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    New Year, New Releases

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Feb 11, 2019

    As reviewers, we eagerly await our first look at new releases with the beginning of the new year. The reading of new releases we have been doing suggests that 2019 will be another terrific year for children’s and young adult literature in which readers of all ages can look forward to many great books from which to choose.

    Ages 4–8

    Hands Up! Breanna J. McDaniel. Ill. Shane W. Evans. 2019. Dial/Penguin.

    Hands Up!Breanna J. McDaniel follows a black girl as she grows from baby to teenager, describing the many ways she and others raise their hands. Hands are raised by her parents playing peek-a-boo with her, and by her, as they help her get dressed in the morning. She raises her hands high when eager to answer a question in class and in taking a graceful ballet position. Hands are raised in praise by everyone while worshiping in church. Surrounded by friends picking grapes and apples, she declares, “We begin small, but we grow big. / Together we are mighty. / High fives all around, hands up!” The book ends with the girl joining a peaceful protest march. “As one we say, ‘HANDS UP!’”  Shane W. Evans’ sunny, textured illustrations, created digitally with mixed media, joyfully express the positive “hands up!” message of this book: Uplifted hands celebrate and support one another.
    —NB

    The Quiet Boat Ride: And Other Stories (Fox + Chick #2). Sergio Ruzzier. 2019. Chronicle.

    The Quiet Boat RideYoung children will delight in joining Fox and Chick, best friends from Sergio Ruzzier’s The Party and Other Stories (2018), in three more mini-adventures. In “The Quiet Boat Ride,” Chick’s wild imagining of sea monsters, pirates, and shipwrecks makes Fox’s quiet boat ride on a pond very stressful. In “The Chocolate Cake,” Chick’s worries over the contents of a box he receives are put to rest by Fox, the giver of the gift. In “The Sunrise,” Fox agrees to let Chick join him to watch the sunrise from a hilltop but, when Chick’s preparation for the trip makes them miss the sunrise, the ever-resourceful Fox comes up with an alternative, watching sunset from the hilltop. Panels and double-page spreads with expressive ink and watercolor illustrations and a simple text presented entirely in dialogue balloons make this humorous comic-style picture book a good choice for newly independent readers.
    —CA

    The Whole Wide World and Me. Toni July. 2019. Candlewick.

    The Whole Wide World and MeToni July uses a simple, poetic text with only a few words on each double-page spread and illustrations (created with ink, charcoal pencil, torn tissue, cut paper, and digital collage) in a limited palette of bright colors to tell the story of a young girl’s busy day exploring the natural world. Her day begins with a walk through a field of flowers and ends with her back in the field examining a ladybird beetle and then sitting quietly on a large rock contemplating her place in the world. “I am a small / part of it all. / The whole wide world . . .  / and me.” This cheerful picture book encourages young children to think about the wonders of the natural world and their relationship to it.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Bridge Home. Padma Venkatraman. 2019. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    The Bridge HomeEleven-year-old Viji and her sister with special needs, Rukku, flee their abusive father after he breaks their mother’s arm and physically hurts them. In the crowded city of Chennai, India, they find a community that befriends them (Teashop Aunty, puppy Kutti, homeless boys Muthu and Arul with whom they live under a bridge) and other unexpected allies. Surrounded by overwhelming poverty and dangerous strangers who steal from them, the girls survive, one day at a time. After Rukku dies from dengue fever, Celina Aunty, from the Safe Home for Working Children, directs guilt-ridden Viji to write letters to her sister to process what has happened. Back matter includes a glossary of Indian words used in the novel and an author’s note about the plight of homeless children in India.
    —NB

    The End of the World and Beyond: Continues the Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitt: Being an Absolutely Accurate Autobiographical Account of My Follies, Fortune & Fate Written by Himself. Avi. 2019. Algonquin.

    The End of the World and BeyondIn this companion to The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts (2017), 12-year-old Oliver continues the account of his unexpected life as he escapes the hangman’s noose for stealing 23 shillings only to be transported by convict ship from England to the American colonies, in 1725. Surviving the horrors of the perilous journey across a stormy Atlantic, he is sold in Annapolis, Maryland, as an indentured servant to Fitzhugh, a hard-drinking, brutal master, to labor on his small, isolated tobacco farm for a term of seven years. With hope for freedom, Oliver and Bara, a young slave, take to the dangerous swamp pursued by Fitzhugh, knowing that capture would mean death. The final chapter, “In Which My Life Has Even More Unexpected Events,” ends with Oliver putting down his pen, hoping his life is done with the unexpected and wondering whether Bara is also free.
    —CA

    What is Poetry?: The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems. Michael Rosen. 2019. Candlewick.

    What is Poetry 2In this helpful guide, Michael Rosen reflects on his many years of writing poetry as he encourages his audience to “read, write, and listen to poetry.” Opening withthe titular question, he discusses and gives examples on a variety of topics such as how poetry suggests things (“A Word is Dead” by Emily Dickinson) or plays with words (“Waltzing Matilda” by Banjo Paterson). In subsequent chapters, Rosen writes about his composition process, ideas for poems (including performance art), and writing tips. By the final chapter, readers should have developed their own responses to the opening question and feel prepared to read more poetry and write their own verses. Back matter includes an appendix with sites about poetry and videos of poets performing, as well as a topical index.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Cicada. Shaun Tan. 2019. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.

    Cicada 2“Cicada work in tall building. / Data entry clerk. Seventeen year. / No sick day. No mistake. / Tok Tok Tok!” Through simple, rhythmic text paired with expressive, beautifully composed oil paintings on facing pages, Shaun Tan lets Cicada tell his story of diligently working with humans in a depressingly grey office cubicle, unaccepted and bullied by his human coworkers and unappreciated by his employees. Retiring after 17 years without promotion and benefits, Cicada makes his way to the rooftop of the tall building. “Time to say goodbye.” Readers will be startled by the ending of five wordless double-spread illustrations and a final four lines of text. Cicada is another timely, thought-provoking tale from master storyteller Tan. Be prepared to be surprised.
    —CA

    Dragon Pearl. Yoon Ha Lee. 2019. Rick Riordan Presents/Hyperion.

    Dragon PearlThirteen-year-old Min, a shape-shifting fox spirit, leaves Jinju, the poor, undeveloped Thousand Worlds planet on which she lives in a human form, in search of her older brother Jun, a Space Forces cadet suspected of having deserted to search for the legendary mystical Dragon Pearl. She eventually lands on the Pale Lightning, her brother’s battle cruiser, having taken the shape of Bae Jang, a cadet who died at the hands of mercenaries while defending a space freighter, after promising his ghost that she’ll avenge his death. Befriended by two of Bae Jang’s friends, Cadet Haneul (a female dragon) and Cadet Sujin  (a nonbinary goblin), she gathers information and develops the technical skills needed to pull off a dangerous plan to journey to the Ghost Sector, the location of the Dragon Pearl, where she hopes to find Jun. Yoon Ha Lee’s sci-fi thriller is an action-packed adventure story enriched with elements of Korean mythology.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday. Natalie C. Anderson. 2019. Putnam/Penguin.

    Let's Go Swimming on DoomsdayIn this dark, political thriller, 16-year-old Abdiweli is forced by Mr. Jones of AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) to become a soldier spy in the jihadi Somali militia, Al Shabaab (in which his older brother Dahir is a commander) in exchange for the promised return of his kidnapped family. After Dahir is injured and can’t carry out a suicide mission, Abdhi volunteers, but safely detonates the vest and defects. Shattered physically and mentally, he finds himself in Kenya with social worker Sam (a believer in Doomsday), who places “troublemaker” Abdi at the Maisha Girls Center where he conceals his identity and teaches fragile students to swim. Against all odds, Abdi eventually redeems himself and finds “a place of peace, a place like home.” Back matter includes an author’s note (on factual and fictional aspects of the story and her writing perspective) and a glossary of Somalian, Arabic, and Kiswahili words, initialisms, and acronyms.
    —NB

    Shout: A Poetry Memoir. Laurie Halse Anderson. 2019. Viking/Penguin.

    ShoutIn 1999, author Laurie Halse Anderson wrote the multiple award-winning novel Speak, in which the protagonist is raped the summer before her freshman year of high school. On the 20th anniversary of Speak, Anderson, in her compellingly honest memoir-in-verse Shout, discloses circumstances of her complicated family dynamics growing up and her rape at age 13 with its emotional aftermath. In addition, her poems include the stories of others who have been violated, and she empowers readers as she throws down a gauntlet: “the consent of yes is necessary” and “ . . . When one / suffers, / all are weakened, / but when everyone thrives, we dance.” Back matter includes resources for readers.
    —NB

    All Ages

    I (HEART) Art: Art We Love from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2019. Abrams.

    I Heart ArtThis small, chunky book is a child-friendly “catalog” of more than 150 works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s vast collection. The book is organized into 10 color-coded sections by theme: play; sports; music; singing and dancing; reading, writing, and drawing; animals; family; locomotion; the country; and the city. Each section begins with a five-line introduction. For example, the “I (HEART) Animals” section begins with “Who doesn’t (Heart) animals? / Grazing deer and growling tigers, / Leaping fish and splashing frogs, / Barking dogs and scrambling cats, / There are so many animals in the world!” As the introduction notes, I (HEART) Art is a book to come back to again and again because a work of art can have different meanings each time you look at it.
    —CA

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, 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.

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    2019 Notable Books for a Global Society (Continued)

    By Sandip Wilson, Joyce Herbeck, and Tami Morton
     | Feb 04, 2019

    This second of two columns introducing the 2019 Notable Books for a Global Society (NBGS) includes nonfiction and fiction books that inform, entertain, and touch the heart. The extended article on the NBGS books with teaching ideas and a collection of connecting books will be published in the spring 2019 issue of The Dragon Lode, the journal of the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group.

    Ages 4–8

    Alma and How She Got Her Name. Juana Martinez-Neal. 2018. Candlewick.

    AlmaWhat’s in a name?  Too much, thinks Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. When her Daddy shows her the family photo album and tells her the story of each relative, Alma loves the stories, but wants to know about her own name. He tells her, “You are the first and only Alma. You will make your own story.” The illustrations, featuring a charming Alma, were done as print transfers with graphite and colored pencils on handmade textured paper. In “A Note from Juana,” Martinez-Neal, a native of Lima, Peru, who now lives in the United States, tells the story of her name and encourages readers to do the same.
    —JH  

    The Day You Begin. Jacqueline Woodson. Ill. Rafael López. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    The Day You BeginEveryone has a story, but why does everyone else’s story seem more exciting than ours?  Children often feel different and alone in school, whether because of their hair, skin color, language, clothes, the food they eat, or physical limitations. Jacqueline Woodson’s gentle text and Rafael López’s bright mixed-media illustrations tell the story of how a classroom of young children discover that they are more alike than different when they begin to share their stories and take pride in their differences.  A Spanish edition, El día en que descubres quién eres, is available.
    JH

    Love. Matt de la Peña. Ill. Loren Long. 2018. Putnam/Penguin.

    LoveNewbery Award winner Matt de la Peña’s poetic text expresses how, in times of joy and in times of hardship, sometimes alone and at times with others, everyone experiences love. “In a crowded concrete park, / you toddle toward summer sprinklers / while older kids skip rope / and run up the slide, and soon / you are running among them, / and the echo of your laughter is love.” Loren Long’s illustrations, rendered in collaged monotype prints, acrylic paint, and pencil, contribute to the reader’s understanding of the many ways love is experienced by depicting diverse individuals in different situations. Children, as well as the adults who share the book with them, will find new meanings with each reading of the book. A Spanish edition, Amor,is available.
    TM

    Saffron Ice Cream. Rashín Kheiriyeh. 2018. Scholastic.

    Saffron Ice CreamOn her first trip to the beach in Brooklyn, New York, her new home after her family left Iran, Rashin can't help but compare Coney Island to the beach on the Caspian Sea. She misses the fun of swimming with her friend, Azadeh, but she is delighted to see an ice cream truck. When she learns that this ice cream seller does not have the saffron ice cream she and Azadeh loved to buy, however, Rashin bursts into tears. A girl standing nearby sees Rashin’s disappointment and suggests that she try chocolate crunch, her favorite. New favorite ice cream! New friend! The brightly colored, action-packed illustrations capture the energy and emotions of experiencing a new place and provide a window into understanding the need to reach out to newcomers.
    JH

    Ages 9–11

    Dreamers. Yuyi Morales. 2018. Neal Porter/Holiday House.

    DreamersYuyi Morales tells the story of immigrating to the United States with her infant son, discovering “so many things we didn’t know. Unable to understand and afraid to speak, we made lots of mistakes.” The poetic text and brightly colored, imaginative illustrations (done in acrylic, pen and ink, and collage) convey her wonder at discovering the solace of the library where she and her son pore over picture books. Back matter includes details of Morales’ own story of coming to the U.S. with her 2-year-old son from Ciudad Juarez, a list of picture books that inspired her, and information on how she made the book. A Spanish edition, Soñodores, is available.
    TM

    Finding Langston. Lesa Cline-Ransome. 2018. Holiday House.

    Finding LangstonIn this story set in 1946, 11-year-old Langston has moved with his father from Alabama to the south side of Chicago following the death of Langston’s mother. In his effort to elude bullies after school, Langston runs to the library. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, this one welcomes everyone. The library is a safe haven where Langston can check out as many books as he wants. The books change how Langston sees himself, and when he discovers Langston Hughes, reading his poems and sharing the books with his father, he learns more about his mother, whom he misses, and forges a bond with his father.
    TM 

    La Frontera: El viaje con papá/My Journey with Papa. Deborah Mills & Alfredo Alva. Ill. Claudia Navarro. 2018. Barefoot.

    La FronteraSet in central Mexico in the 1980s, Alfredo’s family needs to find a new home when harvesting pine nuts in the pinyon forest can no longer support them. Written in Spanish and then English and accompanied by warm, colorful, mixed-media artwork, La Frontera recounts the dangerous and uncertain journey Alfredo and his father take crossing the border into the United States and living for weeks in a camp. Finding a home in a Texas town, Alfredo goes to school and feels part of a community as he and his father build a life to support and reunite the family four years later. Back matter includes photographs of Alfredo’s family and home in central Mexico and information on immigrants and immigration across the MexicoU.S. border.
    —SW

    Write On, Irving Berlin! Leslie Kimmelman. Ill. David C. Gardner. 2018. Sleeping Bear.

    Write On, Irving Berlin!In 1893, Israel Baline and his family immigrate to the United States, fleeing pogroms in Russia. The family brings with them a tradition of music, and in school, Israel daydreams of music. At age 13, after his father’s death, he becomes a singing waiter and begins writing lyrics reflecting pride in his adopted country. Throughout his life, he continues to write poignant songs such as “White Christmas” and riotous songs such as those in the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Brightly hued, delicate illustrations, rendered in graphite and watercolor, convey the heart and feeling of his songs. Back matter includes additional biographical information on Irving Berlin (18881989), a list of his favorite songs, and a book list.
    —SW

    Ages 12–14

    Amal Unbound. Aisha Saeed. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    Amal UnbounWhen her mother gives birth to another daughter and becomes so depressed she can’t get out of bed, Amal, an independent and resourceful girl who loves school and learning, stays home in her Punjabi village of Pakistan to help with the baby and the housework. Amal misses school and thinks her life is over, yet things get worse when, one day, on the way to the market, she insults Jawad Sahib, the most powerful man in the region. As retribution, she must work as his house servant. Although she misses her family and school, Amal is dutiful in her servitude and her sense of justice earns her the respect of the other servants. 
    JH

    The Crossroads. Alexandra Diaz. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

    The CrossroadsIn this sequel to The Only Road (2016) in which Jaime Rivera and his cousin Ángela made the journey from Guatemala to the United States to live with Jaime’s brother Tomás, in New Mexico, 12-year-old Jaime, who does not speak English, doesn’t like having to go to school, unlike Ángela who easily makes friends. While trying to learn a new language, Jaime deals with a bully, grows anxious about the friendships Ángela is making, and worries when he hears that his Abuela is not well. Diaz considers timely issues immigrants face as she tells the story of the challenges Jaime has in middle school. A Spanish edition, La encrucijada, is available.
    TM  

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

    The Night DiaryTwelve-year-old Nisha begins to keep a diary just before the partition of India in 1947 creates two countries, Pakistan and India. Her Muslim mother has died, and the lives of her Hindu family in Mirpur Khas, a southern city in what becomes Pakistan, become endangered. They leave their comfortable home for India, walking because train travel is too dangerous. In dated diary entries written to her deceased mother, Nisha records the danger and deprivation her family faces as people on both sides of the new border are killed as they migrate to Jodhpur, in western India. Back matter includes a glossary and an author’s note providing historical context and discussion of the separation of fact from fiction in the novel.
    —SW

    Ages 15+

    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree. Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. 2018. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins.

    Buried Beneath the Baobab TreeYa Ta, the best student at her school, enjoys her friends and helps her family in their rural village in Northeast Nigeria. She longs to win a state scholarship to earn a university degree so she can teach, but worries that Success, the boy she loves, will not want so educated a woman. Told in vignettes, the novel depicts the destruction of her family life and hopes when Boka Haram rebels attack the village and kidnap women and girls moving them deep into the forest. Ya Ta’s captivity challenges her beliefs and dreams as she strives to survive each day. Back matter includes an afterword by journalist Vivian Mazza with information on the history of the jihad rebels who became known as Boka Haram (a Hausa term meaning “Western education is forbidden”) and the stories of individual women who escaped capture and a list of resources.
    —SW  

    The three reviewers are members of the 2019 Notable Books for a Global Society Committee. Sandip Wilson, cochair of the committee, serves as professor in the School of Education, Husson University, Bangor, Maine. Mary Ellen Oslick is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at Stetson University, DeLand, Florida. Junko Sakoi is program coordinator of the Multicultural Curriculum Department at Tucson Unified School District, Arizona.

    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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    2019 Notable Books for a Global Society

    By Sandip Wilson, Mary Ellen Oslick, and Junko Sakoi
     | Jan 28, 2019

    Each January the Notable Books for a Global Society Committee of the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) selects 25 books published in the previous year that illustrate diversity in its many forms. This column is the first of two introducing the 2019 Notable Books for a Global Society list for pre-K–12 students. More information about Notable Books for a Global Society (including lists of previous winners) is available at clrsig.org.

    Ages 4–8

    All Are Welcome. Alexandra Penfold. Ill. Suzanne Kaufman. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    all-are-welcome-th“Pencils sharpened in their case. / Bells are ringing, let’s make haste. / School’s beginning, dreams to chase. / All are welcome here.” School is a place where all children of different races, religions, and backgrounds are welcome and where they learn and grow together. Lively, brightly hued double-page spreads express the children’s joyous daily activities. In depicting parents as diverse as the children, Penfold and Kaufman share a message about celebrating diversity and inclusion. “We’re part of a community. / Our strength is our diversity. / A shelter from adversity. / All are welcome here.”
    —JS

    The Day War Came. Nicola Davies. Ill. Rebecca Cobb. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Day War CameWhile at school one day, a little girl survives bombs that destroy her school and discovers her home is also destroyed and her family killed. An orphan, she flees the unnamed country on a perilous journey with many other people and eventually finds safety in a refugee camp. When she is turned away from an overcrowded school because there is no place for her to sit, a child brings her a chair at the camp so that she can return to school. This story, depicted in delicate graphite, colored pencil, and watercolor illustrations, conveys the plight of refugee children and shows how kindness and generosity can surmount political and social limitations. Back matter includes background information on programs to aid refugees.
    —SW

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

    Drawn TogetherA young boy visiting his grandfather speaks English; his grandfather speaks Thai. They struggle to communicate across language, age, and cultural divides, leading to confusion and uncomfortable silence, but when the boy takes out his sketchbook and markers and begins to draw, his grandfather gets out his brush and ink and they discover a mutual love of drawing. Double-page spreads with Santat’s dynamic illustrations depict how drawing fantastic heroic adventures together creates a bond between them that goes beyond language and—by the end of the book and their adventure in drawing—the marker and paint brush have changed hands.
    —JS

    Mommy's Khimar. Jamilah Tompkins-Bigelow. Ill. Ebony Glenn. 2018. Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster.

    Mommy's KhimarTompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn present a story of a child who loves a common favorite activity of young children, playing dress-up. A young Muslim girl delights in her mother’s myriad beautiful khimars, or headscarves. “In Mommy’s closet, there are many khimars—so many that I can’t count them: black ones, white ones . . .  purple, blue, and red . . . stripes, patterns, and polka dots too.” Whimsical, warm illustrations portray the magicthe girl feels as she becomes the sun, a mother bird, or a superhero when she wears her mother’s khimars. Most importantly, wearing a khimar connects the young girl to her mother, her family, and her community.
    —MEO

    We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. Traci Sorell. Ill. Frané Lessac. 2018. Charlesbridge.

    We Are GratefulOtsaliheliga is the way Cherokee people say we are grateful as they celebrate and remember experiences through the year. Each double-page spread includes a phrase to complete a statement of gratitude. “When cool breezes blow and leaves fall we say ostsaliheliga . . .” Expressions on each page complete the statement, “. . . while we collect buckbrush and honey suckle to weave baskets / . . . to remember our ancestors who suffered hardship and loss on the Trail of Tears.” Lessac depicts the events and practices of the Cherokee in brightly colored gouache, folk art-style paintings in contemporary settings. Back matter includes a glossary, the Cherokee syllabary developed by Sequoyah, and an author’s note.
    —SW

    Ages 9–11

    The Cardboard Kingdom. Chad Sell. 2018. Knopf/Random House.  

    The Cardboard KingdomThis graphic novel, a collaboration between cartoonist Chad Sell and 10 other creators,is a collection of short stories that showcase the imagination, creativity, and camaraderie of a group of children. During the summer, two children use cardboard boxes to create costumes and an imaginary world in a backyard. In the following stories, other children from the neighborhood transform themselves into royalty, superheroes, monsters, and other fantastic characters using cardboard and join in the imaginative play. One boy transforms himself into the Sorceress and a girl with a big voice becomes a roaring monster, the Big Banshee. The roles the 16 kids play in their Cardboard Kingdom give them the confidence to face real-life conflict with their families and to forge their identities. In the final chapter they celebrate their summer adventure at the Dragon’s Head Inn before starting off to school.
    —JS

    Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13. Helaine Becker. Ill. Dow Phumiruk. 2018. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt.   

    Counting on KatherineThis picture book biography presents the life and work of trailblazing mathematician Katherine Johnson (1918–present). As a young girl, she loved numbers and counting, but segregation threatened to stymie her education. With the support of her family, she persevered in her love of discovering patterns in the universe through exploring numbers and solved mathematical problems. Katherine became a NASA researcher at the beginning of the space race in the 1950s. She was an important contributor to NASA programs, calculating flight paths for Apollo missions including the one that resulted in the safe return of the aborted Apollo 13 mission. Back matter includes additional information on Johnson’s life and a list of sources.
    —MEO

    Too Young to Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits to Be Reunited With Her Family. Van Ho & Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. 2018. Pajama Press.

    Too Young to EscapeOne morning in 1981, in Ho Chi Minh City, 4-year-old Van woke up to find her mother, sisters, and brother gone, following her father and older sister, who left a year earlier. They had fled the communist regime in South Vietnam after the Vietnam War by boat, leaving behind Van, who was too young, and her grandmother, who was too old, to make such a dangerous journey. With her grandmother, Van lived with her aunt and uncle, who treated her like an unwelcome servant, and she struggled with loneliness and poverty. Four years later, her parents, now living in Canada, brought Van and her grandmother to their new home. Back matter includes family photographs and an interview with Van’s parents that provide historical context for their leaving Van in Vietnam.
    —JS

    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 Houston, began a career in law, and served as a Texas state senator. In 1972, she was elected to the U.S. Congress and eventually, became a professor at the University of Texas, where she continued to use her voice to speak for equality and justice. This biography of extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, with stunning mixed-media collage illustrations, 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 detailed timeline, author’s note, references, and link to a bibliography.
    —MEO

    Ages 12–14

    Ghost Boys. Jewell Parker Rhodes. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Ghost BoysWhile playing with a toy gun, 12-year-old Jerome is fatally shot in the back by a white policeman. Returning as a ghost, Jerome observes the effects of his tragic death on his family, Sara (the policeman’s daughter, and Carlos (the friend who gave him the toy gun to fend off bullies) and discovers that he is surrounded by other ghost boys (including Emmet Till) killed in violent circumstances. Rhode’s work inspires important conversations about the complexities of blackness in America, conscious and unconscious bias, and privilege. Back matter includes an afterward, questions for discussion, and resources.
    —MEO

    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 in 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 father (a dentist), mother (a math teacher), and two brothers crowd into a safe room and sleep on the floor. As the war intensifies the family’s living conditions worsen, Ali’s father is deployed to the south to treat wounded soldiers, and, as Ali runs through the rubble of bombed neighborhoods to obtain his family’s government rations, he discovers the costs of war. Back matter includes an author’s note on the collaboration between the author and Ali Fadhil, on whose life the novel is based.
    —SW

    The War Outside. Monica Hesse. 2018. Little, Brown.

    The War OutsideIn 1943, Haruko, a Japanese American from Colorado, and Margot, a German American from Iowa, live with their families in Crystal City Internment Camp (located near Crystal City, Texas) during World War II for “enemy aliens,” people of Japanese, Italian, and German ancestry and their American-born children. In this novel told from alternative points of view, friendship grows between Haruko and Margot despite the prejudice and racism they experience as tensions increase, relationships become strained, and families face deportation or deal with the hard decision to return to countries now unfamiliar. Back matter includes an informative “Note on Historical Accuracy” by the author describing her research.
    —SW

    Age 15+

    The Prince and the Dressmaker. Jen Wang. 2018. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    The Prince and the DressmakerIn this graphic novel, Frances is a talented dressmaker who dreams of fame as she creates elaborate dresses for her patron Prince Sebastian. He appreciates her unique gowns, which are beautifully displayed in the intricately detailed illustrations, and flaunts her designs in Paris nightlife as he adopts the persona of Lady Crystallia. Worried that his family will stop him from wearing Frances’ dresses, Prince Sebastian makes her promise to keep his true identity a secret. The graphic novel format conveys the growing complexity of this story of identity and friendship. To keep the prince’s secret safe, Frances must not take credit for her gowns and must remain anonymous, although she can’t keep silent forever if she wants her dream of being recognized as a fashion designer realized.
    —MEO

    The three reviewers are members of the 2019 Notable Books for a Global Society Committee. Sandip Wilson, cochair of the committee, serves as professor in the School of Education, Husson University, Bangor, Maine. Mary Ellen Oslick is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at Stetson University, DeLand, Florida. Junko Sakoi is program coordinator, Multicultural Curriculum Department, Tucson Unified School District, Arizona.

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    Looking Back at 2018 Fiction

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Jan 22, 2019

    We have read extensively in all genres of fiction during the year and, like others who do so, we have our favorites (Nancy’s is fantasy and Carolyn’s is historical fiction). Deciding on a list of only 20 books the two of us could agree upon was a challenge. Here is our notable fiction of 2018 list. 

    Ages 4–8

    Alma and How She Got Her Name. Juana Martinez-Neal. 2018. Candlewick.

    AlmaAlma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela is a small girl with a big name. When her father shows her photos of the relatives for whom she’s named, she asks about Alma, who is not pictured. He replies, “You are the first and the only Alma. You will make your own story.” In “A Note from Juana,” Martinez-Neal tells about her own long name. 

    Baby Monkey, Private Eye. Brian Selznick & David Serlin. Ill. Brian Selznick. 2018. Scholastic.

    Baby MonkeyIn this innovative fusion of picture book, graphic novel, and early reader, Baby Monkey is good at being a private detective. A simple, patterned text and expressive black-and-white drawings reveal how Baby Monkey solves cases involving the missing jewels of an opera singer, the pie of a pizza maker, the nose of a clown, and the spaceship of an astronaut before taking on a most important case, which reunites a mother with her baby.

    The Day You Begin. Jacqueline Woodson. Ill. Rafael López. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    The Day You BeginReaders see through the eyes of three children who learn that they are more alike than different when they begin to share their stories. López’s brightly colored, mixed-media illustrations perfectly complement the text and the final page depicting two of the children, Angelina and Rigoberto from Venezuela, swinging together on the playground, says it all. “This is the day you begin.”A Spanish edition, El día en que descubres quién eres, is also available.

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

    Drawn TogetherDuring a visit, a young boy and his grandfather share lunch (although they eat different foods) and television (although the boy would rather watch something else) but cannot share language. When the boy takes out a sketchbook and markers, his grandfather takes out brush and ink. Santat’s illustrations (both black and white and color) show how art becomes a bridge between the two as they draw together.

    Dreamers. Yuyi Morales. 2018. Neal Porter/Holiday House.

    DreamersIn this beautifully crafted picture book, based on Morales’ own immigration story, a mother and her infant son make their way to a new country. Their discovery of the local library helps the two migrantes face the challenges of living in this strange place. “We learned to read, / to speak, / to write, / and / to make / our voices heard.” Also available in a Spanish edition, Soñadores.

    Fox + Chick: The Party and Other Stories. Sergio Ruzzier. 2018. Chronicle.

    Fox and Chick The PartyIn this comic-style picture book with three humorous short stories—“The Party,” “Good Soup,” and “Sit Still”—Ruzzier introduces young readers to Fox and Chick. Cheerful pastel ink-and-watercolor illustrations and simple, repetitive text presented entirely in dialogue balloons make this book about the friendship of an unlikely pair a good choice for newly independent readers.

    A House That Once Was. Julie Fogliano. Ill. Lane Smith. 2018. Roaring Brook.

    A House That Once Was“Deep in the woods / is a house / just a house / that once was / but now isn’t / a home.” Julie Fogliano’s lyrical text and Lane Smith’s beautifully composed mixed media artwork tell how two children come upon a derelict house in the woods and wonder if the house remembers stories of “someone who we’ll never know” before returning to their own cozy and warm home.

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

    Julian is a MermaidWhen Julián creates a lovely mermaid outfit from a gauzy curtain and dons a headdress of ferns and flowers, he is unsure how his abuela will react, but she smiles, hands him a necklace to add to his costume, and walks with him down the street to join the parade of mermaids on the beach. A series of wordless double-spread pages beautifully portray Julián’s daydream of an underwater adventure as a mermaid.

    Ages 9–11

    Harbor Me. Jacqueline Woodson. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    Harbor MeHaley recalls the events of the previous school year in which Ms. Laverne, their teacher, took a diverse group of children in a special fifth- and sixth-grade classroom to Room 501, the ARTT room—“A Room To Talk”—where they learn to express their feelings and fears about personal problems (bullying, racial profiling, deportation, and incarcerated parents), without adult supervision and within a safe community of respectful listeners, every Friday.

    Louisiana’s Way Home. Kate DiCamillo. 2018. Candlewick.

    Louisiana's Way HomeRaised by her eccentric granny, 12-year-old Louisiana Elefante believes she carries a curse of sundering (or leaving), so she is not surprised when her granny flees with her in the middle of the night. After emergency dental surgery for Granny stops their flight in a strange town, Louisiana, abandoned and befriended by strangers, discovers family secrets that change everything she thought she knew about herself.

    Merci Suárez Changes Gears. Meg Medina. 2018. Candlewick.

    Merci Suarez Changes GearsSixth grader Merci Suárez lives with her multigenerational Cuban American family in Las Casitas. She is worried about her beloved grandfather Lolo’s Alzheimer’s, and at Seaward Pines Academy, where she and her brother, Roli, are scholarship students, bullying by Edna Santos increases after Merci is assigned to be the Sunshine Buddy for new student Michael Clark. Through it all, Merci learns that, similar to riding a bike, she must change gears and take a deep breath to keep pedaling into the future.

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

    The Parker InheritanceWhile spending the summer in the small town of Lambert, South Carolina, 12-year-old African-American Candice Miller becomes involved in deciphering clues to locate an “inheritance” in a letter she finds in a puzzle book in her deceased grandmother’s attic. Candice and Brandon Jones, a quiet, bullied, book-loving neighbor, dig into the troubled history of Lambert as they solve the puzzle mystery of the Parker inheritance.

    Ages 1214

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

    The Island at the End of EverythingIn 1906, when the Philippine government makes Culion Island a leper colony, 12-year-old “clean” Amihan is removed to an orphanage on a nearby island. When she learns that her mother, who has an advanced stage of the disease, is dying, Amihan is determined to return to Culion to say goodbye to her. An author’s note provides background for the story and Hargrave’s choice to call Culion “the island at the end of everything.”

    Tales from the Inner City. Shaun Tan. 2018. Scholastic.

    Tales From the Inner CityIn Tan’s imaginative book of illustrated short stories and poems in which animals and humans share urban spaces, the language of the storytelling is elegant and the surreal paintings are haunting and thought-provoking. Tan’s first sentences such as “Crocodiles live on the eighty-seventh floor” and “Where money gathers, so do pigeons” grab readers’ attention, making them eager to discover how each story unfolds in words and visual images.

    Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground. T. R. Simon. 2018. Candlewick.

    Zora & MeIn 1855, enslaved Lucia tells the story of a covered-up murder and the curse invoked on the Westin Plantation. In 1903, in Eatonville, Florida (America’s first incorporated town built for blacks), 12-year-old Carrie Brown tells how she and her best friend, Zora Hurston, become involved in uncovering the mystery behind the attack on Horatio Polk, the town mute. The stories told by Lucia and Carrie connect past history to the events in the Eatonville community. Back matter for this fictionalized story of Zora Neale Hurston’s (18911960) childhood includes a biography of Hurston, a timeline, and an annotated bibliography of her books.

    Ages 15+

    Blood Water Paint. Joy McCullough. 2018. Dutton/Penguin.

    Blood Water PaintThis free verse novel, interspersed with Artemisia’s deceased mother’s stories in prose, is told through the eyes of 17-year-old Artemisia Gentileschi, whose father doesn’t protect her as she is seduced by mentor Agostino Tassi. Inspired by Biblical women (Judith and Susanna), Artemisia tells how painting gives her the strength to face the truth of her abuse, bring her rapist to trial, and begin to heal. “They plunge my fingers into paint, / smear them across the outstretched cloth.” The afterword tells more about the famous Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi (15931656) and the actual trial. 

    Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1). Tomi Adeyemi. 2018. Henry Holt.

    Children of Blood and BoneIn this West African-inspired fantasy, Zélie, who remembers the night 11 years ago when King Saran hung her Maji mother and all magic disappeared in Orïsha, rescues Princess Amari, who is fleeing from her cruel father with a mysterious parchment. As Prince Inan pursues his sister Amari and Zélie (to whom he is strangely attracted) to win his father’s approval, Zélie, her brother Tzain, and Amari have only until the solstice to restore magic with three spellbinding artifacts (the parchment, a dagger, and a crystal)—or magic will be lost to Orïsha forever.

    Dry. Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    DryAlyssa is stunned when the governor announces that drought and shutdown of access to the Colorado River, the state’s major source of water, has left California dry. During the next 10 days, after her parents fail to return from a disaster water distribution center, chaos and destruction hit her quiet neighborhood—and the state. Alyssa, with her brother, Garrett, bands with unlikely allies (Kelton, a survivalist neighbor; Jacqui, a homeless teen; and Henry, a rich opportunist) to outlive this catastrophe.

    The Poet X. Elizabeth Acevedo. 2018. HarperTeen/HarperCollins.

    The PoetWritten in English, and punctuated by Spanish, 15-year-old Dominican-American Xiomara Batista’s poetry describes her relationship with her secret boyfriend, Aman, which her overly strict Catholic mother and reformed run-around father wouldn’t tolerate if they knew about it. Joining her Harlem school’s Spoken Word Poetry Club, she performs original slam poetry under the stage name Poet X: “I stand on a stage and / say a poem. / There is power in the word," and finds a way to speak what’s on her heart.

    Speak: The Graphic Novel. Laurie Halse Anderson. Ill. Emily Carroll. 2018. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

    SpeakEmily Carroll’s artwork for this graphic novel of Laurie Halse Anderson’s ground-breaking novel Speak (1999) expresses the raw, debilitating terror that dominates the life of Melinda, who finds herself an outcast during her freshman year at Merryweather High School. Shunned by former friends and bullied by classmates for making a 911 call that brought police to a summer party, Melinda has been keeping secret that she was raped by a popular senior. To save herself, she must find a way to speak.

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English at 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.

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    Looking Back at 2018 Nonfiction

    By Carolyn Angus and Nancy Brashear
     | Jan 14, 2019

    In looking back at the nonfiction published in 2018 (including informational books, biographies, and poetry), we considered the identification of outstanding trade books with curriculum connections and the diverse reading interests of children and young adults, as well as our favorites among the many books we read during the year.

    Ages 4–8

    Imagine. Juan Felipe Herrera. Ill. Lauren Castillo. 2018. Candlewick.

    ImagineLyrical questioning in English (laced with Spanish) and dreamy earth-toned, pen-and-foam monoprint illustrations tell the story of a young boy, the son of migrant workers, who imagines his future if he picked flowers, gazed at stars, helped Mama feed chickens, attended a new school where he didn’t know English, wrote poems using newly learned English words, and became Poet Laureate of the United States (which Herrera did in 2015). This free verse memoir invites the young reader to “imagine what you could do.”

    Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain. Cheryl Bardoe. Ill. Barbara McClintock. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Nothing Stopped SophieSophie Germain (17761831) overcame many obstacles to pursue her love of math. Secretly completing a university-level study of mathematics, winning a prestigious prize from the Paris Academy of Science for her work on predicting patterns of vibration, and making significant contributions to the field of mathematics and physics, Sophie proved that she was unshakable and unstoppable. Beautifully designed illustrations (created with ink, watercolor, and collage) accompany this story of determined self-taught mathematician Sophie Germain. Back matter includes biographical and historical notes, a bibliography, and author’s and illustrator’s notes. 

    Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere. Barb Rosenstock. Ill. Katherine Roy. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Otis and WillIn the 1930s, two men obsessed with the sea, engineer Otis Barton and naturalist Will Beebe, worked together to build the bathysphere, a diving tank for exploring the ocean at great depths. Dramatic text and illustrations (including a wordless double gatefold of the bathysphere at the depth of 800 feet) chronicle Barton and Beebe’s record-setting dive.

    Prickly Hedgehogs! Jane McGuiness. 2018. Candlewick.

    Prickly Hedgehogs!“Someone’s sniffling and snuffling and snaffling . . . whirring and churring and purring.” It’s a prickly hedgehog! Engaging text (with insets of related facts in smaller print) and colorful mixed-media illustrations introduce a mother hedgehog and her five hoglets. Leaving the nest after a few weeks, charming Little Hedgehog eats and eats on nocturnal forays, gets fatter and fatter, and at the end of fall makes a nest in preparation for hibernation.

    Seeing into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright. Richard Wright. Nina Crews (Ed.). Ill. Nina Crews. 2018. Millbrook/Lerner.

    Seeing Into TomorrowTwelve haiku and photo collages on double-page spreads celebrate the activities and observations of African American youth throughout the year. This beautifully designed book begins with “Just enough of snow / For a boy’s finger to write / His name on the porch,” and ends with “A spring sky so clear / That you feel you are seeing / Into tomorrow.”

    Ages 9–11

    Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery. Sandra Neil Wallace. Ill. Bryan Collier. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    Between the LinesThis picture book biography, with stunning watercolor-and-collage artwork, tells the story of African American Ernie Barnes (19382009), who kept his childhood dream of being an artist alive, even during his time as an NFL football player. Today Ernie Barnes’ paintings hang in art galleries. Back matter includes author and illustrator notes, a bibliography, a list of museums exhibiting Barnes’ paintings, and sources.

    The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science. Joyce Sidman. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Girl Who Drew ButterfliesOne of the first naturalists to observe insects directly, artist Maria Merian's (1647–1717) paintings of the life cycles of insects set the standard for scientific illustration for centuries. Her careful observation of the life cycle of insects disproved traditional beliefs about how they developed. This picture book biography includes reproductions of Merian’s paintings and excerpts from her journals.

    A History of Pictures for Children: From Cave Paintings to Computer Drawings. David Hockney & Martin Gayford. Ill. Rose Blake. 2018. Abrams.

    A History of PicturesIn this children’s edition of A History of Pictures: From the Cave to the Computer Screen (2016), artist David Hockney and art critic Martin Gaylord let readers listen in on their lively conversation about how artists have pictured the world from cave painting to computer-generated imagery. The book ends with a thought-provoking “What’s next for pictures?” discussion. Back matter for this engaging and accessible history of art includes a timeline, glossary, endnotes, bibliography, list of illustrations, and index.

    Martin Rising: Requiem for a King. Andrea Davis Pinkney. Ill. Brian Pinkney. 2018. Scholastic.

    Martin RisingThirty-nine lyrical poems written by Andrea Pinkney and stunning impressionistic gouache-and-India ink paintings by Brian Pinkney follow Martin Luther King, Jr. from cradle to grave in a moving requiem presented in three sections: “Daylight” (King’s life), “Darkness” (his death on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee), and “Dawn” (his legacy). Back matter includes reflections by the author and the illustrator on their creation of Martin Rising, a “Now Is the Time” section providing historical context, a time line, and a bibliography.

    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 ThatAfrican-American Barbara Jordan (19361996), who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas in 1972, confidently used her strong voice throughout her life. This picture book biography of extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara 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.”

    Ages 12–14

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

    Chasing King's KillerSwanson’s meticulously researched and documented narrative focuses on the murder of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, and the manhunt for his assassin, James Earl Ray. The epilogue ends with thought-provoking questions: “Where do we go from here? How long will it take? How long?”


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

    CountdownIn 1961, President John F. Kennedy committed to landing a man on the moon and safely returning him to earth within a decade. Beautifully composed verse, dramatic paintings, informational double-page spreads, and extensive back matter tell the Project Apollo 11 story that became a reality 2979 days later (on July 20, 1969) when the Eagle landed on the Moon’s surface and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step onto the Moon.

    Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man. Tonya Bolden. 2018. Abrams.

    Facing FrederickBolden chronicles the life and accomplishments of Frederick Douglass (18181895), who used his experiences with slavery and racism—what he called the “twin-monsters of darkness”—to enhance his effectiveness as a voice for the anti-slavery movement. Quotes, archival photographs, drawings, and documents contribute to the reader’s understanding of events and decisions that shaped Douglass’s life and U.S. history.

    The Hyena Scientist (Scientists in the Field). Sy Montgomery. Ill. Nic Bishop. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Hyena ScientistIn their latest collaboration, naturalist/author Montgomery and biologist/photographer Bishop challenge popular negative perceptions of the hyena with an engaging account of their observations and experiences working with zoologist Kay Holekamp and her research team at Camp Fisi in Masai Mara, Kenya. Sidebars and numerous close-up photographs of the spotted hyena provide information on the carnivore and the researchers studying its behavior.

    Jabber-Walking. Juan Felipe Herrera. 2018. Candlewick.

    Jabber-WalkingJuan Felipe Herrera (U.S. Poet Laureate, 20152017) created this zany and imaginative stream-of-consciousness poetry-writing handbook with black-and-white scribble artwork to help writers turn their “Jabber Burbles” into “Poetry” that can “make all life so beautiful your heart becomes a diamond-galaxy that shines out fast flickering, moving, turning on lights—everywhere.” Experimental forms of poetry-writing exercises are interspersed with excerpts from Herrera’s “Jabber Notebook.” 

    Ages 15+

    Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam. Elizabeth Partridge. 2018. Viking/Penguin.

    Boots on the GroundPartridge’s well-documented story of the war in Vietnam is presented from the perspectives of eight individuals (six American soldiers, a nurse, and a refugee) and complemented with archival photographs and sidebars about the roles of four presidents (John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford), as well as other influential individuals, during the conflict that divided the nation.

    Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2018. Graphix/Scholastic.

    Hey, KiddoAuthor/illustrator Krosoczka’s graphic memoir covers his childhood and teen years of being raised by his maternal grandparents, Joe and Shirl, in Worcester, Massachusetts, while having only sporadic contact with his heroin-addicted mother through letters and visits and not knowing who his father was. Supporting Jarrett’s love of drawing, his grandparents enroll him in a comic book class at the Worcester Art Museum, and art becomes a means for dealing with the ups and downs of his unconventional family life. An author’s note and a note on the art add to the reader’s understanding of this inspiring memoir.

    The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees. Don Brown. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Unwanted Stories of the Syrian RefugeesUsing a graphic novel format, Brown weaves together stories of refugees of the Syrian Civil War, which began in March 2011. In the intervening years, millions of people have fled the conflict, overwhelming neighboring countries and making desperate escapes to Europe. In a postscript, Brown addresses how the Syrian refugee crisis has “sparked a present-day backlash against immigration of all kinds and upended politics across the globe.”

    Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot. Winifred Conkling. 2018. Algonquin.

    Votes for Women!Conkling’s captivating account of the long-fought battle for women’s suffrage in the U.S. focuses on the personal stories of leaders in the suffrage movement including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Alice Paul and key events from the 1848 Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. Back matter includes an “In Her Own Words” section of primary sources, time line, bibliography, chapter-by-chapter notes on quotations, and index.

    All Ages

    Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year. Fiona Waters (Ed.). Ill. Fran Preston-Gannon. 2018. Nosy Crow/Candlewick.

    Sing a Song of Seasosns“Sing a song of seasons! / Something bright in all! / Flowers in the summer, / Fires in the fall!” (from the last stanza of “Autumn Fires” by Robert Louis Stevenson). The poems in this collection by writers from the past and the present vary by subject, length, form, and mood and are arranged on double-spread pages of colorful mixed media illustrations. A delightful celebration of the world of nature for readers of all ages.

    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 at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California.

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