Cream of the Crop List
Each year publishing houses send thousands of review copies of new children's and young adult books to the Maine Children’s and YA Book Review. The books are reviewed at monthly meetings by local school and youth services librarians. A "Cream of the Crop" List of the 100 best titles published in the previous year is developed. The Cream of the Crop List contains titles appropriate for preschool to high school-aged readers.
For additional book reviews on recently published children’s and YA books, check out the Maine Children’s and YA Book Review blog at www.mslbookreview.org.
Cream of the Crop Committee
- Kathy George, Gray Public Library
- Jill O’Connor, Merrill Memorial Library, Yarmouth
- Patti Francis, Pownal Elementary School
- Kristin Taylor, Biddeford High School
- Elizabeth Andersen, Westbrook High School
- Sarah Cropley, Scarborough Public Library
- Noelle Gallant, Saco Middle School
- Cream of the Crop Picture Book Fiction [26 books]
- Cream of the Crop Picture Book Non-Fiction [16 books]
- Cream of the Crop Chapter Book Non-Fiction [12 books]
- Cream of the Crop Chapter Book Fiction [50 books]
- Winners of other awards (Maine and National)
- L = Library binding
- M = Maine Author, Illustrator, Setting
- P = Paperback
- R = Reinforced trade binding
- T = Trade binding
Chung, Arree. Mixed: A Colorful Story. Henry Holt and Co. 978-1-250-14273-3. R $17.99. (PreK-3). Using the very simple concept of primary colors, Chung weaves a story that illustrates how separation and division takes its toll on happiness. The colors used to live in harmony, then one color declared superiority and the colors divided into their own neighborhoods. When two colors decide to take the plunge and merge, new colors form and everyone learns that mixing is happier than dividing. This book does what excellent picture books do, distills a complex issue into an understandable visual that any child can grasp. Chung’s color dot illustrations convey meaning and emotion while managing to be adorable. This will have wide circulation appeal and will make a wonderful read aloud.
Clark-Robinson, Marcia. Let the Children March. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 978-0-544-70452-7. T $17.99 (Grades K-3, all ages). This fictionalized account of the Children's March of May 1963 in Alabama brings awareness to this first ever youth civil rights event. Both author and illustrator bring the reader to the March and let them experience the tenacity of the children and the treatment they
received. End papers offer a timeline of the events both before and after the March. Back pages include sources, factual remarks, and a bibliography. This picture book of historical fiction needs to be shared by all. Add this to units of civil rights, black history and the importance of young voices.
Cole, Rachel. Mousie, I will Read to You. Schwartz & Wade Books. 978-1-5247-1536-6 T $17.99 (Grades PreK-2). A warm and loving ode to the power of words, sharing stories and the simplicity of raising a reader. The story follows a little mouse and his mother as she first introduces Mousie to stories and poems, shares her love of reading, and then watches Mousie take ownership of his own reading and begin the cycle again with his own little mousie. A note with tips about raising readers for parents, from Pamela High, MD, a Fellow at the American Academy of Pediatrics, is included.
Davies, Nicola. The Day the War Came. Candlewick. 978-1-536-20173-4. T $16.99 (Grades 1-5). A little girl leads a normal, happy life, but when the war comes, she loses everything and is forced to flee to a new land. Here she is lost and has no place, symbolized by a classroom that has no chair for her. But she is noticed by a little boy who finds her a chair and brings her into the circle, held in safety and community. The book offers no specifics about which country/war/culture; instead, it asks the reader to put her/himself into the shoes of that child who has faced overwhelming loss and encourages discussion and, hopefully, an opening of the heart. Gentle, yet expressive, illustrations from Rebecca Cobb beautifully accompany this must-buy.
De Sève, Randall. Zola’s Elephant. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 978-1-328-88629-3. T $17.99 (PreK-3). Our narrator, a little girl, watches as Zola, her new neighbor, moves into the neighborhood. She hesitates to initiate a friendship as she imagines Zola already has a friend - her elephant. This story of imagination, friendship, and play will engage the reader from the first sentence. The author’s text, supported by Pamela Zagarenski’s signature illustrations of color and detail, make this a story that can be used in storytimes, a lap sit, or in a classroom unit on friendship.
Greig, Louise. The Night Box. Clarion Books. 978-1-328-85093-5. T $17.99 (Grades PreK-2). As the day ends and Max gets ready for bed, everything seems to be waiting. Waiting as Max gets into his pajamas, waiting as he closes the curtains, waiting as he crawls into bed and kisses his mother good night. Waiting for Max to take out his key and and open the night box. As the box is opened the day slips in and all of the sights and sounds and wonders of night tumble out and across the world. The language in this story is rich and melodic in its description of the sights and sounds of both day and night. A clever, calm, and imaginative bedtime story for those afraid of the dark.
Heos, Bridget. Stegothesaurus. Henry Holt and Company. 978-1-250-13488-2. T $17.99 (Grades K-3). What makes a stegosaurus a stegothesaurus? The amusing, entertaining, and silly way he speaks. When his two stegosaurus brothers describe a mountain as big, Stegothesaurus replies that it is “gargantuan, gigantic, Goliath.” As Stegothesaurus and his brothers look for food, he continues his long-winded, chatty and verbose descriptions until the three brothers meet an allosaurus. His two brothers yell “scary” and run away, but Stegothesaurus’s gift for synonyms help him to make a new friend, or so he thinks. A clever, fun and playful introduction to the thesaurus and a great read aloud to share with writers learning to revise their work.
Hesse, Karen. Night Job. Candlewick. 978-0-7636-6238-7. R $16.99 (PreK-3). It is Friday night and a little boy is going to work with his dad, a school custodian. Hesse gives the reader a strong father-son bond and the joy of a son sharing his father’s company. The illustrations are soft, simple with grayscales and shading to give the feeling of night. Though the father doesn’t speak, the reader knows he is glad to share this evening with his son. A story that offers discussion into how everyday experiences can become special because of who you share them with and what parents and caregivers do for work.
John, Jory. Giraffe Problems. Random House. 978-1-5247-7203-1. T $17.99 (Grades K-3). Giraffe does not like his neck and he has a long list of reasons why. It is too long, too bendy, and everyone stares at it. He wishes he had a neck like a zebra or a lion or even an elephant. Giraffe mopes and grumbles about his neck until he meets a turtle who helps him see things very differently. An adorable and quirky follow up to John’s Penguin Problems, this story is a great reminder that we all have unique and special qualities. A fantastic and funny read aloud, sure to have your students laughing as well as looking at things from a different point of view.
Kerascoët. I Walk With Vanessa. Schwartz & Wade Books. 978-1-5247-6955-0. T $17.99 (PreK-1). Beautiful ink and watercolor illustrations form this wordless picture book about diversity, bullying, and kindness. A sweet girl observes the new girl being bullied and shunned by others and comes up with a great way to make the new girl feel welcome and part of the group. This book lends itself to great discussions about diversity, bullies, and kindness to others.
Kuefler, Joseph. The Digger and the Flower. Balzer + Bray. 978-0-06-242433-4. T $17.99 (Grades PreK-2). Big trucks Crane, Dozer, and Digger work together to build lots of different things like roads, bridges, and tall buildings but when Digger finds a tiny flower in the rubble, things change. Instead of going to work with the other big trucks, Digger cares for the flower. Soon an entire city is built up around Digger and the flower. The other trucks need the space to keep building and cut the flower down. Digger is heartbroken but soon a new idea is planted. This story is a new and gentle perspective for the truck-loving crowd. Reminiscent of Peter Brown’s Curious Garden, this would be a refreshing addition to a trucks or gardening storytime.
Lloyd-Jones, Sally. Goldfish on Vacation. Schwartz & Wade Books. 978-0-385-38611-1. T $17.99 (Grades K-2). This charming and clever story begins with the prospect of a dull and ordinary summer for three siblings, H, Little O, and Baby Em. However, when a man comes to clean the old fountain across the street and turns it into a goldfish vacation destination, it leads to an adventure. H, Little O, and Baby Em join with the neighborhood children in dropping off their goldfish and begin a summer filled with new friends, fish, and fun. This wonderful community-building tale is based on the true story of the refurbishing and creative repurposing of the Hamilton fountain in New York City. An author’s note is included.
Love, Jessica. Julián Is A Mermaid. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-9045-8. T (Grades K-3) . On his way home with his abuela, Julian notices three women dressed as beautiful mermaids. Julian loves mermaids and dreams of becoming one. While Abuela is taking a bath, Julian uses palm fronds, flowers, and a lacy curtain to dress up like a mermaid. He is admiring himself when he gets caught. Abuela’s response is one of love and acceptance. The soothing illustrations and sparse words perfectly match this beautiful, simple story with a powerful message of kindness, compassion, and courage to be yourself.
Marino, Gianna. If I had a Horse. Roaring Brook Press. 978-1-62672-908-7. T $17.99 (Grades K-2). Beautiful and simple, this book reveals a child’s day dream about having a horse. Not only does the child imagine what life would be like to own a horse but also how they would become friends and bring out the best in each other. The gorgeously stark illustrations in bold colors depict the entire story in silhouette adding to it’s dreamy feel. Sure to be a hit among your day dreamers and horse lovers.
Martinez-Neal, Juana. Alma and How She Got Her Name. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-9355-8. R $15.99. (Grades K-3). Alma is a little girl with a very long name and she is not altogether happy about it. She asks her father for the story of her name and, after learning about each person after whom she is named, she decides that her name is just right. A story that celebrates the diversity and stories that each of us offer to the world. A wonderful book to share with children who are curious about their own name and heritage. Softly colored illustrations accompany this lovely, empowering text.
Morales, Yuyi. Dreamers. Neal Porter. 978-0-8234-4055-9. R $18.99 (Grades K -3, all ages). Simple text in both English and Spanish, tell the author’s story of leaving Mexico with her baby to come to America. She is met with unkind words and a lack of understanding in how things work until she finds a library. This is a story of courage, of making one’s way, and of things that save us, in this case: books! Brightly-hued illustration give support to the story. Morales has also included a list of the books which inspired her. Discussions on immigration, language, libraries make this a selection with many uses.
Penfold, Alexandra. All Are Welcome. Alfred A. Knopf. 978-0-525-57964-9. T $17.99 (PreK-3). With simple, rhyming text and bright illustrations, Penfold and Kaufman have created a diverse, welcoming, harmonious school setting in which children of all skin colors and abilities and cultural backgrounds can learn and share. This is the world that we wish our children lived in and should be a goal of all adults working with and reading to youngsters. The book does include a double-page fold out which will need to be handled carefully, but the reveal is so joyous, it is worth buying once and then again if it ever rips. From the end pages to the cover, every detail is thought through. A wonderful read-aloud and essential for all library collections.
Quinn, David. Go To Sleep, Little Creep. Crown Books for Young Readers. 978-1-101-93944-4. T $23.99 (PreK-K). Perfect for a Halloween read aloud or any old bedtime where a good baby monster is appreciated. Quinn’s rhyme is a bit cutesy, but it works in a story aimed at lulling listeners at the end of the day. And Ashley Spires takes the text to the next level with fantastic touches in her illustrations like pictures on Baby Godzilla’s wall of buildings aflame. She even manages to capture a feeling of diversity within some of the monster families. The page of terrible things baby monsters dream of is worth the price of the book. There are many bedtime books out there and many Halloween-themed books, but if you have the funds to pick this one up for your library, it should circulate as often as a baby monster looks at its father with a book in its hands and says, “again?”
Ray, Mary Lyn. The Thank You Book. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 978-0-544-79136-7. T $13.99 (PreK-3). This book reminds us that while saying “thank you” is good manners, it can also be used for so much more from a beautiful day to swings to parades to glue. Simple text explains the full possibilities of this phrase, and pencil and watercolor illustrations by Stephanie Graegin pair beautifully to illustrate a cozy world that can be used to begin a discussion on gratitude. A book that demonstrates kindness and civility in a world that could use more of both. Recommended for public libraries as well as school and classroom libraries.
Reynolds, Aaron. Dude!. Roaring Book Press. 978-1-626-72603-1. T $17.99 (PreK-3). Dude! Read this book! It's funny that there is an author for this one as it only features one word (well, two if you count “splat”), but the book is a brilliant use of punctuation, expression, and inference. Reynolds may only have added the word "dude" but he does it well. And Dan Santat's illustrations are glorious, bright, bold, and colorful. This one is rollicking good fun and will have kids laughing out loud. Platypus and Beaver are surfer dudes trying to catch the 'big one'. They do, only it's a big, sad shark who just wants to be included. The two cheer up Shark with an ice cream and then get the bright idea of letting him in on their totally gnarly surfing session. Hilarity ensues. From the cover to the last "dude" this one will circulate constantly, and each circulation will bring joy and giggles to the reader.
Stead, Philip. All the Animals Where I Live. Roaring Brook Press. 978-1-62672-656-7. R $18.99 (Grades K-3). The author, who used to be a city dweller, takes the reader on a tour around his home in the country and introduces all the animals that surround him from his dog, the birds, and the coyotes to his stuffed bear and quilted chickens. Soft, muted illustrations give this “tour” a quietness to it and engages the reader in the beauty of the nature that surrounds us all.
Tetri, Emily. Tiger vs. Nightmare. First Second. 978-1-62672-535-5. T [GN] $17.00 (Grades K-3). Tiger has a monster under her bed. Tiger is not scared of Monster, they’re friends. Tiger brings Monster food and they play games together. Then after Tiger goes to sleep, Monster keeps watch and scares away all of Tiger’s nightmares. This works well for both friends until one night when a nightmare shows up that is so big and so scary that Monster can’t it fight alone. Now Tiger and Monster must work together to get rid of the nightmare. Tetri tells this adorable tale of friendship, empathy, and bravery in graphic novel format and her clever use of bright, warm colors when Tiger is feeling safe and happy and dark colors for the nightmares visually enhance the story. This 2019 Geisel Honor empowers young readers to be brave and face their fears.
van Haeringen, Annemarie. How to Knit a Monster. Clarion Books. 978-1-328-84210-7. T $17.99 (Grades K-2). Greta the goat is a knitter, not just any kind of knitter, a sock knitter. One day Greta decides to try knitting something new and is having fun making little knit goats when Mrs. Sheep comes along and brags that she is a much better knitter than Greta. Upset, Greta doesn’t watch what she is knitting and things soon get out of hand. Greta must use her quick wit and talent for knitting to save the day. Bold and unconventional illustrations help make this quirky story a success. It is sure to be a hit for those who enjoyed David Elliott’s Baabwaa and Wooliam.
Weinstein, Jacob Sager, Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian. Clarion Books. 978-0-544-80122-6. T $17.99 (Grades K-3). It all started with the evil Doctor Glockenspiel’s escape from the Depository for the Criminally Naughty. Now he is threatening to unleash an army of moths to eat all of the books in the world unless he gets one billion trillion dollars. Who could possibly be clever enough and love books enough to foil the Doctor and save all of those books? Why, Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian of course! Lyric saves the day and the world by knowing what book to give to whom and when to give it. Great book for the beginning of the school year introduction to the power of books and the library. It would also be great addition to a lesson on how to find a just-right book. Cleverly written and fantastically funny, this book is an ode to the superpowers of professional librarians and a just-right book!
Yelchin, Eugene. Pip & Pup. Henry Holt and Company. 978-1-62779-394-0. T $16.99 (Grades pre-K-1). In this adorable and funny wordless picture book a freshly hatched curious baby chick sets out to explore the world. When she pecks pup on the nose, his startled bark sends her right back into her shell. A rain storm and chick’s realization that pup is afraid of the thunder and lightning brings about about an unlikely friendship. Bright, eye-catching illustrations tell a cute and funny story of empathy, friendship, and discovery. A perfect fit for a friends storytime.
Zietlow Miller, Pat. Be Kind. Roaring Brook Press. 978-1-626723214. T $17.99 (Grades K-3). Tanisha spills grape juice on her new dress, and while others in the class laugh about it, the main character remembers what her mom told her about kindness. This book shows many ways that kindness can spread from person to person.
Becker, Helaine. Counting on Katherine. Henry Holt and Co. 978-1-250-13752-4 T $17.99 (Grades K-3). Counting on Katherine is the perfect combination of a picture book with relatively simple sentences that still gets a lot of information to the reader. The repetitive phrase “count on me” is a great way to show how she used math to do important things (including sending Apollo 11 to the moon and getting Apollo 13 astronauts back to Earth). An amazing woman. An excellent book for any library.
Elliott, David. In the Past. Candlewick. 978-0-7636-6073-4. R $17.99 (Grades K-6). Meet creatures from millions of years ago in Elliott’s collection of poems offered in both rhyme and free verse. From the earliest trilobites to the more notable dinosaurs to the wooly mammoth, Elliott’s poems are straightforward and factual. This is not a whimsical collection but realistic and informative. The illustrations are as large and realistic as the object they portray. Together this is the perfect combination of science and art. Can be used in poetry units and science units on dinosaurs.
Hale, Chrissy. Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World. Roaring Brook Press. 978-1-250-15244-2. R $17.99 (Grades K-1). A concept book about water and land for early readers, this is a sturdy, large format offering for the STEAM curriculum. Images depicting land and water change as needed. The simple text is easily understood by young readers with illustrations of yellow and blue that support the text. This is a unique information book for the very young.
Hannigan, Kate. A Lady Has the Floor. Calvin’s Creek. 978-1629794538. T $17.95 (Grades K-3). Belva Lockwood believed in equality, not just for women but for all people. Lockwood fought to not only be one of the first women in the U.S. to get a law degree, but to also argue in front of the Supreme Court so that she could right inequities. She was the first woman to run for President. Quotes from Lockwood’s speeches and writings are used throughout and Alison Jay’s crackled folk-art style of illustration appropriately evokes a gone-by era. A necessary addition to nonfiction picture book collections about women who paved the way, but whose names have been lost in the recording of HIStory. .
Hesselberth, Joyce. Mapping Sam. Greenwillow Books. 978-0062741225. T $17.99 (Grades K-3). An endearing story about a nocturnal cat quickly becomes an educational opportunity. As the reader follows Sam on his nightly neighborhood tours and stargazing, the picture book turns into 32 pages of STEM worthy scientific observations. Readers will view and learn about the compass, maps, graphs, the solar system, and other topics.
Hirsch, Rebecca. The Monarchs Are Missing: A Butterfly Mystery. Millbrook Press. 978-1-5124-5250-1. R $31.99 (Grades 4-6). In this 56 page book, the reader is given a crash course on the plight of the monarch butterfly. Author Hirsch offers information, statistics, and reasons why this most recognizable insect is in danger of becoming extinct and what citizens of all ages can do to help. Color photos and graphs support the information offered. Use this STEAM offering in units about insects, climate change, endangered species, and the importance of citizen scientists.
Kaner, Etta. Wild Buildings and Bridges: Architecture Inspired By Nature. Kids Can Press. 978-1-177138-78-1. T $17.99 (Grades 4-6). Ever wonder where architects get their inspiration? Etta Kaner introduces the reader to architects who have been inspired by nature and have designed their buildings with nature in mind from the materials used to how and where the structures are built . This is a fascinating look at how nature can influence design and how design can influence nature.
Leedy, Loreen. Step by Step. Holiday House. 978-0-8234-3939-3. T $17.99 (Grades PreK-K). This sweet and simple book introduces young readers to different animal tracks in a fun and engaging guessing game format. Warm illustrations give visual clues as the simple text prompts questions such as “ who waddles in the pond?” The reader turns the page to discover an adorable duckling. The book starts out with familiar animals such as a puppy and duckling but later introduces readers to more unusual animals like an armadillo pup and an ostrich chick. There is also back matter with more information about each animal print. A perfect and interactive addition to a pre-k animal storytime.
Montgomery, Sy. The Hyena Scientist. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 978-0-544-63511-1. R $18.99 (Grades 4 and up). Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop have done it again! This noted pair of scientists have introduced young scientists to creatures both lovely, the snow leopards of Mongolia, and the scary, great white sharks. This time they have chosen an animal few of us know much about, hyenas. Not known for being kind, cuddly, or pretty, with the help of Montgomery and Bishop, the reader will be fascinated and in awe of this animal. This is a must for all collections.
Nobleman, Marc Tyler. Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II Story. Clarion. 978-0-544-43076-1. T $17.99 (Grades 4-6). World War II was primarily fought in Europe and the Pacific, leaving most of the U.S. land untouched. But there was a “battle” waged against the contiguous U.S. by one pilot, in particular. Little is written of Nobuo Fujita who bombed the forests over Brookings Oregon in an attempt to set fire to the forests and cause chaos. It did not work, but affected both the pilot of the plane and the town of Brookings long after the war ended. With easy text and watercolor and mixed media illustrations, Nobleman and illustrator Melissa Iwai bring to light a little known moment of history with their picture book; it could be used with units on World War II, forgiveness, and friendship.
Paschkis, Julie. Vivid: Poems and Notes About Colors. Henry Holt. 978-1-250-12229-2. R $17.99 (Grades K-6). With its bright, geometric cover, this book is hard to miss. Author Paschkis offers all sorts of information on the art and science of color through verse and informational notes. Use this in units on poetry and in art classes..
Poliquin, Rachel. The Superpower Field Guide: Beavers. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 978-0-544-94987-4. T $18.99 (Grades 4-6). This is a book that could be overlooked but don’t. This is STEAM at its best. Loads of facts about an amazing animal presented in a kid friendly, laugh-out-loud manner. Cartoon-style illustrations will lure even the most reluctant reader to take a look. This is the first in a series for middle grade readers.
Sayre, April Pulley. Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet. Greenwillow Books. 978-0-06-269734-9. T $17.99 (Grades K-3). Both a thank you to our Earth and a call to action for young readers to become environmental activists. With photographs that give an example of what makes this planet worth saving, the author needs little text to get the reader’s attention. A simple yet powerful picture book needed in all units dealing with environmental issues. Science and art for young readers.
Schmidt, Gary D. So Tall Within. Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom. Roaring Brook Press. 978-1-62672-872-1. T $18.99 (Grades K-3). Schmidt artfully tells the life story of Sojourner Truth - her life as a slave and a mother and her courageous fight for freedom. This is a story of strength and perseverance told on a backdrop of beautiful paintings by Daniel Minter.
Seluk, Nick. The Sun is Kind of a BIG DEAL. Orchard Books. 978-1-338-16697-2. T $17.99 (PreK-3). The author uses humor, fun illustrations and facts to explain the Sun's role in keeping our solar system together. Without the sun we couldn’t exist- it keeps us warm, gives us day and night and so much more, and that’s a really big deal! This book will foster great discussions as each page is read and may pique interest in kids who want to seek further information about our solar system.
Stone, Tanya Lee. Pass Go and Collect $200. The Real Story of How MONOPOLY Was Invented. Henry Holt and Co. 978-1-62779-168-7. T $18.99 (Grades 1-4). What a crooked and complicated history for a beloved board game. This book shares the remarkable and overlooked story of Lizzie Magic, the brainchild behind the game of what is now Monopoly. In the early 1900’s, Lizzie created the Landlord’s Game in an attempt to remind humanity that the rich don’t need to get richer off the backs of poor tenants. She received a patent for her idea, and tried to sell it to Parker Brothers, who turned her down. People liked the game so much they used to make their own boards, and soon enough a man, Charles Darrow, created his own version of the board. He later sold it to Parker Brothers, who after giving Lizzie $500, gave Darrow full credit for inventing it along with millions of dollars in earnings! Fascinating narrative nonfiction for the younger reader.
Bagieu, Pénélope. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World. First Second. 978-1-626728684. T [GN] $24.99 (Grades 7-12).
An anthology of graphic biographies of twenty-nine extraordinary women throughout history. Bagieu has selected women from all over the globe and all throughout time and highlighted their lives. Each of the women who was selected did something extraordinary, though many of them have been forgotten or had their accomplishments diminished in favor of their beauty or some other quality.
Brown, Don. The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees. HMH Books for Young Readers. 978-1-328810151. T [GN] $18.99 (Grades 6-12). Don Brown, known for his picture book biographies, has of late turned to historical events, The Great American Dust Bowl and Drowned City and given them story in graphic novel form. He has outdone himself in his latest book about the Syrian refugee crisis. In his signature style of illustration, he examines the Syrian story from its beginning in 2001 when the people of Syria demanded the end of president Assad’s rule. The heartbreaking and courageous stories of why and how the Syrians and all refugees seek a better life and what they are willing to risk for freedom.
Green, Laci. Sex Plus: Learning, Loving, and Enjoying Your Body. Harper Collins. 978-0-062-56097-2, T $18.99 (Grades 9 and up). If you have questions, this book has answers! Laci Green, known for herSex Plus series on YouTube, has been involved in advocacy and sex education work since high school. Knick named, the “millennial Dr. Ruth, “ Green is a certified domestic violence advocate and has worked for Planned Parenthood. This book covers it all in a healthy, non-judgemental, sex-positive tone that will appeal to young adults. Green points out many times that she is not a medical professional, however, the book was fact-checked by two doctors and an expert on human sexuality. Resources are listed for each section at the back of the book, as well as an index. Graph, illustrations, and bullet points are used to highlight information and make the text very friendly for teen readers.
Guerrero, Diane. My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss and Hope. Henry Holt & Company. 978-1-250134862.
T $18.99 (Grades 7-12). With all that is happening with immigration in the United States today, Diane Guerrero’s autobiography about her experiences as the daughter of undocumented immigrants is sad, angering and leaves the reader asking questions. This book is the YA version of In the Country We Love: My Family Divided . Her personal account is filled with happy family moments, celebrations, love of family, community and country along with the determination of not only her family , but others like theirs, to be hard working and lawful members of the country they hoped to be citizens of. At the back of the book there are sources listed where the reader can learn more about the immigration reform debate being held in the United States and how the reader can get involved, if interested.
Hoose, Phillip. Attucks!: Oscar Robinson and the Basketball Team that Awakened a City. Farrar Straus Giroux. 978-0-374-30612-0. T $19.99 (Grades 7 and up). Using newspaper articles, photographs, and personal interviews, Hoose tells a compelling story of race, sport, and triumph in the face of adversity. The book revolves around the high school basketball scene in Indiana in the 1940s and 50s. Hoose centers his story at Crispus Attucks High School, an all-black school in Indianapolis that built a powerful, championship-caliber team that eventually helped force the integration of the basketball scene. This book will appeal to fans of narrative nonfiction and to those who appreciate reading about a group of people whose mantra became "Respect all, but back down from no one." Highly recommend for upper middle, high school, and even adult collections.
Jarrow, Gail. Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America. Calkins Creek Books. 978-1-629797766, T $18.95 (Grades 7 and up). The author gives the detailed steps about the broadcast that shook the world and how the way the story was delivered, had listeners believing that unbelievable was truly happening. Jarrow explains why this broadcast was so famous and some of the changes it brought to radio along with the people that became famous because of it. Further discussion later in the book, covers hoaxes of the past and how this should be a lesson with today’s forms of communication.Well documented and the illustrations beautifully portray the story of an alien invasion and strategically placed throughout. Also included are snippets of some of the telegrams that were sent to either CBS or the FCC after the broadcast — some are damning and others are quite humorous.
Judge, Lita. Mary’s Monster. Roaring Brook Press. 978-1-626725003. T [GN] $21.99 (Grades 7-12). While working through her own demons, Lita Judge leaves the world of picture books,to write about a young girl who fought her own dark demons. Raised to embrace free love and communal living, young, willful Mary falls for Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was already married. Together they run off to what Mary hopes will be a life of adventure and excitement. Instead, they are spurned by family and friend alike. Mary has two monsters - one in book form and the one she carries within. In six parts of free verse, Judge makes the reader feel Mary's emotional state as she lives with Shelley, but it is her dark, dramatic illustrations that pull the reader into Mary's life. This graphic novel is haunting, terrifying and breathtaking in its rendering.
Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Hey, Kiddo. Graphix. 978-0-545-90248-9. T [GN] $14.99 (Grades 9-12). Growing up in Jarrett’s shoes wouldn't have been easy. His mom was a drug addict, and he doesn't know his father at all. Due to his mother's addiction, he's raised by his colorful grandparents, who despite gruff exteriors are willing to do whatever it takes to support Jarrett's knack for art. Krosoczka's memoir blends the art of graphic novel with fascinating artifacts from his childhood - photo booth photos, birth records, notes from his troubled mom.
Saedi, Sara. Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card: A Memoir. Alfred A. Knopf. 978-1-524717797. L $17.99 (Grades 7-9). In her humorous memoir, Saedi recollects her years as an average teenager worrying about acne, dreaming about becoming a celebrity, and obsessing over her crushes, all the while living as an undocumented immigrant. Saedi begins her story with background of Iran, explaining why her family left Tehran in the middle of the Islamic Revolution, but much of the book is about her teen years. In between her stories of adolescent angst, Saedi explains why Iranians keep watering cans in their bathrooms, the Persian custom of arguing over the check, and Iranian Wedding Traditions. There are also interesting pop culture references, excerpts from Saedi’s childhood journal, and family photos. This memoir will appeal to a large audience. Readers will learn about Iranian history and traditions, and the universal experience of being a teenager in the U.S. no matter your citizenship status.
Swanson, James L. Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King Jr’s Assassin. Scholastic Press. 978-0-545723336. T. $19.99 (Grades 7-10). Swanson chronicles the fascinating lives of two men, Martin Luther King Jr and his assassin, James Earl Ray, in this fast-paced read. The first half dives into King Jr’s upbringing and his fight against racism with peaceful protest and nonviolent resistance modeled after Gandhi. The second half reveals the layers upon layers of complexity of Ray, a man from a long line of criminals obsessed with identity and self-improvement who eventually sets his sights on murdering the nation’s preeminent civil rights leader. A profound read for students of history who are eager to learn the whole story, including what the textbooks leave out.
Thrash, Maggie. Lost Soul, Be at Peace.Candlewick Press. 978-0-763694193. T [GN] $18.99 (Grades 9-12). Thrash tackles her past with brutal honesty in images and words. Set a year and a half after Honor Girl, Maggie is depressed and failing most of her classes. She wants her parents to notice her troubles, but her mother avoids the signs and her father remains distant and absorbed in his work. Maggie is haunted by a ghost, Tommy, her only confidante. Coincidentally, Maggie is studying Hamlet and there are many connections between the Shakespearean tragedy and Maggie’s story. Thrash’s haunting graphic novel tackles the turbulence of growing up and leaving things behind, the dangers of the world, and complicated family relationships.
Voiklis, Charlotte Jones and Lena Roy. Becoming Madeleine. Farrar Straus Giroux for Young Readers. 978-0-374307646. T $19.99 (Grades 4 up/Adult). This is the biography of Madeleine L'Engle written by two of her granddaughters Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy. This is the best biography that I have read. It is filled with photos, report cards, quotes, and love. The girls interviewed family members, raided photo albums, journals, and collaborated. Quote from Madeleine L. (she was named after her mother) about her writing " I learned to inhabit other selves, other ages. It helped put things into perspective. And now that I am older, I still do that. I've never had to lose my younger selves- so that's why I am every age I have ever been." This is the story of more than three generations of writers. The reading level is geared for middle school, but the work continues on to adults.
Acevedo, Elizabeth. The Poet X. Harper Teen. 978-0-062662805. T $17.99 (Grades 10 and up). This is a compelling and emotional novel in verse about a teenage girl from Harlem discovering herself through her writing and slam poetry. Xiomara copes with harassment, bullying, and the strictness of her upbringing with her fists, though she has so much to say to the pages of her leather-bound notebook. Beautiful poems tell Xiomara’s story, as she writes about many nuanced issues such as Latino culture, being a first-generation American, music, sexuality, and finding one’s voice. The ending is happy but messy, and will leave readers satisfied by the poignancy and realness of the story.
Adeyemi, Toni. Children of Blood and Bone. Henry Holt & Co. 978-1-250170972. T $18.99 (Grades 10-12). This lushly imagined West African-inspired epic fantasy series opener tells the story of a young woman, Zélie, and her brother Tzain, who live with their father since their mother, a maji, was murdered years before when the ruler of Orisha, King Saran, ordered all adult maji killed in an effort to ensure the continued dominance of the ruling class by the eradication of magic. Though Zélie, whose white hair marks her as a maji, has the potential to work magic, it is only when coincidence throws her together with the fleeing Princess Amari, who carries with her a stolen scroll, that she learns there may be a way to bring magic back to her people. Multilayered characters grapple with issues of agency and power, loyalty and shame as the novel is narrated in alternating chapters. Vivid descriptions of the setting and the concepts of the maji balance nicely with well-paced battle and action sequences that will leave readers aching for the main trio of characters and anxiously awaiting the second volume.
Alameda, Courtney. Pitch Dark. Feiwel & Friends. 978-1-250085894. T $18.99 (Grades 10-12). Tuck Morgan is a member of the crew of the U.S.S. John Muir, and he has been for 400 years. In the process of transporting a chunk of Earth from their dying planet, the spaceship is sabotaged and the crew can only survive by going into stasis. While Tuck is someone out of the past, Laura Cruz is very much in the present. Laura is from a family of archeologists, searching through space, trying to find shipwrecks and rescue relics from Earth's shattered past. When Laura's ship happens upon the John Muir, it seems like a boon for both crews. When an onboard terrorist crashes the Cruz ship into the Muir, things get very interesting, and Tuck and Laura work together to try to save both themselves, the family, and the treasures. All the pieces fit together very well in a story full of suspense and danger!
Albertalli, Becky. Leah on the Offbeat. Balzer + Bray. 978-0-062643803. T $17.99 (Grades 7-12). Albertalli continues her reign with Leah on the Offbeat, a semi-sequel to her previous Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda (winner of the William C. Morris YA Debut Award), which was recently turned into a movie under the title Love, Simon. Leah on the Offbeat picks up near where Simon left off, with Leah and her friends on the verge of senior year. Leah struggles with her confidence as her friend group shifts around her. Though she projects a sarcastic and self-assured nature--Slytherin to the bone--Leah feels unsure and unworthy of everything. She doesn't know how to share she's bisexual, even to her best friend, Simon, who is gay. She doesn't think her art is any good, doesn't know how to handle potential crushes that she may have. Albertalli renders Leah beautifully--her fears will speak to many teen readers as she and her peers navigate the space between being high schoolers and college students. Leah on the Offbeat feels worthy of the mantle left by Simon, a perfect story for any teen and a necessary story for queer ones. Leah finds hope, strength, joy, and surety; the reader will, too.
Andersen, Hans Christian. The Snow Queen: A Graphic Novel. Canterbury Classics. 978-1-68412102. T [GN] $15.99 (Grades 7-12). A Demon creates a magic mirror that reflects negative thoughts and when one of his minions steals the mirror and it breaks, shards of glass fall all over the lands. People that come in contact turn mean and Kay, Gerda's, best friend is a victim. The only way to save Kay is to get him back from the mean and horrible Snow Queen. In the beginning of the book there is an introduction telling when the story was originally published along with some of the background history that Andersen used to write his tale of adventure and love. The illustrations are soft with a gothic feel to them and compliment the story line quite well. Again, liberties have been taken, but overall fans of Hans Christian Andersen will enjoy this classic tale.
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak: The Graphic Novel.Farrar Straus Giroux. 978-0-374300289, T [GN] $19.99 (Grades 7-12). When Speak was first published in 1999, it was groundbreaking. It addressed rape and its aftermath in a way that no other YA book had. Almost 20 years later, it has not become dated and its conversations and concerns are still relevant today. Now Laurie Halse Anderson has teamed up with Emily Carroll to create a graphic novel version of Speak. Drawn in stark, black and white, the book is haunting.
Anderson, M.T. and Eugene Yelchin. The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-9822-5. R$24.99 (Grades 5-8). This character-driven and wonderfully funny book is centered on two main characters — Spurge, the Elfin historian, and Werfel, the goblin historian. Spurge is sent to the Goblin kingdom by his childhood nemesis to give the Goblin overlord what Spurge thinks is a peace offering. Meanwhile Werfel is to host Spurge like his life is at stake until the evil overlord is ready to meet Spurge. Needless to say, things don’t turn out as either Spurge or Werfel expect! The illustrations are done in pen and ink then assembled digitally. Most of the chapters that pertain to Spurge are illustrated, telling his thoughts and journeys; then they are complemented with Werfel’s viewpoint in prose. Recommended for grades middle school, but anyone who likes a good fantasy will enjoy this wacky book.
Angelini, Josie. Snow Lane. Feiwel & Friends. 978-1-250-15092-9, T $16.99 (Grades 4-9). This book is a great tool for letting students know that when their family is trouble it's Okay to ask for help. Annie is a fifth grader and the youngest of nine children in a very Catholic family. Her self-thoughts that run through her head shows her upbringing, " I don't know what the hell (five Hail Marys) would give them that Idea. The older siblings are very talented: Nutcracker dancer, sports hero, one goes to MIT. They go to Mas, dad works two jobs. Mom has checked out as a parent. It's up to the older kids to take care of the younger ones. Annie is dyslexic and in GT classes. Any extra money goes to the older kids who are doing well in the world. Mom has become a hoarder, and she beats her children. The world doesn't see what's happening within the home. One of the girls runs away, and DHS gets involved. Annie doesn't want her family to break up, and she gets DHS to help.
Armentrout, Jennifer L. Meet Cute: Some People are Destined to Meet. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 978-1-328-75987-0, T $17.99 (Grades 10-12). 17 Young Adult authors have come together to write an anthology of short stories on the proverbial love at first sight meetings. Beautifully written with an upbeat tone that will have every reader longing for that experience. Authors include Katie Cotugno, Nicola Yoon, Katherine McGee, and Dhonielle Clayton.
Arnold, Elana K. Damsel. Balzer + Bray. 978-0-062-74232-9, T $17.99 (Grades 10 and up). In the kingdom of Harding, before the prince can become a king, he must slay a dragon. He may not have any knowledge of how to do so beforehand, but once he does, he will be rewarded with a damsel. The damsel is a beautiful maiden with no family to miss her and no memories beyond her rescue. She comes back to Harding, marries the king, and bears one son, for the cycle to continue. This is the way it has been, this is the way it will always be. The damsel, named Ama by Prince Emory, her rescuer, is plagued by unease of not knowing, by vague memories that confuse her, and by the actions of the prince as he picks apart her wild bits one by one until she has begun to tame. Damsel is a stunningly unique and feminist approach to the fairy tale. Arnold causes readers to feel, viscerally, Ama’s discomfort, defeat, and triumph as she unravels masterful world building to reveal the layers of her lore. Enthralling.
Blake, Ashley Herring. Girls Made of Stars. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 978-1-328-77823-9, T $17.99 (Grades 7-12). A timely look at sexual assault in our culture today told from the perspective of Mara, a high school student who is juggling a break up with her girlfriend, Charlie, the start of her senior year of high school, and normal high school politics. However, after her twin brother, Owen, is accused of raping Hannah, a friend, at a party, Mara is lost in a whirlwind of confusion. Her brother would never do something like that, would he? A secret she’d kept since middle school adds to the turmoil Mara feels as she struggles with wanting to believe in her brother and the suspicion that Hannah is telling the truth. Blake expertly navigates topics such as sexual assault, victim blaming, consent, punishment, and truth.
Cameron, Sophie. Out of the Blue. Roaring Brook Press. 978-1-250-14991-6. T $17.99 (Grades 10-12). The falling Beings started plummeting to Earth a few weeks after seventeen-year-old Jaya's mother died. Her father's obsession with finding one lands her and her younger sister on a Being-finding quest in Edinburgh. While out by herself, Jaya witnesses a falling Being, the only one of 87 to land alive, and hides her in the absent landlord's apartment. Cameron shares earthlings’ vision of angels in a story that will stick with readers.
Charles, Tami. Like Vanessa. Charlesbridge. 978-1-580-89777-8. T $16.99 (Grades 6-9). 8th grader Vanessa Martin is growing up in impoverished Newark, New Jersey with her disconnected father and the mystery of her mother's whereabouts lingering in her mind. She dreams of being Miss America, something that, even with her darker skin, seems a little more possible with the crowning of Vanessa Williams in 1983. When her music teacher announces a school beauty pageant, Vanessa is hesitant to participate. But with a push from her teacher, her grandfather Pop Pop, and her cousin TJ, she agrees to compete. In the face of adversity, Vanessa finds the self-confidence and determination to believe in herself and make her dreams come true. Equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting, this is a lovely debut novel.
Cliff, Tony. Delilah Dirk and the Pillar of Hercules (# 3 Delilah Dirk series). First Second. 978-1-626-72804-6, T [GN] $17.99 (Grades 6 and up). Meet the female version of Indiana Jones, but set a half of century earlier. This is the third in the Delilah Dirk series and is filled with adventure. Delilah is portrayed and illustrated as a strong in independent female. The illustrations are realistic and well detailed carrying the story line well. In some of the cells there are speech bubbles that depict various forms of mumble that the reader is not retelling told but can imagine the conversation.
Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Finding Langston. Holiday House. 978-0-8234-3960-7. T $16.99 (Grades 3-7). A short but powerful book set in Chicago in the 1940s about the power of connections: to our name, to our family history, and to poetry. After the death of his beloved mother, Langston’s father moves him to Chicago for opportunities that were not available in their hometown in Alabama. But Langston misses his family and the threads that tied him to his mother’s memory. When he discovers the George Cleveland Hall Branch Library, he discovers the deepest connection to his Mama as he learns the origin of his name and is swept up by the poetry of many of the black voices tied to the Chicago Black Renaissance. A wonderful first novel for Cline-Ransome that has enough appeal and depth to use in a class with elementary students or to hand to middle school readers who can fall into the story on their own.
Connor, Leslie. The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle. Katherine Tegen Books. 978-0-06249-143-5. T $16.99 (Grades 5-8). Mason’s learning disabilities cause things to get muddled, which makes him an easy target for neighborhood bullies. His best friend Benny has died and the local sheriff is sure that Mason has more information about the events leading up to Benny’s death than he has admitted. Mason makes a new friend, Calvin, a tiny, brainy foil to Mason, and the two are an unlikely but understandable and delightful duo. When Calvin goes missing, all of the angst and heartache about Benny comes back to Mason, but this time, he is going to get it right and save Calvin. The mystery surrounding Benny’s death is a bit predictable, but as you discover it along with Mason, it works, especially since the truth of the situation clicks with Mason as he tells his own story into the recording device given to him by the school guidance counselor, and finally realizes how powerful his own story is. This story of loss and redemption and of the giant, sweet boy with a perpetually sweaty face who finally learns how smart he really is will stick with you long after you close the book.
Creech, Sharon. Saving Winslow. HarperCollins. 978-0-06-257070-6. T $16.99 (Grades 2-6). Louie has had several failed attempts at taking care of the runt animals born at his Uncle Pete’s farm, so when his father brings home a tiny, weak baby donkey, no one expects it to live, not his uncle, his parents, or his quirky new friend Nora. However, Louie, born two months early so kind of a runt himself, accepts the challenge of proving them all wrong. Told in short chapters with headings that provide a pretty good hint about what’s going to happen, the story of the bond between a boy and a donkey moves along quickly even as it deals with issues of growing up and accepting change. This is a short and sweet novel for elementary-aged lovers of animals and/or books like The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and Moo, also by Creech.
Dasgupta, Sayantani. The Serpent’s Secret. Scholastic Press. 978-1-338-18570-6, T $17.99 (Grades 6-9). Dasgupta spins an original adventure tale with a strong female protagonist that blends modern day appeal with traditional characters found in West Bengal, India stories. Kiranmala never liked being called an Indian princess by her parents. She just wanted to be like every other sixth grader in Parsippany, New Jersey, even if she was Indian. That changed on the day of her twelfth birthday when her parents disappear, a rakkhosh demon destroys her house and she is saved by two Indian Princes on winged horses. Kiranmala is rushed into the underworld of Indian mythologies, demons, and snakes in this exciting adventure. There is lots of action, friendship building and plenty of demon goo as Kiranmala accepts that she is an "Interdimensional Demonslayer". Something for everyone. Many of the folktale characters that appear in the story are explained in more detail in the author's note. A second book in the series is promised in the back matter.
Evans, Lissa. Wed Wabbit. Don’t Laugh He’s Dangerous. David Ficking Books. 978-1-338-18527-0. T $17.99 (Grades 4-6) This fantasy, adventure story may start as a realistic, grief story, but quickly throws the reader into the whimsical “Land of Wimbledon Woos” where all the color coded Woos speak in rhyme and Wed Wabbit is soaking up all the colors. As Fidge and Graham identity the problems in Wimbley land and try to escape back home, they learn how to help each other, identify the strengths of others and see their situations in a different way. Evan’s comic timing is just right and the characters are ones you would want to have as your friends.
Gino, Alex. You Don’t Know Everything, JillyP! Scholastic Press. 978-0-545-95624-6. T $16.99 (Grades 4 and up).
Jilly P has a rather complicated family. Her aunt is married to a black woman and they have 2 children. She thinks she has life figured out until her new baby sister is born deaf. She realizes that her sister will be treated differently than she is and they will be treated differently than her 2 cousins. Author Gino, through humor, heart, and basic humanity examines how being open to change and difference makes one a better person. As in their first novel, George, the reader is drawn in immediately, and won’t be able to put this selection down. The book can open up discussions of all types and is a must for all libraries.
Hautman, Pete. Otherwood. Candlewick. 978-0-763-69071-7. T $16.99 (Grades 5-8). Stuey and Elly Rose are best friends and spend a considerable amount of time together in the deadfall between their houses. Then one day, while Stuey is explaining to Elly why her mother is mad at his mom — she just disappears. But, in Elly’s world — it is Stuey who disappears. Can reality just split in two? For readers who like science fiction or who like to read books that use reality as a jumping-off point for delving into deeper issues, like Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. Hautman spins a page-turning paean to the power of friendship, truth, and perseverance.
Ireland, Justina. Dread Nation. Balzar + Bray.978-0-062-57060-4. T $17.99 (Grades 7-12). An alternative history that re-imagines that the dead began rising from the grounds of the battle of Gettysburg, changing the course of U.S. history and giving rise to compulsory schools that train African American and Native American young people to become bodyguards for wealthy whites, defending them from the undead hordes, called shamblers. Tough, clever Jane McKeene is close to finishing her training to become an attendant at Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls when she becomes mired in a sinister plot that takes her from her school in Baltimore to a colony in the west. Action-packed sequences propel this novel forward and careful plotting keeps readers on tenterhooks as they puzzle out the many pieces. Well-constructed characters and incisive analysis of the politics of ethnicity and agency establish this as a standout.
Johnson, Maureen. Truly Devious. Katherine Tegen Books. 978-0-062-33805-1. T $17.99 (Grades 7-12). When Stevie Bell is accepted to the exclusive Ellingham Academy, she leaps at the chance to attend - over her parents' objections. For Stevie, a crime aficionado, being at Ellingham is an opportunity to learn more about the kidnapping and murder of the founder's wife and daughter, and perhaps even to solve a whodunit that has baffled law enforcement for generations. This is the first in a trio of “Truly Devious” books, and it ends in a delightful cliff-hanger. Johnson knows how to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Jun, Nie. My Beijing: Four Stories of Wonder. Graphic Universe. 978-1-5124-4590-9. L [GN] $30.65 (Grades 2-5). This graphic novel filled with vignettes of Yu'er and her grandpa illustrates the magic of daily life, and is beautiful both in content and presentation. Just flipping through the pages, one feels the warmth of the watercolor illustrations and the devotion of Grandpa to his little granddaughter. Set in a hutong neighborhood in Beijing, Yu'er has a disability that prevents her from walking and Grandfather cares for her, showing her that she should not be limited by her disability and telling her stories that connect her to her family and her culture. With touches of magical realism, this GN offers a window into another place that will delight elementary and middle grade readers.
Kisner, Adrienne. Dear Rachel Maddow: A Novel. Feiwel & Friends .978-1-250-14602-1. T $17.99 (Grades 7-12). Brynn, a former honor student, is barely making it through her remedial classes, and she’s struggling through everyday dealing with friends, her mom, and her stepfather since her older brother Nick died from a drug overdose. Mr. Grimm, her English teacher, has given the class an assignment to write to a famous person. Brynn chooses Rachel Maddow, and what follows is a series of emails to Maddow in which Brynn opens up about what is upsetting her. This first-person narrative takes an email format, includes foul language, and deals with the death of a loved one, parents, LGBT and disability diversities.
Larson, Hope. All Summer Long. Farrar Straus Giroux. 978-0-374-30485-0. L [GN] $21.99 (Grades 7-12). This graphic novel about changing friendships written and illustrated by Eisner Award-winning author, Hope Larson, connects with readers who ever felt the pains of middle school. The art is simple black, white, and orange panels that focus on the faces of the characters and their emotions, which helps the reader to explore the confusion that Bina feels as she experiences the upheaval between middle school and high school. This is a strong selection for libraries serving middle school and high school students. Recommended for fans of Raina Telgemeier.
Legrand, Claire. Sawkill Girls.Katherine Tegen Books. 978-0-062-69660-2, T $17.99 (Grades 10-12). A heart-stopping tale somewhere between thriller, hero story, and horror, Claire Legrand takes an empowering, feminist spin on the genre with Sawkill Girls. Told in the shifting, close third person perspective of three girls–Marion, who has just moved to Sawkill Island; Zoey, whose best friend was the latest in the long line of girls who’ve disappeared over the years; and Val, the queen bee whose life is not a perfect and simple as it seems–Legrand will scare and inspire readers. The Collector is the horrifying local legend that might turn out to be not such a story after all. Marion, Zoey, and Val find themselves united in a unlikely trio to try to stop this creature.
LePrince, Jeanne-Marie. Beauty and the Beast: A Modern Retelling. Canterbury Classics. 978-1-684-12099-4. T [GN] $15.99 (Grades 7-12). After taking shelter in a secluded castle, a merchant takes a rose for his beautiful daughter. The soft-hued illustrations complement the text extremely well. As with all of the Dark Tales series, the book’s introduction shares the origins of the tale and any adaptations that were made for the graphic novel along with the Drama Personae of the characters.
MacLachlan, Patricia. My Father’s Words. Katherine Tegen Books. 978-0-06-268769-2. T $15.99. (Grades 3-6). Narrator Fiona tells the story of the death of her father in a tragic car accident and the aftermath of grief and then healing. She and her brother, Finn, along with their neighbor Luke, begin volunteering at a local dog shelter and through the connections and safety of working with animals, they come to a place of peace. A brief, gentle story that you can hand to those readers who enjoy explorations of sadness and loss or who need to know that, with time, and help, it will be okay.
Magoon, Kekla. The Season of Styx Malone. Wendy Lamb Books. 978-1-524-71595-3. T $16.99 (Grades 3-8). The season of this delightful romp of a book is summer. And brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene are set to enjoy every minute of their freewheeling days when a bad trade (a baby sister for a bag of fireworks) sends them off down a different path, one with the oh-so-cool Styx Malone at the center. Styx is older, wiser and due to his time in foster care, cannier about the world than the two small-town brothers. The boys become embroiled in a plan to bring to fruition an epic elevator trade (start with one small thing and keep trading until your bigger, shinier object is acquired; in this case a gleaming grasshopper moped). Strong writing, fantastic characters, and a satisfying ending make this a winner for any library collection.
Mass, Wendy, and Rebecca Stead. Bob. Feiwel and Friends. 978-1-250-16662-3. T $16.99 (Grades 3-6). Livy goes to Australia to visit her grandmother for the first time in five years. When she gets to her grandmother’s house, Livy has a nagging feeling that she has forgotten something really important about her last visit. She is right. Livy opens the closet in her room and finds Bob, small and green and dressed in a chicken suit, waiting for her. Bob can’t remember who he is and five years before, Livy had promised to help him find his way home. As Livy helps Bob look for clues to Bob’s identity, she slowly remembers why they became friends. With a nod toward Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and gentle message about the earth’s precious water supply, this amazingly sweet and magical mystery would make a fantastic read aloud.
Medina, Meg. Merci Suárez Changes Gears. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-9049-6. R $16.99 (Grades 4-7). Merci struggles with changes both at home and at school as she begins sixth grade in this poignant and realistic novel. Merci’s tight-knit extended Cuban-American family lives in South Florida in three houses next to one another. Merci is particularly close to her grandfather, Lolo, who has always listened to her carefully and without judgment. Now Lolo’s health is failing and no one is telling Merci the truth. Readers will feel the depth of love she has for her family even as she experiences realistic frustration and anger. The juxtaposition of the privilege of most of her private school classmates compared to Merci’s working class family is nuanced and pervasive. The first-person narrative voice is spot on as Merci tells her story in short but detail-filled chapters. Older grade school and middle school students who favor realistic fiction will be a natural audience for this moving and immersive story.
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. The Book of Boy.Greenwillow Books. 978-0-06-268620-6. T $16.99 (Grades 5-8). Italy, 1350. The land has been decimated by the bubonic plague. Pilgrims seek Rome to find answers, to touch something bigger than themselves. Enter Boy, a lowly hunchback unaccustomed to attention aside from Cook’s threats or Ox’s taunting. Add in Secundus, the pilgrim, seeking the seven holy relics of St. Peter said to open the gates of heaven. With startling revelations and a touch of the holy, Boy learns who he is and what he can do. And in the end? A return home, be it heaven, hell, or somewhere in between. The design of the book beautifully complements the story with Schoenherr’s wood cuts and thick, rough-cut pages. Readers who enjoyed Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale will enjoy this beguiling story.
Ness, Patrick. And the Ocean Was Our Sky. Harper Teen. 978-0-062-86072-9, T $19.99 (Grades 7-12). An advance society of whales train for combat in their search for the mythical human killer of whales, Toby Wick. Bathsheba's pod discovers a human trapped in a ship they just attacked and this human carries a message that might lead the pod to their ultimate destination. Written from the whale's perspective, this version of Moby Dick carries the same prophecies and twists that Melville used to engage in the battle between man and beast. The illustrations are ink drawings that are the flip side of the ocean where the sky, is the abyss, not the depth of the ocean. Beautifully illustrated and compliments the story. A great companion novel to use as an introduction to Moby Dick.
Oliver, Lauren. Broken Things. HarperCollins. 978-0-062-22413-1. T $18.99 (Grades 10-12). Brynn and Mia were introduced to Summer five years ago when they were thirteen. The three became obsessed with the book The Way into Lovelorn, role-played the setting and characters, and created a Fanfic sequel because they didn’t like the way the book ended. When Summer is found murdered, it looks just like the Fanfic story, and Brynn and Mia become suspects. Social media and small town thinking pull the two teens into a notoriety that is difficult to break. Oliver’s suspenseful mystery novel deftly intertwines the story that the townsfolk believe with the pain and manipulation the suspects then victims have as they struggle to cope, all with just the right amount of red herrings.
Oppel, Kenneth. Inkling. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. 978-152-477281-9, T $17.99 (Grades 4-6). The story begins with the family cat discovering an ink splotch that has escaped the dad’s sketch book. Inkling, has the ability to absorb books and make the shape of various objects. All find energy, inspiration and comic relief as the inquisitive splotch takes on the vernacular of whatever it “tastes”.
Patricelli, Leslie. Best Buds Under Frogs. Candlewick. 978-0-7636-5104-6. R $15.99 (Grades 4-6). This debut novel has laugh-out-loud humor and cartoon-like illustrations and offers readers of all levels a fun, easy read. Lily is a 4th grader starting in a new school and making friends is not easy for her. Her first day begins - she throws up her lunch at recess! This is a story that will resonate with all those who have had to negotiate new situations, be it school, making friends, and home life. Don’t pass this novel up.
Respicio, Mae. The House That Lou Built. Wendy Lamb Books. 978-1-5247-1794-0. T$16.99. (Grades 4-6). Lucinda Bulosan-Nelson loves tiny houses, building things, and her large, loving Filipino family. Lou’s father died before she was born, but he left her a tract of land outside the Bay Area in a beautiful, wooded spot. When Lou’s mother contemplates moving to another state for a better job, Lou is convinced that if she can just build a perfect tiny house on her land, she can convince her mom not to move away from everything and everyone that Lou loves. With a strong, capable main character, references to architectural and building concepts, a cast of respectful adults, and a satisfying ending, this book will find its audience.
Revoy, Antoine. Animus. First Second. 978-1-626-72183-8. T [GN] $16.99 (Grades 7-12). It is true that everybody is afraid of something. In this story, there is a small park in Kyoto, Japan of which everyone should fear. Each piece of equipment holds a special power to know your deepest fears, to enter others’ dreams, or to warp time. The playground is haunted by a masked boy named "Toothless." Is he really just a witness to what happens on the playground or does the playground really have a mind of its own? Is the playground responsible for all the mysterious disappearances of children and will its reign of horror end when the body of Toothless is found? This black and white graphic novel is the perfect blend of creepy, dark, and compelling until the very last page. Warning: do not read before bed!
Rundell, Katherine. Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli. Walker Books. 978-1-5362-0527-5. T $24.99 (all ages). Katherine Rundell has created a wonderful prequel to the classic Jungle Book by Kipling. Readers are familiar with the Mowgli stories, but Rundell has created stories about his mother and father, about Bagheera, Baloo, Kaa, and Shere Khan and how they began. Richly-drawn illustrations, both small and full-page, compliment the stories. This collection can be read individually or for a family storytime. This will remind some of us of the Kipling classic and send us back for a reread or introduce new readers to the classic.
Sanderson, Brandon. Skyward. Delacorte Press. 978-0-399-55577-3. T $19.99 (Grades 7 and up). Spensa, the main character, lives on a planet that is being constantly attacked by aliens. The planet’s only defense against the aliens is to send up their own pilots to shoot them down. Spensa wants to become one of those pilots, just like her dad was. Unfortunately he died a coward and many people feel she will follow in his footsteps if she becomes a pilot. But Spensa has other ideas and she is going to prove all of them wrong, This is a FANTASTIC sci-fi story. Great battle scenes and strategies. The humorous parts in the book dealing with the AI (artificial intelligence) known as M-Bot, are just terrific. Sci-fi is becoming very popular with teen readers and this one nails it in every way.
Schmitt, Adam P. Speechless. Candlewick Press. 978-1-536-20092-1, T $16.99 (Grades 5-8). Jimmy has the unenviable task of eulogizing his cousin Patrick, dead of an accident at 13. But it’s neither Patrick’s young age nor Jimmy’s deathly fear of public speaking that make the task so bleak, it’s the truth about Patrick: that he was a tough person to love and that, maybe, Jimmy isn’t going to miss him all that much. As the moment at the podium rushes toward Jimmy, memories and stories about the cousins’ fraught relationship are shared with the reader. This causes genuine suspense as the reader wonders, what will Jimmy say about this difficult, emotionally-draining person? What can he say about a boy who trailed misery and pain behind him? This is a searingly beautiful, yet painful, and occasionally humorous, exploration of family.
Sell, Chad. The Cardboard Kingdom. Knopf Books for Young Readers. 978-1-5247-1937-1. T [GN] $20.99 (Grades 3-6). A neighborhood full of kids, a bunch of cardboard, and a whole lot of imagination make this graphic novel a winner. Author Sell started the story with the invention of the Sorceress and then invited other storytellers to create a character for the Kingdom, which they do with style. When Sell added his gorgeous, full-color illustrations filled with movement and power, the Kingdom thrummed to life. Issues of bullying, burgeoning romantic feelings, alienation, identity, cooperation, compromise, and friendship are deftly woven into this engaging book. Give to fans of Raina Telgemeier, Shannon Hale, and Svetlana Chmakova.
Selznick, Brian, and David Serlin, Baby Monkey, Private Eye. Scholastic Press. 978-1-338-18061-9. T $16.99 (Grades K-4). Baby Monkey is adorable, brave and a very good detective, although he is not very good at putting on his pants. In each of the five chapters, Baby Monkey takes on a different case, but follows the same routine to solve the crime. Selznick’s beautifully detailed and purposeful illustrations of Baby Monkey’s office at the beginning of each chapter, compliment each case. There is a key to Baby Monkey’s Office at the end of the book as well as an index and bibliography. Baby Monkey, Private Eye is a fun way for younger readers to experience Brian Selznick’s gorgeous illustratrations.
Stevens, April. The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley. Schwartz & Wade Books. 978-1-5247-2061-2. T $16.99 (Grades 4-6). Frances is an observer of nature, just like her idol Margaret Mead. She has few friends save her bus driver, Alvin, a gentle elderly man who sees Frances for her thoughtful, quirky self. When Frances loses Alvin, she feels alone until she feels Alvin’s words guiding her and lets those around her in. Steven’s novel is heartbreaking, painful, and heartwarming and shows that one can reach out and form friendships with others without losing one’s true self. Give this to readers of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting By 7s, Linda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree, and Jennifer Holm’s The Fourteenth Goldfish
Tucholke, April. The Boneless Mercies. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 978-0-374-30706-6, T $18.99 (Grades 8 and up). Tucholke uses Norse myth and culture to create mythological fantasy novel about four strong young women as they search the kingdoms of Vorseland for the deadly Blue Vee Beast. Their journey along the way is filled with death, of which they long for a different life. A wonderfully brilliant feminine retelling of Beowulf. Strong female characters that portray ruthlessness along with compassion and humanity.
Uss, Christina. The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle. Margaret Ferguson Books. 978-0-823-44007-8. T $16.99 (Grades 3-7). This refreshing middle grade novel offers some of the quirkiest characters and scenes ever encountered. As a toddler, Bicycle shows up at the Mostly Silent Monastery and is taken in by the not-so-silent, big-hearted, well-intentioned Sister Wanda who does all of the talking for the Mostly Silent Monks. When Sr. Wanda gets it into her head that Bicycle needs to attend the Friendship Factory Camp, where she is guaranteed to make at least three friends, Bicycle knows that the only friend that she needs to make is the world-famous cyclist Zbig Sienkiewicz. She sets off on a 4000-mile bike trip across the US to prove her point and meet that friend. What follows is a madcap adventure like no other filled with silliness, fantastic scenarios, and plenty of delicious fried pies. Bicycle will win your heart and prove that making friends is easy when you have an open mind, a sympathetic ear, and a rumbling stomach.
Wang, Jen. The Prince and the Dressmaker. First Second. 978-1-626-72363-4. T [GN] $16.99 (Grades 7-12). A powerful story about the fear of being different and about how expressing oneself is not only freeing, but vital to the soul. Wang’s words are powerful but the illustrations tell the story with a beautiful fluidity that captures the elegance of Frances' creations and the emotion and power of every scene. The Prince and the Dressmaker is a masterpiece.
Westerfeld, Scott. The Spill Zone: The Broken Vow. First Second. 978-1-626-72150-0. T [GN] $22.99 (Grades 10-12). Addie has finally gotten what she wants -- enough money to take herself and her sister far away from the spill zone. But, what she's being asked to do is dangerous and now there is an outsider who wants to tag along. Maybe he'll help ... This sequel picks up perfectly from where the first in the series left off and readers will beg for a third to really see what happened to Lexa "that night.” The illustrations, which represent the atmosphere and the characters, are pencil and ink along with digitally-rendered illustrations in Photoshop.
Yang, Kelly. Front Desk. Arthur A. Levine Books. 978-1-338-15779-6. T $16.99 (Grades 4-7). A realistic fiction book for upper elementary/middle school readers that takes you on a funny, sometimes uncomfortable and heart-wrenching, ride with brave, reliable, resilient Mia Tang. Mia has immigrated from China with her parents and was promised a better life than they had at home. Instead, she and her parents run a Motel in Southern California owned by a man who believes that people are expendable and money is king. The novel touches on immigration, racism, friendship, honesty, and family dynamics, and while Yang uses gimmicks like letters written to show how Mia's English is improving and how she is effecting change in her community, the story never ventures into didactic dross. Mia innately understands that we are stronger when we lift others up than when we knock them down and walk over them, and Yang expertly weaves this message into many interactions between Mia and the other characters in the book. This would make a wonderful read aloud and can go on any list of novels used to model empathy or to offer windows into other lives and voices.
Award books listed here may or may not be included in the “Cream of the Crop” list.
Caldecott Medal – Awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
Winner: Hello Lighthouse, Sophie Blackall
Honors: Alma and How She Got Her Name, Juana Martinez-Neal; A Big Mooncake for Little Star, Grace Lin; The Rough Patch, Brian Lies; Thank You, Omu, Oge Mora
Charlotte Zolotow Award – Awarded to the best picture book text published in the United States.
Winner: Little Brown, Marla Frazee
Honors: Honey, David Ezra Stein; Saturday Is Swimming Day, Hyewon Yum
Children’s Literature Legacy Award - honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and experiences.
Walter Dean Myers. Myers’s award-winning works include Somewhere in the Darkness, a 1993 Newbery Honor Book, and Monster, recipient of a 2000 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book. In addition, Myers received the first Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2010.
Coretta Scott King Award – Recognizes outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience.
Author Winner: A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, Claire Hartfield
Author Honors: Finding Langston, Lesa Cline-Ransome; The Parker Inheritance, Varian Johnson; The Season of Styx Malone, Kekla Magoon
Illustrator Winner: The Stuff of Stars, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Marion Dane Bauer
Illustrator Honor: Hidden Figures, illustrated by Laura Freeman, written by Margot Lee Shetterly; Let the Children March, illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Monica Clark-Robinson; Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Alice Faye Duncan
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award: Monday’s Not Coming, Tiffany D. Jackson
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award: Thank You, Omu!, illustrated and written by Oge Mora
Coretta Scott King/ Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Pauletta Brown Bracy. Dr. Bracy is Professor of Library Science and Director of the Office of University Accreditation at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and has successfully merged scholarship and service with publications as well as her work with the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and with workshops and conferences dedicated to promoting African American books for children and teens.
Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award – Awarded to a digital media producer that has created distinguished digital media for an early learning audience.
Winner: Play and Learn Science, produced by PBS Kids
Honor Recipients: Coral Reef, produced by Tinybop Inc., and Lexi’s World, produced by Pop Pop Pop LLC.
Katahdin Award – A lifetime achievement award given by the Youth Services Section of the Maine Library Association to recognize an outstanding body of work of children's literature in Maine by one author or illustrator. The award may be given annually but may not necessarily be given each year.
Lupine Award – Presented annually by the Youth Services Section of the Maine Library Association, to recognize an outstanding contribution to children’s literature in Maine.
Picture Book Winner: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, Ryan T. Higgins
Picture Book Honor: There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor, Wade Bradford (author) and Kevin Hawkes (Illustrator)
J/YA Winner: The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, Diane Magras
J/YA Honor: What the Wind Can Tell You, Sarah Marie A. Jette
Margaret A. Edwards Award – Recognizes an author and his/her body of work for outstanding contribution to young adult literature.
M.T. Anderson whose books include: Feed; The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party; and The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves.
Mildred L. Batchelder Award – Awarded to an American publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States.
Winner: The Fox on the Swing, Originally published in Lithuanian as Laime Yra Lape by Evelina Daciūtė, illustrated by Aušra Kiudulaitė, translated by The Translation Bureau.
Honors: Run for Your Life, Silvana Gandolfi, translated from Italian by Lynne Sharon Schwartz; My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder, Nie Jun, originally published in Mandarin and translated from the French by Edward Gauvin; Edison: The Mystery of the Missing Mouse Treasure, Torben Kuhlmann, translated from the German by David Henry Wilson; Jerome By Heart, Thomas Scotto, illustrated by Olivier Tallec, translated from the French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick and Karin Snelson
Newbery Medal – The most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
Winner: Mercy Suárez Changes Gears, Meg Medina
Honors: The Night Diary, Veera Hiranandani; The Book of Boy, Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Printz (Michael L.) Award – Awarded for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.
Winner: The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
Honors: Damsel, Elana K. Arnold; A Heart in a Body in the World, Deb Caletti; I, Claudia, Mary McCoy
Pura Belpré – Presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.
Author Winner: The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
Author Honors: They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems, David Bowles
Illustrator Winner: Dreamers, Yuyi Morales
Illustrator Honors: Islandborn, illustrated by Leo Espinosa, written by Junot Díaz; When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana, illustrated by Jose Ramirez, written by Michael Mahin
Robert F. Sibert Medal – Honors the most distinguished informational book published in English in the preceding year for its significant contribution to children’s literature.
Winner: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science, Joyce Sidman
Honors: Camp Panda: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild, Catherine Thimmesh; Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America, Gail Jarrow; The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees, Don Brown
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac; When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana, written Michael Mahin, illustrated by Jose Ramirez
Schneider Family Book Award – Honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences
Children’s Winner(birth - age 8): Rescue & Jessica A Life-Changing Friendship, written by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon
Children’s Honor Book: The Remember Balloons, written by Jessie Oliveros, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte
Middle (age 9 -13): The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, Leslie Connor
Middle Honor Book: The Collectors, Jacqueline West
Teen (age 13 -18): Anger is a Gift, Mark Oshiro
Teen Honor Book: (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health, Kelly Jensen, ed.
Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award – Given annually to English language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience.
Winners: Julián Is a Mermaid, Jessica Love and Hurricane Child, written by Kheryn Callender
Honors: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, Ashley Herring Blake; Picture Us in the Light, Kelly Loy Gilbert
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award – Honors the author of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature known as ‘beginning reader books’ published in the United States during the preceding year.
Winner: Fox the Tiger, Corey R. Tabor
Honors: The Adventures of Otto: See Pip Flap, David Milgrim; Fox + Chick: The Party and Other Stories, Sergio Ruzzier; King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth, written by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers; Tiger vs. Nightmare, Emily Tetri
William C. Morris Award – Honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Adib Khorram
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults – Honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults ages 12 -18.
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees, Don Brown