Publisher’s Weekly Best Middle Grade Books of 2019

Publisher’s Weekly has released their picks for the best books of the year. They do three lists for books for children and teens. Here are the middle grade books that made the list:

All the Greys on Greene Street Dream Within a Dream

All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

Dream Within a Dream by Patricia MacLachlan

The Line Tender Look Both Ways

The Line Tender by Kate Allen

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

The Lost Girl My Jasper June

The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu

My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder

New Kid The Next Great Paulie Fink

New Kid by Jerry Craft

The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin

Other Words for Home Pay Attention, Carter Jones

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

Queen of the Sea Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Sal and Gabi, #1)

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

The Strangers (Greystone Secrets, #1) This Was Our Pact

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

 

2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards

The winners of the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards have been announced. The Canadian awards are given for both English-language and French-language books and include awards for both children’s and adult books. Here are the two books that won in the children’s categories:

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE – TEXT

Stand on the Sky

Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow

 

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE – ILLUSTRATED BOOKS

Small in the City

Small in the City by Sydney Smith

Publisher’s Weekly Best Picture Books of 2019

Publisher’s Weekly has released their lists of the best books for children and teens for 2019. They are broken into three categories. Here are the picture books:

Another Birdsong

Another by Christian Robinson

Birdsong by Julie Flett

37569341. sx318 Daniel's Good Day

Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together by Andrea Tsurumi

Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Sarah Jacoby

Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys My Papi Has a Motorcycle

Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys by Mike Unwin, illustrated by Jenni Desmond

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Pena

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation Pokko and the Drum

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe

River Roar Like a Dandelion

River by Elisha Cooper

Roar Like a Dandelion by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

Saturday Small in the City

Saturday by Oge Mora

Small in the City by Sydney Smith

A Stone Sat Still The Undefeated

A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Vroom! Who Wet My Pants?

Vroom! by Barbara McClintock

Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

 

Review: Roll with It by Jamie Sumner

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner (9781534442559)

Ellie isn’t the sweet little girl everyone thinks she is simply because she’s in a wheelchair. No, she has plenty of opinions and shares them too. Where Ellie’s sweetness does come in is her baking. She plans one day to be a professional baker. When Ellie’s grandfather manages to drive his truck into the front of his local grocery store, Ellie and her mother move across the country to live with her grandparents in their trailer. Ellie has to start a new school in January, though she really doesn’t have any friends to miss. Ellie’s mother has to drive her to school and takes two other kids from the trailer park along. Steadily, Ellie begins to make her first-ever friends but when a health crisis arises it may mean leaving this town where she finally feels she belongs.

I love the immediate shattering of stereotypes in this book as Ellie has a strong voice of her own that has a little more spice than sugar in it. It’s her voice that makes the book a compelling read, whether she is writing fan letters to chefs or speaking out about her own needs. The book also does a great job of showing children who don’t use a wheelchair the many barriers that those in wheelchairs face on a daily basis. Sumner never allows those barriers to be turned into personal responsibility for Ellie, assigning them firmly to society.

Sumner’s writing is lively. While Ellie herself a particularly great protagonist, the secondary characters also shine. From Ellie’s mother to her grandparents to the children she befriends. Each one is a distinct character, and that includes her grandfather who may have dementia and still is more than his limitations as well.

Bravo! This is a great read that reaches beyond limitations to show the human heart of its characters. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Review: Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht

Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht

Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht , illustrated by Jarvis (9781536207644)

This follow up to Pick a Pine Tree invites readers into the autumn bounty of choosing a pumpkin and creating a jack-o-lantern. The book moves quickly through the pumpkin patch with its mix of sweet fall treats and fields of pumpkins. The family then returns home to clean their pumpkins up, find the tools they need, and get set up in the garage. Friends are invited over to carve pumpkins with them. The goopy insides are scooped, faces are chosen and candles are lit inside.

With so many rhyming picture books, Toht’s skill demonstrates what a rhyme should bring to a children’s book. It offers a great rollicking feel to the book and brings a celebratory tone to it as well. Combined with Jarvis’ deep-colored illustrations, the entire book is a pleasure and takes readers directly into the harvest spirit. Jarvis includes a racially diverse cast of characters in his images. Nicely, this book stays realistic and doesn’t introduce witches or ghosts, so it’s just right for little ones who aren’t looking for anything scary at Halloween.

A glowing picture book about pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns and family. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick Press. 

Review: The End of Something Wonderful by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

The End of Something Wonderful by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

The End of Something Wonderful: A Practical Guide to a Backyard Funeral by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, illustrated by George Ermos (9781454932116)

This nonfiction picture book offers a guide to planning your dead pet’s backyard funeral. It is entirely practical, offering the first step as actually having something dead. With a mix of humor and heartfelt connection to grief and loss, the book offers real ideas for what to bury the creature in, what other items that creature might like in their grave with them, and even what sorts of stories to share at the funeral with everyone. The book ends with thoughts of visiting the grave when you need to and then feeling able to move on when it’s the right time for that.

The author offers real empathy for children who have lost a pet, making sure that they feel free to express their feelings along the way and share their experiences. However, she also creates humorous moments throughout the book to make sure that it never becomes oppressively sad or morose. It’s a very readable and remarkably enjoyable guide to funerals. The art by Ermos helps with the mix of light tone and dark subject too, giving glimpses of the skeletons under ground as well as the delight of flowers and ideas for animals too large to bury.

Funny and frank, this funeral guide is just what we all need. Appropriate for ages 6-10.

Reviewed from library copy.

2019 Irish Book Awards Shortlist

The shortlists for the 2019 An Post Irish Book Awards have been announced. There are three categories specifically for books for youth. Here are the shortlists in those categories:

CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR (JUNIOR)

123 Ireland! Boot: Small Robot Big Adventure

123 Ireland! by Aoife Dooley

Boot: Small Robot, Big Adventure by Shane Hegarty, illustrated by Ben Mantle

Don't Worry, Little Crab The President's Surprise

Don’t Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton

The President’s Surprise by Peter Donnelly

The high five by Niall Breslin Tiny and Teeny by Chris Judge

Take Five by Niall Breslin, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

Tiny and Teeny by Chris Judge

 

CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR SENIOR

Family Fun Unplugged Gordon's Game

Family Fun Unplugged by Peter Cosgrove

Gordon’s Game by Gordon D’Arcy and Paul Howard

Lily at Lissadell The Lost Tide Warriors (Storm Keeper, #2)

Lily at Lissadell by Judi Curtin

The Lost Tide Warriors by Catherine Doyle

Shooting For the Stars: My Journey to Become Ireland's First Astronaut A Strange Kind of Brave

Shooting for the Stars: My Journey to Become Ireland’s First Astronaut by Norah Patten, illustrated by Jennifer Farley

A Strange Kind of Brave by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

 

TEEN/YOUNG ADULT BOOK OF THE YEAR

All the Bad Apples All the Invisible Things

All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins

The M Word Other Words for Smoke

The M Word by Brian Conaghan

Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

Perfectly Preventable Deaths Toffee

Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan

Toffee by Sarah Crossan

 

Review: The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy (9780062866417)

Rahul just wants to be the best at something, anything. But he’s skinny and the target of Brent, one of the biggest bullies at school. He’s also carrying the secret that he’s gay. Brent taunts Rahul into trying out for the football team, which ends up with Rahul not making the team and nursing a hurt ankle. Meanwhile, Brent has figured out Rahul’s secret when Rahul looks a bit too long at Justine in class. Rahul’s best friend Chelsea tries to get Rahul to understand how amazing he is, even if he’s not the best at something. As Rahul searches for his niche, he finds himself getting more anxious and his nightly rituals are less soothing. Whatever Rahul discovers about himself he also realizes that his Indian-American family and his friends will be there to cheer him on, no matter who he is.

Pancholy, an Indian-American actor, has written a compelling and heart-wrenching middle grade novel that deserves applause. He captures the angst of a kid who is different from the straight white kids in his school and who is trying desperately to fit in with them. Pancholy grapples in this book with many large themes, all of which fit with Rahul’s story. There is the bullying of LGBTQIA+ children at school. He addresses racism in casting and racism towards anyone brown-skinned or non-white. He takes these issues on directly, showing how standing up to bullies and racism is the best course of action.

Rahul is a great protagonist. He has support from an extended family as well as a best friend. It is a joy to see a middle grade book with a gay protagonist who is supported and loved by his family and friends. In fact, the book shows that sometimes it is the child who is torn up about coming out while their family and friends may have known for some time.

A great read from a multi-talented debut middle-grade author. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Review: ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing

ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing

ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing, illustrated by Paulina Morgan (9781786037428)

From the very first page, this board book grapples with social justice issues and demands that even tiny children start to think about our world in a more open way. A here is for ability. This book doesn’t stop with just the associated word though, it offers a definition that is accessible for small children, taking each concept and building on it throughout the book. Ewing uses great skill in distilling large and complicated subjects such as race, gender and xenophobia. Her text is uplifting and inspiring to read.

The illustrations are filled with characters of different races, religions, abilities and genders. They are small and friendly, clambering around on the letters and shapes and bringing a bouncy and joyous energy to the entire board book.

A board book that advocates for diversity and inclusion. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.