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    More Series and Sequels

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Aug 14, 2017

    Once readers have been introduced to characters in a picture book or novel, they can enjoy following them to new adventures in the series. This week we review recently published, greatly anticipated sequels, first books in new series in a variety of genres, and the latest books in episodic series. There are also several final books in series, which may lead readers to seek out the earlier books for rereading.

    Ages 4–8

    Barkus. (Barkus #1). Patricia MacLachlan. Ill. Marc Boutavant. 2017. Chronicle.

    BarkusIn five short episodic chapters, a big brown dog named Barkus (a gift from Uncle Everton, who claims Barkus is “the smartest dog in the world”) proves that he is the perfect companion for Nicky. Barkus sneaks out of the house and follows her to school and becomes the class dog, celebrates a noisy birthday party with three dog friends, adopts a stray kitten, and enjoys listening to Nicky tell a bedtime story as he snuggles up with the kitten, Baby, during a backyard campout. Young readers will eagerly await the next book in this colorful, warmly humorous early chapter book series featuring this canine charmer.

    —CA

    Be Quiet! Ryan T. Higgins (Mother Bruce). 2017. Disney Hyperion.

    Be Quiet!Rupert the mouse gets to create and star in a “visually stimulating” wordless book, but his disruptive mouse friends, Nibbs and Thistle, with their imaginative antics and constant chatter (which appears in speech bubbles) are driving him crazy. “I said BE QUIET. This book is wordless!” This not-so-wordless picture book with cartoon-like illustrations—created with textured clayboard, graphite, ink, and Photoshop—includes a wealth of wordplay, jokes, and clever usage of literary elements such as onomatopoeia. Young children will also enjoy Mother Bruce (2015) and Hotel Bruce (2016) while waiting for the fourth book in the series, Bruce’s Big Move (expected to release on September 26, 2017).

    —NB

    Ellie in Concert. Mike Wu. 2017. Disney Hyperion.

    Ellie in ConcertIn this sequel to Ellie (2015), Ellie the elephant lulls Lucy the giraffe to sleep amidst the sounds of the zoo at night, including the hippo’s SNORTs, the monkey’s OOOHs, and the rhino’s GRUMPs, by organizing an orchestra of all the noisy animals, who perform Betty Bluebird’s lullaby. Soft illustrations, created with watercolor, gouache, pencil, and digital media, complement the gentle story of friends working together to solve a problem. Check out the author's website (theartofmikewu.com) to listen to “Betty’s Theme” and “Ellie in Concert Suite,” composed by Andrew Jimenez.

    —NB

    The Good for Nothing Button (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!). Charise Mericle Harper. 2017. Hyperion/Disney.

    The Good for Nothing ButtonWhen Blue Bird and Red Bird press the red button that Yellow Bird insists is “a good for nothing button,” they report their reactions. For example, Blue Bird says, “The button is SO easy to press. It surprised me!” and Red Bird points out, “A surprise is NOT nothing.” When Yellow Bird repeatedly presses the button to show that it cannot make him calm, mad, happy, surprised, scared, icky, or anything else, Red Bird and Blue Bird announce that they know what the button does. “The button makes you funny!” And so begins a button-pressing game in which they all are funny together. Reading this cartoon-style story, which is introduced by Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie, will be loads of fun for beginning readers.

    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1). Adrienne Kress. 2017. Delacorte/Random House.

    The ExplorersFollowing the intriguing introductory statement “This story begins . . . with a pig wearing a teeny hat,” 12-year-old Sebastian, a methodical genius with a photographic memory, and 11-year-old Evie, a lonely orphan, converge on the members-only Explorers Society for different reasons, but soon combine resources to search for Evie’s missing grandfather, who is a member of the mysterious Fillipendulous Society. Unfolding from the viewpoints of both children, this comedic adventure is filled with non-stop twists and turns. The clever mystery, with its detailed black-and-white penned illustrations, occasional footnotes, and humorous asides from the author, leaves entertained readers ready for the sequel.

    —NB

    Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls (Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls #1). Beth McMullen. 2017. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

    Mrs. Smith's Spy SchoolTwelve-year-old Abigail Hunter’s amateur sleuthing leads to the discovery that the boarding school her mother has enrolled her in is also a recruiting ground for the Center, a hush-hush spy organization. She is astounded to learn that her mother is one of its top agents and has disappeared while in pursuit of a dangerous criminal, the Ghost, “who is wanted all over the world by everybody.” After a crash course in Spy Training 101, Abigail becomes “bait” in the Center’s plan to locate her mother. When the plan goes awry, Abigail remains determined to find her mother. Nonstop action, accompanied by lots of humor, makes this book a page-turner. Fans of spy stories will be looking forward to Abigail’s next mission.

    —CA

    The Sands of Shark Island (School Ship Tobermory #2). Alexander McCall Smith. 2017. Delacorte/Random House.

    The Sands of Shark IslandThe 12-year-old McTavish twins, Fee and Ben, return to the Scotland-based boarding school/schooner Tobermory excited for the new term, where they will learn not only seafaring basics such as knot-tying, nautical chart reading, and navigation skills but also “land subjects,” including math, science, and history. This term the Tobermory’s destination is the Caribbean Sea so there will also be opportunities for other activities such as scuba diving and kitesurfing. When they dock at Green Bay Island, the Tobermory takes on a new student, Mike, an islander who has had to interrupt his education to support his family. Following clues from a chart in an old sea chest leads to high adventure and a dangerous encounter with a present-day pirate on Shark Island and the solution of the mystery of the disappearance of Mike’s father and other islanders.

    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    The Great Wave of Tamarind (The Book of Tamarind #3). Nadia Aguiar. 2017. Feiwel and Friends.

    The Great Wave of TamarindIt has been seven years since Penny Nelson visited Tamarind with her older siblings, Simon and Maya. Now at the age of 12, she must return to the magical island on her own. Beloved Granny Pearl has identified signs of a potentially devastating event that will occur in Tamarind in the immediate future that only Penny can prevent. Penny bravely journeys out into the ocean and mysteriously crosses the Blue Line that will allow her to reach Tamarind. With the help of two young islanders, she competes in three dangerous challenges to select the next Bloom Catcher, who is to retrieve the magical Bloom from a coming Great Wave that will save Tamarind from destruction by a devilish mandrill. Aguiar’s spectacular world-building in this beautifully crafted quest/survival story set on the lost island of Tamarind brings the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion.

    —CA

    Life, Loss, and Lemonade (Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair #8). Laurie Friedman. 2017. Darby Creek/Lerner.

    Life, Loss, and LemonadeSometimes life is unfair. The pottery store in which Alice planned to celebrate her 15th birthday burns down, her grandmother is readmitted to the hospital for a collapsed lung following her cancer treatment, and her best friend, Sophie, is moving. In addition, Alice’s almost-boyfriend, Leo, announces he is leaving for Costa Rica and won’t be around this summer. She also carries the burden of secrets—why Brynn dropped her as a friend; that Sophie invited her boyfriend, Billy, to visit her in New York but didn’t mention it to Alice; and that Billy isn’t sure about going to visit Sophie—all while dealing with the impending loss of her grandmother. April must dig deep to find strength and solutions in this final installment of the series. Life, Loss, and Lemonade is a satisfying stand-alone novel, which may lead readers to earlier books in the series.

    —NB

    Ages 15+

    Blacksouls (Blackhearts #2). Nicole Castroman. 2017. Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.

    BlacksoulsAs this reimagined historical sequel to Blackhearts (2016) opens, after biracial Anne sails across the Atlantic Ocean on the Providence to Nassau, a Caribbean island rife with political intrigue, treachery, and piracy, to reunite with her love, Edward “Teach” Drummond (the future pirate known as Blackbeard). Once in Nassau, Anne is whipped and jailed when she warns the governor (who doesn’t believe her) that his wife is poisoning him. On his voyage to Nassau as first mate on the Deliverance, a Drummond merchant ship, Teach confronts the incompetent and cruel captain to save the crew from fiery deaths at the hands of enemy Spanish ships. Upon landing, he is threatened with the accusation of mutiny, a crime punishable by death. Blackmailed by Nassau’s Governor Webb into carrying out a dangerous mission in exchange for his own life and those of his crew— and with rescued, injured Anne smuggled aboard from a prison cell into his new ship’s quarters—Teach must decide who to trust in this swashbuckling revenge tale of adventure, betrayal, and deceit.

    —NB

    Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2). Cassandra Clare. 2017. Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster.

    Lord of ShadowsIn this sequel to Lady Midnight (2016), Los Angeles Institute Shadowhunters regroup after warlock Malcomb Fade’s death opens the portal for demons to reenter their realm. Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorne continue to fight their love curse, while Mark Blackthorne (home after his captivity in the faerie Hunt) struggles to find his place among his Shadowhunter half-siblings. The Seelie faerie Queen coerces Emma, Julian, Mark, and Cristina (a visiting Shadowhunter) to leave the L.A. Institute to find the Black Volume of the Dead, a spellbook she can use against the Unseelie King, the Lord of the Shadows (not knowing that he will stop at nothing to get his hands on it) in exchange for ending the divisive Cold Peace Treaty between Shadowhunters and Seelie Court faeries. Will the quest of the young Shadowhunters be successful and peace be restored, or will it be too late to undo the horrifying events that have been set in motion?

    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

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    Human–Animal Connections

    Lesley Colabucci and Leigh Kaliss
     | Aug 07, 2017

    From classics like Charlotte’s Web to contemporary favorites like Because of Winn-Dixie, some of the best pieces of literature for children and young adults entwine the lives of humans and animals. The recently published books in this week’s column feature animals as compelling characters and companions to humans.

    Ages 4–8

    Princess Cora and the Crocodile. Laura Amy Schlitz. Ill. Brian Floca. 2017. Candlewick.

    Princess Cora When a princess struggles to find her voice and exert her independence, the most unexpected of characters comes to her rescue. In this slapstick, topsy-turvy fairy tale, an overworked (and over-bathed) princess wants a pet to break up the daily monotony of life as the queen-in-training. When her mother, father, and nanny all say no to a dog, she pens a letter to her godmother. A crocodile unexpectedly arrives and hijinks ensue as he takes her place for the day. Cora discovers what she’s been missing as well as the strength to stand up for what she wants. Young readers will laugh at the crocodile’s actions (which, in true crocodile fashion, involve some biting) and the happily-ever-after ending for both the princess and the cream puff-loving crocodile—and, perhaps, also learn something about the value of speaking their mind.

    —LK

    Shawn Loves Sharks. Curtis Manley. Ill. Tracy Subisak. 2017. Roaring Brook.

    Shawn Loves SharksShawn has a shark lamp, a shark alarm clock, a shark snow globe, and even a shark hoodie. When his teacher announces that each student will be drawing the name of a predator to research for a class project, Shawn is desperate to pick the great white shark. Unfortunately, his classmate Stacy picks the great white shark and Shawn gets the leopard seal. Shawn is devastated and tries to convince Stacy to switch with him. The two go back and forth arguing about their predators, and Shawn soon discovers that he might love seals too. The story is told through traditional narrative as well as speech bubbles and text embedded in the illustrations. Readers will enjoy the dynamics between Shawn and Stacy and the playful illustrations, including the various costumes Shawn’s cat wears throughout the book.

    —LC

    If Sharks Disappeared. Lily Williams. 2017. Roaring Brook.

    If Sharks DisappearedIn this informational book, a young girl helps tell the story of what would happen to the ocean’s ecosystem if sharks disappeared. The book functions well as both picture book and a nonfiction book, due to its interactive tone and cartoon-style illustrations. A vertical gatefold with the narrator fishing at the top dramatically captures the depth of the ocean as blue water turns darker. The end matter includes a glossary, a note on the endangered status of sharks, a “How You Can Help Save Sharks” list, an author’s note which encourages readers to do more research, a bibliography, and Internet resources.  

    —LC

    Ages 9–11

    CatStronauts: Mission Moon (CatStronauts #1). Drew Brockington. 2017. Little, Brown.

    CatStronautsThe world is facing an energy crisis like no one, not even the World’s Best Scientist, has ever seen. The problem approaches level cat-astrophe when the feline President acknowledges the situation. No power means more time for catnaps, but things get hairy when cats all over the world have to stop reading because of the darkness! With just sixty days of full power left, the CatStronauts are summoned to build a power plant on the moon. And that just scratches the surface. Major Meowser, Chief Science Officer Pom Pom, Technical Specialist Blanket, and Pilot Waffles face challenges galore as they try to save the world. Brockington’s lively and punny text and cartoon illustrations explore topics like teamwork, self-confidence, and leadership as well as environmental issues.

    —LK

    Otherwise Known as Possum. Maria D. Laso. 2017. Scholastic.

    Otherwise Known as PossumSet in the south in the 1930s, this book tells the story of Possum and her dog, Trav. Possum’s mother has passed away and her father decides to send her to school, despite her mother’s wish that “In a school you learn everything between four walls. I want you to learn the world.” Possum loves to read but resists school, worries that her father is dating the teacher, and finds herself in a battle with the teacher’s pet, whom her best friend Tully may have a crush on. Otherwise Known as Possum is beautifully written, with language that reflects the time and place as well as Possum’s creative thinking. Possum’s love of nature, rebellious attitude, and affection for her family and community make her a likeable character. Although her mom called her LizBetty, Possum fits her much better as she defies gender stereotypes, relies on camaraderie with Trav, and connects with her mom under the peach tree.

    —LC

    A Boy Called Bat. Elana K. Arnold. Ill. Charles Santoso. 2017. Walden Pond/HarperCollins.

    A Boy Called BatBixby Alexander Tam’s nickname, Bat, suits him just fine. Bat—a third grader on the autism spectrum—loves animals of all sorts, so when his veterinarian mom brings home a skunk kit, he cares for it and wants to keep it as a pet. There are a lot of reasons why a baby skunk is not a great pet, but in Bat’s case there are additional complications, including the fact that he spends weekends with his father. Bat’s sister Janie is not as excited about the skunk, whom she has named Thor. Bat is determined to be Thor’s caretaker for as long as he can, but he must learn about more than just skunks to prove to his mom that he’s up for the challenge. His desire to take care of Thor helps him to make connections with other people and engage in interactions he would usually avoid. Bat’s interior dialogue and the portrayal of his supportive family make for a realistic story, and the short chapters and black-and-white illustrations add to the overall appeal of this book.

    —LC

    Ages 12–14

    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World. Shannon Hale & Dean Hale. Ill. Vitale Mangiatordi. 2017. Marvel.

    The Unbeatable Squirrel GirlFourteen-year-old Doreen Green is adjusting to her new school and community after moving from California to New Jersey. She’s anxious to find a new best friend but is struggling to fit in—maybe because of her secret squirrel tail and other squirrel-like traits. Then Doreen makes two new friends: classmate Ana Sofia and Tippy-Toe, her first squirrel friend in her new community. The book alternates with chapters written from Doreen’s and Tippy-Toe’s voices and includes fun footnotes as well as electronic forms of communication. Any superhero story requires an evil villain; in this story readers meet the Micro-Manager, who is out to trap Doreen and destroy the neighborhood. Can Doreen defeat the Micro-Manager? Will her parents stop her from discovering her full superpowers? Is she finally old enough to face the world as Squirrel Girl?

    —LC

    Storm Horse. Nick Garlick. 2017. Chicken House/Scholastic.

    Storm HorseStorm Horse follows the exploits of Flip, an orphaned adolescent boy who’s uprooted to live with his aunt and uncle on their farm on a remote island off the coast of Amsterdam. Flip is lonely until he rescues Storm, a feisty horse who nearly drowns after a boating accident. Finding companionship with his equine friend (also an outsider), Flip navigates the unfamiliar island and family and meets a fellow lost soul in Ghost Girl—a silent, constant presence who is working through her own grief. Garlick’s descriptions of setting and action make this coming-of-age-story a good choice for middle-grade readers.

    —LK

    Ages 15+

    Frogkisser! Garth Nix. 2017. Scholastic.

    Frogkisser!Humorous, clever, wild, and inventive, Garth Nix’s fantasy centers on Princess Anya and her quest to transform a frog prince back to his human form. On the run from her evil stepfather, who wants her dead so that he has a clear line to the throne, Anya encounters various friends, enemies, and perils. With her faithful companion, Ardent (a talking dog), Anya attracts a squad of misfits as she seeks the magic ingredients that will enable her to rescue the prince. Along the way, she learns about her privileged life and the many troubles outside the castle walls. A fun, magical journey that remains lighthearted even as Anya faces grave dangers, including marauding robbers and duplicitous witches, this novel is a welcomed addition to fun-filled and thought-provoking fantasy from a talented author.

    —LK

    Dreaming the Bear. Mimi Thebo. 2017. Wendy Lamb/Random House.

    Dreaming the BearDarcy and her family have moved from England to Yellowstone National Park for her father’s research. Darcy is not adjusting well to the climate and new environment (no Wi-Fi and no nearby shopping). After a bad case of pneumonia, she remains sickly and can’t attend school. Her physical and mental health may be worse than anyone suspects. When Darcy finds and cares for a wounded mother bear. Unfortunately, this relationship results in the bear becoming food-dependent and thus a danger to everyone. Darcy’s brother, Jem, and his best friend, Tony, are the first to recognize the mistake Darcy has made. They must figure out how and when to tell the authorities and if they can trust Darcy’s parents with the truth. As Darcy learns more about bears and about how both humans and bears survive in harsh winter conditions, readers may become as attached to the bear as they are to Darcy.

    —LC

    Lesley Colabucci is an associate professor of early, middle, and exceptional education at Millersville University, Millersville, PA. She teaches classes in children’s literature at the graduate and undergraduate level. Leigh Kaliss is the volunteer and outreach Coordinator at Lancaster Public Library in Lancaster, PA.

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    Great Reads From Conference Authors

    Sandip Wilson and Carolyn Angus
     | Jul 31, 2017

    Attendees who registered for Author Meetups at the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits had the opportunity to spend 10 minutes with each of seven authors in a chosen level (primary, mid-level, or young adult) to learn about their writing and their books. The books reviewed in this weekly column were all featured at Author Meetups.

    Ages 4–8

    Calling the Water Drum. LaTisha Redding. Ill. Aaron Boyd. 2016. Lee and Low.

    Calling the Water DrumHenri and his parents are in a rickety rowboat, fleeing Haiti in search of a better life in New York City. When the boat capsizes, only Henri is rescued. Henri arrives in the U.S. with only the red bucket his parents used to bail water and a letter with his uncle’s contact information. Encouraged by his uncle, Henri starts drumming on the bucket to express his grief, and eventually to connect with others. Watercolor paintings perfectly express the emotional tone of this poignant story of a young immigrant.

    —CA

    The Grand Canyon. Jason Chin. 2017. Roaring Brook.

    The Grand CanyonThis informational picture book follows a father and daughter as they explore the Grand Canyon. The illustrations, created with pen-and-ink, watercolor, and gouache, beautifully showcase the awe-inspiring majesty of the canyon. Sidebars detail the geology and ecology of the canyon and borders illustrate its rock strata, fauna, and flora.The story ends with a double gatefold showing the two explorers overlooking “the greatest canyon on Earth.”

    —CA

    Hattie & Hudson. Chris Van Dusen. 2017. Candlewick.

    Hattie and HudsonAs she paddles on a lake in her red canoe, Hattie’s singing lures a lonely green monster from his deep underwater cave. She is not afraid, but other boaters flee in panic. While the townspeople plan to get rid of “the Deadly Beast,” Hattie and her new friend (whom she names Hudson) must come up with a plan to convince them that they can all share and enjoy the lake.

    —CA

    Ninja!: Attack of the Clan (Ninja! #2). Arree Chung. 2017. Henry Holt.

    Aree ChungMaxwell is disappointed to find that Mama, sister Cassy, and Papa are too busy to help him hone his ninja skills. When he’s called to dinner one night, he finds no one at the table except the dog eating his miso soup. It’s a “SURPRISE ATTACK!” Colorful comic book-style panels show Ninja Maxwell defending himself against his ninja clan, despite sneaky little Cassy springing a totally unexpected move on him.

    —SW

    Raybot and Weebot! (Raybot #2). Adam F. Watkins. 2017. Price Stern Sloan/Penguin.

    Raybot and WeebotWhen a crate falls from a truck outside his junkyard, Raybot is delighted to find that it contains a little robot. However, Weebot’s activity level (“He rarely powers down, and he makes a lot of noise, even when it’s time to go to sleep.”) is overwhelming, and Raybot begins to long for his peaceful pre-Weebot life. Pair this book with Raybot (2016) for a fun-filled read aloud on robots.

    —CA

    The Space Disaster (The Mad Scientist Academy #3). Matthew McElligott. 2017. Crown/Random House.

    Mad Scientist When the planetarium computer malfunctions, Dr. Cosmic’s astronomy lesson (challenging the young monster students to identify where they are in the solar system) becomes a lesson in survival as they are literally sent into space. There is plenty of fun and science packed into this comic-paneled book. Students can read The Dinosaur Disaster (2015) and The Weather Disaster (2016) while waiting for Dr. Cosmic’s next science lessons.

    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Abby in Wonderland (Whatever After: Special Edition). Sarah Mlynowski. 2017. Scholastic.

    Whatever AfterIn the 10 previous books in Mlynowski’s popular series, siblings Abby and Jonah find a magic mirror that leads them into fairy tale adventures. In this Whatever After special edition, Abby and her best friends Frankie and Robin are spending the day at the castle-like home of her not-such-a-good-friend Penny. The girls find themselves in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when Frankie falls into a hole in the backyard.

    —CA

    Katana at Super Hero High (DC Super Hero Girls #4). Lisa Yee. 2017. Random House.

    Super Hero HighWhile attending Super Hero High, Katana practices the sword skills she learned from her grandmother, the first woman Samurai warrior who mysteriously disappeared. When Katana finds herself guardian of 100 Samurai swords and the recipient of a mysterious haiku ending with the line “Prepare for battle,” all the super heroes need to use their special skills to help Katana battle the Dragon King, who intends to claim Muteki Sword, the legendary Invincible Sword.

    —SW

    Lucky Broken Girl. Ruth Behar. 2017. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    Lucky Broken GirlAfter a bad car accident, 11-year-old Ruthie is in a full body cast. While spending the year lying flat in bed, she learns to see her life in a new way as she gains a better understanding of her Jewish Cuban family and its traditions, discovers new talents, and overcomes sorrow and disappointment in ways she does not expect.

    —SW

    Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White. Melissa Sweet. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    Some Writer!Melissa Sweet uses a scrapbook-style compilation of letters, journals entries, family photos, manuscript excerpts, quotes, and her original mixed-media collage artwork and a warm narrative to present the life and work of beloved children’s book author E. B. White (1899-1985). Chapters on the writing of Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web, which exemplify White’s love of words and his process of crafting them into stories, are particularly interesting.

    —CA

    The Sweetest Sound. Sherri Winston. 2017. Little, Brown.

    The Sweetest SoundShy Cadence fantasizes about performing, promising herself that someday she will share her secret talent: singing. When Candace and best friends Zara and Faith form a trio to compete for places in a Youth Choir, Faith suggests that she lip sync to Cadence’s singing to gain a solo role. Cadence must overcome her shyness, question friendships, and decide how she will keep the promise she has made to herself.

    —SW  

    Ages 12–14

    In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives. Kenneth C. Davis. 2016. Henry Holt.

    In the Shadow of LibertyDavis peels back the layers of history from George Washington’s move to Mount Vernon in 1757 to the death of Andrew Jackson’s personal slave, Alfred Jackson, in 1901. The book covers the views of four U.S. Presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson) toward slavery and their relationships with their slaves. Through the detailed narratives of five enslaved people against the backdrop of historical events, this book explores the role slavery played in the founding of America

    —SW

    Lily & Dunkin. Donna Gephart. 2016. Delacorte/Random House.

    Lily and DunkinLily & Dunkin is a powerful story about a new friendship between Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. Told in alternating first-person narratives, their stories unfold as tall Dunkin joins the basketball team, stops his medication for bipolar disorder to increase his stamina and speed, and turns his back on his friendship with Lily, who must face the bullying and torment of the other players alone.


    Piecing Me Together
    . Renée Watson. 2017. Bloomsbury.

    Piecing me TogetherAs part of her scholarship to prestigious St. Francis High School, Jade must participate in Women to Women, a mentorshop program for “at-risk” girls. Jade is skeptical about what her mentor, who appears to have many challenges of her own, can teach her. In learning to appreciate her identity and aspirations, Jade discovers she wants to develop her talent for collage art and to help people rather than be considered someone who needs help.

    —SW

    The Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz. Michael Bornstein & Debbie Bornstein Holinstat. 2017. Farrar Straus Giroux.

    Survivors ClubFour-year-old Michael Bornstein was one of the 52 children under the age of eight (out of the hundreds of thousands of children sent to Auschwitz) who were liberated by the Soviet Army in 1945. Based on extensive interviews and research, this personal story of survival during the Holocaust, from Nazi occupation of Michael’s hometown of Żarki, Poland, to immigration to the United States, ends with a photo album of Michael’s family, “The Survivors Club.”

    —CA

    Toni (Blacktop #4). LJ Alonge. Ill. Raul Allen. 2017. Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin.

    Blacktop ToniToni’s heart is in basketball, even though she is not very liked by Coach Wise or her teammates. Coach Wise tolerates her attitude until she punches a player on an opposing team and her team is dropped from league play. Toni, who has lived in group and foster homes her whole life, loses friends and her special interest in art, but a growing friendship challenges her to care about her family, Coach Wise, and her friends on the team in new ways. 

    —SW

    Ages 15+

    Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time. Tanya Lee Stone. 2017. Wendy Lamb/Random House.

    Girl RisingInspired by the documentary film Girl Rising, Tanya Lee Stone explores how education can break the cycle of poverty. Based on video interviews, the narrative, accompanied by full-page photographs, presents stories of girls from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nepal, Peru, and Sierra Leone who tell how they survived experiences of slavery, rape, child labor, and forced marriage when they were not yet teenagers.

    —SW

    The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. Benjamin Alire Sáenz. 2017. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    The Inexplicable Logic of my LifeMild-mannered, patient Salvador, who lives with his adoptive gay Mexican-American father in El Paso, is confused by his intensely angry reaction to taunting by school bullies. He becomes more puzzled about his self-worth and identity on the death of his beloved grandmother and the reappearance of Dad’s former lover in their lives. As he ponders how to present himself in college application essays, Sal wonders what he can offer to friends and the world.

    —SW

    The You I’ve Never Known. Ellen Hopkins. 2017. Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster.

    The You I've Never KnownAriel, who has spent her life on the move with her alcoholic, abusive father, hopes to stay in Sonora, California, long enough to finish high school and escape his control. Seventeen-year-old Maya deliberately gets pregnant with a 27-year-old soldier, marries and accompanies him to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to avoid moving to Los Angeles with her Scientology-obsessed mother. The girls’ stories (told in free verse for Ariel and prose for Maya) come together deftly in Hopkins’s beautifully-crafted novel.

    —CA

    Wildman. J. C. Geiger. 2017. Hyperion/Disney.

    WildmanValedictorian, college-bound Lance Hendricks is returning to his home in Oregon from a music audition in Seattle when his cherished Buick, a gift from his father who abandoned him, breaks down in a tiny town. While repairs are made and his mother and friends call and text arranging to get him home to the life he has planned, Lance finds himself in a culture he doesn’t understand and discovers new ways of being that he could never have imagined.

    —SW

    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.

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    History in Fact and Fiction

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Jul 24, 2017

    Young people of all ages can learn important, timeless life lessons from history. Studies show that young people who engage in more nonfiction reading will build more background knowledge, which in turn will give them a greater foundation for all other reading. Here are a few recently published books—some nonfiction and some fiction based on real, historical events—that will inform and entertain readers.

    Ages 4–8

    Independence Cake: A Revolutionary Confection Inspired by Amelia Simmons, Whose True History Is Unfortunately Unknown. Deborah Hopkinson. Ill. Giselle Potter. 2017. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    Independence CakeIn an introduction, Deborah Hopkinson informs readers that Independence Cake is a fictional story about Amelia Simmons, author of American Cookery. First published in 1796 and the first known cookbook written by an American, Simmons adapted English recipes and cooking techniques. Giselle Potter’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations provide colorful details that complement Hopkinson’s imagined life story of Amelia Simmons in which local fame as a baker led to her creation of thirteen Independence Cakes (one for each of the thirteen colonies) for President George Washington’s inauguration celebration. Back matter includes an author’s note and online sources of Election Day cake recipes. 

    —CA

    Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing. Dean Robbins. Ill. Lucy Knisley. 2017. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    Margaret and the MoonGrowing up, Margaret was curious about everything and loved to solve complicated math problems. When she discovered computers, she taught herself to code, using her problem-solving skill to write computer programs to perform increasingly more complex tasks. In 1964, she began working with NASA as software director for Project Apollo, and in 1969 became a hero of the Apollo 11 mission when a computer overload threatened its success. “Had Margaret thought of everything that could go wrong with a lunar landing?” Yes, and the safe landing on the moon of the lunar module Eagle was accomplished. An engaging text and cartoon illustrations make this life story of Margaret Heafield Hamilton accessible to young readers. Back matter includes an author’s note, bibliography, and an additional reading list.  

    —CA

    Patrick and the President. Ryan Tubridy. Ill. P. J. Lynch. 2017. Candlewick.

    Patrick and the PresidentIn this historically-inspired fictional story, Patrick, a young Irish boy, meets President John F. Kennedy during his 1963 visit to his ancestral home in Dunganstown, Ireland. Patrick sings with his class for the President, and attends the Kennedy family reception where he serves President Kennedy a special dessert and shakes hands with him. “Don’t ever wash that lucky hand of yours!” said Patrick’s mam. Realistic watercolor illustrations in soft hues capture the anticipation of Patrick and his classmates as they meet the President and create memories for a lifetime. Endpapers include the lyrics of “The Boys of Wexford,” which school children sang as part of Kennedy’s 1963 welcome to Ireland. Back matter includes a day-by-day itinerary of the President’s trip to Ireland accompanied by black-and-white photos.

    NB

    Ages 9–11

    Refugee. Alan Gratz. 2012. Scholastic.

    RefugeeThree young people from different places and times—Josef, a Jewish boy in Nazi Germany in 1938; Isabel, a girl living near Havana under the dictatorship of Fidel Castro in 1994; and Mahmoud, living in war-torn Aleppo, Syria, in 2015—have the same goal: to flee their homelands with their families. Written in alternating short chapters from the points of view of Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud, Gratz’s novel is a fast-paced, action-packed adventure story. It is also a compelling and heartrending historical exploration of the plight of immigrants who take incredible journeys to survive, sustained by the quest for freedom and the hope of reaching a place in which their families can rebuild their lives. Maps help readers follow the three families’ journeys, and in an author’s note, Gratz identifies the historical background against which the fictional stories of Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are set.

    —CA

    The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked & Found. Martin W. Sandler. 2017. Candlewick.

    The WhydahThe Whydah, which sunk off the coast of Cape Cod during a storm on April 26, 1717, and was found in 1985, is the only shipwreck that has been authenticated as a pirate ship. Marine archaeologists have studied this “sunken time capsule” with its artifacts that provide evidence of pirate life that differs from their representations in popular movies and books. Sandler’s narrative, accompanied by biographical sketches, maps, charts, and photographs, chronicles the Whydah’s transformation from slavery ship to the mightiest and greediest pirate ship of the day. Insets include information about the history of slavery in the Americas, the Articles of Agreement (rules for pirates), the history of the Jolly Roger pirate flag, pirate attack strategies, coins as windows to the past, and other relevant and interesting topics. Back matter includes source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Crossing Ebenezer CreekCrossing Ebenezer Creek. Tonya Bolden. 2017. Bloomsbury.

    The freedom Mariah has always longed for seems to be a possibility as she and her younger brother, Zeke, and others enslaved on the Chaney plantation join the march of General Sherman’s 14th Army Corps through Georgia following a raid by Union soldiers. As a relationship grows between Mariah and Caleb, a young black man working with the corps, she begins to dream of a home of her own with a man she loves. The hardships and dangers of the march are severe, but for Mariah, the struggles in freedom are nothing like the struggles in slavery. “Now the struggles of the march were hitched to striving for a new life.” An author’s note provides a context for this beautifully-written, carefully-researched novel which tells a personal story of a little-known event of the Civil War, the tragedy of “the betrayal at Ebenezer Creek” on December 9, 1864.

    —CA

    Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War. Paul B. Janeczko. 2017. Candlewick.

    Double CrossIn this companion to Top Secrets: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing (2006) and The Dark Game: True Spy Stories from Invisible Ink to CIA Moles (2010), Paul Janeczko chronicles the use of deception in war throughout history.  Focusing on the use of deception during World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf Wars, Janeczko provides numerous examples of the interplay of various deception tactics used in military operations (such as the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944) in an informative, accessible text, complemented by captioned photographs and maps. Each chapter includes an interesting sidebar on a related topic such as the use of signals and ciphers in the Civil War, the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park in World War II, and the important role of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for communication during Operation Desert Storm, the second phase of the Gulf War. Back matter includes source notes, a bibliography, image credits, and an index.

    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Magellan: Over the Edge of the World. Laurence Bergreen. 2017. Roaring Brook.

    MagellanThis young readers’ edition of Bergeen’s Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe (2003) offers a true adventure story set in the age of exploration and discovery that expands the textbook story of  Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (14801521). With Magellan as captain general, the Armada de Molucca of five ships and 260 sailors set sail on the Atlantic Ocean in 1519 under the Spanish flag. The expedition to the Spice Islands was plagued by treacherous sailing conditions over uncharted waters, storms, harsh weather, illness, starvation, and mutiny. Magellan was killed in the Philippines during a confrontation with natives in 1521. The following year, one remaining ship, the Victoria, returned to Seville with only eighteen survivors, completing the circumnavigation of the globe. The history of this important maritime expedition includes a list of major characters, maps, and captioned illustrations. Back matter includes source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

    —CA

    Night Witches. Kathryn Lasky. 2017. Scholastic.

    Night WitchesIt's 1941; World War II is in full swing and the Germans are surrounding Stalingrad, intent on obliterating the city. After her grandmother and mother are killed and her home destroyed in raids on their town, 16-year-old Valya heads out on her own to not only survive, but to help. Taught to fly by her father, who was a major in the Russian Air Force, she longs to join her sister, Tatyana, as a member of the Night Witches, a band of young female Soviet pilots who bomb Nazi supply lines and clear the way for the troops, but she does not qualify because she is too young. Sneaking her way onto the base, Valya works her way up from the ground crew to the cockpit, where she is eventually able to prove herself. When Tatyana is captured by the Germans, Valya knows that it is up to her to rescue her sister, and it will entail precision timing and more than a little luck. 

    NB

    Maid of the King’s Court. Lucy Worsley. 2017. Candlewick.

    Maid of the King's CourtTwelve-year old Elizabeth Rose Camperdowne has accepted that it is her duty to save her impoverished but noble family by marrying well. After her engagement falls through in a scandal, she is sent to Trumpton Hall to train to become a lady. It is not long before Eliza and her cousin Katherine are sent as maids of honor to serve King Henry VIII’s latest wife, Anne of Cleves. Hoping for lucrative marriage matches, they are immediately drawn into court intrigue. When Anne doesn’t produce an heir, she is dismissed, and Katherine is chosen as the king’s next wife. This story follows the fictional character, Eliza, through age 18, when Katherine is beheaded for treason. In the epilogue, British historian Worsley tells how she used her knowledge of Hampton Court Palace to create this fictional version of Tudor history that she hopes will provide insights into Katherine Howard’s life.

    NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

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    More Summer Reading

    Sandip Wilson
     | Jul 03, 2017

    Summer reading provides a change of pace, carrying readers to new places and offering adventure and glimpses into experiences that are thrilling, humorous, suspenseful, inspiring, and heartfelt. The books in this second summer reading collection are good company for readers wherever they are during vacation.

    Ages 8–11

    Away. Emil Sher. Ill. Qin Leng. 2017. Groundwood/House of Anansi.

    AwaySkip does not want to go to summer camp. Rendered in watercolor and ink, the illustrations include a series of sticky notes that Skip and her mother write to each other about daily household chores, which also express Skip’s stubborn insistence that she will not go to camp, even as she prepares for it. When her grandmother, Mimsy, visits, Skip learns that when her mother went to camp the first time, she was also sad and afraid. Yet now, her mother’s memories of camp “are warm biscuits.” Talking with Mimsy and her mother is just what Skip needs to head to camp with a positive attitude. The good experience she has is evident in a letter she writes from camp.

    Danny McGee Drinks the Sea. Andy Stanton. Ill. Neal Layton. 2017. Schwartz & Wade/ Random House.

    Danny McGee Drinks the SeaWhen Danny McGee and his sister Frannie go to the shore on a summer day, Danny bets her that he can drink the entire sea. When his sister disagrees, Danny asks her for a straw and proves her wrong.  But he doesn’t stop there; he swallows other things including a tree, a squirrel and a bird, and the weather reporter on TV. Rendered in mixed media, Frannie watches in amazement as Danny swallows mountains, jungles, and even the author (who finds himself writing the book from inside Danny). 

    Jabari Jumps. Gaia Cornwall. 2017. Candlewick.

    Jabari JumpsAnyone who is learning to swim will take solace in Jabari’s story as he works up the courage to jump off the high diving board at his local swimming pool. Seeing his son’s fear, Jabari’s father tells him to take a rest, and after an afternoon of delaying the dive, the family goes home. When they return the next day, Jabari’s father suggests that he take some deep breaths and tell himself he is ready. Illustrations, done in pencil, watercolor, and collage, show Jabari overcoming his fear and his joy at the prospect of another dive.

    Ages 9–11

    Beach Party Surf Monkey (Welcome to Wonderland #2). Chris Grabenstein. Ill. Brooke Allen. 2017. Random House.

    TWonderlandhe beachfront Wonderland Motel in St. Petersburg, Florida, sits in the shadow of the new high-rise Conch Reef Resort. Mr. Conch has shown interest in buying the Wonderland, with plans to tear it down and develop the property as part of the Conch Resort, prompting P.T. Wilkes, who helps his grandfather and mother run the motel, to figure out new ways to promote the motel and keep it in the family. P.T. convinces a production team to use the Wonderland as the location for their movie, a 1960s beach party musical starring Academy Award-winning Cassie McGinty, heartthrob Aidan Taylor, and a Capuchin monkey named Kevin. As Mr. Conch’s daughter, Veronica, starts a competing campaign to attract the crew to the Conch Reef Resort and Kevin disappears, P.T., his friend Gloria, and his grandfather set out to find the monkey and rescue the movie production to save the Wonderland Motel.

    Lemons. Melissa Savage. 2017. Crown/Random House.

    LemonsWhen her mother dies, almost-11-year-old Lemonade Liberty Witt moves from San Francisco to Willow Creek, California, to live temporarily with her grandfather, whom she has never met. He owns a general store with a wide selection of Big Foot memorabilia for tourists. Tobin Sky, founder and president of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc., spends much of his time at the store when he is not following leads on big foot sightings or working in his headquarters, a space carved out of the garage at his home where he lives with his mother. Lemon joins Bigfoot Detectives and becomes Tobin’s assistant. As she makes major discoveries, Lemon also learns that Tobin has his own sorrow to reckon with, the disappearance of his father after he returned from Vietnam. With humor and heart, the story shows how Lemon learns that family, home, and friendship can be found in unexpected places.

    Ages 12–14

    Quicksand Pond. Janet Taylor Lisle. 2017. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Quicksand PondTwelve-year-old Jessie, her father, older sister, and younger brother are “summer people.” This summer, they are renting a house next to the mysterious Quicksand Pond. Their neighbor is Henrietta Cutting, an old woman who lives in the house that her father built on the pond decades ago and spends the day watching the activity around the pond. One day, Jessie discovers an old raft not far from her family’s rental. When Jessie slips the old raft out of the reeds to pole it along the shore, she sees Henrietta watching from her window. Henrietta also watches as Terri Carr, who’s fleeing her father, swims to the safety of the raft. Terri and Jessie become friends and rebuild the raft using tools and lumber from Henrietta’s barn, which is full of old family furnishings. The novel becomes a mystery as details about the deaths of Henrietta’s parents and thefts of family treasures are revealed against the backdrop of the growing friendship between Terri and Jessie.

    This Would Make a Good Story Someday. Dana Alison Levy. 2017. Delacorte/Random House.

    This Would Make a Good Story SomedaySara has plans for the summer before the seventh-grade: spending time with her best friends, and carrying out a “reinvention project” that includes learning to surf, wearing black nail polish, reading nonfiction, and learning Latin. Instead she has to take a month-long, cross-country train trip with her younger sister, Ladybug; her older sister, Laurel, and her partner, Root; and her two mothers, one of whom has a grant to write a book about the family trip. Sara keeps a journal of sights, events, and history as they travel from Massachusetts to New Orleans, up to Chicago, and across the country to Los Angeles. She also meets Travis, who is traveling to Los Angeles with his father and two aunts, who takes an interest in Sara. In the story, told in journal entries, letters, and notes from varying points of view, Sara undergoes a “reinvention” she didn’t expect, and comes to appreciate her family and new friends.

    Ages 15+

    Be True to Me. Adele Griffin. 2017. Algonquin.

    Be True to MeThe year is 1976, and Jean is looking forward to a summer in the community of Sunken Haven on Fire Island, New York, sharing in the bicentennial social life of tennis, dinners, and parties.  Before she leaves New York City, she meets Burke, her godfather’s nephew. Enchanted by Gil’s interest in her, she looks forward to his arrival in Sunken Haven. Jean is also looking forward to winning the junior tennis championship back from Fritz O’Neill, who comes for summer work at the yacht club each year. When Gil arrives in Sunken Haven, both Jean and Fritz face challenges in their mutual interests in Gil and in winning the tennis tournament. 

    Girl Out of Water. Laura Silverman. 2017. Sourcebooks Fire/Sourcebooks.

    Girl out of WaterAnise, an expert surfer, has never left Santa Cruz, California, where she and her father live in a cottage. She and her friends have big plans for their last summer together after high school graduation. But when her aunt Jackie has a car accident and breaks her legs, Anise and her father have to go spend the summer in Nebraska to care for Jackie’s children. Anise’s disappointment and anxiety about leaving California and a new romance with an old friend is compounded by her misery in hot and flat Nebraska, but she agrees to take the children on daily trips to the park where they hone their skills on the skateboard course. When she meets Lincoln, an avid skateboarder, Anise discovers her skill in a new sport and finds her friendship with him becoming much deeper than she expected.

    Unscripted Summer. Jen Klein. 2017. Random House.

    Summer UnscriptedAt the end of her junior year, Rainie decides to audition for a summer theater program, in the Appalachian Mountains, where her classmate and crush, Tuck, spends his summers. Rainie’s friends, Sarah and Marin, are supportive, but her former best friend Ella doesn’t understand her attraction to Tuck. Since Ella is also part of the summer theater she agrees to let Rainie live with her and her sister. When Rainie meets photographer and actor Milo, her motivations and relationships are challenged. Told from Rainie’s point of view, the novel is about how Rainie discovers that she can make good decisions about her life and relationships as well as about theater production and performance. A surprise ending is funny, inventive, and heartfelt.

    Sandip LeeAnne Wilson is a professor in the English department and School of Education of Husson University, Bangor, Maine.

    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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