be a knight, something Madochas forbidden. Against Taryn’s advice, Jude angers cruel Prince Cardan, jeopardizing the girls’ lives amidst brutal political intrigue, civil unrest, and violence in the kingdom. Despising Madoc, Vivi tries to convince her sisters to escape to the mortal world to live with her girlfriend, Heather, who doesn’t know about her heritage. Against a background of sibling conflict and unlikely or unwelcome alliances, Jude knows that the future of Faerie, the kingdom she has grown to love, rests in her hands. To be continued in Folk of the Air (due in 2019).
    —NB 

    Nexus (Zeroes #3). Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, & Deborah Biancotti. 2018. Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.

    NexusIn this riveting conclusion to the Zeroes trilogy, the Zeroes (six teens born in 2000 in Cambria, California, with unique powers) have been labeled domestic terrorists following the imprisonment of their bellwether leader, Nate, for the murder of the Swarm leader. After orchestrating Nate’s escape, the Zeroes reunite and rebuild trust with each other before confronting an unknown bellwether, Piper, whose Machiavellian plans to channel human energy through the Nexus machine during New Orleans’ Mardi Gras would create a diabolical crowd-psychosis swarm that would lead to the collapse of society. The Cambrian Zeroes must combine their superhuman abilities and resources in time to stop Piper—and bring a new order of peace and clarity to the world.
    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from 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.

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    Celebrating Children’s Literature Day: Author Panels

    By Carolyn Angus, Nancy Brashear, and Susan Knell
     | Jun 25, 2018

    Continuing our spotlighting of books by authors taking part in Children’s Literature Day, a full day of programming dedicated to children’s and young adult literature at the ILA 2018 Conference in Austin, Texas, on 23, this week’s column features reviews of books by authors participating in the Portrayals of Latinx Families in Children’s Literature panel and the Putting Books to Work Early Young Adult and Older Young Adult sessions.

    Portrayals of Latinx Families in Children’s Literature

    Alma and How She Got Her Name. Juana Martinez-Neal. 2018. Candlewick.

    AlmaAlma is a small girl with a big name: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. When Alma shows her father how she has to tape an extra strip of paper to fit her name on a page, he says, “Let me tell you the story of your name. Then you decide if it fits.” He shows her photos from a family album and tells her about each of the relatives for whom she is named. Alma loves the stories, but wants to know about Alma. His reply: “You are the first and the only Alma. You will make your own story.” The illustrations, featuring a charming Alma, were done as print transfers with graphite and colored pencils. In “A Note from Juana,” Martinez-Neal, who was born in Peru and now lives in the U. S., tells about her long name and invites readers to explore the story of their names. 
    —CA

    Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish. Pablo Cartaya. 2018. Viking/Penguin.

    Marcus VegaAt six feet tall, 14-year-old Marcus Vega is unfairly pegged as a dangerous bully and faces suspension from school after defending his younger brother, Charlie, who has Down syndrome. His struggling single mother decides to regroup and use her airline family travel benefits to take them to visit her former husband’s family in Puerto Rico, where Marcus was born. Marcus spends five days meeting relatives he didn’t know he had, trying to learn Spanish, and searching for the father who abandoned them. After seeing his estranged father for the first time in 10 years, Marcus lets go of his dream of a “happily ever after” reunited family, but upon returning to school, his life unexpectedly takes a turn for the better. In a relatable style, with interspersed Spanish, readers will find themselves drawn into Marcus’ world.
    —NB

    Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring. Angela Cervantes. 2018. Scholastic.

    Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock RingAlthough 11-year-old Paloma is unhappy about accompanying her mother, Professor Emma Marquez, on her summer fellowship to Mexico (the birthplace of Paloma’s father, who died when she was young), she hopes to add something new to her “memory box” during the trip. Local kids Gael, her Spanish tutor, and his twin sister, Lizzie, ask Paloma for help solving the mystery of Frida Kahlo’s missing peacock ring, supposedly hidden in a locked room in La Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo’s home that is now a museum) after her death in 1954. Inspired by her favorite fictional sleuth, Lulu Pennywhistle, Paloma is quickly immersed in intrigue, not sure of whom to trust, and learns that it takes courage to uncover the truth. An author’s note describes how Cervantes has blended truth and fiction to create this fascinating mystery.
    —NB

    Stella Díaz Has Something to Say. Angela Dominguez. 2018. Roaring Brook.

    Stella Diaz Has Something to SayPainfully shy third grader Stella Díaz (who lives with her divorced mother and older brother, Nick) feels torn between two cultures and two languages, English and Spanish. Her best friend, Jenny, is with another teacher this year, and lonely Stella yearns for a special classroom buddy. When Stanley Mason joins the class, Stella thinks he might be that new friend—if only she can get up the nerve to speak to him. Dreading an upcoming presentation on her favorite topic, marine animals, and frozen with fear, Stella gets help from her brother in preparing for the big day. Spanish vocabulary, woven into the text, and childlike black-and-white illustrations complement this true story of a young girl reaching deep inside to find her voice because, indeed, Stella Díaz has something important to say. An author’s note describes Dominguez’s inspiration for the story.
    —NB

    Putting Books to Work: Early Young Adult (Ages 12-14)

    Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights and the Flaws That Affect Us Today. Cynthia Levinson & Sanford Levinson. 2017. Peachtree.

    Fault Lines in the ConstitutionThe Levinsons thoughtfully explore the U.S. Constitution, examining the Framers’ “fights” during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and the Constitution’s “flaws” that have affected our country throughout its history. The narrative, supplemented by interesting infographics, considers provisions of the Constitution, resulting “big problems,” and connections to present-day issues. The authors end by grading the Constitution in terms of its successes and problems based on goals set out in the Preamble—and give it an overall C+. Readers can continue to explore current political issues related to the Constitution on the Levinsons’ Fault Lines at faultlinesintheconstitution.com.
    —CA

    Ghost Boys. Jewell Parker Rhodes. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Ghost BoysWhile playing with a toy gun, 12-year-old Jerome is fatally shot by a white policeman. Returning as a ghost, Jerome observes the effects of his tragic death on his family, Sarah (the policeman’s daughter), and Carlos (the friend who gave him the toy gun to fend off bullies) and discovers that he is surrounded by other ghost boys who were killed in violent circumstances. Told in sections that alternate between pre- and post-death, this insightful story takes readers through the shooting to the preliminary hearing in the Chicago Courthouse and the verdict. Back matter includes an afterword, questions for extending classroom discussion, and resources.
    —NB

    House of Purple Cedar. Tin Tingle. 2014. Cinco Puntos.

    House of Purple CedarMaster storyteller Tingle’s historical novel is told through the eyes of Rose, a Choctaw woman who grew up in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in the town of Skullyville, among the Nahullos (whites). She recounts her life story, starting with the 1896 burning of the New Hope Academy for Girls, a boarding school where she is a student, and continues with other racial, often violent, incidents that everyone in the Choctaw community, including the beating of her grandfather, Amafo, at the hands of the racist white sheriff. Rose witnesses her grandfather’s decision to respond with forgiveness rather than violence. The story is filled with spiritualism, mystical connections to nature, family, and religion. Readers will experience a gripping description of the Choctaw culture and community.
    —SK

    Putting Books to Work: Older Young Adult (Ages 14+)

    Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam. Elizabeth Partridge. 2018. Viking/Penguin.

    Boots on the GroundElizabeth Partridge’s dramatic narrative history of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War focuses on the personal stories of eight people—five men who fought on the ground, a medic, a field nurse, and a refugee. Accounts of their experiences in Vietnam are arranged chronologically and interspersed with chapters profiling the roles of four presidents— John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford—and other key figures involved in the political and social controversy over the war in the U.S. The abundance of captioned archival photographs and quotes throughout the narrative and notes on what became of the eight interviewees after the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam in 1975 express the effects of the war. Back matter includes source notes, an extensive bibliography, and an index.
    —CA

    Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration. Rose Brock (Ed.). 2018. Philomel/Penguin.

    Hope NationIn this inspiring collection, the word “hope” is the thread that binds these leading voices of young adult literature, including David Levithan, Jason Reynolds, Angie Thomas, Libba Bray, and many more. Their writings express fear, disappointment, pain, and injustice, but end with hope. The selections give voice to the confusion that young people (and really everyone) may experience in the complicated and oftentimes disappointing world in which we live. With an inspiring collective message, “Hope is a decision,” these essays were written for teenagers but will resonate with all readers.
    —SK

    Shame the Stars. Guadalupe García McCall. 2016. Tu/Lee & Low.

    Shame the StarsIn this Romeo and Juliet story set in 1915 Texas, 18-year-olds Joaquin del Toro (a poet set to inherit his father’s rancho) and Dulceña Villa (who writes incendiary articles for her father’s newspaper under a pen name) have been in love since they were children. With escalating violence among Texas rangers who act as vigilantes, ranchers who want justice, and Tejano rebels set on reclaiming Texas for Mexico, the teens’ families end up on opposite sides of the conflict, and Joaquin and Dulceña pursue their clandestine relationship with dangerous consequences for their families. Back matter includes an author’s note, resources, and a glossary. McCall’s next book to bring little known history to life, All the Stars Denied,will be released in September.
    —NB

    Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California. Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Susan Knell is a professor in the department of Teaching and Leadership at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, where she teaches literacy and literature courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.

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    Celebrating Children’s Literature Day: Meetup Authors (Continued)

    By Carolyn Angus and Sandip Wilson
     | Jun 18, 2018

    This is the second of two columns featuring books by authors who are participating in Author Meetups, part of Children’s Literature Day at the ILA 2018 Conference, July 2023 in Austin, TX. This column includes reviews of books in various genres and four age groups (Early Reader, Middle Grade, Early Young Adult, and Older Young Adult) that are inspiring, informative, and engaging. 

    Early Reader (Ages 4–8)

    Drawn Together. Minh Lê. Ill. Dan Santat. 2018. Disney-Hyperion.

    Drawn TogetherWhen a young boy visits his grandfather, they share lunch (although they eat different foods) and television (although the boy would like to watch something else) but cannot share language. When the boy finally pulls out his sketch book and markers to draw, his grandfather pulls out his brush and ink to draw with him. The lavish illustrations, done in both black-and-white and full-color mixed media, show how the pair create marvelous worlds of skilled warriors and fabulous stories, using the common language of art to bridge the traditional and the modern.
    —SW

    How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace. Carole Boston Weatherford. Ill. Frank Morrison. 2018. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    How Sweet the SoundWeatherford’s rhyming couplets and Morrison’s dramatic double-spread oil paintings describe how British seaman John Newton (17251807) prays to God to spare his life one stormy night in 1748 aboard the Greyhound slave ship. After retiring from life at sea, he becomes a minister and anti-slavery activist and, during that time, writes the hymn “Amazing Grace." The story then shifts to the history of the hymn as other verses are added and different groups make the song their own. Back matter includes the lyrics, an author’s note, and suggestions for reading and listening.
    —CA

    Sparkle Boy. Lesléa Newman. Ill. Maria Mola. 2017. Lee & Low.

    Sparkle BoyCasey loves all things glittery and sparkly, so when he sees his sister, Jessie, wearing a shimmery skirt, nail polish, and bangles, he wants them too. The illustrations, created in pencil and computer-generated color, depict his supportive parents and Abuelita. When Casey is teased by his classmates, who insist that “Boys don’t wear skirts and bracelets and nail polish," Jessie decides to celebrate her creative younger brother. 
    —SW  
      
    Middle Grade (Ages 8–12)

    Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party. Megan McDonald. Ill. Peter H. Reynolds. 2018. Candlewick.

    Judy Moody Right Royal Tea PartyJudy Moody is in a “royal purple on-top-of-spaghetti-and-the-London-Eye mood!” Grandma Lou, who is helping Judy with her family tree project, has shown her some records that trace the Moody family back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I and tell a story about Cousin Mudeye, who rescued a prisoner from the Tower of London. In exuberant Judy-Moody fashion, she’s convinced that she’s related to a queen, but her plan for a big reveal of her royal status to the class goes awry, thanks to her nemesis, Jessica “Fink” Finch. Judy Mudeye Moody learns she is not related to a queen, but rather to a royal rat catcher! Right royal (as in extremely exciting and fun) reading fare.
    —CA

    Out of the Wild Night: A Ghost Story. Blue Balliett. 2018. Scholastic.

    Blue Balliet Out of the NightIn early November, a year after a tragic boat accident off the shore of Nantucket, the ghost of Mary Chase (who died 100 years ago) takes up the role of Town Crier and narrator of this story. Wealthy off-islanders are buying up old houses, and a group of island kids, the Old North Gang, are concerned with the way a real estate developer is gutting historic houses and disturbing ghosts in the process. Balliet explores the rich history of Nantucket and addresses issues of preservation in this suspenseful ghost story with an unexpected twist.
    —CA

    The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers (Thrifty Guide). Jonathan W. Stokes. Ill. David Sossella. 2018. Viking/Penguin.

    The Thrifty Guide to Ancient RomeIn an engaging travel guide format, this handbook for time travelers starts with an introduction on how to stay alive, what to wear, where to eat, and where to find entertainment in ancient Rome. Each section contains facts about the city’s history, geography, famous and ordinary people, and culture. In a conversational and humorous style, Stokes chronicles 1,000 years, from the founding of Rome to the time of invading armies that led to the fall of the empire. The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution was published simultaneously, and Stokes’ third handbook, The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece, illustrated by Xavier Bonet, will be released in the fall.
    —SW  

    The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street and the Hidden Garden. Karina Yan Glaser. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    The VanderbeekersSpring arrives at the brownstone in Harlem, New York, and the Vanderbeeker children, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney (the eldest, Isa, is at music camp) decide to create a beautiful garden in the abandoned, possibly haunted lot next to the local church. With little experience and no tools, the children must figure out how to get what they need. Then they discover another problem: The land is to be sold to a real estate developer. This story of resourcefulness, friendship, and service is the sequel to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (2017).
    —SW

    Early Young Adult (Ages 12–14)       

    Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon. Suzanne Slade. Ill. Thomas Gonzalez. 2018. Peachtree.

    CountdownOn May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced his daring dream of committing the United States to landing a man on the moon and safely returning him to earth by the end of the decade. Beautifully composed verse and dramatic paintings tell the story of Project Apollo that made that dream a reality 2979 days later, when the Eagle landed on the Moon’s surface and Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step onto the moon on July 20, 1969. Chapters end with double-page spreads with information about the mission, including launch and splashdown dates, biographical information and a portrait of each crew member, the mission’s special patch with the names of the astronauts, and captioned photographs. Back matter includes “More About Team Apollo” and “Bringing Apollo 11 Home” sections, notes by the author and the illustrator, a bibliography, sources for quotations, and photo credits.
    —CA

    Crown of Thunder. Tochi Onyebuchi. 2018. Razorbill/Penguin.

    Crown of ThunderTaj is among the refugees fleeing Kos in this sequel to Beasts of the Night (2017). Having served Princess Karima of Kos, he is puzzled by her ruthless destruction of the people of Kos once she becomes queen, and he is morose over the loss of his dear friend, Bo. Taj joins up with a group of sin-eaters, people who can swallow the sins of others, but the Queen sends dark forces to destroy them. Traveling with friends Aliya and Arzu and longing to be a healer, a person who can transform monsters into rays of light, Taj underestimates allies he thought were adversaries. In this action-packed fantasy, Taj, Aliya, and Arzu make discoveries about themselves as they plan to overcome the Queen, but first must confront Bo, who has become her ally. You may want to read Beasts of the Night first. 
    —SW

    Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story. Jennifer Roy (with Ali Fadhil). 2018. Houghton Mifflin.  

    Playing AtariAt the beginning of the Gulf War of 1991, Ali and his family, living in Basra, Iraq, have food, water, electricity, television, and video games. When all-night bombing starts, however, Ali, his dentist father, mathematics teacher mother, two brothers, and young sister are crowded into a safe room, where they sleep on the floor. In running across the rubble of bombed neighborhoods to bring home his family’s government rations, Ali is Pitfall Harry (a video game character who gets out of tight spots), but as the war intensifies and the family’s living conditions worsen, his life becomes more complex. Ali’s experience of the Gulf War is also the story of a young man’s discovery of the depth of his culture as he finds his role in it. 
    —SW

    Older Young Adult (14+)

    Lies You Never Told Me. Jennifer Donaldson. 2018. Razorbill/Penguin.

    Lies You Never Told MeFollowing a breakup with his controlling girlfriend, Sasha, Gabe’s friendship with a shy, reclusive new student, Catherine, grows into a romantic relationship that must remain a secret. Meanwhile, headstrong and popular Sasha is determined to win him back. In Portland, Oregon, Elyse finds escape from a troubled home life with her opioid-addicted mother when Mr. Hunter, the drama teacher, casts her as Juliet in the school production of Romeo and Juliet. The special attention Elyse gets from him leads her down a slippery slope. Told in fast-paced alternating chapters, these two seemingly unconnected stories come together with an unexpected twist.
    —CA

    Little and Lion. Brandy Colbert. 2017. Little, Brown.

    Little & LionWhen she arrives home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, 16-year-old Suzette has a lot to deal with, including unsettling relationships within her blended family. Wanting to rebuild the strong emotional bond she once had with Lionel, who is under treatment for bipolar disorder, Suzette is conflicted about keeping his secret that he has gone off his medications. She is also dealing with identity issues, having just left her first same-sex relationship with her roommate and discovering sexual attraction to both an old friend, Emil, and a coworker, Rafaela. Suzette has a lot of growing up to do this summer.
    —CA

    Select Few (The Select #2). Marit Weisenberg. 2018. Charlesbridge Teen/Charlesbridge.

    Select FewAfter leaving a closed, cult-like community led by her father, Julia Jaynes moves into an exclusive hotel in Austin, Texas. Julia must suppress her special abilities if she is to avoid notice, and realizes she must also separate from her boyfriend, John Ford (who has been developing special abilities of his own while they have been together), to keep him safe from being kidnapped by the community. Julia has many painful decisions to make and, along the way, makes some wrong ones, all of which contributes to this satisfying sequel to Select (2017), the first book in this thrilling paranormal romance series.
    —CA

    What I Leave Behind. Alison McGhee. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    What I Leave Behind“Sometimes you got to walk the day out of you,” says the narrator, 16-year-old Will, who began walking the streets of his Los Angeles neighbor to deal with loss and grief. According to Will, a walker’s feet can figure out the right route to take, the route that does not go past places that need to be avoided. For Will, these include the river bridge over Fourth Street, the site of his father’s suicide; the house of his friend Playa, who was raped at a party; and the Chinese blessing store he used to visit with his father. Written in 100 chapters with 100 words per chapter, the author shows how connecting with people through small acts of kindness helps Will walk off his troubles.
    —CA

    Sandip LeeAnne Wilson serves as professor in the School of Education and the English Department of Husson University, Bangor, Maine. 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.

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