2018 Indies Choice and E.B. White Read- Aloud Award Finalists

The finalists for the 2018 Indies Choice and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award have been announced. Booksellers across the U.S. will vote to choose the winners, who will be announced on Wednesday, May 9th. Below are the finalists for the youth categories:

BOOK OF THE  YEAR – YOUNG ADULT

All the Crooked Saints

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Dear Martin

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

 

E.B. WHITE READ-ALOUD AWARD – MIDDLE READER

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

The First Rule of Punk

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance

One Last Word by Nikki Grimes

Refugee

Refugee by Alan Gratz

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

Wishtree

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

 

 

3 New Picture Books That Are Just Birdy

Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins

Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Richard Jones (9780763693466)

This picture book cunningly incorporates ideas about the science of forces into an appealing story about a bird building her nest. As a new day begins, Bird first finds something to eat and tries to pull a big worm out of the ground. Eventually, she settles for a smaller and less strong worm for her meal. As Bird begins to work on her nest, she gathers twigs. Some are too heavy, others she can carry one or two of and still smaller ones she can carry three or four twigs. She pushes and pulls the twigs into place. Then she gathers lighter and softer things to line her nest for the eggs that are about to arrive.

The concepts of pushing and pulling, dropping and lifting, heavy and light are very nicely portrayed in this picture book. The story reads aloud well and is a great introduction to the concepts as well as a good book to share. The illustrations are bold and bright, so they will work well when shared with a group. A nice one to share in the spring, this picture book intelligently uses science to tell a story. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)

This Is the Nest That Robin Built by Denise Fleming

This Is the Nest That Robin Built by Denise Fleming (9781481430838)

This picture book offers a riff on the “House That Jack Built” story by featuring a robin builiding a nest with help from a variety of other animals. Squirrel trims the twigs, dog provides the string, horse shares his straw and so on. Eventually the nest is built and lined with soft items and then the eggs are laid. The story continues all the way through hatching and ends as the little robins are taking their first flight.

The traditional structure of the story works well here and Fleming offers just the right rhythm to make the book a pleasure to read aloud. As always, Fleming’s art is approachable and wonderfully textured and organic. Her use of layered collage is bright and friendly. A joy to share, this picture book is just right for spring. (Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.)

Warbler Wave by April Pulley Sayre

Warbler Wave by April Pulley Sayre with Jeff Sayre (9781481448291)

This book is an invitation to wonder at warblers, tiny colorful songbirds that migrate long distances each year. They must stop on their way to eat and rest, searching for insects and spiders to devour. They come in many colors from blue to yellow to reds and mixtures of colors. Then they return to their journey north to their nesting grounds, flying by night and calling to one another along the way.

Sayre is a master at creating nature books that soar with poetry, drawing young readers into the wonder that is the world around us by tantalizing them and showing them the magic. The images shared here are crisp and bright, the skies deep with color, the small birds caught with a clarity that is difficult to achieve. A great introduction to warblers and birding for young readers. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane.)

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (9780062570604)

Released April 3, 2018.

This inventive teen novel mixes a zombie apocalypse with American Civil War era history into one compelling read. Jane was born on a plantation, an African-American child to the white mistress of the house. The dead started to rise only days after her birth, so Jane never knew a world without Shamblers. Now Jane is attending Miss Preston’s a school for African American girls that teaches them how to kill zombies. As she nears graduation, she begins to question how the zombies are being managed in her area near Baltimore. Though she is seeing more of them around, claims are being made that they are being exterminated. As the lies that surround Jane come crashing down, she is sent to a new city in Kansas, but life there is even more brutal than the one she has left behind. It is up to Jane not only to save herself but an entire community from destruction.

Ireland’s world building is incredible rich as are all of the details of the story. It makes it almost impossible to summarize the book effectively, because there is so much more to say! Ireland was inspired by the Indian Boarding Schools in the United States and based her model of zombie training schools from them. This book tackles racism in the same clear cut way that you take a zombie’s head off.

Jane is a great protagonist. She is smarter than almost everyone else in the book, cunning as she quickly creates solutions to impossible situations, and still deeply flawed. She is judgemental of others, often misunderstanding them and falls for the wrong people. She is beautifully proud, almost entirely unable to bite her tongue, and always creating trouble for herself.

A wild and bloody book with a fierce protagonist who sears the page. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray.

3 Colorful New Picture Books

Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley

Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley (9781481469999)

Through simple and colorful images, this picture book celebrates the colors of foods around us. The book walks readers through the ingredients in a pot of “Every Color Soup” made of vegetables and lentils. Lentils provide the blue, eggplants the purple, tomatoes for red, and so on. The result is a concept book that is inviting and offers plenty of space for little listeners to talk about food, colors and cooking. Have a plate of rainbow veggies ready to share after reading this one! Appropropriate for ages 2-4.(Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.)

Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal

Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison (9781481420495)

Two children prepare for the Holi, the Indian festival of colors. They gather specific flowers in the garden to make the powder for Holi. The book names the colors and flowers, creating a lovely quiet moment. The family then heads out together dressed all in white with their bowls and plates of colors. They are joined by friends and neighbors until suddenly, the colors burst and the powder poofs. Everyone shouts “Holi,hai” and then they head home. The final pages of the book tell of the meaning of the festival about fresh starts, friendship and forgiveness. The authors offer a final note about Holi at the end of the book as well. The illustrations are digital and have a cartoon smoothness about them that is modern. The colors are rich and vibrant, just right for this book about Holi and colors. There are few books about Holi in a picture book format, so get this one on your library shelves. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.)

Holi Colors by Rina Singh

Holi Colors by Rina Singh (9781459818491)

This board book is illustrated with photographs awash in color. The images vibrantly show Holi both with close-ups of people’s faces covered in colors and in images where the air itself is filled with color. The text is gently rhyming and invites even the youngest readers into the joy of Holi and a delight in the saturated colors on the page. Joyous and bright, this board book is just right for every library. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Winners

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas has won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for her novel, The Hate U Give. Her novel first won the older fiction category and went on to win the overall prize.

Other winners are:

The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1)

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend in the Younger Fiction category (my review)

The Secret of Black Rock

The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton in the Illustrated Book category (my review)

 

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Emergency Contact by Mary Choi

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi (9781534408968)

Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, eager to leave behind her uneventful high school years, her dull boyfriend and her over-the-top mother. Her roommate Jude takes her to a coffee place where her uncle works, and Penny finds a connection with Sam immediately. Their friendship steadily grows as they communicate exclusively through texts with one another. But Sam’s life is not a simple one. His ex-girlfriend has announced she is pregnant, he is sleeping in a small room above the coffee shop he works in, and he is trying to break is alcohol habit. As Penny and Sam continue to text one another, their connection grows more serious and soon they are sharing things that they have never told anyone else. But can their friendship survive meeting in real life again?

I fell completely head-over-heels for this teen romance. Penny is a character who is rather neurotic with her bags of supplies and her need for cleanliness. Yet she is also artistic and has a thought process that is just as unique and wonderful as she is. Choi doesn’t try to fix Penny and how idiosyncratic she is, which is a wonder and a relief. Sam too is incredibly written, grappling with so many things at once. One of my favorite scenes happens early in the book when Penny rescues Sam from a panic attack, which demonstrates the amount of anxiety both of these characters have and how they live and love with it.

As the background of both characters is revealed to the reader, their reactions begin to make more and more sense. It’s as if the reader too is meeting a stranger, building a relationship and falling for both of these characters at the same time. A large part of both of the characters are their mothers from Penny’s sexy Asian mother who acts far younger than she is and is constantly getting into trouble to Sam’s mother who ran up credit card debt in Sam’s name, they are influential and painful for both characters.

Beautifully written, awkward in the best way and entirely empowering and accepting, this novel is a warm hug for readers struggling with anxiety. Appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

Here are some cool links I shared on my TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr accounts in the last week:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

60 Titles for 3-6 Year Olds | from + more

What’s in a Name? A Conversation With the 2018 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Winner Juana Martinez-Neal

LIBRARIES

“School libraries are necessary. It is necessary to have a physical space dedicated to exploration and imagination.” –

TEEN LIT

LGBTQ+ Books That Actually Have a Happy Ending!

Twitter explains why ‘Love, Simon’ is so meaningful |

3 New Noisy Picture Books

Blacksmith_s Song by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk

Blacksmith’s Song by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk, illustrated by Anna Rich (9781561455805)

Told in first person, this picture book shows how communication worked for the Underground Railroad. The boy’s father is a slave on a plantation, working as the blacksmith. He uses the rhythm of the forge to send messages that carry to those waiting to escape. The boy wonders when it will be their turn to escape to freedom. But day by day, his father is growing weaker and more ill. Soon he may not be able to even send the messages from his hammer. When it is finally their turn to leave, it is the boy who takes up the hammer, sending his first message and his father’s last as they head to freedom.

Rich with language, this picture book takes the words of the forge and let them shine. Throughout smoke, sparks and the hammer’s rhythm form a steady beat that the book uses very successfully. The added tension of the father’s illness brings even more pressure for the family to escape in time. While slavery is painted with a gentler brush here for younger audiences, the feeling of oppression is strong and the need to escape is clear. The illustrations are deep and dark, lit by the light of the forge and showing that dark unknowns are safer than slavery. A look at the Underground Railroad that is appropriate for young listeners aged 5-7. (Reviewed from ARC provided by Peachtree Publishers.)

The Great Dictionary Caper by Judy Sierra

The Great Dictionary Caper by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Eric Comstock (9781481480048)

When the words in Noah Webster’s dictionary get bored just sitting around, they escape and create plenty of word fun in this picture book. They form a word parade made of works like “clang” and “boom” and “crash.” There are short words and long words, action verbs pick up the pace. Homophones, contractions, antonyms and palindromes fill the pages too. Rhyming words and words with no rhymes as well as interjections and conjunctions make merry. There is plenty to enjoy here, including witty humor and a rip-roaring pace. Children won’t even realize they are learning concepts as each of the letters has a personality that suits the word they are in. Jazzy and delightful, this picture book is a celebration of our language. Appropriate for ages 6-9. (Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.)

Rumble Grumble...Hush by Kate Banks

Rumble Grumble…Hush by Kate Banks, illustrated by Simone Shin (9781101940495)

The day starts with a few small noises until the little boy starts to play loudly with his imaginary friends. There is roaring, banging, rumbling and dumping. Then it’s time for a bit of quiet with breakfast and thinking until once again the rumbling and grumbling starts. More quiet comes, with a bag of quiet games, puzzles and art projects, books to read and a nap. Then noise is welcome again with balls and toys and blocks and trains. Dinner comes and goes and bedtime approaches with its own quiet. The way that noise and quiet are presented here is lovely, showing they both have places and special ways of playing that allow them to happen. Loud and quiet times are filled with play and imagination here and parental expectations are shown with lots of love and support. The illustrations are playful with friendly huge imaginary friends that fill the page, dark wood floors to sit on and play, bright walls to hang art on, and plenty of room for imaginations to fill. A warm and loving look at play and noise, this picture book is a gem. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from e-galley provided by Schwartz & Wade Books and Edelweiss.)

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender (9781338129304)

Released March 27, 2018.

Caroline lives on Water Island near St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. At age twelve, she has had enough bad luck to last a lifetime. She sees things that no one else can see, everyone at her small school hates her, and her mother has left. When a new girl starts attending Caroline’s school, Caroline is surprised to discover that Kalinda is willing to be friends with her. Caroline believes that Kalinda can see the same spirits that she can, so there is hope when the two girls start to search for Caroline’s mother together. But when Caroline starts to have deeper feelings for Kalinda, their friendship may be doomed before they solve her mother’s mystery.

Callender beautifully wraps this book in the setting of the U.S. Virgin Islands, making sure that readers know exactly where they are. Caroline takes a boat to school and back, knows the history of her small island and how slaves escaped to freedom there, and sees her father’s abandoned boat as a symbol of their capsized life without her mother. Throughout the novel there is mysticism present with Caroline’s visions that appear out of nowhere, including a woman that she isn’t sure is good or bad. The book is layered and complex, about many things and about life itself at its heart.

Caroline is equally complex. Reader will identify and empathize with Caroline even while she is prickly toward others. Caroline is confused and hurt, rejected by most of those around her and wary of building trust with others only to be tricked. Yet she is engaging, smart and interesting. An important element to this book is the friendship between Caroline and Kalinda and the way that friendship turns into a crush on Caroline’s part. This is gently shown and then dramatically plays out when others discover how Caroline feels.

Brilliant writing, a unique and wonderful heroine and lots of turmoil make this a gem of a read. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Scholastic.