News to Wake Your Brain Cells – July 2

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

12 picture book journeys into poetry – SLJ

Children’s book roundup – the best new picture books and novels – The Guardian

The children’s books beloved by some of our fave LGBTQ+ authors – Romper

From superheroes to supergeeks, 13 middle grade graphic novels – SLJ

Profile of 2020 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement winner Mildred D. Taylor – Horn Book

LIBRARIES

Go read about how Americans who depend on libraries for internet are coping with the pandemic – The Verge

Reopening libraries: public libraries keep their options open – Library Journal

San Jose libraries plan for devastating $1 million budget blow – SFBay

Serving the transgender community: it’s more than just bathrooms! – Library Journal

YA LIT

7 graphic novels that offer powerful mirrors & windows for teens – SLJ

10 great July 2020 YA releases to TBR – Book Riot

The role publishing plays in the commodification of black pain – Tor

Summer 2020 YA books: your reading list is hot, hot, hot – Book Riot

 

7 New July Children’s Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are seven new children’s books being released in July that have gotten plenty of buzz from review journals.

Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee

Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone

Monster and Boy by Hannah Barnaby, illustrated by Anoosha Syed

Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz

Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramee

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

War Stories by Gordon Korman

 

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley (9780593125243)

Jen didn’t want to move out of the city and onto a farm with her mother, leaving her father behind. She particularly doesn’t enjoy her mom’s new boyfriend, Walter, who is always telling her how she should act. On the farm, Jen does love the hayloft with its privacy and kittens. She’s not quite sure about the chickens at first until she meets the fuzzy chicks, but even then taking care of them is a pain! When Walter’s two daughters come to visit on weekends, it’s particularly hard. The girls work at the farm’s stall at the market, selling berries, granola and flowers. But Andy, the oldest daughter, is bossy and constantly putting Jen down. Jen would much rather be drawing in her notebook than doing math at the market. Being a new family is hard, but small steps make big connections.

Knisley is one of my favorite graphic novelists. It is great to see her returning to graphic novels for children. She captures the emotions of being young with such empathy, valuing the perspective of her characters. She also allows her young characters to find their own way forward, the adults around and causing problems at times. Here it is figuring out how to be potential step-siblings while wrestling with a new life in the country, and a frog too.

Knisley fills her book with small moments of life on a farm and in the country. Every person who lives, loves or tolerates the country will enjoy her depiction. As always, her illustrations are clear, funny and full of great moments.

Full of fresh air, chickens, garden-rampaging deer, and a complicated family, this graphic novel is a great summer read. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Random House Graphic.

8 July Picture Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are a nice summery bunch of picture books all published in the month of July. They have all gotten some buzz in review journals.

Catch that Chicken! by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim

Finding Francois by Gus Gordon

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago

I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illustrated by Frank Morrison

If You Want a Friend in Washington: Wacky, Wild and Wonderful Presidential Pets by Erin McGill

We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

 

 

In the Woods by David Elliott

In the Woods by David Elliott

In the Woods by David Elliott, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey (9780763697839)

Enter the woods through this book of poetry for children. The picture book volume shares insight into the different animals living in the woods. First is the musky bear, emerging from his den in the early spring. The red fox also appears in the melting snow, hunting to feed her kits. A scarlet tanager flashes past announcing spring alongside the cowslips. Soon the grass greens, the opossum and her babies bumps along with skunks and their perfume too. Porcupine and fisher cat are also there, quiet and fierce. Hornets buzz in the air while millipedes munch on rotting leaves. Moose, beaver, turkey, raccoon, bobcat and more appear here, each with their own poem that eventually has winter returning with deer appearing ghostlike through the snow storm.

Elliott chains his poems together leading readers steadily through seasonal changes as each animal appears on the pages. The focus is not the seasons though but the animals themselves. Some get longer poems while others get a couple of lines that capture them beautifully. There is a sense that Elliott is getting to the essence of many of the creatures he is writing about here. Each poem is focused and very accessible for children.

Dunlavey’s illustrations in watercolor and mixed media are rendered digitally. Their organic feel works well with the subject matter. Each creature is shown in their habitat and turning the pages feels like rounding a new corner on a walk in the woods.

A poetic journey through the forest that is worth taking. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick.

Hurry Up! by Kate Dopirak

Hurry Up by Kate Dopirak

Hurry Up! by Kate Dopirak, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (9781534424975)

A child with wild black hair wakes up to a ringing alarm clock, rushes down the stairs and off to the school bus. At school everyone continues to rush and hurry throughout their day, until they hurry back onto the bus. The child rushes home, dashes through their homework, and then hurries to walk the dog. Stop! Slow down and look around at the day. Spend time with your dog and take a breath. Stay out until the stars emerge, find fireflies, and then head home. The rush is done.

Dopirak creates a breathless beginning to her book that is impossible to read without your heart rate increasing a bit. The hurried and harried life of this child reflects many of our own. The slower part is just as successful, encouraging the character and the reader to breathe and slow down. The abrupt STOP! is very effective in changing the pace and insisting upon a new one.

Neal’s illustrations provide us with a young protagonist who could be any gender. With a shock of wild hair that captures the frenzy of the early part of the book, this character is central to the story and manages to slow down and point out the small things that make a day special.

Trying to slow down to pandemic speed? This picture book shows alone time outside as one of the best times of day. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.

Burn by Patrick Ness

Burn by Patrick Ness

Burn by Patrick Ness (9780062869494)

Sarah and her father are meeting the dragon he hired to help clear fields on their farm. Sarah has been forbidden to talk to the dragon, and even more forcefully reminded not to tell it her name. But Sarah can’t think of the dragon as an it. The dragon is remarkable, even though he is a smaller blue dragon. As the dragon, Kazamir, and Sarah get to know one another, they must face the hatred of a local deputy along with Sarah’s boyfriend Jason. Sarah and Jason are the only people of color in town, something that gets unwelcome attention in 1957. But Sarah doesn’t know what Kazamir does, that she is part of a prophecy. The prophecy is also what is drawing an assassin from a dragon worshiping cult towards her. Malcolm is hunting her, but also being trailed by the FBI. As he approaches, he leaves a trail of bodies but also finds himself unexpectedly in love for the first time. As the moment of the prophesy nears, everything is in place but for what?

Ness as always surprises and amazes in this new novel. His world building is remarkable, combining alternative history of the late 1950’s with fantasy into a world that is entirely believable. The novel is layered and complex, becoming even more so as it continues. The book incorporates marvelous science fiction elements as well as it builds, burning hotter and hotter, making its title all the more appropriate.

Ness’ characters are just as complicated as his plot and world building. He spends time making each of the three protagonists fascinating. There is Sarah, a girl who may or may not be trapped in a prophecy but certainly is caught in poverty and yet will not give up. Malcolm may have grown up in a cult and be there weapon of destruction, but new love is a power thing, something that can change a destiny. Kazamir, the dragon, is someone readers will adore from his first sarcastic comment and quirked eyebrow.

Brilliantly built, layered and populated, this is a new world created by a master. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Quill Tree Books.

A Bunch of Board Books

Here are some great recently-released board books to embrace this summer:

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrations by Ashley Lukashevsky (9780593110416)

To raise an antiracist baby, you must understand that’s it’s all about showing them that society can transform. This is not a space to be neutral, but one to be an activist. This board book explores what it takes to raise a child who is not racist in our society. First, see all skin colors, don’t be artificially color-blind. Second, talk about race. Third, politics are the problem, not people. Fourth, there is nothing wrong with people, no matter their race, sex, gender, orientation or faith. Fifth, celebrate differences. This book continues through number none which is believing that we can overcome racism. With bright illustrations, this book takes a firm stand of hope and optimism as long as hard work is done and children are raised to see themselves as part of the solution.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Kokila. 

Pride 1 2 3 by Michael Joosten

Pride 1 2 3 by Michael Joosten, illustrated by Wednesday Holmes (9781534464995)

Join in the happiness of a pride parade in this counting board book. There is one parade in June with two DJs playing music. Three families, four activists, five motorcycles. Six floats go by with seven divas posing. Eight signs are held high with nine people standing together in unity. The final ten are people waving a variety of pride flags. Incredibly inclusive, this board book welcomes everyone to pride parades and celebrations with open arms. The illustrations are bold and bright, featuring all sorts of characters and families who are part of the LGBTQIA+ family.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Little Simon. 

Wake Up, Let's Play by Marit Tornqvist

Wake Up, Let’s Play by Marit Tornqvist (9781782506263)

This dreamy board book invites children to join in the fun that two friends find together. They play all sorts of things, like birthday party and restaurant. They build sandcastles and play stormy seas in the bath. Busy towns with wooden tracks fill the room, and sometimes art wanders onto the walls. They play through snow and even into the night. Then it’s time to figure out what to play tomorrow! Told in very simple sentences, this board book has marvelous illustrations that are quirky and fantastical. At the same time, these are exactly the games that small children play, so it is rooted in reality. A marvel of a little book.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Floris Books.

News to Wake Your Brain Cells – June 26

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

10 chapter book mysteries for young super sleuths – SLJ

50 must-read books for 6th graders – Book Riot

50+ children’s books that feature kids of color just being kids – Mother

Books full of pride – CBC

The lockdown’s lesson in reading book aloud – The Christian Science Monitor

Madison’s Kevin Henkes honored for his contributions to children’s literature – Wisconsin State Journal

Writers on writers: children’s books that tell the story of race in America – WBUR

LIBRARIES

San Francisco Public Libraries: what will reopening look like, and when? – KQED

YA LIT

5 LGBTQ authors on the inspiration behind their young adult and middle grade books – Forbes

31 brand new LGBTQ YA books to devour this summer – BuzzFeed

Becky Albertalli and Kate Cotugno talk YA fandoms and uncomfortable political conversations – EW