Climbing Shadows: Poems for Children by Shannon Bramer, illustrated by Cindy Derby
One of the most original and surprising books of poetry for children, this one is worth exploring.
How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
An incredible work of poetry and art, this one should win awards.
I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins
The poems and illustrations in this book are very impressive. As they play through the authors’ memories of their childhoods and the variety of emotions those memories evoke, the reader gets the pleasure of visiting each author’s experience.
Predator and Prey by Susannah Buhrman-Deever, illustrated by Bert Kitchen
A very successful mix of poetry and science, this one is sure to be preyed upon by hungry readers in classrooms and activities.
Rain by Anders Holmer
The haiku poems range from solemn to merry, some carrying serious weight and others lighter. They mirror the weather, some with lightning and dark clouds while others fill with pink petals and friendship.
Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Micha Archer
A winning mix of poetry and science, this is a book that captures the wonder of spring.
Trees by Verlie Hutchens, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
A total of fourteen trees are highlighted here in free verse, each one embracing the unique nature of that tree with clarity and brevity.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks (9780062875853)
This debut middle-grade novel is a stellar look at family, taking risks and doing what you know is right despite opposition from those you love. Returning from her twelfth birthday party at a bakery, Zoe discovers a letter from her father, a man she’s never met. Zoe knows that her father went to prison for murder, but that’s about it. Zoe is sure that her mother won’t let her write back to her father, but Zoe decides to do it behind her back and soon the two are corresponding. When Zoe’s grandmother discovers that the two of them are in touch, she doesn’t object and helps Zoe continue, also letting her speak to Marcus on the phone at her house. Marcus claims that he is innocent of the crime he’s been convicted of and at first Zoe isn’t sure whether to believe him or not, then her grandmother agrees that she has always thought he was innocent. Now Zoe decides that she can find the alibi witness Marcus’ lawyer was unable to locate for his trial. It’s just going to take even more lying to her family.
Marks writing is delectable. She moves seamlessly between writing about Zoe’s interest in baking and her time spent in a professional bakery helping out and then the mystery and drama of Marcus’ crime and his potential innocence. Her depiction of Zoe is deftly done, creating a truly multidimensional character who is juggling her own dreams, problems with her closest friend, and now communicating with her birth father. All of these elements could have been jarring but come together as a perfectly baked treat.
Race is definitely a powerful element in this middle-grade novel where Zoe’s exploration of men falsely convicted of crimes speaks about how many are African-American men. Zoe’s own family is multi-racial, and she is aware of the negative attention that brings even in their large community of Boston.
A novel that’s not afraid to ask deep questions and seek answers. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Katherine Tegen Books.