Here are some of the new teen titles being published in April. These all have received praise and starred reviews:
Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder
The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge
Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Heads Up: Changing Minds on Mental Health by Melanie Siebert, illustrated by Belle Wuthrich
Kent State by Deborah Wiles
Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin
Little Universes by Heather Demetrios
The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
They Went Left by Monica Hesse
This Is My Brain in Love by I. W. Gregorio
We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changed the World by Todd Hasak-Lowy
We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid
Here are a bunch of new middle-grade books coming out in April that have gotten praise and starred reviews:
Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen by Anne Nesbet
Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk
A Game of Fox and Squirrels by Jenn Reese
In the Role of Brie Hutchens by Nicole Melleby
The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter by Aaron Reynolds
Into the Tall, Tall Grass by Loriel Ryon
The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Kenard Pak
Rick by Alex Gino
The Water Bears by Kimberly Baker
What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson
Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (9780544785816)
Ethan finds it really hard to wait for the maple sap to start running in the late winter. He knows the signs of the time approaching. It’s when he doesn’t have maple syrup for pancakes or oatmeal. His father explains that the days have to get warmer for the syrup to run as well as the nights getting shorter. Ethan thinks he notices it changing, but sometimes gets too eager like not wearing his winter coat anymore. When Ethan’s tooth gets loose, his father tells him that it should fall out around the same time as the sap starts running. Now Ethan has two things to wait for, but one that he can perhaps make happen a bit faster by wiggling it. Still, it takes some time for his tooth to loosen and for the weather to change. Then one day, it’s finally time both for maple syrup and for his tooth to fall out.
Schmidt and Stickney have created a classic tale about patience and waiting for things to happen. Ethan is wonderfully impatient and yet also able to wait, though not really without asking again and again about it. As the darkness refuses to lessen and the days refuse to warm, readers will understand his anticipation. The use of breakfasts to mark a lack of syrup is clever and homey, just to add even more warmth and love to the book. It’s great to see a book with a caretaker father which is not about the lack of a mother or being in a unique family. It’s particularly wonderful to see such a skillful and loving dad.
Karas’ illustrations capture the dark days of winter, the snow that refuses to disappear, and the slow process of the arrival of early spring. The darkness lurks against the warm yellow of the interior of the home, offering real contrast as the pages turn.
A sweet but not syrupy picture book about fathers, patience and food. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Here are some fiction and nonfiction picture books to look forward to in April!
Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood
The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity: A Tale of the Genius Ramanujan by Amy Alznauer, illustrated by Daniel Miyares
Cat Dog Dog by Nelly Buchet, illustrated by Andrea Zuill
Don’t Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton
Exquisite: the Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi, illustrated by Yao Xiao
In My Anaana’s Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok, illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko
In the Woods by David Elliott, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey
Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl, illustrated by Lauren O’Hara
One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole
Outside In by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cindy Derby
Rosie: Stronger Than Steel by Lindsay Ward
Sorry (Really Sorry) by Joanna Cutler, illustrated by Harry Bliss
Summer Song by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek
The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu
The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner and Adam Rex
Why Do We Cry? by Fran Pintadera, illustrated by Ana Sender
William Shakespeare’s The Tempest by Georghia Ellinas, illustrated by Jane Ray
Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry (9781616208967)
San Antonio is not a comfortable place for the Torres sisters. Their mother died giving birth to Rosa, the youngest sister, and their father never recovered from her death, drowning his feelings in drink. When the oldest sister, Ana falls from her window and dies, it takes a great toll on the entire family. A year later, the cracks are beginning to become even larger. Their father is rarely home and when he is he is verbally abusive, demanding, and drunk. Jessica, who got Ana’s bedroom and clothes, mourns her sister by dating the same boy she did. The relationship is violent and controlling, but Jessica can’t seem to move on. Iridian has stopped going to school, reads the same book over and over again, and writes her own stories. She finds herself caught indoors, unwilling to leave their horrible house. Rosa seeks the hyena that is loose in their neighborhood, wondering what special gift she might have and searching for it outside and in religion. The girls all want to escape, and it may just take Ana returning as a ghost to get them free.
Mabry’s novel is exceptional. Her writing is achingly beautiful, telling a story of profound grief and pain. Yet throughout, each of the sisters has bursts of hope, their own unique way forward potentially, if they could just take it. It’s tantalizing writing that creates its own unique emotional tug and writing that offers gem-like moments of clarity before succumbing under the weight of grief once more. The flashes of anger are like lightning on the page, bursts where one thinks things are about to change.
The sisters are all wonderfully crafted and unique from one another. The interplay of their relationships feels like sisterhood, lifting one another up unexpectedly, injuring each other inadvertently and fighting like hell to save the others.
A great teen novel about sisterhood, grief and ghosts. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Algonquin.
The shortlist for the 2020 YA Book Prize has been announced. The prize celebrates the best of YA literature from the UK and Ireland. The judge panel includes librarians, authors, and teens. Here are the short-listed titles:
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Crossfire by Malorie Blackman
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Furious Thing by Jenny Downham
The Gifted, the Talented and Me by William Sutcliffe
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Meat Market by Juno Dawson
The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James
Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee, illustrated by Pascal Campion (9780525644620)
When Auntie Clara can’t watch Daniel while his parents go to work at night, he goes along with them to their janitorial job. Daniel had been warm and snuggly in his bed, but had to get dressed and ride downtown. As his parents get their tools and equipment ready to go, they begin to tell him about The Paper Kingdom, which is the land that they clean every night. The throne room is a large room with a long table with papers strewn everywhere. The king is nowhere to be seen. His parents warn Daniel to not upset the queen and to be on the lookout for dragons who seem to like hiding in the bathrooms. Daniel gets upset when he sees how much cleaning work all of the kingdom has left for his parents. They encourage him to instead focus on becoming the paper king in the future and ruling differently.
In her author’s note, Rhee tells of her own childhood as a daughter of night janitors and being taken with them to work sometimes. The playful world created by the parents in the book is warm and loving. Yet it also subtly speaks to the role of power and wealth in the system in a way that children will understand. The hard work by Daniel’s parents is emphasized throughout the picture book with the parents doing physical labor and sneezing and rubbing sore muscles.
The illustrations also emphasize the extent of the workload of the parents, the sweat pouring from them and them often working on hands and knees. The imaginative playfulness is also shown with the red dragons lurking around.
A winning look at parents who work nights. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Random House.
From My Window by Otavio Junior, illustrated by Vanina Starkoff, translated by Beatriz C. Dias (9781782859772)
Visit a beautiful favela district in Brazil via this bright picture book. A favela is an area in Brazil that is not managed by the government but by the people who live there. Because of this, water and electricity can be difficult to access. From their high vantage point of a window, the narrator can see throughout their favela. They see roofs and windows and people. Sometimes the people are using water to get cooler. At night the lights dim that fireflies appear on the paths. Grey days are brightened with occasional rainbows. Sometimes the air is full of music and poetry, other times the sounds of sadness come. Rain falls, children head to school, and the favela bustles with activity.
Originally published in Brazil, Junior writes of his own home in a favela in this picture book. He plays with themes of dreams and treasure, but also keeps the book firmly grounded in reality. His clear vision of both joy and sadness in the crowded and busy neighborhood keeps the book from being too light, grounding it in the occasional gray day and leaking roofs.
Starkoff’s illustrations are done in acrylic using tropical colors of bright yellows, pinks, greens and blues. The illustrations show so many different types of people, all enjoying the neighborhood together. The images that pull back and show the full favela are incredibly detailed and worth looking at closely.
A dynamic look at a unique type of Brazilian community. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Barefoot Books.