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Celebrating Children’s Literature Day: Meetup Authors

By Carolyn Angus and Sandip Wilson
 | Jun 11, 2018

In this and next week’s column, we are reviewing books by children’s and young adult authors who are participating in Author Meetups, part of Children’s Literature Day at the ILA 2018 Conference, July 2023 in Austin, TX. Those attending Children’s Literature Day will have the opportunity to spend time with authors in a chosen level (Early Readers, Middle Grade, Early Young Adult, or Older Young Adult) to learn about their writing and books.

Early Reader (Ages 4–8)

Accident! Andrea Tsurumi. 2017. Houghton Mifflin.

Accident!Lola, a young armadillo, knocks a pitcher of juice over onto a pristine white armchair. “OH NO!” Running away from her mess to hide in the library, Lola discovers that she isn’t the only unlucky one, as colorful, detailed cartoon illustrations reveal delightfully silly mishaps occurring throughout the town. Lola arrives at the library only to find that it is not the safe haven she expected. “Disaster! Fiasco! Mayhem! Calamity! Cat-as-tro-phe!” Having learned that accidents are just accidents and forgivable, Lola sets out for home to make amends.

My Pet Wants a Pet. Elise Broach. Ill. Eric Barclay. 2018. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt.

My Pet Wants a PetWhen a mother finally gives into her son’s begging for a pet, he gets a puppy. They have such a good time together that the puppy decides he wants a pet. Although the boy’s mother thinks it’s a terrible idea, the puppy gets a kitten. Young children will catch on to what comes next by observing the details within the colorful illustrations. Finally, the mother declares that there will be no more pets. “That flea is the pet of the pet of the pet of the pet of your pet!” After the flea finds his own pet, the puppy, everyone is happy—even the mother, when the boy gives her a surprise “something to care for.”

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag. Rob Sanders. Ill. Steven Salerno. 2018. Random House.

PrideDetermined to make laws and not just influence them, gay rights activist Harvey Milk (1930–1978) ran for and won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. In response to Milk’s request to create a symbol for the gay community, Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag to be flown during the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978. Months later, Milk and Mayor George Moscone, who had signed a civil rights ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, were assassinated. Barclay’s colorful mixed-media artwork complements this story about the history of the rainbow flag, which has become a worldwide symbol of equality, pride, hope, and love. Back matter includes biographical notes, timelines, and suggestions for further reading.

The Word Collector. Peter H. Reynolds. 2018. Orchard/Scholastic.

The Word CollectorWith well-chosen words and ink-and-gouache cartoons, Reynolds tells the story of Jerome, a collector of all sorts of words. Jerome prints his found words on slips of paper and organizes them by categories. When he slips one day while moving a tall stack of his word collections, Jerome notices the interesting juxtaposition of words created by his jumbled collections. He sets about stringing words together, creating poems and songs and using them to make simple but powerful statements, such as “I understand” and “You matter,” which he shares with others. Then, one day, he takes a wagonload of his collected words to the top of a hill and releases then into the breeze for other children to collect.

Middle Grade (Ages 8–12)

My Life as a YouTuber. Janet Tashjian. Ill. Jake Tashjian. 2018. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt.

My Life as a YouTuberMiddle school student Derek is delighted to be selected for the new elective class in YouTube production but is beleaguered to learn he must create a channel, track viewers, procure parental permissions, and pay attention to the ethics of filming. Against his parents’ wishes, he includes the capuchin monkey his family has been fostering in his production. Accompanied by cartoons in the margins, this latest book in the My Life series is a story of creativity, betrayal, and second chances with complications that will have readers gasping and laughing. 

The Parker Inheritance. Varian Johnson. 2018. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.

The Parker InheritanceForced to spend the summer in the small town of Lambert, South Carolina, 12-year-old Candice Miller becomes obsessed with deciphering the clues contained in an old letter that she finds in the attic. The letter is addressed to her deceased grandmother, who left the town in shame after she was dismissed from her role as the town’s city manager. Candice, with help from Brandon Jones, a quiet, bullied, book-loving neighbor, digs into the troubled history of Lambert as they seek to solve the mystery of the Parker inheritance and find the fortune.

The Perfect Score. Rob Buyea. 2017. Delacorte/Random House.

The Perfect ScoreTold in alternating viewpoints, The Perfect Score follows the struggles and successes of a group of sixth-graders as they discover friendships and weather challenges at home and in school. The daily practice for state-wide assessment weighs heavily on the students and replaces other activities, until Scott comes up with an idea that could help everyone on the tests—or get them in serious trouble. Buyea, a former elementary and secondary teacher, delivers a novel that is funny yet shows the complexity, resourcefulness, and spirit of middle-grade students.  

Early Young Adult (Ages 12–14)  
Darius the Great Is Not Okay. Adib Khorram. 2018. Dial/Penguin.

Darius the GreatNamed after a great Persian king, high school student Darius is teased and bulled at school. At home, he feels an overwhelming sense of disappointment from his father, who criticizes his shortcomings. Suffering from clinical depression, Darius finds solace in his job as a server at the local tea shop. Then—on his first trip to Iran—everything changes. Darius feels at home in the tea-drinking culture; discovers feelings he didn’t know existed; finds pride in his soccer talent; and learns about the richness of his civilization, culture, and language.

The Fall. James Preller. 2015. Feiwel and Friends.

The Fall 2The summer before school starts, Sam's friend and classmate, Morgan Mallen, commits suicide. In a series of journal entries, Sam explores the events leading up to her death and wonders what role he played in her decision. He reflects on his own participation in the relentless cyber bullying that led to her death and questions why he kept his special friendship with Morgan a secret. Although he cannot mend the friendship, he figures out a way to make amends for the mistakes he made as Morgan’s friend. 

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World. Ashley Herring Blake. 2018. Little, Brown.

Ivy AberdeenAfter a tornado destroys their home, 12-year-old Ivy Aberdeen and her family (mother, father, old sister, and twin baby brothers) spend time in a shelter. Although they have lost everything, Ivy finds comfort sketching in her precious notebook, which she took with her when they fled to the storm cellar. As they leave the shelter, Ivy discovers that the notebook—filled with drawings of girls holding hands—is missing. Once school begins again, pages from the notebook begin to appear in her locker with the cryptic messages. Who has found her notebook? Whom can she trust? Could it be her crush? This is a beautifully told story about a young girl dealing with a first same-sex crush, questions of identity, and judgment by family and peers.

Older Young Adult (Ages 14+)

All the Wind in the World. Samantha Mabry. 2017. Algonquin/Workman.

All the Wind in the WorldSet in a future, drought-stricken  southwest, Sarah Jac Crow and James Holt, transient farm laborers, have plans to build a farm on the east coast. Just when their dream seems within reach, a terrible accident sends them on the run. Sarah and James flee and find work harvesting maguey on the possibly cursed Gonzales Ranch. Their lives seem to improve, until the workers’ stories about the Gonzales family and natural catastrophes complicate their lives and test their affection for one another. 

The Complication (Program #6). 2018. Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.

The ComplicationWhen she starts to have “crashbacks,” 17-year-old Tatum Masterson is horrified to learn that she underwent The Program, a therapy designed to curb an epidemic of teen suicides by erasing memories, as well as The Adjustment, a therapy designed to replace erased memories. As she learns the truth about her past, Tatum doesn’t know which of her memories are real and whom she can trust, but is determined to save herself, her boyfriend, and all those who were placed in The Program. An introductory “Enter the World of The Program” catches new readers up to speed.

Ignite the Stars (Ignite the Stars #1). Maura Milan. 2018. Albert Whitman.  

Ignite the StarsIn the year 8969, 17-year old Ia, who has fought the Commonwealth for the freedom of the fringe people of Tawnus as a rebel leader and ace pilot, is captured by General Adams of the Royal Star Force, the protector of the Commonwealth.  Her assignment to the Training Academy as an engineer under the supervision of Flight Master Knives Adams enrages Ia, but her brother, Einn, believes she can get information to help the fringe systems. When Ia discovers her roommate, Brinn, is also a Tawny, she threatens to tell the General unless Brinn helps her communicate with Einn. In this thrilling novel of transformation and unexpected friendship, Ia, Brinn, and Knives discover they care for one another as they confront a foe that could destroy them all.

Sandip LeeAnne Wilson serves as professor in the School of Education and the English Department of Husson University, Bangor, Maine. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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