Thursday, January 28, 2016

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Animals, A Visual Encyclopedia by Animal Planet


ABOUT THE BOOK

Introducing the first encyclopedia book from Animal Planet--the leading brand for animal lovers--that tells the story of our planet's animal life and celebrates our vital and humanizing connection with the animal world.

Animals are...surprisingly human. Finding the ways in which people and animals connect may inspire the next generation to be true caretakers of Earth. Animal Planet Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia is a comprehensive look at the major animal groups, highlighting their unique but also relatable personalities and behavior.

More than 2,500 animals from the seven major animal groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and arachnids, invertebrates, and fish are featured in 1,050 stunning full-color photos, plus dynamic illustrations, maps, and charts.

Special book features include:

A giant, removable poster featuring record-breaking animal kingdom facts and amazing photos of animals in action Embedded QR Codes that transport readers from the book page directly to Animal Planet's L!VE animal cams across the world A comprehensive glossary, index, and study resources for extended learning in geography, climate change, biology, and ecosystems Animal Planet's R.O.A.R (Reach Out. Act. Respond.) facts throughout discuss conservation and animal rescue efforts
Highly accessible for both curl-up reading and dip-in reference needs, care has been taken to offer animal-loving families less work and more wow by weaving the taxonomic and biological information throughout the individual sections rather than putting it all up front. Specialist authors and life science experts offer, in words and pictures, the most up-to-date view of the animal kingdom, making it an ideal homework helper and a crucial family reference for the school years and beyond.

A beautiful gift for any animal lover, a portion of proceeds benefits Animal Planet's R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.) animal partner charities dedicated to improving the lives of animals in our communities and in the wild.

REVIEW

If you have young readers that love animals, this book is a must have.  The photographs are gorgeous and the information fascinating.  The large size of the book makes it perfect for browsing, with enough information to satisfy young animal lovers.  As an encyclopedia though it doesn't go into great detail about any animal.  It covers the best known phyla: reptiles, mammals, birds, etc. with information about what makes each one unique.  The side bars provide bits of trivia about animal behavior and characteristics that are 'surprisingly human'.  I especially enjoyed seeing related animals side by side and seeing how they are similar and different. Of course not all animals are covered there are simply too many, with more being discovered all the time.  It's clear that the writers took time to include interesting tidbits of information about each animal included, the kind of information that isn't commonly known. I'd highly recommend this book for all libraries and those home collections where young readers or even adults can't get enough information about animals.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN'S BOOK DAY!


Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

Our Mission: The MCCBD team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

HOSTS:

For your information (include if you want to): The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.

SPONSORS:


Multicultural Children’s Book day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld


AMAZING CO-HOSTS:




CLASSROOM READING CHALLENGE

Help spread the word on our Classroom Reading Challenge . This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children's book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.

What we could really use some help with is spreading the word to your teacher/librarian/classroom connections so we can get them involved in this program. There is no cost to teachers and classrooms and we've made the whole process as simple as possible. You can help by tweeting the below info:

Teachers! Earn a FREE #Multicultural Kids Book for Your Classroom! #teachers, #books #teacherlife  http://ow.ly/UUy96

The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free diversity book! #teachers, #books  http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/?p=1796

REVIEW

25109013

ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a nonfiction biography chronicling the life of Ira Aldridge, an African American actor who overcame racism to become one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the nineteenth century.

Ira Aldridge dreamed of being on stage one day performing the great works of William Shakespeare. He spent every chance he got at the local theaters, memorizing each actor's lines for all of Shakespeare's plays. Ira just knew he could be a great Shakespearean actor if only given the chance. But in the early 1800s, only white actors were allowed to perform Shakespeare. Ira's only option was to perform musical numbers at the all-black theater in New York city. Despite being discouraged by his teacher and father, Ira determinedly pursued his dream and set off to England, the land of Shakespeare. There, Ira honed his acting skills and eventually performed at the acclaimed Theatre Royal Haymarket. Through perseverance and determination, Ira became one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors throughout Europe. Illustrated by award-winning artist Floyd Cooper, this nonfiction picture book biography is a captivating tribute to the inspiring life of Ira Aldridge, and to the renowned works of William Shakespeare.


REVIEW

Armand and Cooper have created a great book focused on the life of a little known actor who helped paved the way in Shakespearean acting for others of his race.  Remarkably Ira Aldridge knew he wanted to be involved in theater from the time he was quite young, despite the racism of his day and his father's desire for him to be a minister.  Spending as much time as he could around the theater he dreamed of the day he would be able to act too.  But since slavery was still alive and well in the United States at that time and racism ran rampant, the most he could hope for was to act in the black theater, or so he was told.  But when the opportunity came to travel to England to have a try there, Ira took it.  He worked hard and became a well-known Shakespearean actor.  Not only was this a fascinating story because I'd never heard of the man, but Cooper's illustrations helped bring the world to life.  I thoroughly appreciate Armand and Cooper's efforts to share a story of a diverse character achieving that which he was told was impossible.






Monday, January 25, 2016

NONFICTION MONDAY: Tommy, the Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal


ABOUT THE BOOK

John Taliaferro Thompson had a mission: to develop a lightweight, fast-firing weapon that would help Americans win on the battlefield. His Thompson submachine gun could deliver a hundred bullets in a matter of seconds—but didn't find a market in the U.S. military. Instead, the Tommy gun became the weapon of choice for a generation of bootleggers and bank-robbing outlaws, and became a deadly American icon. Following a bloody decade—and eighty years before the mass shootings of our own time—Congress moved to take this weapon off the streets, igniting a national debate about gun control. Critically-acclaimed author Karen Blumenthal tells the fascinating story of this famous and deadly weapon—of the lives it changed, the debate it sparked, and the unprecedented response it inspired.

REVIEW

While I am not a big fan of guns, I have enjoyed Blumenthal's other works, so I decided to go ahead and read this one.  I found the history of the Tommy gun rather fascinating and rather sad at the same time.  Guns of course are just tools, but they are tools with only one purpose: to kill.  And reading this made that very clear.  While Thompson's original intentions when he started working on the gun were good, his actions when the gun went on sale suggest that supporting his business was more important than standing for what he claimed to believe.  In today's age of wide-spread gun control laws with the possibility of more lurking around the corner, it was rather appalling to read about how easy it was for people to get their hands on this semi-automatic weapon. People seemed to get away with a lot at the time, especially with the widespread corruption.  This is as much a story about the development of laws as it is a history of a gun.  Brief histories of some well-known gangsters/criminals who used Tommy guns are also included (Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger, Al Capone, etc.).  A fascinating look at a time quite different than our own but that had a huge impact on where we are now in terms of law and order and what is acceptable and what isn't. People have strong opinions when it comes to guns.




Thursday, January 21, 2016

SERIES THURSDAY: The Miniature World of Marvin and James/James to the Rescue by Elise Broach

17978079

ABOUT THE BOOK
 
In this Masterpiece Adventure from bestselling author Elise Broach, James is going on vacation for a week. His best friend, Marvin the beetle, has to stay at home. Without James to keep him company, Marvin has to play with his annoying cousin, Elaine. Marvin and Elaine quickly find themselves getting into all sorts of trouble—even getting trapped inside a pencil sharpener! But more importantly, will James still be Marvin's friend when he gets home or will he have found a new best friend?

REVIEW

Having thoroughly enjoyed the original story of James and Marvin (Masterpiece by Elise Broach), I was thrilled to hear about this new series about the two.  And I was not disappointed.  While this book series is for younger readers, the same charm found in the original permeates the book. Marvin is very cute for a cockroach with some serious artistic talent.  In this first book, Marvin is worried that James will find a new friend while he's on vacation and not want to be friends with him when he gets home.  But things take a turn for the more exciting with he and his cousin Elaine, discover the joys and terrors of a pencil sharpener.  The text is perfect for young readers who are still learning to read but want to read chapter books as it is large with only a few paragraphs per page.  The copious illustrations are great and blend with the story perfectly.  My favorites are the ones where Marvin and Elaine are trying to get out of the pencil sharpener after a pencil has been stuck into the opening.


ABOUT THE BOOK

In this Masterpiece Adventure, the second in a companion series for younger readers from bestselling author Elise Broach, Marvin the beetle is going collecting with his family. All is good and well until Uncle Albert gets hurt. Marvin needs James's help to save Uncle Albert before it's too late.

This young chapter book captures the miniature world of Marvin the beetle and his special friendship with James.


REVIEW

In this second adventure, Marvin sets out with his cousin, Elaine, and his father and uncle to see what useful items they can find around the house.  Marvin is a bit jealous when Elaine finds something great.  When Marvin finds something that he thinks might be useful he is really excited, but the others aren't so sure the item has any value.  And when Uncle Albert gets injured, other things take precedence and Marvin has to get help from James.  Once again, Murphy and Broach have created an intriguing situation and the darling illustrations to go along with it.  I especially enjoy the way James and Marvin have become friends despite the fact that they can't talk to each other and have to find other ways to communicate.  A fun series for young readers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE REVIEW: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones


ABOUT THE BOOK

Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse....

And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.

Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickensis a quirky, clucky classic in the making.

REVIEW

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer is the sort of book that you read just for fun.  There aren't any really deep, heart-wrenching themes that require a large emotional investment.  There are themes here of independence, learning to do hard things, commitment, honesty, etc, but they come across with a light touch.  Sophie makes a great heroine having moved to her great uncle's farm from L.A.  She doesn't waste time feeling sorry for herself but immediately gets to work when she discovers Henrietta one of her great uncle's chickens wandering around.  However, it doesn't take long for her to realize that this isn't an ordinary chicken.  And as she writes letters to the Redwood Farm Supply (where the chickens came from), as well as her deceased grandmother and great uncle, the reader starts to realize that these chickens have superpowers, rather unusual ones.  And as Sophie quickly discovers, someone else wants to get their hands on these chickens.  The question becomes whether Sophie can convince her parents to let her keep the chickens and whether she can keep them safe from the chicken thief.  With lots of fun details, Jones takes the reader on a fun ride through chickendom, teaching lesson not only about chickens, but about friendship and courage along the way.  The humorous illustrations by Katie Kath add the perfect touch, giving hints about what's to come (my favorite pictures show Henrietta the chicken glaring at everyone and everything).  Unusual Chickens is magical realism at its finest.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews/The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton


ABOUT THE BOOK

Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.
Along with esteemed illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, until he reached international stardom. Trombone Shorty is a celebration of the rich cultural history of New Orleans and the power of music.

REVIEW

Andrews and Collier's work comes together in beautiful ways to tell the story of Andrews adventures with a trombone.  Growing up in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans music was an important part of Andrews life even before he started playing. Once he found a broken trombone, he taught himself to play it leading to his nickname "Trombone Shorty".  Collier does an amazing job illustrating the story of Andrews rise from a young dreamer to an internationally known musician.  I really liked his notes at the end explaining why he portrayed things in certain ways such as balloons to symbolize the way the notes float through the air.  Well worth the 2016 ALA awards that it won, I can heartily recommend this book as not only a beautifully illustrated book, but a powerful story about the importance of dreams and passions and a willingness to work hard.


ABOUT THE BOOK

John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood as a slave in Mississippi, but all of that changed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Suddenly people like John Roy could have paying jobs and attend school. While many people in the South were unhappy with the social change, John Roy thrived in the new era. He was appointed to serve as justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the United States Congress.This biography, with its informative backmatter and splendid illustrations, gives readers an in-depth look at the Reconstruction period through the life of one of the fi rst African-American congressmen.

REVIEW

More stories like this one need to be told, stories about people that aren't as well known as say Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr., but who left their mark on the world nonetheless. I think what makes this story so remarkable is the way John Roy goes from slave to hired worker to student to justice of the peace and finally Congressman. Barton tells the story in a very straight-forward manner, not softening the difficult conditions that existed at that time, especially for former slaves.  But the story remains hopeful as John Roy's determination and passion comes through loud and clear.  Despite the way things fell apart after Reconstruction when the federal troops withdrew from the South and segregation exploded into life, John Roy continued to believe in his country and the laws of the land.  Tate's illustrations provide a nice backdrop to Barton's text, highlighting some of the key moments in both Lynch's life and the time period.  The inclusion of both author and illustrator notes as well as a timeline and references rounds out this well-presented, inspiring book.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

EARLY CHAPTER BOOK REVIEW: Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale


ABOUT THE BOOK

From the comic genius behind CHET GECKO comes a new kind of fairy tale hero -- and a big, bad, crime-solving adventure!

The houses of all Three (not-so-) Little Pigs were broken into and ransacked, and the Pigs are squealing for justice. So Prince Tyrone, ruler of Fairylandia, drags in the obvious suspect: Wolfgang.

The lone wolf has big teeth, sharp claws, no alibi -- and a single day to find the real culprit and clear his big bad name. When Wolf (reluctantly) teams up with the fourth Little Pig to crack the case, the Big Bad Detective Agency -- and an adventure way funnier than your average fairy tale -- is off to a howling start!

REVIEW

I've read many fractured fairy tales, even fractured fairy tale mysteries, but none quite like this one.  The tongue-in-cheek tone of the narrator add to the humor of this tale of misunderstandings and a fairy tale world that is much more gray than black and white.  When Wolfgang (the big, bad wolf) is accused of trashing the houses of the three 'little' pigs, he is given until sundown to prove his innocence.  With a tag along fourth little pig and his own rather doubtful detecting skills, he sets out to find the real guilty party.  The details here were funny, with Cinderella turning out to be rather bossy and hard to live with and Hansel and Gretel being part time burglars (they did eat a witch's house after all), I found it amusing to try to figure out who really did the deed.  I figured out the answer quite early, but younger readers aren't as likely too, although there are clues provided in the text for them to catch onto if they are paying attention.  This book has more than enough silliness to be funny while still providing enough mystery to be intriguing.

Monday, January 11, 2016

NONFICTION MONDAY: Koala Hospital by Suzi Eszterhas


ABOUT THE BOOK

Koala Hospital kicks off the new 4-book Wildlife Rescue series from Owlkids Books. Each book introduces a species of animal in danger somewhere in the world and invites readers inside a rescue center that helps them. Photos by award–winning wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas give readers a rare view of the animals and the high level of care they receive.

Koala Hospital features a koala rescue center in Australia. It shows why koalas are in danger, how they come to be in the sanctuary, and the process of healing and rehabilitating koalas for return to the wild. Koala Hospital also focuses on the people who work at the rescue center and how they aid the animals.

Other special features include a map showing the rescue center and the koala’s native habitat range, as well as an index, glossary, and author Q&A based on common questions from kids. An author’s note at the end introduces readers to small-scale ways that even they can help save koalas.

Informational text features: table of contents, photographs with captions

A portion of the royalties from sales of this book will be donated to the Koala Hospital.

REVIEW

Koala Hospital contains not only gorgeous photographs and readable text, but a powerful story about conservation.  Suzi Eszterhas has done a great job documenting her experiences with the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, Australia.  She shows not only lots of pictures of the animals themselves, but the steps that the many volunteers take to take care of the animals and whenever possible release them back into the wild.  The dedication of these volunteers shines through loud and clear as they dedicate their time to raising, treating, and helping koalas.  This book beautifully highlights the good that can be accomplished when human beings work with nature and not against it.  The information included about koalas is also bound to fascinate young animal lovers.  This is what picture book nonfiction should be.


Friday, January 8, 2016

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley


ABOUT THE BOOK

Fans of Big Fish, Peter Pan, and Roald Dahl will fall in love with Circus Mirandus, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in world.

Do you believe in magic?
Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.

The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

REVIEW

I've heard a lot about this book since it first came out, but for some reason it just didn't appeal to me much.  But now I can say that I'm glad that I've read it.  I liked it more than I expected, despite fact that Micah's grandfather is dying.  I had a hard time reading about Micah's awful relationship with his Great-Aunt Gertrudis, I wanted to leap into the book and give her a piece of my mind.  She does everything in her power to keep Micah away from his grandfather despite the fact that he is dying and they need every last minute together they can get.  The stories about the wonderful circus were fun though along with all the creative things that could be found at the circus, including the Man Who Bends Light (the Lightbender).  Visiting such a place would be pretty awesome.  The circus helps make up for some of the other unpleasantness that goes on.  It wasn't hard to figure out though that the miracle that Micah desire's is not the same as the one that his grandfather asked for.  Making predictions about how the story would end wasn't too hard, but it was interesting getting there nonetheless.  Lots of fun details and the themes of love and faith run throughout the story.  A good read for youngsters who like a dose of magic to go with the hard things of life.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

SERIES THURSDAY: Hoops to Hippos! and Hoot, Hoot, Hooray!


ABOUT THE BOOK

NBA star Boris Diaw of the San Antonio spurs takes young readers on safari as he explores his off-court passion: wildlife photography! Join Diaw as he escapes from stampeding wildebeests, comes face-to-face with lions, and discovers why you should never come between a hippo and its watery home. Through engaging stories and photos by Diaw, readers will discover a whole new side to this basketball champ.

National Geographic Kids Chapter books pick up where the best-selling National Geographic Readers series leaves off, offering young animal lovers who are ready for short chapters lively, exciting, full-color true stories -- just right to carry in backpacks, share with friends, and read under the covers at night.

REVIEW
One of the things that I enjoy so much about these National Geographic Kids Chapter books, besides the gorgeous photographs, is how genuine they are.  This one in particular was fun to read because the person telling the story wasn't a trained scientist but a dedicated amateur who has spent a lot of time around cameras and animals and learned a lot along the way.  The stories Diaw shares about his developing interest and concern about wild animals and the adventures he has had photographing them makes for a compelling and quick read.  The design  of these books also makes them eye-catching and appealing for young readers.  If you have an animal lover at your house, this is a great series for them to read.




ABOUT THE BOOK


Meet some brave, amazing animals and the caring people who come to their rescue. Filled with engaging photos, fast facts, and fascinating sidebars, readers won't want to put this book down.

National Geographic Kids Chapter books pick up where the best-selling National Geographic Readers series leaves off, offering young animal lovers who are ready for short chapters lively, exciting, full-color true stories -- just right to carry in backpacks, share with your friends, and read under the covers at night.

REVIEW

Hoot, Hoot, Hooray tells the stories of a pair of owls, an orphaned elephant, and an injured young black bear.  Each story explains why the animal needed help and what was done to aide them while still trying to keep them wild enough to return to their native habitat when able.  Unfortunately, not all animals can return to the wild, one of the baby owls had injured it's eyes and so couldn't be returned to the wild.  And the young bear had become too habituated to people to be trusted on its own.  But these true stories give the young reader the opportunity to learn about animals and the people who dedicate so much time and effort to help them.
 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

PICTURE BOOK/GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: The Only Child by Guojing


ABOUT THE BOOK

Like Shaun Tan's The Arrival and Raymond Briggs's The Snowman, this gorgeous and imaginative 100-page graphic picture book is utterly transporting and original.

A little girl—lost and alone—follows a mysterious stag deep into the woods, and, like Alice down the rabbit hole, she finds herself in a strange and wondrous world. But... home and family are very far away. How will she get back there?

In this magnificently illustrated—and wordless—masterpiece, debut artist Guojing brilliantly captures the rich and deeply-felt emotional life of a child, filled with loneliness and longing as well as love and joy.

REVIEW

I really and truly loved this book and I'm sad as can be that it isn't eligible to win the Caldecott (author/illustrator is from China).  And I'm not sure what to call it either, picture book or graphic novel.  The book is wordless which suggests a picture book, but it's over a hundred pages which suggests graphic novel. In either case, the author tells a surprisingly sweet story entirely through the pictures.  As she explains in an author's note at the front of the book, the story is based on her own childhood growing up as an only child whose parents both worked.  The little girl in this story is left home alone to entertain herself while her parents work.  Eventually though she gets bored and decides to leave to go see her grandmother.  Unfortunately, she fall asleep on the bus and misses her stop.  In a panic she gets off the bus and finds herself alone in a forest, but not for long.  Most of the second half of the book focuses on the child's adventures with the stag that she finds in the forest.  And this is where the book becomes fantasy.  I think my favorite parts of the book were the different perspectives on the girl as she plays at home, makes her way through the streets, the bus, and then the fantasy world.  Guojing has created an absolutely beautiful book well worth perusing over and over again.

2015 CYBILS FINALISTS!

I'm excited to announce that the finalists for the 2015 Cybils Awards have been announced.  I'm going to highlight the seven books that have been chosen for the category that I'm a second round judge for, but I'm also going to include the links for the other categories because there are a lot of great books on those lists.  In fact I'm kind of thrilled that three of my nominations made it into the finals! :)




23197281Bayou Magic
by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Patricia Tilton

In a simple but not simplistic story, 10-year-old Maddie visits her Grandmère in the Louisiana bayou in order to learn the magical traditions of her family. While there, she discovers how friendship and magic (and bonus mermaids!) can help with modern problems, and learns the importance of being connected to the land around her. Rhodes has created a book with a lyrical mix of African, French and Creole traditions that has a huge heart and is full of magic and, ultimately, joy.

Melissa Fox, The Book Nut

22504710Castle Hangnail
by Ursula Vernon
Dial Books
Nominated by: Jennifer

The titular castle of Castle Hangnail needs a new master, or it will risk being decommissioned, forcing all the resident minions to find new homes. When 12-year-old Molly comes knocking on the castle door, the minions (who expected a powerful dark magic user) are skeptical, but Molly is determined to convince them that she is wicked enough for the job (though she actually has a very good heart). Everything seems to be going well until an evil sorceress shows up claiming she is Castle Hangnail’s real intended master. Its illustrations, humor, messages of friendship and determination, and a host of memorable secondary characters (with a special nod to one minion–Pins, a voodoo doll with a talking goldfish) make Castle Hangnail an utterly enjoyable and charming place to spend your reading time!

Benda Tjaden, Log Cabin Library

23344750Cuckoo Song
by Frances Hardinge
Harry N Abrams
Nominated by: Maureen E

“Mummy, help me, please help me, everything’s strange and nothing’s right, and my mind feels as if it’s made up of pieces and some of them are missing…” When Triss wakes up from a mysterious accident, she is somehow not herself–she feels an overwhelming hunger that is only satisfied by eating the oddest things, dead leaves appear in her room, on her pillow, and in her hair; her little sister Pen rejects her completely. Triss/Not-Triss must put together the pieces of what turns out to be a larger puzzle, one that encompasses a family’s grief, betrayal, loyalty, and love. Set in post-World War I Great Britain, Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song is a beautifully written, deliciously dark fantasy for fans of historical fiction, horror, fairy tales, or family stories. We think that’s everyone.

Anamaria Anderson, Books Together

22477292Mars Evacuees
by Sophia McDougall
HarperCollins
Nominated by: Stephanie Whelan

Blast off for Mars on this science fiction debut! In order to keep them safe from the ongoing human-alien warfare on Earth, Alice Dare and other kids from around the world are being shipped off to the red planet . But Mars is far from being a safe haven, and when all the adults vanish, Alice and her new friends set out to get help. Giant floating robot goldfish, unexpected alien encounters and a not-so friendly Martian landscape are just some of the challenges they will deal with along the way. This entertaining and smartly-written romp will make you want to buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Stephanie Whelan, Views From the Tesseract

23315833The Dungeoneers
by John David Anderson
Walden Pond Press
Nominated by: Matt

The Dungeoneers is a first-class adventure that reads like a role-playing game on the surface, while being booby-trapped with plot twists and laced with reflections on morality and loyalty. When Colm starts picking pockets to help his struggling family, they are horrified. But before he can be imprisoned, he’s rescued by a man impressed by his talents who whisks him off to study at legendary Tye Twodin’s School for Dungeoneers–professional treasure hunters and monster fighters. There Colm and his new teammates, the shy young mageling Quinn Frostfoot, tough-as-nails (unless she’s bleeding herself) barbarian-to-be Lena Proudfoot, and druid-in-training Serene (with her a pet spider named Mr. Tickletoes) have to master the skills of dungeoneering. Swordplay, spells and lock picking aren’t as challenging as navigating the social pitfalls of an extraordinary boarding school and figuring out who can be trusted…and that’s before the real adventuring begins!

Katy Kramp, alibrarymama

23215464The Fog Diver
by Joel Ross
HarperCollins
Nominated by: PLCarpenter

Set in a world where a deadly fog has taken over the planet, and people are forced to live in the skies, a quartet of ragtag orphans make a living off of what they can scavenge on Earth’s surface, even though it means sending their diver, Chess, down through the toxic mist while still tethered to their sky ship. Chess is in less danger than most, as he has a mysterious resistance to the effects of the fog, but the evil Lord Kodoc will stop at nothing to find out Chess’ secret.
When the four kids – Hazel (the daring captain), Swedish (the strong pilot), Bea (the cheery mechanic), and Chess (the secretive tetherboy) find out that the woman who raised them as family is dying from the Fog sickness, they decide to embark on an mission to save her life, and avoid the evil Lord Kodoc. Featuring air pirates, great characters, and a unique setting, The Fog Diver is a fantastic steampunk adventure with a sci-fi twist that will leave you wanting more.

Kristen Harvey, The Book Monsters

22323659Wings of Fire Book Six: Moon Rising
by Tui T. Sutherland
Scholastic Press
Nominated by: Angiegirl

The Wings of Fire series returns with new dragons and a brand new story arc! After years of war, the kingdoms of the dragons are at peace, and a school has been founded to gather together young dragons from all the different factions. One of these students is Moonwatcher, a young Nightwing who has the Nightwing powers of telepathy and prophecy, gifts that might help her and her new friends thwart the dangerous and deadly plots that threaten the fragile peace. These books, with their wide range of heroic young dragon characters,, are just full of kid appeal, and Moon Rising is one of the best of them. Strong messages of friendship, tolerance, and forgiveness are presented alongside adventures large and small in a way that will have readers clamoring for more.

Charlotte Taylor, Charlotte’s Library

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