Literacy Daily

Children's & YA Literacy
    • Book Reviews
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Literacy Coach
    • Job Functions
    • Librarian
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • Student Level
    • Teacher Educator
    • Reading Specialist
    • Other/Literacy Champion
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Children's & YA Literature

    Celebrating Children’s Literature Day: Meetup Authors (Continued)

    By Carolyn Angus and Sandip Wilson
     | Jun 18, 2018

    This is the second of two columns featuring books by authors who are participating in Author Meetups, part of Children’s Literature Day at the ILA 2018 Conference, July 2023 in Austin, TX. This column includes reviews of books in various genres and four age groups (Early Reader, Middle Grade, Early Young Adult, and Older Young Adult) that are inspiring, informative, and engaging. 

    Early Reader (Ages 4–8)

    Drawn Together. Minh Lê. Ill. Dan Santat. 2018. Disney-Hyperion.

    Drawn TogetherWhen a young boy visits his grandfather, they share lunch (although they eat different foods) and television (although the boy would like to watch something else) but cannot share language. When the boy finally pulls out his sketch book and markers to draw, his grandfather pulls out his brush and ink to draw with him. The lavish illustrations, done in both black-and-white and full-color mixed media, show how the pair create marvelous worlds of skilled warriors and fabulous stories, using the common language of art to bridge the traditional and the modern.
    —SW

    How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace. Carole Boston Weatherford. Ill. Frank Morrison. 2018. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    How Sweet the SoundWeatherford’s rhyming couplets and Morrison’s dramatic double-spread oil paintings describe how British seaman John Newton (17251807) prays to God to spare his life one stormy night in 1748 aboard the Greyhound slave ship. After retiring from life at sea, he becomes a minister and anti-slavery activist and, during that time, writes the hymn “Amazing Grace." The story then shifts to the history of the hymn as other verses are added and different groups make the song their own. Back matter includes the lyrics, an author’s note, and suggestions for reading and listening.
    —CA

    Sparkle Boy. Lesléa Newman. Ill. Maria Mola. 2017. Lee & Low.

    Sparkle BoyCasey loves all things glittery and sparkly, so when he sees his sister, Jessie, wearing a shimmery skirt, nail polish, and bangles, he wants them too. The illustrations, created in pencil and computer-generated color, depict his supportive parents and Abuelita. When Casey is teased by his classmates, who insist that “Boys don’t wear skirts and bracelets and nail polish," Jessie decides to celebrate her creative younger brother. 
    —SW  
      
    Middle Grade (Ages 8–12)

    Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party. Megan McDonald. Ill. Peter H. Reynolds. 2018. Candlewick.

    Judy Moody Right Royal Tea PartyJudy Moody is in a “royal purple on-top-of-spaghetti-and-the-London-Eye mood!” Grandma Lou, who is helping Judy with her family tree project, has shown her some records that trace the Moody family back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I and tell a story about Cousin Mudeye, who rescued a prisoner from the Tower of London. In exuberant Judy-Moody fashion, she’s convinced that she’s related to a queen, but her plan for a big reveal of her royal status to the class goes awry, thanks to her nemesis, Jessica “Fink” Finch. Judy Mudeye Moody learns she is not related to a queen, but rather to a royal rat catcher! Right royal (as in extremely exciting and fun) reading fare.
    —CA

    Out of the Wild Night: A Ghost Story. Blue Balliett. 2018. Scholastic.

    Blue Balliet Out of the NightIn early November, a year after a tragic boat accident off the shore of Nantucket, the ghost of Mary Chase (who died 100 years ago) takes up the role of Town Crier and narrator of this story. Wealthy off-islanders are buying up old houses, and a group of island kids, the Old North Gang, are concerned with the way a real estate developer is gutting historic houses and disturbing ghosts in the process. Balliet explores the rich history of Nantucket and addresses issues of preservation in this suspenseful ghost story with an unexpected twist.
    —CA

    The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers (Thrifty Guide). Jonathan W. Stokes. Ill. David Sossella. 2018. Viking/Penguin.

    The Thrifty Guide to Ancient RomeIn an engaging travel guide format, this handbook for time travelers starts with an introduction on how to stay alive, what to wear, where to eat, and where to find entertainment in ancient Rome. Each section contains facts about the city’s history, geography, famous and ordinary people, and culture. In a conversational and humorous style, Stokes chronicles 1,000 years, from the founding of Rome to the time of invading armies that led to the fall of the empire. The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution was published simultaneously, and Stokes’ third handbook, The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece, illustrated by Xavier Bonet, will be released in the fall.
    —SW  

    The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street and the Hidden Garden. Karina Yan Glaser. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    The VanderbeekersSpring arrives at the brownstone in Harlem, New York, and the Vanderbeeker children, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney (the eldest, Isa, is at music camp) decide to create a beautiful garden in the abandoned, possibly haunted lot next to the local church. With little experience and no tools, the children must figure out how to get what they need. Then they discover another problem: The land is to be sold to a real estate developer. This story of resourcefulness, friendship, and service is the sequel to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (2017).
    —SW

    Early Young Adult (Ages 12–14)       

    Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon. Suzanne Slade. Ill. Thomas Gonzalez. 2018. Peachtree.

    CountdownOn May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced his daring dream of committing the United States to landing a man on the moon and safely returning him to earth by the end of the decade. Beautifully composed verse and dramatic paintings tell the story of Project Apollo that made that dream a reality 2979 days later, when the Eagle landed on the Moon’s surface and Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step onto the moon on July 20, 1969. Chapters end with double-page spreads with information about the mission, including launch and splashdown dates, biographical information and a portrait of each crew member, the mission’s special patch with the names of the astronauts, and captioned photographs. Back matter includes “More About Team Apollo” and “Bringing Apollo 11 Home” sections, notes by the author and the illustrator, a bibliography, sources for quotations, and photo credits.
    —CA

    Crown of Thunder. Tochi Onyebuchi. 2018. Razorbill/Penguin.

    Crown of ThunderTaj is among the refugees fleeing Kos in this sequel to Beasts of the Night (2017). Having served Princess Karima of Kos, he is puzzled by her ruthless destruction of the people of Kos once she becomes queen, and he is morose over the loss of his dear friend, Bo. Taj joins up with a group of sin-eaters, people who can swallow the sins of others, but the Queen sends dark forces to destroy them. Traveling with friends Aliya and Arzu and longing to be a healer, a person who can transform monsters into rays of light, Taj underestimates allies he thought were adversaries. In this action-packed fantasy, Taj, Aliya, and Arzu make discoveries about themselves as they plan to overcome the Queen, but first must confront Bo, who has become her ally. You may want to read Beasts of the Night first. 
    —SW

    Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story. Jennifer Roy (with Ali Fadhil). 2018. Houghton Mifflin.  

    Playing AtariAt the beginning of the Gulf War of 1991, Ali and his family, living in Basra, Iraq, have food, water, electricity, television, and video games. When all-night bombing starts, however, Ali, his dentist father, mathematics teacher mother, two brothers, and young sister are crowded into a safe room, where they sleep on the floor. In running across the rubble of bombed neighborhoods to bring home his family’s government rations, Ali is Pitfall Harry (a video game character who gets out of tight spots), but as the war intensifies and the family’s living conditions worsen, his life becomes more complex. Ali’s experience of the Gulf War is also the story of a young man’s discovery of the depth of his culture as he finds his role in it. 
    —SW

    Older Young Adult (14+)

    Lies You Never Told Me. Jennifer Donaldson. 2018. Razorbill/Penguin.

    Lies You Never Told MeFollowing a breakup with his controlling girlfriend, Sasha, Gabe’s friendship with a shy, reclusive new student, Catherine, grows into a romantic relationship that must remain a secret. Meanwhile, headstrong and popular Sasha is determined to win him back. In Portland, Oregon, Elyse finds escape from a troubled home life with her opioid-addicted mother when Mr. Hunter, the drama teacher, casts her as Juliet in the school production of Romeo and Juliet. The special attention Elyse gets from him leads her down a slippery slope. Told in fast-paced alternating chapters, these two seemingly unconnected stories come together with an unexpected twist.
    —CA

    Little and Lion. Brandy Colbert. 2017. Little, Brown.

    Little & LionWhen she arrives home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, 16-year-old Suzette has a lot to deal with, including unsettling relationships within her blended family. Wanting to rebuild the strong emotional bond she once had with Lionel, who is under treatment for bipolar disorder, Suzette is conflicted about keeping his secret that he has gone off his medications. She is also dealing with identity issues, having just left her first same-sex relationship with her roommate and discovering sexual attraction to both an old friend, Emil, and a coworker, Rafaela. Suzette has a lot of growing up to do this summer.
    —CA

    Select Few (The Select #2). Marit Weisenberg. 2018. Charlesbridge Teen/Charlesbridge.

    SelectAfter leaving a closed, cult-like community led by her father, Julia Jaynes moves into an exclusive hotel in Austin, Texas. Julia must suppress her special abilities if she is to avoid notice, and realizes she must also separate from her boyfriend, John Ford (who has been developing special abilities of his own while they have been together), to keep him safe from being kidnapped by the community. Julia has many painful decisions to make and, along the way, makes some wrong ones, all of which contributes to this satisfying sequel to Select (2017), the first book in this thrilling paranormal romance series.
    —CA

    What I Leave Behind. Alison McGhee. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    What I Leave Behind“Sometimes you got to walk the day out of you,” says the narrator, 16-year-old Will, who began walking the streets of his Los Angeles neighbor to deal with loss and grief. According to Will, a walker’s feet can figure out the right route to take, the route that does not go past places that need to be avoided. For Will, these include the river bridge over Fourth Street, the site of his father’s suicide; the house of his friend Playa, who was raped at a party; and the Chinese blessing store he used to visit with his father. Written in 100 chapters with 100 words per chapter, the author shows how connecting with people through small acts of kindness helps Will walk off his troubles.
    —CA

    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.

    Read More
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Literacy Coach
    • Book Reviews
    • Job Functions
    • Librarian
    • Networking
    • Mentorship
    • Leadership
    • Curriculum Development
    • Classroom Instruction
    • Professional Development
    • Topics
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • Student Level
    • Teacher Educator
    • Special Education Teacher
    • Reading Specialist
    • Other/Literacy Champion
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Children's & YA Literature

    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.
    —CA

    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.”
    —CA

    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.
    —SW

    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.
    —CA

    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. 
    —SW

    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.
    —CA

    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.  
    —SW

    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.
    —SW

    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. 
    —SW

    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.
    —CA

    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. 
    —SW

    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.
    —CA

    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.
    —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.

    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.

    Read More
    • Job Functions
    • Book Reviews
    • Librarian
    • Literacy Coach
    • Children's & YA Literature
    • Teacher Preparation
    • Teacher Empowerment
    • Networking
    • Curriculum Development
    • Classroom Instruction
    • Professional Development
    • Topics
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • Student Level
    • Teacher Educator
    • Special Education Teacher
    • Reading Specialist
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Classroom Teacher

    Celebrating Children’s Literature Day

    By Carolyn Angus, Nancy Brashear, and Susan Knell
     | Jun 04, 2018

    ILA’s first-ever Children’s Literature Day, an entire day of programming dedicated to children’s and young adult literature, will debut at the ILA 2018 Conference, taking place July 20–23 in Austin, Texas. This week’s column features spotlighted books by keynote speakers and Putting Books to Work (Early Reader and Middle Grade) authors and facilitators, who will work with attendees to deliver title-focused materials and practical ideas for putting books "to work" in the classroom. 

    Keynote speakers

    The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection. Colby Sharp (Ed.). 2018. Little, Brown.

    The Creativity ProjectColby Sharp challenged 44 authors and illustrators (including Jennifer Holm, Minh Lê, Linda Sue Park, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Javaka Steptoe) to submit story starters (photos, drawings, cartoons, poems, and prose) for each other. They responded by transforming the prompts into creative works. For example, in response to Margarita Engle’s story starter (a haiku about a road trip), Debbie Ridpath Ohi created a comic strip, “Road Trip,” while Engle responded to Grace Lin’s photo prompt (a child racing across a bridge) with a poem about a puppy following a running girl. The final section includes prompts for readers to respond to creatively. Back matter includes biographical notes on the contributors and an index.
    —NB

    Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! Marley Dias. 2018. Scholastic.

    Marley Dias Gets It DoneMarley Dias made headlines as a sixth grader when she began the #1000BlackGirlBooks initiative to collect and donate books with young black female protagonists. Since then, Dias has achieved national acclaim for her work as an advocate for literacy and social justice. With colorful photos, dropped quotes, and interesting sidebars, the book explores activism, equity and inclusion, social media for good, book talking, and more and delivers hands-on strategies for becoming a lifelong reader. Readers of all ages will admire and be inspired by Dias’ passion to make the world a better place.
    —SK

    Solo. Kwame Alexander (with Mary Rand Hess). 2017. Blink/HarperCollins.

    SoloHow does it feel / to be the daughter / to be the son / of a fallen rock star? For 17-year-old Blade Morrison, son of an alcoholic, drug-addicted, former rock star, two things make his life bearable: his girlfriend, Chapel, and his guitar. When the reveal of a family secret leads Blade to travel to Ghana, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, during which he finds answers about his past and hope for his future in the remote village of Konko. This coming-of-age story is told through beautifully crafted poems filled with references to classic rock music.
    —CA

    Putting Books to Work: Early Reader (ages 4–8) 

    Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke the Color Barrier in Golf. Nancy Churnin. Ill. John Joven. 2018. Albert Whitman.

    Charlie Takes His ShotCharles Luther Sifford (1922–2015) caddied at the private all-white Carolina Country Club, honed his golfing skills on public courses, and won the National Negro Open six times. Despite these accomplishments, he was forbidden to play in the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA), due to the color of his skin. Inspired by Jackie Robinson and aided by Stanley Mosk, former attorney general of California who petitioned the PGA to overturn its “Caucasian-only” clause, Sifford became the first black golfer to join the PGA Tour in 1961 and to be inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. An engaging, accessible narrative and expressive mixed-media illustrations portray the determination of this notable sports figure, who paved the way for golfers of color. Back matter includes an author’s note and a timeline. 
    —NB

    God Bless America: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin. Adah Nuchi. Ill. Rob Polivka. 2018. Hyperion.

    God Bless AmericaIn 1893, five-year-old Izzy Baline and his family arrived in New York City after escaping Jewish persecution in Russia. Inspired by the music all around him, young Baline decided to become a songwriter. By age 26, he had written 200 songs and had given himself a new name: Irving Berlin. In 1938, with U.S. involvement in another world war imminent, Berlin wrote “God Bless America,” which became the rallying song for Americans everywhere. This biography of his life includes an informative author’s note, timeline, websites, and sources.
    —SK

    What Do You Do With a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Chris Barton. Ill. Ekua Holmes. 2018. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    What Do You Do With a Voice Like ThatGrowing up in Houston, Barbara Jordan (1936–1996) confidently used her strong voice. After graduating from law school at Boston University, she returned to her home city, where she became involved in politics and was eventually elected as the first black woman to serve in the Texas state senate and, years later, the first black Texan to serve in Congress. Ending her service in government in 1979, she continued to use her voice to advocate for equality, justice, and trust by teaching courses in public policy and ethics in government at the University of Texas. This picture book biography about Congresswoman Jordan ends with an inspiring answer to the question posed in the title: “We remember it, and we honor it by making our own voices heard.” Back matter includes a timeline and bibliography.
    —CA

    Putting Books to Work: Middle Grade (ages 8–12)

    Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words. Donna Janell Bowman. Ill. S. D. Schindler. 2018. Peachtree.

    Abraham Lincoln's Dueling WordsYoung lawyer Abraham Lincoln was known for his mischievous, prank-playing sense of humor. But, in 1842, he took it too far; frustrated with the actions of James Shields, a political rival, Lincoln, his future wife, and a friend of hers wrote a series of fictional letters to the editor of the Sangamo Journal, in which they called Shields “a fool, liar, and conceity dunce.” Shields demanded a public apology and challenged Lincoln to a duel. The duel was about to commence when friends intervened and helped the two reach a face-saving compromise through words instead of swords. Schindler’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations complement Bowman’s humorous narrative. Back matter includes background for the story, an author's note, and links to expanded content and a bibliography.
    NB

    Code Word Courage (Dogs of World War II). Kirby Larson. 2018. Scholastic.

    Code Word CourageSet during World War II, Kirby Larson presents a touching story about lonely, 11-year-old Billie; Denny, a Navajo code talker; and an injured, stray dog named Bear. On a visit before shipping out, Denny leaves Bear with Billie. Bear becomes both the best friend that Billie desperately needs and the vision that guides Denny to safety during battle. Heroism is found both on the war front and at home, and Bear is the thread that connects everyone in this story with themes of friendship, courage, and the healing love of a dog.
    —SK

    Spy Runner. Eugene Yelchin. 2019. Godwin/Henry Holt.

    Spy RunnerScheduled to publish in February 2019, the publisher provided the following statement about Spy Runner: “It's 1953 and the Cold War is on. Communism threatens all that the United States stands for, and America needs every patriot to do their part. So when a Russian boarder moves into the home of 12-year-old Jake McCauley, he's on high alert. What does the mysterious Mr. Shubin do with all that photography equipment? And why did he choose to live so close to the Air Force base? Jake’s mother says that Mr. Shubin knew Jake’s dad, who went missing in action during World War II. But Jake is skeptical; the facts just don’t add up. And he’s determined to discover the truth—no matter what he risks.”

    Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California. Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Susan Knell is a professor in the department of Teaching and Leadership at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, where she teaches literacy and literature courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.

    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.

    Read More
    • Job Functions
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Librarian
    • Book Reviews
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • Student Level
    • Tutor
    • Teacher Educator
    • Reading Specialist
    • Other/Literacy Champion
    • Literacy Coach
    • Children's & YA Literature

    Celebrating Pride Month

    By Lesley Colabucci and Jennifer Shettel
     | May 29, 2018

    Established in 1994, National Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, a demonstration that is largely considered the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. The books in this column invoke the spirit of pride through narratives about coming out, LGBT families, and gender nonconformity. Another way to characterize the essence of this movement, in the words of New Zealand suffragist leader Kate Sheppard, who is profiled in Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted Around the World, “We must be ourselves at all risks.”

    Ages 4–8

    Jerome by Heart. Thomas Scotto. Trans. Claudia Bedrick & Karin Snelson. Ill. Olivier Tallec. 2018. Enchanted Lion.

    Jerome by HeartThis picture book celebrates the joys of friendship between two young boys. Raphael readily admits he loves Jerome; he loves his warm smile, the stories he invents, and the way they laugh together. Raphael also knows that his affection for Jerome may be met with disapproval. He says he loves Jerome early on in the book, but qualifies it with “I can say it. It’s easy.” He repeats this statement again at the end of the book. Through the illustrations, readers see Raphael’s parents’ concern and his anger and frustration as they discourage this friendship. Raphael’s accessible voice and the use of color and perspective in the illustrations effectively capture the emotional intensity of the story. The book offers many entry points to young readers as they navigate feelings and friendships.
    —LC

    Julián is a Mermaid. Jessica Love. 2018. Candlewick.

    Julian is a MermaidWhile riding with his abuela to the swimming pool, Julián absolutely loves seeing the people dressed up as mermaids on the subway. As they return home, he says, “Abuela, I am also a mermaid,” and, while his abuela takes a bath, Julián creates the most splendid mermaid outfit from a gauzy curtain and a headdress created with ferns, fronds, and flowers. When Abuela sees Julián, he is unsure how she will react. She gives him a loving smile, hands him a necklace to add to his costume, and walks him down the street to join in the parade of mermaids and other sea creatures walking on the beach. The illustrations (done in watercolor, gouache, and ink) include Julián’s daydreams of his underwater transformation into a mermaid.
    —JS

    Teddy’s Favorite Toy. Christian Trimmer. Ill. Madeline Valentine. 2018. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Teddy's Favorite ToyTeddy has many toys, but his pink doll, Bren-Da, Warrior Queen of Pacifica, is his absolute favorite. One day, Bren-Da’s leg snaps off and Teddy wraps her up in bandages. Going off to school, he leaves her on the floor of his room, and his mom unknowingly throws Bren-Da in the trash. When a distraught Teddy discovers that Bren-Da is missing, his mom realizes what she’s done. She springs into heroic action and saves the day. Humorous mixed-media illustrations complement this story about a young boy who is free to choose what toys he wants to play with.
    —JS

    Ages 9–11

    Love, Penelope. Joanne Rocklin. Ill. Lucy Knisley. 2018. Amulet/Abrams.

    Love, Penelope2015 is an exciting year in Oakland, California; the Golden State Warriors, Penelope’s favorite team, win the NBA championships and marriage equality becomes law. Penelope wants her two moms to get married, but they say they already have a “marriage of the heart.” She also wants to learn all she can about her mother’s pregnancy and her soon-to-be sibling, so she starts a journal of letters to the baby. The book chronicles the baby’s development, but also tracks Penelope’s struggles in school. Penelope’s voice and humor shine through in her letters, in which she unpacks some complicated interactions with family and friends.
    —LC

    She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History. 2018. Chelsea Clinton. Ill. Alexandra Boiger. Philomel/Penguin.

    She Persisted Around the WorldIn this companion book to She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to 13 pioneering women who have defied gender roles and resisted societal expectations to shape history around the world. The women in this book have fought for what's right, including their education, right to vote, and access to professions and athletics. This book features Marie Curie, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Viola Desmond, Sissi Lima do Amor, Leymah Gbowee, Caroline Herschel, Wangari Maathai, Aisha Rateb, J.K. Rowling, Kate Sheppard, Yuan Yuan Tan, Mary Verghese and Malala Yousafzai. Each woman's story is accompanied by watercolor and ink illustrations and a quote.
    —LC

    Ages 12–14

    Hurricane Child. Kheryn Callender. 2018. Scholastic.

    Hurricane ChildTwelve-year-old Caroline lives on Water Island in the Virgin Islands, and her mother has been missing for over a year. Caroline travels by boat every day to a private school where she is ostracized by her peers and mistreated by the teachers. When a school administrator and a new student, Kalinda, show her some kindness, she finds herself motivated to uncover the story behind her mother’s disappearance and perhaps to discover her own story as a child born during a hurricane. Readers will wonder along with Caroline as she struggles to understand if she’s to blame for her mother leaving, if she’s being visited by a ghost, and if she might be in love with her new friend. The author was born and raised on the Virgin Islands and the book features an #ownvoices portrayal of childhood in the Caribbean.
    —LC

    One True Way. Shannon Hitchcock. 2018. Scholastic.

    One True WayAfter her brother dies and her parents split up, Allison Drake finds herself in a new school in rural North Carolina where she meets Sam, an equestrian and the star of the basketball team. Allison is drawn to Sam because she helps her meet people at school and get involved in the school newspaper. She may also have a crush on Sam. While Allison is just discovering these feelings; Sam has been aware of her own identity for a while, but her parents and church are clear on their disapproving stance. Sam's  mother calls her basketball coach—who is a lesbian and dating a fellow teacher—a pervert and an abomination. Set in the 1970s South, the blossoming romance between Sam and Allison portrays the confusion that often accompanies coming out and illustrates the historical and political factors that surrounded gay rights during that time.
    —LC

    Ages 15+

    And She Was. Jessica Verdi. 2018. Point/Scholastic.
                     
    And She WasWhen 18-year-old Dara finds her birth certificate and discovers her mom is her biological father, everything she thought she knew about her life is turned upside down. Driven to pursue her dream of becoming a professional tennis player, Dara first feels betrayed by her mom’s elaborate cover-up of her secret and is mad that she’s kept Dara from knowing her wealthy biological mother’s parents, who could have been supporting her tennis career. Joined by her best friend Sam, Dara sets out on a road trip to find the family she’s never known existed until now. Along the way, Dara and her mom exchange emails that lead Dara to new understandings about her mom and the life they’ve lived together in this story about family, friendship, and finding your way.
    —JS

    The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles). Amy Spalding. 2018. Sky Pony.

    The Summer of Jordi PerezAbby Ives is a pink-haired, plus-size, openly gay fashion blogger who is excited to have landed a summer internship at Lemonberry, her favorite boutique. It’s not long before she’s crushing on fellow intern Jordi Perez and finds herself falling in love. When Jordi displays photos that she’s taken of Abby without her consent, their relationship is tested and Abby must decide if she can trust Jordi again. Other leading characters include Abby’s best friend, Maliah, who is not sure Jordi is the best fit for Abby; goofy Jax, who wants Abby to be his “wingwoman” in his quest to discover the best burger in town; and Abby’s mom, who’s best known for her healthy eating franchise.
    —JS

    Troublemakers. Catherine Barter. 2018. Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner.

    TroublemakersSet in London during a time of heightened fear due to the “East End Bomber,” this novel’s cliffhangers will get your heart racing as Alena, the main character, struggles with finding trust and truth. Due to the death of their mother, Alena is being raised by her much older brother, Danny and his life partner, Nick. Alena’s relationship with her brother becomes strained because of his work on the campaign of a conservative politician and because of his refusal to talk about their mother at all. Alena is trying to find her roots and figure out what her mother was like. She wonders if she could be an activist like her mother and why Danny is so upset when she contacts one of her mother’s friends. While the action related to the bombing suspect keeps the plot moving, the real appeal of this story is Alena’s family’s history and her search for identity.
    —LC

    Lesley Colabucci is an associate professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in children’s literature for pre-service and practicing teachers. Jennifer W. Shettel is an associate professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy. Prior to joining the faculty at Millersville, she spent 16 years as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist in the public schools.

    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.

    Read More
    • Librarian
    • Literacy Coach
    • Book Reviews
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Job Functions
    • Topics
    • ~9 years old (Grade 4)
    • ~8 years old (Grade 3)
    • ~7 years old (Grade 2)
    • ~6 years old (Grade 1)
    • ~5 years old (Grade K)
    • ~4 years old (Grade Pre-K)
    • ~18 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~17 years old (Grade 12)
    • ~16 years old (Grade 11)
    • ~15 years old (Grade 10)
    • ~14 years old (Grade 9)
    • ~13 years old (Grade 8)
    • ~12 years old (Grade 7)
    • ~11 years old (Grade 6)
    • ~10 years old (Grade 5)
    • Student Level
    • Teacher Educator
    • Reading Specialist
    • Other/Literacy Champion
    • Literacy Education Student
    • Children's & YA Literature

    History in Fact and Fiction

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | May 21, 2018

    People of all ages can learn important life lessons from history. In this week’s column we review recently published books, some nonfiction and some works of revisionist history, speculative history, and historical fiction, that inform and engage readers and encourage them to further explore topics of interest.  

    Ages 4–8

    A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women's Rights. Kate Hannigan. Ill. Alison Jay. 2018. Calkins Creek/Highlights.

    A Lady Has the FloorThis picture book biography introduces young readers to Belva Lockwood, who spent her life fighting for women’s rights. Despite personal and social challenges, she was one of the first women to study law in the United States and, in 1879, became the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court. In 1884, Lockwood accepted the National Equal Rights Party’s nomination for president, running on a platform supporting women’s suffrage and equal rights for all. Hannigan’s lively text is peppered with quotes incorporated into Jay’s signature, crackled, folk art-style illustrations. Back matter includes an author’s note; a timeline of key events in the women’s rights movement, from Lockwood’s birth to present day; a bibliography; and source notes.
    —CA

    Let the Children March. Monica Clark-Robinson. Ill. Frank Morrison. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    Let the Children MarchDebut author Monica Clark-Robinson’s free-verse picture book chronicles events around the May 1963 Children’s Crusade, following Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for participation in a nonviolent protest march in Birmingham, Alabama. When he urged the congregation to march, many adults were afraid of losing jobs, so young people offered to go. Although many of them were sprayed with water, arrested, and jailed, they persevered. The day after the march ended, Dr. King and white leaders negotiated a school desegregation agreement. Frank Morrison’s dramatic oil paintings offer a strong, emotional portrayal of events. A “Civil Rights and Children’s Crusade” timeline is displayed across front and back endpapers, and back matter includes an afterword, an artist’s statement, quote sources, a bibliography, and acknowledgments. 
    —NB

    Ruby in the Ruins. Shirley Hughes. 2018. Candlewick.

    Ruby in the RuinsRuby and her mum have survived the London Blitz and are awaiting Dad’s return from war. When they finally meet him at the train station, Ruby hardly recognizes him and doesn’t know what to say to him. But later, when Ruby is injured while playing with friends in a fenced-off bomb site, posted with “Danger! Keep Out” signs, and her dad comes to her rescue, Ruby knows exactly what to say: “Oh, Dad, I’m so glad you’re back!” Hughes’ detailed mixed-media illustrations beautifully set the scene for this gentle story of a family’s adjustment to life in postwar London.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Betty Before X. Ilyasah Shabazz (with Renée Watson). 2018. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2018.

    Betty Before XCowritten by her daughter, Betty Before X shares the childhood story of Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcom X. When her beloved aunt and guardian dies, 7-year-old Betty is sent to Detroit to live with her mother and stepfamily. Feeling uncomfortable in her new home, she finds support in the local church, where she meets activist Helen Malloy, who encourages Betty and her best friend, Suesetta, to join the Housewives' League of Detroit and participate in the organization's boycott of businesses that refuse to hire or serve blacks. During the tumultuous 1940s, Betty begins to develop her “voice” for equality, a foundational skill for her lifelong activism—and discovered unexpected allies in her community in the fight against discrimination and violence toward blacks. Back matter includes an author’s note; “Detroit in the 1940s,” “Bethel AME Church,” a “Meet the Characters” sections; and a timeline.
    —NB

    The Island at the End of Everything. Kiran Millwood Hargrave. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    The Island at the End of EverythingTwelve-year-old Ami lives on Culion, an island in the Philippines for people who have leprosy. Under orders that all healthy children are to be sent to an orphanage on a nearby island, “clean” Amihan is separated from her mother, who is suffering from an advanced stage of the disease. When Amihan learns that her mother is dying, she is determined to return to Culion to say goodbye to her. With the help of Mari, the one friend she has made at the Coron Orphanage, Amihan makes the trip in a small boat to return to Culion (known as the “island of the living dead” or “the island of no return” by those who were fearful and uninformed about leprosy). An author’s note provides background for the story and Hargrave’s choice to call Culion “the island at the end of everything.”
    —CA

    A Sky Full of Stars. Linda Williams Jackson. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    A Sky Full of StarsIn this sequel to Midnight Without a Moon (2017), 13-year-old Rosa Lee Carter has decided to remain in 1955 Stillwater, Mississippi, where she and her younger brother, Fred Lee, are being raised on a sharecropper farm by a cruel grandmother and gentle grandpa. Emotions sizzle after Emmett Till’s killers are acquitted and as white renegades terrorize black families and those attempting to register blacks to vote. Cousin Shorty proposes they shoot at white folks’ windows to even the score, but Rosa is persuaded, instead, to participate in the first peaceful demonstration in town with her best friend Hallelujah Jenkins, the pastor’s son. Although actions exact great cost for all who protest, Rosa courageously forges her own path to be part of the movement for change. An author’s note provides an historical context.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Hunger: A Tale of Courage. Donna Jo Napoli. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    HungerSet during the Irish Potato Famine in the fall of 1846, 12-year-old Lorraine’s family members are tenant farmers for an English lord in County Galway, where their close-knit community is falling ill as potatoes, the staple of their diet, are blighted for the second year. While gathering wild greens, Lorraine encounters Susanna, the spoiled and lonely young daughter of the manse, who entices Lorraine to attend her dolly tea parties that comes with delicious treats. When Lorraine’s little brother, Paddy, becomes gravely ill, Susanna devises a plan for Lorraine to gather eggs for him (which she secretly uses to feed her family and community). While many Irish abandon their country to survive, Lorraine and her family stay to fight for their rights and rebuild Ireland. Back matter includes a postscript, glossary, bibliography, and timeline of famines throughout history. 
    —NB   

    The Night Diary. Veera Hiranandani. 2018. Dial/Penguin.

    The Night DiaryIn 1947 India, Hindu Nisha and her twin brother, Amil, have just celebrated their 12th birthdays. Nisha decides to write to her Muslim mother, who died giving birth to her, in the diary that Kazi, their beloved cook, gifted to her. Nisha chronicles the next three months as her comfortable life in Mirpur Khas (now a part of Pakistan) is turned upside down after her country gains independence from the British and is split into two separate countries, new India and Pakistan, based primarily on people’s religions (Hindu or Muslim). But what if you have both Muslim and Hindu relatives and friends and must choose between them? After violence breaks out, Nisha, Amil, their father, and their elderly grandmother, as Hindus, flee on foot to their newly designated homeland of India across the border. Back matter includes an author’s note on the historical background for the story and a glossary of commonly used Indian and Pakistani words used in the book.
    —NB

    Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today. 2018. Candlewick.

    Voices From the Second World WarIn this anthology individuals share accounts of their experiences during World War II. Many of the stories, first published in First News, were collected by children who interviewed elderly relatives and neighbors. Entries (arranged chronologically from the outbreak of the war to the bombing of Hiroshima) include moving stories of suffering, survival, and heroism of individuals who served in the military, women who met the demand to fill jobs on farms and factories and on the front lines as nurses, radio operators, and support staff in the armed forces, as well as children, including some who were part of the Kindertransport or survived internment in concentration camps. Although most of the interviewees are British, some are citizens of other Allies and Axis countries. Biographical sketches and black-and-white photographs of both the interviewers and interviewees accompany the stories. Back matter includes a subject index, an index of interviewees, and a glossary.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin. James L. Swanson. 2018. Scholastic.

    Chasing King's KillerThe Foreword, writtenby Congressman John Lewis, clearly establishes the impact of the tragic event that occurred on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. “After the assassination [of Martin Luther King, Jr.,] something died in America. The sense of hope, of optimism, of possibility was replaced by horror and despair.” James L. Swanson’s meticulously researched and documented narrative focuses on the murder of Dr. King and the manhunt for his assassin, James Earl Ray. He also provides information on Dr. King’s childhood in Atlanta and his work as a leader in the civil rights movement as well as background on convicted felon Ray, his escape from prison, his planning of the assassination, and his eventual apprehension. The epilogue ends with thought-provoking questions: “Where do we go from here? How long will it take? How long?” The abundance of quotations and captioned photographs add interest to the accessible and engrossing account. The extensive back matter includes source notes, bibliography, and an index.
    —CA

    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.

    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.

    Read More
Back to Top

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives