Booklist has announced their Top of the List, a list that features one single top pick for seven categories. Four of those categories are for books for youth! Here are those winning titles:
Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia
This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
YOUTH PICTURE BOOK
Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
You can also check out their video:
All Around Bustletown: Winter by Rotraut Susanne Berner (9783791374154)
Large picture-book-sized pages made of board book stock invite even the youngest of children to explore Bustletown. In these busy pages, the life of an entire village plays out. The wordless format lets each reader make up their own stories about the people in town. Some of the story arcs include an escaped parrot, a lost key and wallet, a cat on a jaunt around town, buying a Christmas tree, and heading to ice skate with a friend. It’s a delightful mix of Where’s Waldo chaos with real stories about a diverse little town.
A German import, readers will enjoy the distinct European feel of the setting in the book. Care was taken to be inclusive with the members of the town, including people of different skin colors, faiths and abilities. The busyness of the pages is at just the right level, making it a pleasure to find the character you are searching for, rather than a frustration.
Bright and friendly, this wordless picture book is great fun to explore. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Prestel.
The National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council have released their annual lists of the best science and STEM books. The Outstanding Science Trade Book list has been around since 1973 and features the best science book published in that year for K-12. The Best STEM Books list is in its fourth year. It features the best book with science, technology, engineering and math content.
The links above go directly to the pdfs of the 2020 lists.
Muslim Girls Rise by Saira Mir, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel (9781534418882)
The introduction to this book tells of the impact that Muslim woman have had throughout history. Inside the book, the focus is on modern Muslim women who are currently making their own impact on the world. Each woman or girl is given a two-page spread with an illustration on one full page and then a quote and biography on the other. There are women you will have heard of like Malala Yousafzai, Ibtihaj Muhammad, and Ilhan Omar. Others may be new to you and include authors, chefs, activists, athletes and more.
Written in a matter-of-fact tone, this book allows readers to turn pages and discover more and more incredible Muslim women and girls. Each one displays their own unique skills and lifestyle, each dresses in their own way, and all have made a difference in our world, whether large or small. The book shows again and again that being Muslim is diverse and inclusive.
The art by Jaleel is done in an approachable and light way. Still, each of them women is recognizable as themselves, as you can see from the cover image. The larger format of the portraits of each woman in the book is very impactful.
A must-purchase for all public libraries. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from copy provided by Salaam Reads.
The winners of the 2019 GoodReads Choice Awards have been announced. It’s great to see that two YA titles took non-YA categories. Here are all the awards that went to books for youth and teens:
BEST GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMICS
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
BEST YOUNG ADULT FICTION
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
BEST YOUNG ADULT FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
The Wicked King by Holly Black
BEST MIDDLE GRADE & CHILDREN’S
The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan
BEST PICTURE BOOK
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers, illustrated by Luke Flowers
The Story That Cannot Be Told by J. Kasper Kramer (9781534430686)
Ileana was a storyteller who collected stories, but stories were dangerous in Communist Romania. When her uncle disappears and their apartment was bugged, Ileana’s father destroyed her book of stories that she had been collecting for years in order to protect them all. Then her parents decide to send Ileana off to live with her maternal grandparents whom she has never met. The rural village is very different from the city that Ileana grew up in. After a period of anger, she gradually adjusts to life in there. But there is no escape from the brutality of the Romanian government. Ileana discovers her uncle, broken and ill, hiding nearby. When he is rescued by her grandparents, Ileana is given a valuable set of papers to protect. As the government tightens its hold on the country and on Ileana’s village, she finds herself at the center of her own story where she can choose to be a heroine or not.
Kramer’s middle-grade novel is nearly impossible to summarize because it is so layered and has such depth. The book focuses on the Communist period of Romania’s recent history and yet also has a timeless feel that pulls it back into a world of folklore and tales. The focus on storytelling is beautifully shown, illuminating not only Ileana’s mother’s story but the entire village’s history. There are stories that are dangerous, ones that connect and a single one that must not be told, but serves as the heartbeat of the entire community.
This book has a lot of moments that are almost tropes, like Ileana being sent to live with her grandparents in the mountains without knowing them at all. But in the hands of Kramer, these moments become opportunities to tell a story that is unique. Readers will be surprised again and again by the directions this novel takes and the stories it tells. It’s an entirely fresh and fascinating book.
Proof that stories are powerful, both to connect and to fight back. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from copy provided by Atheneum.
Saturday by Oge Mora (9780316431279)
Saturday is Ava’s favorite day. It’s the day of the week that her mother doesn’t have to work and where they spend special time together. On Saturdays, they go to storytime at the library, have their hair done at the salon, and have a picnic in the park. And this Saturday, they were also planning to go to a puppet show that night. So off they set. But when they got to the library, the storytime was cancelled. Leaving the hair salon, their hair got splashed and ruined. The park was too crowded and loud for their regular picnic. Finally, when they got to the show, Ava’s mother had lost the tickets. Their Saturday was ruined! Wasn’t it?
Mora has written a picture book about the joys of busy families spending time together, even if things don’t quite go as planned. Both Ava and her mother are disappointed with each failure of their plans, but they are also resilient and optimistic about things turning around. When it all goes wrong, it is Ava who lifts up her mother’s spirits, explaining that it’s all about spending time together.
In her bright illustrations of an urban setting, Mora captures the hustle and bustle, the hurry to do something special. As a result, she also shows the love of this African-American mother and daughter as they help one another cope with disappointment. The illustrations are bold, colorful and celebratory.
Another winner from a gifted artist and storyteller. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker (9781549303043)
Nova lives with her grandmothers and helps out in their magical bookshop where they serve witches in the community with potion ingredients as well as spell books. One night, she discovers someone from her childhood in the woods, a werewolf named Tam. Tam has been battling a horse demon in the woods. Nova’s grandmothers head into the woods to capture the demon and discover something with far more power than they expected. Something is out to get Tam and merge werewolf magic with the demon. As Nova and Tam try to figure out the key to accessing Tam’s werewolf powers, they steadily fall for one another too. When the villain targeting Tam is revealed it will take everything they have to defeat them.
This graphic novel is an intoxicating mix of fantasy and romance with strong LGBTQ elements. The characters are layered and complex, something that is more difficult to achieve in a graphic novel format. The childhood connection between Tam and Nova gives them a place to build from in their relationship. The romance is lovely and sweet, progressing naturally as the two become closer. Family elements are also vital to the story from the grandmothers to ghost parents who also have opinions about how Nova is being raised.
Tam uses the pronouns they/them/theirs which is great to see in a graphic novel for teens. The grandmothers are a lesbian couple as well. These elements offered in a matter-of-fact way create a harmonious world full of queer love. The book offers this in a way that makes it simply part of the fabric of life, which is very refreshing.
A fantasy romance graphic novel worth falling for. Appropriate for ages 13-17.
Reviewed from library copy.