Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Librarians' Choices 2012

  1. Aguirre, Jorge. 2012. GIANT’S BEWARE. First Second.
  2. Amani, Mary Joe. 2012. EXCUSE ME, I’M TRYING TO READ. Charlesbridge
  3. Applegate, Katherine. 2012. THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. HarperCollins.
  4. Bang,Molly; Chisholm. 2012. OCEAN SUNLIGHT. Blue Sky.
  5. Bardugo, Leigh. 2012. SHADOW AND BONE. Henry Holt.
  6. Barnett, Mac. 2012. EXTRA YARN. Balzer & Bray.
  7. Bell, Cece. 2012. RABBIT & ROBOT: THE SLEEPOVER. Candlewick.
  8. Bingham, Kelly. 2012. Z IS FOR MOOSE. HarperCollins.
  9. Blumenthal, Karen. 2012. STEVE JOBS: THE MAN WHO THOUGHT DIFFERENT. Feiwel & Friends.
  10. Bodeen, S.A. 2012. THE RAFT. Macmillan.
  11. Bray, Libba. 2012. THE DIVINERS. Little, Brown.
  12. Burns, Loree Griffin. 2012. CITIZEN SCIENTIST. Henry Holt.
  13. Christensen, Bonnie. 2012. I, GALILEO. Knopf.
  14. Close, Chuck. 2012. FACE BOOK. Abrams.
  15. Cole, Henry. 2012. UNSPOKEN. Scholastic.
  16. Coombs, Kate. 2012. WATER SINGS BLUES. Chronicle.
  17. Corcoran, Jill, ed. 2012. DARE TO DREAM… CHANGE THE WORLD. Kane-Miller.
  18. Cushman, Karen. 2012. WILL SPARROW’S ROAD. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  19. Datlow, Ellen & Windling, Terri, Eds. 2012. AFTER: NINETEEN STORIES OF APOCALYPSE AND DYSTOPIA. Hyperion.
  20. Davis, Andrea Pinkney. 2012. HAND IN HAND: TEN BLACK MEN WHO CHANGED AMERICA. Hyperion.
  21. Davis, Tanitia. 2012. HAPPY FAMILIES. Knopf.
  22. DiPucchio, Kelly. 2012. CRAFTY CHLOE. Atheneum.
  23. Dyckman, Ame. 2012. BOY AND BOT. Knopf.
  24. Elya, Susan Middleton. 2012. FIRE! FUEGO! BRAVE BOMEBEROS. Bloomsbury.
  25. Engle, Margarita. 2012. THE WILD BOOK. Clarion.
  26. Fleming, Candace. 2012. OH, NO! Schwartz& Wade.
  27. Fleming, Candace. 2012. ON THE DAY I DIED: STORIES FROM THE GRAVE. Schwartz & Wade.
  28. Florian, Douglas. 2012. UNBEELIEVABLES. Beach Lane.
  29. Fogliano, Julie. 2012. AND THEN IT’S SPRING. Roaring Brook.
  30. Frazee, Marla. 2012. BOOT AND SHOE. Simon & Schuster.
  31. Gal, Susan. 2012. DAY BY DAY. Knopf.
  32. Geithner, Carol. 2012. IF ONLY. Scholastic.
  33. Green, John. 2012. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Penguin.
  34. Going, K.L. 2012. DOG IN CHARGE. Dial.
  35. Hall, Michael. 2012. CAT TALE. Greenwillow.
  36. Harris, R.P. 2012. TUA AND THE ELEPHANT. Chronicle.
  37. Harrison, David L. 2012. COWBOYS. Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  38. Hartland, Jessie. 2012. BON APPETIT: THE DELICIOUS LIFE OF JULIA CHILD. Schwartz & Wade.
  39. Hartman, Rachel. 2012. SERAPHINA. Random House.
  40. Hayles, Marsha. 2012. BREATHING ROOM. Henry Holt.
  41. Heard, Georgia, Ed. 2012. THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK. Roaring Brook.
  42. Hobbie, Holly. 2012. GEM. Little Brown.
  43. Holub, Joan. 2012. ZERO THE HERO. Henry Holt.
  44. Hoose, Philip. 2012. MOONBIRD: A YEAR ON THE WIND WITH THE GREAT SURVIVOR B95. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  45. Hopkinson, Deborah. 2012. TITANIC: VOICES FROM THE DISASTER. Scholastic.
  46. Jessell, Tim. 2012. FALCON. Random House.
  47. King, A.S. 2012. ASK THE PASSENGERS. Little, Brown.
  48. King, Jr., Martin Luther. 2012. I HAVE A DREAM. Ill. by Kadir Nelson. Schwartz & Wade.
  49. Klassen, Jon. 2012. THIS IS NOT MY HAT. Candlewick.
  50. Koertge, Ron. 2012. LIES, KNIVES, AND GIRLS IN RED DRESSES. Candlewick.
  51. Kohuth, Jane. 2012. MEOW AND THE BLUE TABLE. Penguin.
  52. Kokie, E.M. 2012. PERSONAL EFFECTS. Candlewick.
  53. LaFevers, Robin. 2012. GRAVE MERCY. Houghton Mifflin.
  55. Levinson, Cynthia. 2012. WE’VE GOT A JOB: THE 1963 BIRMINGHAM CHILDREN’S MARCH. Peachtree.
  56. Lewis, J. Patrick, Ed. 2012. THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY. National Geographic.
  57. Litwin, Eric. 2012. PETE THE CAT AND HIS FOUR GROOVY BUTTONS. HarperCollins.
  58. Long, Ethan. 2012. UP, TALL AND HIGH. Putnam.
  59. Lowry, Lois. 2012. SON. Houghton Mifflin.
  60. Mack, Jeff. 2012. GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS. Chronicle.
  61. Markel, Michelle. 2012. THE FANTASTIC JUNGLES OF HENRI ROUSSEAU. Eerdman.
  62. Merchant, Natalie, Ed. 2012. LEAVE YOUR SLEEP. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  63. Messenger, Norman. 2012. THE LAND OF EVERBELIEVE. Candlewick.
  64. Montgomery, Sy. 2012. TEMPLE GRANDIN. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  65. Murphy, Jim. 2012. THE GIANT AND HOW HE HUMBUGGED AMERICA. Scholastic.
  66. Newman, Leslea. 2012. OCTOBER MOURNING. Candlewick.
  67. Nobleman, Marc Tyler. 2012. BILL, THE BOY WONDER: THE SECRET CO-CREATOR OF BATMAN. Charlesbridge.
  68. Palacio, R.J. 2012. WONDER. Knopf.
  69. Potter, Ellen. 2012. THE HUMMING ROOM. Feiwel & Friends.
  70. Quick, Matthew. 2012. BOY 21. Little, Brown.
  72. Reef, Catherine. 2012. THE BRONTE SISTERS: THE BRIEF LIVES OF CHARLOTTE, EMILY, AND ANNE. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  73. Rumford, James. 2012. FROM THE GOOD MOUNTAIN. Roaring Brook.
  74. Saenz, Benjamin. 2012. ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE. Simon & Schuster.
  75. Saldin, Erin. 2012. THE GIRLS OF NO RETURN. Scholastic.
  77. Scattergood, Augusta. 2012. GLORY BE. Scholastic.
  78. Schlitz, Laura Amy. 2012. SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS. Candlewick.
  79. Schwartz, Heather E. 2012. COOL ENGINEERING ACTIVITIES FOR GIRLS. Capstone.
  80. Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. 2012. GREEN. Roaring Brook.
  82. Sif, Birgetta. 2012. OLIVER. Candlewick.
  84. Siobhan, Vivian. 2012. THE LIST. Scholastic.
  85. Smith, Jennifer L. 2012. THE STORM MAKERS. Little, Brown.
  86. Sonnenblick, Jordan. 2012. CURVEBALL: THE YEAR I LOST MY GRIP. Scholastic.
  87. Spinelli, Eileen. 2012. COLD SNAP. Knopf.
  88. Spinelli, Jerry. 2012. JAKE AND LILY. HarperCollins.
  89. Stead, Philip. 2012. BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL. Roaring Brook.
  90. Stiefvater, Megan. 2012. RAVEN BOYS. Scholastic.
  91. Stone, Phoebe. 2012. THE BOY ON CINNAMON STREET. Scholastic.
  92. Sutton, Sally. 2012. DEMOLITION. Candlewick.
  93. Wasserman, Robin. 2012. THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW. Knopf.
  94. Wein, Elizabeth. 2012. CODE NAME VERITY. Hyperion.
  95. Willems, Mo. 2012. GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS. Balzer & Bray.
  96. Winter, Jeanette. 2012. KALI’S SONG. Random House.
  97. Wolf, Karina. 2012. THE INSOMNIACS. Putnam.
  98. Wooding, Chris. 2012. PANDEMONIUM. Scholastic.
  99. Wynne Jones, Diana. 2012. EARWIG AND THE WITCH. HarperCollins.
  100. Yoo, Taeeun. 2012. YOU ARE A LION. Penguin.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Giants Beware

Aguirre, Jorge. 2012. GIANTS BEWARE. Ill. by Rafael Rosado. New York, NY: First Second. ISBN 9781596435827. [Suggested Grade Levels 4-7]

Claudette may be a girl, but here main desire in life is to be a giant fighter like her father. She tricks here best friend Marie—whose main desire in life is to be a princess--and her little brother Gaston—whose main desire in life is to be a pastry chef—into going on a quest and helping her in finding a giant to slay. Of course, the townspeople, worried about the safety of the children, chase after them. The resulting rollicking adventure is fun read as the children outwit various monsters, face dangers with intelligence, and show the adults of the town who the real heroes are. And they even find a giant.

The illustrations in this graphic novel lend so much to the story. The facial expressions of the characters are especially well done. The book is fun; the two strong female adventurers and the boy who wants to be a pastry chef can serve to empower those kids who want non-traditional jobs or roles or even traditional roles. After all, don’t most girls at one time aspire to be a princess? The story and illustrations work well together in this better-than-average graphic novel.

Share this graphic novel as an introduction to studying careers. Have students brainstorm what they would like to be when they “grow up.” Have each student design a PowerPoint slide as to what they would like to do and illustrate it.

Have students research all types of giant—giant animals, plants, bodies of water, land masses, imaginary monsters—whatever you or they can discover. Compare these giants with “normal” sized (i.e. a whale vs. different types of fish; Sequoias with elms or oak trees, and son on).

Other middle grade graphic novels:
Hatke, Ben. ZITA THE SPACEGIRL. ISBN 9781596434462
Pearson, Luke. HILDA AND THE MIDNIGHT GIANT. ISBN 9781907704253

By Janet Hilbun

Excuse Me, I'm Trying to Read

Amani, Mary Jo. 2012. EXCUSE ME, I’M TRYING TO READ. Ill. by Lehla Eldridge. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781934133514 [Suggested Grade Levels pK- 2]

How is a girl to read when all the animals around keep interrupting? On each page, this humorous book for young readers illustrates just what might happen when someone tries to read with animals in the African jungle: an elephant might disturb with its spray, a dung beetle might pollute the air with bad smells, and impalas might crowd. Of course, the tables turn when the animals get interrupted by the young girl. This book was awarded the National Association of Elementary School Principal’s Children’s Book of the Year Contest.

Consider using this book as a model for developing a class or group book based on another habitat. For example, a group of second graders learning about Texas geography could each select different Texas animals to illustrate how each of those animals might affect someone trying to read.

Other books for children about reading:
Bloom, Becky. WOLF! ISBN 9780531301555
Brus, Deborah. BOOK! BOOK! BOOK! 9780439135252
Duvoison, Roger. PETUNIA. 9780440417545
Lehman, Barbara. THE RED BOOK. ISBN 9780618428588
Sierra, Judy. WILD ABOUT BOOKS. ISBN 9780375825385

By Maria Cahill

The One and Only Ivan

Applegate, Katherine. 2012. THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. Ill. by Patricia Castelao. New York: Harper. ISBN 9780061992254 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

“I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. It’s not as easy as it looks.” Ivan is an attraction at the down-and-out Exit 8 Mall. He has grown accustomed to his “domain” although it’s made of glass and cement, nothing like his natural habitat.  He has also grown to understand the humans that stare at him, although they don’t seem to understand him ... except for Julia, the janitor’s daughter, who gave Ivan his first crayon and inspired him to draw. His friends Stella, an elephant, and Bob, a dog, keep him company; but Ivan longs for the companionship of another gorilla. When Ruby, a recently captured young elephant, is brought to the mall, Ivan begins to remember his life before captivity. Not wanting Ruby to grow old in the mall, he makes a plan to save her. 
Applegate, in an almost free-verse style, creates a voice for a gorilla that is somehow perfectly believable. The sparse, insightful text invites the reader to laugh, grieve, and celebrate with Ivan while also pondering man’s treatment of all the world’s creatures. Realistic, but gently-personified black-and-white illustrations appear sporadically throughout the novel.  The Author’s Note explains the true story of the captive gorilla that inspired the novel. 

Readers can locate information about the real Ivan. They can research silverback gorillas and the differences between primates.  The treatment of animals can also be discussed; older students might take sides on the issues and debate. The novel also connects well with the beloved classic CHARLOTTE’S WEB.   

Harris, R.P. TUA AND THE ELEPHANT. ISBN 9780811877817
White, E.B. CHARLOTTE’S WEB. ISBN 9780060263850

For older readers:
Schrefer, Eliot. ENDANGERED. ISBN 9780545165761

By Jill Bellomy

Ocean Sunlight

Bang, Molly and Penny Chisholm. 2012. OCEAN SUNLIGHT. Ill. by Molly Bang. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545273220 [Suggested Grade Levels 3- 6]

The role of phytoplankton and its far-reaching food production on a massive scale to support the marine ecosystem is the topic of this beautifully illustrated picture book. It presents a difficult topic with clarity and precise text to sequentially reveal how these tiny plants capture enough sunlight to produce food that is the very source of all food energy in the sea.

Molly Bang’s illustrations provide additional clarity to the information and evoke a lively spirit in the ocean food-production process. She uses a number of inset pictures to illustrate processes like budding and bioluminescence. The colors on the pages reflect the changes from the brilliance of the sun to the deepest ocean depths as it moves from bright yellows and greens of the plants and ocean water to the blackness of the sea floor.

Tracing the relationship of the sun and microscopic ocean plants and its cyclical nature of renewal makes the book a fascinating read while providing a high-quality informational text. It doesn’t read like a textbook at all; rather, it provides the best explanation of the subject for this age.

Have the children create a visual that will show the relationship of the sun’s energy, the phytoplankton, the organisms that consume it, and the upwelling currents that returns the nutrient-rich marine snow to support the original food producers.

Other books for children about ocean ecosystems:
Hynes, Margaret. OCEANS AND SEAS.  ISBN 9780753468630
Parker, Steve. DISCOVER MORE: OCEAN AND SEA. ISBN 978-0545330220

By Shirley Duke

Shadow and Bone

Bardugo. Leigh. 2012. SHADOW AND BONE. New York, NY: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0805094596 [Suggested Grade Levels 8 – 12]

Bardugo’s novel is one of those rare fantasy novels that entices the realistic fiction readers to cross over. The reader is guided through the fantasy world of Ravka by Alina, a down-to-earth main character who has many of the same concerns, fears, love, and self-doubt that young adults face on a daily basis. While Alina is capable of using magic and deals with the unusual, she maintains her uniquely strong character that young readers can relate to.
Bardugo created a fantasy world reminiscent of old Russia yet uniquely filled with elaborate details, fascinating characters, and a taste of magic. In this world is the Shadow Fold, an evil darkness that has rendered Ravka in two with its darkness and flesh eating monsters. Yet Alina, who has not really been good at anything, finds that she has the magic necessary to bring light to this darkness and begins her training as a Grisha, someone who can rid Rivka of the Shadow Fold.

This first book of a series will leave the reader anticipating the next. Just as the world of Ravka contains a magic based on the natural world, this book contains a magic based upon a reader’s imagination. Alina rings true with her self-doubts and the reader will finish this book feeling as if he or she has walked next to Alina through this magical world.

This book would work well when taking an in-depth look into the use of contrast as part of a story’s structure; good versus evil, light versus dark, etc.

Other books with a young female protagonist:
Hartman, Rachel. SERAPHINA. ISBN 9780375866562
Aguirre, Ann. ENCLAVE. ISBN 9780312650087

By Christine J. Rayl

Extra Yarn

Barnett, Mac. 2012. EXTRA YARN. Ill. by Jon Klassen. New York: Blazer & Bray. ISBN 9780061953385 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

Annabelle’s life was cold and void of color until she found a box of yarn filled with every color. She knitted herself a sweater. Since she still had yarn left, she made her dog a sweater too. No matter how many things she knitted, the box never ran out of yarn. Soon everyone and every object in Annabelle’s town were covered in her colorful creations. When the fashionable archduke arrives wanting to buy her never-ending box of yarn, Annabelle would not sell it for any amount of money. The greedy archduke resorts to stealing it, but his plan of an endless supply of yarn backfires when he opens the box and finds it is empty. In his fit of anger, the archduke throws the box out the window. Somehow it magically finds its way back to Annabelle, full of yarn.

The Illustrator’s choice of simple colors and backgrounds bring the snowy, soot-covered town to life. His digital illustrations in which he used an actual sweater, bring color and stitched happiness to even the grumpiest of characters. Jon Klassen won a 2013 Caldecott Honor award for his work on this book.

Plan a knitting program and bring in guest knitters to demonstrate or teach knitting to children.
Hold a winter clothing drive to collect gloves, mittens, hats, and scarves for the less fortunate.

Other picture books about knitting:
Jensen, Derrick. MISCHIEF IN THE FOREST: A YARN YARN. ISBN 9781604860818
Webster, Sheryl. NOODLE’S KNITTING. ISBN 9781561486946

By Jane Jergensen

Rabbit & Robot

Bell, Cece. 2012. RABBIT & ROBOT: THE SLEEPOVER. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 9780763654757 [Suggested Grade Levels K - 2]

Odd couple friendships are prolific in children’s literature.  They serve a couple of functions.  First, young kids are learning how to handle the treacherous world of friendships, and these odd couples can provide the maps to help navigate differences.  Second, these books celebrate a world full of differences and therefore encourage their readers to as well. 

Rabbit and Robot are by definition an odd couple.  Rabbit likes carrots on his pizza, but Robot wants nuts and bolts.  Rabbit seeks order, plans, and schedules.  Before Robot arrives, Rabbit has planned out the evening with a list of 4 things to do (which corresponds to the 4 chapters in this early reader book).  He gets a little upset when things do not go as planned, but Robot is there for his friend with statements such as, “I have some data that will interest you.” 

Readers will find humor and charm in the story and illustrations.  For instance, throughout “Chapter 2: Watch TV” a TV remote sticks out of Rabbit’s ear (as he runs around the house looking for said remote). 

Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of the new odd couple.

“I have reviewed today’s data and the result is: Today was a good day.”

Rabbit and Robot offers the opportunity to explore similarities and differences with students as they discuss character.  Educators may also ask kids to brainstorm other great odd couple friendship combinations.  Creativity will flow.

Other odd couple friendships:
Dicamillo, Kate. BINK AND GOLLIE.
Lobel, Arnold. FROG AND TOAD.
Barrows, Annie. IVY AND BEAN.

By Emily Fultz

Z is for Moose

Bingham, Kelly. 2012. Z IS FOR MOOSE. Ill. by Paul O. Zelinsky. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060799847 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK – 2]

As our story starts we find Zebra lining up the stars of the book. And it begins as expected: “A is for Apple.” Isn’t it always? When an overly anxious Moose decides he can’t wait for the M page, shenanigans ensue. Zebra tries his best to convince Moose to wait his turn but waiting is hard. When the M page finally arrives, featuring not Moose, but Mouse, Moose has a bit of a meltdown. Fortunately Zebra devises a compromise that restores the alphabet and his friend’s happiness.

Friendly illustrations are filled with small details as Moose tries to hijack the pages of other letters. Readers can find Moose in the most unexpected places. The colorful borders of each page are shortly abandoned by the intrusion of Moose as his eagerness builds. Moose’s hooves reach into the page, adding antlers onto annoyed snakes, while Moose’s dialog bubbles serve to clue in the reader to his wide range of emotions.
A fun and unique addition to the alphabet genre, this book will have students laughing out loud.

This is not your typical alphabet book, but can be used to show how sometimes the unexpected can be fun. Create your own alphabet book using compromises similar to the one Zebra made at the conclusion. 

Z IS FOR MOOSE is also a great way to discuss how emotions can get the best of us, especially when we experience situations like waiting, disappointment and anger.

Check out the wide array of alphabet books available in your collection such as:
Fleming, Denise. ALPHABET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. ISBN 9780805068481
Zuckerman, Andrew. CREATURE ABC. ISBN 9780811869782

By Marianne Crandall Follis

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different

Blumenthal, Karen. 2012. STEVE JOBS: THE MAN WHO THOUGHT DIFFERENT. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 9781250014450 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

Author Karen Blumenthal manages to write a biography that is honest and well-researched while telling an engaging true story about one of the great innovators of our time, Steve Jobs. She doesn’t shy away from describing some of his well-known quirks, foibles, and less desirable qualities, while also communicating his visionary insight into the intersection of business, technology, and art. She uses his noteworthy commencement speech at Stanford to set the stage and tie things together. We learn about his childhood, his rocky path in college, and his collaboration with Steve Wozniack in his parents’ garage. His constant striving for artistic design of technology, his perfectionism, his relationships with others, his counterculture lifestyle, and more are presented honestly and engagingly for young readers.

Scan the room and look for technological tools that might be connected to Apple and the work of Steve Jobs. Talk about what innovations they might dream up for the future. 


For more true stories about innovations and risk takers, look for these biographies and nonfiction works:
Berne, Jennifer. ON A BEAM OF LIGHT. ISBN 9780811872355
Macaulay, David. THE NEW WAY THINGS WORK. ISBN 978-0395938478

By Sylvia M. Vardell

The Raft

Bodeen, S. A. 2012. THE RAFT. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 9780312650100
[Suggested Grade Level 8 – 12]

When a “big island” visit with her aunt is cut short, Robbie makes a hasty and poorly communicated decision to hop on a cargo plane for home. Robbie lives with her marine biologist parents on Midway Atoll, an island in the Pacific Ocean “midway” between North America and Asia. The routine trip takes a tragic and fatal turn when a series of natural and mechanical disasters befall the small plane and its crew.

While the majority of the novel takes place floating in the vast Pacific, the story of Robbie and THE RAFT’s other passenger, never drags. Quickly paced and action packed, Robbie’s story of survival has broad appeal and will leave readers anxiously sitting on the edge of their seats.   
Compare and contrast THE RAFT with other stories of survival, such as Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson. How do modern conveniences such as cell phones, the Internet and increased independence of young adults play into the development of Robbie’s situation.

Other titles by S. A. Bodeen featuring edgy topics and heroic teens:
THE COMPOUND. ISBN 9780312370152
THE GARDENER. ISBN 9780312370169

Classic tales of survival:
Wyss, Johann David. SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON. ISBN 9781841358390
Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. ISBN 9781402784064

By Marianne Crandall Follis

The Diviners

Bray, Libba. 2012. THE DIVINERS. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 9780316126113. [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12] 

Evie is a young, impulsive, teenager sent to live with her uncle in 1920s New York.  A flapper in the making, Evie is thrilled that she gets to experience the exciting New York night-life of speakeasies and dancing, bathtub gin and…brutal murder.  Evie’s somewhat secret (at least when she’s sober) psychic powers reveal clues to her about the crimes.  It becomes clear that the murderer is not of this world, and that his spirit must be returned to the realm from which it came in order to free the city, and perhaps the whole world, from the evil he brings with him. 

This daunting historical fantasy introduces a chaotic array of characters and detailed storylines, but is nonetheless gripping through and through.  The first in an anticipated series of three books, little is truly resolved or fully explained by the end of this tale.  Bray is a master of page-turn and the story is as enthralling as it is lengthy.  

This would make a great after school book club selection for fantasy lovers who have outgrown Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS series or Gaiman’s CORALINE.

Other historical or supernatural fantasy for high school students:
LaFevers, Robin. GRAVE MERCY. ISBN 9780547628349
Steifvater, Maggie. THE RAVEN BOYS. ISBN 9780545424929
Wein, Elizabeth. CODE NAME VERITY. ISBN 9781423152194

By Sarah Dornback

Citizen Scientist

Burns, Loree Griffin. 2012. CITIZEN SCIENTISTS. Photos by Ellen Harasimowicz. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805090628 [Suggested Grade Levels 3- 8]

The thrill of gathering field data is brought to life in this introduction to scientific observation and data collection. Readers can discover and experience science on a very real, personal level by participating in environmental studies or simply exploring in a park or their back yard. Whether it’s questioning where Monarch butterflies go or a ladybug search and count activity, young people can get involved firsthand in science that is relevant to their own life.

The book is organized into four sections by seasons. Each season explains a different sort of citizen project, brightly illustrated by Harasimowicz’s photographs. The chapters begin with general information and follows with a detailed guide for joining the project. Charts and maps fit add further information.

Not everyone will want to do the data collections, but this book shows children ways science works and the discoveries that result from science explorations. Simply stopping for a while to enjoy nature is the underlying theme of this book and it’s one to browse or read straight through.

Take a nature walk and count the birds you see. Have the children keep a nature list on the walk. If you don’t know them, return to the library and use a field guide to narrow down the group they are in or identify them if you can.

Other books for children about getting involved in collecting data for science investigations:
ISBN 9781429652377

By Shirley Duke

I, Galileo

Christensen, Bonnie. 2012. I, GALILEO. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375967535 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]

Young readers are introduced to the life of an amazing scientist ahead of his time in this beautiful picture book. Written from the point of view of Galileo, the author describes the scientist’s life, major discoveries and successes, his passion for astronomy, and persecution from church officials and other leading experts of his day. The afterword lists scientific advances based on Galileo’s work and concludes by stating the Catholic Church has since formally acknowledged it had been wrong to condemn Galileo’s theory of a sun-centered solar system.

Using the picture book format allows Galileo’s life and discoveries to be accessible for children. The text describes complex scientific knowledge in age appropriate language, which makes this a useful resource for elementary aged readers.

Christensen’s luminous artwork invites children to explore Galileo’s world. Endpapers provide a map of Renaissance Italy and the preface offers a 1564 map of the universe based on accepted scientific knowledge of the time. Vivid oil paintings of scenes from Galileo’s life are accompanied by reproductions of his diagrams and publications. Extensive notes at the end of the book include a detailed chronology, list of Galileo’s accomplishments in astronomy and physics, and websites for further research.

This book would make a wonderful addition to a collection about scientists and their contributions to our lives. Pair this book with non-fiction about astronomy for a space unit or encourage children to create physics experiments modeled after Galileo’s work.

Other books for children about Galileo’s scientific contributions:
Macdonald, Wendy. GALILEO’S LEANING TOWER EXPERIMENT. ISBN 9781570918704
Panchyk, Richard and Buzz Aldrin. GALILEO FOR KIDS: HIS LIFE AND IDEAS, 25 ACTIVITIES. ISBN 9781556525667

By Kimberly C. Kinnaird

Face Book

Close, Chuck. 2012. CHUCK CLOSE: THE FACE BOOK. New York, NY: Abrams. ISBN 9781419701634 [Suggested Grade Levels 4 – 12]

In this very introspective autobiograhy, Close presents his life through pictures and words. Many may ask, “Who is Chuck Close?”  Yet the reader soon learns that he is one of our nation’s premier artists and this book shows why.

Through interview questions from 5th grade students, the reader comes to know an individual who has struggled to become who he is today. Readers can connect with Close, who is a role model, despite his self-portrait of him smoking. He elaborates upon this past failing, upon the danger of it, and overcoming the addiction. The reader also learns of Close’s physical handicaps, wheel chair bound and painting with his brush strapped to his arm while living with dyslexia. Yet the reader also learns how hard Close worked to overcome them and become the successful artist that he is today.

The book has a wealth of information from the interviewed questions, timeline, glossary, a list of museums where you can see his work, and an image glossary of his artwork. As the title suggests, The Face Book is just that; a collection of self-portraits that can be mixed and matched while remaining appropriate for the school library. Autobiographies that inspire, inform, and connect with the reader are rare at this age range so this one is a true prize for any collection.

This book is excellent for discussing handicaps, and how a person may struggle to accept and overcome the limitations. It is also a wonderful look at an art form that could be replicated in the classroom or art class.

dePaola, Tomie. FRIEDA KAHLO ISBN 978-0448426778
Palacio, A.J. WONDER. ISBN 9780375869020

By Christine J. Rayl


Cole, Henry. 2012. UNSPOKEN: A STORY FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. Ill. by Henry Cole. New York: Scholastic. 9780545399975 [Suggested Grade Levels 4 – 8]

Cole shares a story of courage and kindness during the Civil War. On a small farm in Virginia, a young girl helping with chores watches Confederate soldiers pass by. As she retrieves food for that night’s dinner, she discovers a runaway slave hiding in the corn crib. At first, the young girl feels fear, which later develops into concern and compassion. Despite knowing there is a reward for this escaped slave, she continues to sneak food until the unseen slave leaves to continue with his/her journey, presumably northward.

Cole provides an author’s note at the conclusion of the story, sharing a few of his family’s experiences in the Civil War as well as his motivation for creating this wordless picture book.

The soft pencil illustrations tell a more detailed story without words than with words. Readers of different ages will comprehend a different story, depending on their knowledge of history.

This picture book offers readers guided writing practice, as readers can describe the action in each scene and include dialogue in their stories. The story can also be used as a springboard for a short or extensive activity researching the Underground Railroad.

Other books for children about courage and kindness:
Woodson, Jacqueline. EACH KINDNESS. ISBN 9780399246524
Polacco, Patricia. PINK AND SAY. ISBN 9780399226717

Other wordless picture books for upper elementary and middle school readers:
Tan, Shaun. THE ARRIVAL. ISBN 9780439895293
Wiesner, David. FREE FALL. ISBN 9780688109905

By Jennifer E. M. Richey

Water Sings Blue

Coombs, Kate. 2012. WATER SINGS BLUE: OCEAN POEMS. Ill. by Meilo So. New York: Chronicle Books. ISBN 9780811872843 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

“For the water sings blue and the sky does, too, and the sea lets you fly like a gull.” Coombs’ brilliant use of imagery will transport readers to the shoreline for a stroll down the beach. The author has combined various styles of poetry to create twenty-three unique poems that range from sea gulls to sea urchins and shipwrecks to seashores, so there is a little something for everyone.

When reading about jellyfish, readers will find a humorous poem paired with works written in a more traditional style all illustrated with Meilo So’s beautiful watercolors. The sweeping colors mimic the sweeping motions of a jellyfish floating along the tides of the language that help paint the broader picture. The illustrations contain vivid colors and capture the movement and beauty of the jellyfish.

In the poem “Octopus Ink” So’s illustration changes the meaning of the poem from a simple piece about a shy author to being a personification of a grand and menacing sea creature, creating beauty where others would generally not look.

 Meilo So’s stunning watercolor illustrations are the perfect complement to this collection of ocean poems.

Collect seashells and sort them into like groups. Search the Internet for the names of the shells.
Examine sand from various beaches. Find out why the sand is different colors on different beaches.
Listen to relaxation music, sounds of the ocean, while reading this book.

Other books about enjoying the ocean or beach:
Cooper, Elisha. BEACH. ISBN 9780439687850
Gay, Marie-Louise. STELLA: STAR OF THE SEA. ISBN 9780888993373
Ryan, Pam Munoz. HELLO OCEAN. ISBN 9780881069877

By Jane Jergensen

Dare to Dream... Change the World

Corcoran, Jill. 2012. DARE TO DREAM… CHANGE THE WORLD. Ill. Jepson, J. Beth.   Tulsa, OK: Kane Miller, A Division of EDC Publishing. ISBN 9781610670654 [Suggested Grade Levels 4 - 8]

The subjects in this collection of biographic poems come from all walks of life, but they all have one thing in common - they changed the world.  This book is a celebration of their impact on the lives of others.

Each two page spread includes a poem about their life or accomplishment, a short biography, and an inspiration poem connected by the theme of their impact.  The colorful illustrations by J. Beth Jepson highlight these themes and mirror the tone.

The spread in honor of Anne Frank, includes a poem “Faith of a Mustard Seed” by Hope Anita Smith, which uses her famous quote, “In spite of everything I still believe people are basically good at heart,” in a poem about faith in humanity.  The illustrations on the Georgia O’Keeffe spread, with sky blue backgrounds, clouds, flowers, and cacti, accompany the words “Sky will always be,” and “I was filled with scripts of air.” 

Each spread, and the book as a whole, honors the strength of individuals. 

“Each time we act, a ripple starts.” - from “Ripples” by Bruce Coville.

The paired poems on each spread provides a great opportunity to analyze themes and connections.  However, this poetry collection also may lead to deep discussions about the individuals included or about type of people, choices and actions that are able to change the world.
Other books with biographic poetry:
Bernier-Grand, Carman T. FRIDA: VIVA LA VIDA! = LONG LIVE LIFE!

By Emily Fultz

Will Sparrow's Road

Cushman, Karen. 2012. WILL SPARROW’S ROAD. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780547739625 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-7]

Quick-witted, wiry Will Sparrow fends for himself by stealing and lying.  Deserted by his mother and sold by his negligent father for a fill of ale, Will is constantly on the run. His path takes him along an English road where he scavenges for meals and meets various con artists that rival his skills for theft and deception.  Eventually he makes his way to a fair where he connects with a blind juggler, a clever pig, and a group of “oddities” including a dwarf and a “cat girl” whose face is covered in hair.  As he spends time with this band of misfits, Will begins to make friends and to look at the world through different, maturing eyes.  

In her first novel starring a male protagonist, Cushman brings the reader into rich Elizabethan England, complete with the sights and smells of the bustling town fairs. In her trademark style, Cushman blends historical detail with interesting characters and makes the period accessible to the young reader. Will’s development is authentic and his plucky personality brings humor to the story. A note at the end provides additional information on the inspiration and facts behind the fiction. 

Readers can research more about Elizabethan England and life in this time period, possibly that of a noble as opposed to that of a runaway.  Information about market fairs can be gathered and a similar fair might be hosted in the library or classroom. William Shakespeare can be researched as well as the development of theater during this time.  

Other novels about children living in the same time period:
Blackwood, Gary. THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER. ISBN 9780780799776
Cushman, Karen. ALCHEMY AND MEGGY SWANN. ISBN 9780547231846

By Jill Bellomy

After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia

Datlow, Ellen,  and Terri Windling, eds. 2012. AFTER: NINETEEN STORIES OF APOCALYPSE AND DYSTOPIA. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 9781423146193 [Suggested Grade Level 7 - 12]

Fans of apocalyptic or dystopian stories will devour this short story collection by some of the biggest names in YA and adult literature. From Gregory Maguire to Jane Yolen, readers will be able to find a short story that appeals to their voyeuristic sensibilities and have the opportunity to live vicariously through a disaster with this unique set of heroes and heroines.

Garth Nix’s story, You Won’t Feel a Thing, is set in the same world as his novel, SHADE’S CHILDREN. The short story is set ten years before the events in his novel. Fans of Nix’s work will be able to enjoy the parallels to the universe he has already introduced and will enjoy getting to know what led to the events that unfolded in this epic disaster.

For any fan of disaster fiction this book is a must read. By presenting multiple different disasters the reader never feels as if the book is retreading through already overdone scenarios, each story offering up a fresh take on a horrible dystopian future that could strike at any minute. The reader gets to ask themselves, what would happen if…?

Plan for an emergency: If the electricity happened to go off for an extended period of time, make a list of the supplies your home would need.
Hold a Zombie Fluxx tournament with family, friends, or classmates.

Other books about dealing with the apocalypse:
McHugh, Maureen F. AFTER THE APOCALYPSE: STORIES. ISBN 9781931520294
Mullin, Mike. ASHFALL. ISBN
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. THE WORLD WE LIVE IN. ISBN 9780547248042

By Jane Jergensen

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America

Happy Families

Davis, Tanita S. 2012. HAPPY FAMILIES. New York, NY: Random House, Inc. ISBN 9780375869662 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

Trangender individuals are often forgotten in discussions of LGBT issues.  Happy Families is the story of a daughter and son coming to grips with a transgender father.  Davis approaches this hot button topic in a classroom friendly manner.

Ysabel and Justin are twins in their sophomore year of high school.   At the beginning of the story Justin is thriving academically, and Ysabel’s art is getting a great deal of attention.  This all quickly dissolves when their father chooses to come out as transgender.

Chapter narration alternates between Justin and Ysabel.  Each twin handles the feelings of betrayal, anger, confusion, then eventually understanding, and forgiveness differently.  Davis carefully navigates through the difficult issues presented in the book with tenderness.

There is no judgment as the twins express their understandable emotions.  Then when they come to accept and appreciate their father’s new life, it feels natural without being overly didactic.  Many teenagers seek literature that explores such issues, but this novel works just as well for those who seek an engaging story about family dynamics. 

LGBT issues are in the forefront of our media and political discussions.  Teens should have the opportunity to find such issues relatable.  LGBT literature provides that opportunity and can lead the way to thoughtful and respectful discussions.

Other books about transgender and LGBT issues:
Wittlinger, Ellen. PARROTFISH.

By Emily Fultz

Crafty Chloe

DiPucchio, Kelly. 2012. CRAFTY CHLOE. Ill. by Heather Ross. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781442421233 [Suggested Grade Level K-3]

While not the best at dance, sports or video games, there is one arena in which youngster Chloe excels. Chloe is crafty. There is nothing she loves more than her art supplies…especially googly-eyes! As she always says “…anything is less boring with googly-eyes on it.”

Conflict arises when Chloe is invited to Emma’s birthday party and her gift plans go awry. Determined to make the best of the situation, CRAFTY CHLOE turns to her art supplies and bottomless creativity to resolve the situation.

While the main characters are female, and there is an abundance of pink, and frills in the illustrations, this story is about more that gluing glitter to a page, but highlights the perils of navigating peer relationships.   

Too often art projects in school or the library can be very specific and directed. Allow children the time to create their own home-crafted projects. If you prefer more direction, you can check out the book’s website craftychloe.com.

Some additional resources for crafts projects:
Goldschadt, Sarah. CRAFT-A-DAY. ISBN 9781594745959

By Marianne Crandall Follis