2020 Notable Books for a Global Society

The 2020 Notable Books for a Global Society have been announced. This is an annual list of 25 books created by the International Literacy Association which enhance student understand of people and cultures. The list includes books published during the previous year for grades K-12. Here are the 2020 books:

The Book Rescuer:  How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come by Sue Macy, illustrated by Stacy Innerst

At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorrell, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

Dreams from Many Rivers by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Beatriz Gutierrez Hernandez

Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Cannaday Chapman

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

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis

Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egenėus

Mario and the Hole in the Sky:  How a Chemist Saved Our Planet by Elizabeth Rusch,
illustrated by Teresa Martinez

Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg

The Moon Within by Aida Salazar

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Orange for the Sunsets by Tina Athaide

The Other Side:  Stories of Central American Teen Refugees Who Dream of Crossing the Border by Juan Pablo Villalobos

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paoal Escobar

Room on Our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton

Soldier for Equality:  Josė de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War by Duncan Tonatiuh

Thanku:  Poems of Gratitude by Miranda Paul (Ed.), illustrated by Marlena Myles

Todos Iquales / All Equal: Un corridor de Lemon Grove/ A Ballad of Lemon Grove by Christy Hale

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Under the Broken Sky by Mariko Nagai

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Review: Furious Thing by Jenny Downham

Furious Thing by Jenny Downham

Furious Thing by Jenny Downham (9781338540659)

Lex is angry almost all the time. Her anger burns through her for reasons she can’t explain even to herself. Her mother’s fiance, John, is convinced that there is something wrong with her and that she should be medicated. Her mother is distant but loving, unwilling to stand up to John about anything much at all. He tells Lex that bad things happen when she is around and that seems to be true. Her little sister fell out of a tree and hurt her head because she was climbing with Lex as their parents fought. At school, Lex throws a chair through a window in a rage after auditioning for a drama production. Lex knows she isn’t a monster though at times that might be just what her world needs. She only has two more years at home and even though she tries, she can’t be perfect enough to make John happy for more than a few hours. As her mother’s relationship with John hits a bad patch, Lex begins to find her voice and reach out to tell others what is really happening. 

On the shortlist for the Costa Book Award for youth, this novel captures the horrors of living in a controlling relationship filled with verbal and emotional abuse. The novel allows the abuse to be revealed gradually, so that readers begin by wondering about Lex and her mental health for different reasons than the true causes of the problem. It is this slow unveiling that really makes the abuse all the more disturbing and allows readers to see how it hides in plain sight. The effect is entirely riveting. It’s a book you can’t look away from.

Lex is a tremendous accomplishment as a heroine. She is abused but not cowed, wild with rage but also full of love. She is unwilling to be told who she is or should be, yet also pushes back on things that would help her like having friends and doing better in school. Her relationship with her stepbrother is a vital component to the book, a glimpse of a young abusive male. Readers will be stunned to watch as Lex realizes the abuse she too is caught up in and will relish her strength in walking away.

A stunning novel about being righteously raging as a young woman in our society. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Scholastic.

2019 Andre Norton Award Finalists

The 2019 Nebula Awards finalists have been announced. The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy is part of these awards. Here are the Norton finalists:

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

Cog by Greg van Eekhout, illustrated by Beatrice Blue

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions by Henry Lien

Riverland by Fran Wilde

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal Longlist

The 2020 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal longlists have been released. The Carnegie is given for the best children’s writing while the Greenaway Medal is for illustration in children’s books. A team of 14 librarians from across the UK selected the longlist titles. Here they are:

2020 Carnegie Medal Longlist

Becoming Dinah

Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal

The Black Flamingo

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar

The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla

Girl. Boy. Sea.

Girl. Boy. Sea. by Chris Vick

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

Lampie and the Children of the Sea

Lampie by Annet Schaap

Lark (The Truth of Things Book 4)

Lark by Anthony McGowan

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo


Monsters by Sharon Dogar

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

Nowhere on Earth by Nick Lake

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Paper Avalanche

Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

A Pocketful of Stars

A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby

The Skylarks’ WarLove to Everyone

The Skylark’s War by Hilary McKay (Love to Everyone in the U.S.)

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly


Toffee by Sarah Crossan

Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black by Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Alexis Deacon


2020 Kate Greenaway Medel Longlist

And the Ocean Was Our Sky illustrated by Rovina Cai and written by Patrick Ness

Captain Rosalie illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, written by Timothée de Fombelle and translated by Sam Gordon

B is for Baby illustrated by Angela Brooksbank and written by Atinuke

Child of St Kilda written and illustrated by Beth Waters

The Dam illustrated by Levi Pinfold and written by David Almond

Fanatical About Frogs written and illustrated by Owen Davey

The Iron Man

The Iron Man illustrated by Chris Mould and written by Ted Hughes

The King Who Banned the Dark written and illustrated by Emily Haworth-Booth

Little Wise Wolf illustrated by Hanneke Siemensma, written by Gijs Van der Hammen and translated by Laura Watkinson

Lubna and Pebble illustrated by Daniel Egneus and written by Wendy Meddour

Mary and Frankenstein: The true story of Mary Shelley

Mary and Frankenstein illustrated by Júlia Sardà and written by Linda Bailey (Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein in the U.S.)

Planetarium illustrated by Chris Wormell and written by Raman Prinja

Quill Soup illustrated by Dale Blankenaar and written by Alan Durant

The Suitcase written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Tales from the Inner City written and illustrated by Shaun Tan

The Undefeated illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander

Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black illustrated by Alexis Deacon and written by Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick

When Sadness Comes to Call

When Sadness Comes to Call written and illustrated by Eva Eland

Wisp: A Story of Hope

Wisp: A Story of Hope illustrated by Grahame Baker Smith and written by Zana Fraillon

You’re Snug With Me illustrated by Poonam Mistry and written by Chitra Soundar

News to Wake Your Brain Cells Feb. 21


26 easy ways to encourage your kids to read more – Huff Post

Best-selling book title Big Nate gets animated brand-new Nickelodeon series – Yahoo

Children with disabilities – resource list – Washington County Cooperative Library Services

‘Dangerous Americans’: Might Girl Books about the internment of Japanese Americans – A Mighty Girl

Fall 2020 children’s sneak previews – Publishers Weekly

Six new picture books to celebrate African American History Month – Abby the Librarian

This bookshop is making a donation to trans children’s charity Mermaids every time they sell a JK Rowling book – Pink News


Patrons at Maine’s rural libraries still look for books the old-fashioned way – Bangor Daily News

Public libraries adapt to the 21st century …and uphold democracy – Seven Days

So many languages, so few books: Libraries struggle to reflect places they serve – Los Angeles Times

Teens arrested in connection to Porterville library fire – American Libraries


10 tween/teen books begging for a cinematic adaptation – Screen Rant

39 YA sequels you won’t want to miss in the first half of 2020 – Epic Reads

‘All the Bright Places’ author to release new YA novel ‘Breathless’ – Hollywood Reporter

Bestselling young adult authors are aiming at older readers – ABC News

Season of the witch: the rise of queer magic in YA SFF – Tor

2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Awards

The 2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award has been announced by the Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. The award is presented annually to “an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of poetry for children published in the previous calendar year.” Here are the winners:


How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet



Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk


Review: A Ride to Remember by Sharon Langley

A Ride to Remember by Sharon Langley

A Ride to Remember by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (9781419736858)

Back in the 1960’s, African-Americans were not allowed to enter the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Baltimore. They were not allowed to sit on the grass, share treats or ride on the carousel. As the world around them began to change and become less segregated, Gwynn Oak continued its policies. They became the center of protests where hundreds were arrested. A mother and child who were African American and light skinned covertly entered the park and were allowed to enjoy themselves for hours. They shared their story with the press. As the pressure built, the park’s owners agreed to allow everyone into the park and to drop any charges from the protests. The first day the park was open was August 28, 1963. That day, a little girl named Sharon Langley, was the first African-American to ride the carousel with her father holding onto her. A photo of the ride made the papers as did the other major news story of the day, when Martin Luther King, Jr. made his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The carousel was moved to Washington, D. C. where Sharon took a ride on the fiftieth anniversary of her first ride in Baltimore.

The authors make a point of framing the tumultuous 1960’s for young readers. They have a child ask questions about why African-Americans were not allowed to enter the park. This is such an important moment in the book, giving modern children a lens into the inherent societal racism of the time, racism that is not erased in our modern society either, of course. They then turn to the protests about the park, showing the bravery of the people who protested, who went to jail, and who insisted on staying overnight to make a point. The body of the book does a great job offering historical perspective as well as details about the protests and efforts to desegregate the park. More information is also shared in the final pages, including more details of the events in the book, a bibliography and a timeline.

Cooper’s art is done with a lush softness to the lines. He used oil erasure on illustration board to capture an almost sepia-toned historical feel. The faces he shows of the people involved are tremendously moving, showing that this was about people insisting on change.

In a single story, children will deeply understand what the civil rights struggle was about. Appropriate for ages 5-9.

Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams.

Kids’ Next Spring 2020

The Indie Next List for children’s books has been released for spring 2020. The books are recommended by indie booksellers. The list includes books for preschoolers through teens. Here are the list’s Top Ten* titles:

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Chirp by Kate Messner

Coo by Kaela Noel

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Havenfall by Sara Holland

The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

Tigers Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed


*Yes, there appear to be only nine titles in their top ten.

Review: Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus

Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus

Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus (9781419708978)

Based on the true story of a remote village in France that resisted the Nazi invasion in their own way, this novel is a testament to bravery in the face of seemingly unrelenting evil. The story focuses on several teens who live in Les Lauzes, France in 1943. They go to school, sleep in the local dormitories, and also help in the resistance. Some of them are Jewish, hidden in plain sight with the other teens and children. Others are from the village and know the terrain and area so well that they can be messengers. Still others spend their nights getting people safely across the border to Switzerland. Meanwhile, there is a rather inept policeman who tries to figure out what is going on. He is almost as young as the others, but focused on proving himself and defending his country. As the teens take more and more risks, they learn that resistance is a way through paralyzing fear and towards freedom.

Preus has written such an engaging tale here, with so many of the elements based on real events. In fact, the more unlikely the scenario, the more likely it is to be true. This makes reading the epilogue at the end of the book great fun as one discovers the real people behind the characters. The simple bravery of all of the villagers by taking in Jews and others, hiding them in their homes and barns, and helping them escape is profound. There is a delight in seeing where items were hidden, in realizing the power of forgery, of accompanying these characters on their travels to help people survive. 

A large part of the success here is Preus’ writing which contains a strong sense of justice and resistance in the face of the Gestapo. Even as some children are being taken away, the others gather to sing to them, standing in the face of the Nazi force directly. There is no lack of sorrow and pain though, with parents lost to concentration camps, children never having known safety, and arrests being made. Still, there is a joy here, of being able to fight back in some way against overwhelming odds.

A great historical novel with strong ties to the true story. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Amulet.