Sunday, April 28, 2019

PW's Middle grade booklist

Are you looking for new highly illustrated novels or non-fiction for your middle grade readers? Or titles about kids with physical challenges or learning differences?  The reviewers at Publisher's Weekly have your back.  A couple of weeks ago, they published an annotated booklist of books for the ever popular Middle School crowd - or ages 10 through 14 - that highlighted graphic novels, illustrated novels and the subjects of LGBTQIA+, physical challenges, such as failing eyesight or prosthetic limbs, and neurodiversity - think organic differences in perceiving the world or learning abilities.

Popular authors, such as former National Ambassador for Children's Literature, Jon Scieszka, best seller, Jeff Kinney, appear on this list.  James Patterson teams up with none other than Chris Grabenstein, of Mr. Lemoncello's Library, to introduce a rivalry between two mainstays of the pet world.

Check the titles out here.

The list is pretty awesome.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Earth Day and Make-it, Do-it Monday

Today is Earth Day!  For Earth Day, I hung out wash - even though the sky is GRAY!.  It is recycling day in our neighborhood - so, we recycled two big bins of stuff.

If the weather holds, I will walk around the block and pick up garbage. 

The Earth will survive Global Warming.  Humans will NOT survive.  We talk about "saving the Earth".  What we really mean is "saving our home, our children's home, THEIR children's home"...into perpetuity.   Maybe, if we re-frame the discussion, more people will listen.

Wash Day, Recycling Day, Earth Day and Make-It, Do-It Monday.

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell, et al.  This graphic novel follows a neighborhood of children who use cardboard boxes to create costumes, castles, hide-outs and more.  What a cool idea!  I like the story line idea to introduce a crafting project.  The Bethlehem Area Public Library (I linked to their listing for this book instead of the publisher or Goodreads), puts this book in non-fiction!

TRASH CRATES - an idea whose time has come!  Awhile back ,D and I tried to start a "subscription" crate.  We loaded a shoe box with junk and made a video.  Later, I made this little video about some of the items in that Trash Crate.  (BTW, Trash Crate is my intellectual property.  If you have the wherewithal to actually create this Crate subscription, please contact me about using this idea. )

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

What THEY Read


This list is so cool.  I asked the people sitting around the table at the Grade 5 and up Book Review session at the Kutztown University Children's Literture Conference (henceforth referred to a KUCLC) to write down the best book for children and Young Adults that they read in the past year.  I did not care if the book was a 2018/2019 copyright.  I wanted to know what books excited them in the past year.

The result is a marvelous list of recent and classic titles for children, teens AND adults.  I know you will approve.

Two of the books were from my review.  I will post this year's book list in the Lists section of  this blog or or check it out here.
Thanks to Nancy Mikitka for this photo of me holding up a book and talking, talking, talking...

Attendees Best Books 2018

This year I asked attendees to note the best book they read in the past year with only one restriction.  The books could be from any year but they had to be books for young people.  (Silly me!  ALL books are for young readers.)
Here are their choices.

Refugee by Alan Gratz. Scholastic, 2017.0545880831 (ISBN13: 9780545880831)
Gratz follows a Jewish boy from the 1930s, a Cuban girl from the 1990s, and a Syrian boy from 2015 as they and their families flee violence and deprivation. MG, YA, historical fiction, immigration, refugees, war
This book was mentioned twice!

Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Scholastic, 2017.1338170759 (ISBN13: 9781338170757)
Lida is forced to make bombs for the Nazis after she is sent to the camps.  But can she sabotage those bombs? MG, historical fiction, suspense, concentration camps

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. First Second, 2018. 1250159857 (ISBN13: 9781250159854)
A Prince, who secretly wears dresses, trusts this all-important secret to the dressmaker, his best friend.  Her dilemma is that she wants her creations to be seen and admired.  What is a designer to do?  This book received a lot of attention and several awards. YA, MG, gender identity, cross dressing, fashion, secrets, friendship, LGBTQIA, graphic novel

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier.  This book made my list so check the Booklist for details.  AWESOME!

Poisoned Apple by Katherine McIntyre. Decadent Publishing, 2015. 9781613337837
Neve’s stepmother tosses her to the curb when Neve turns 18. Neve’s father abandoned her when he found his true love, another man. Now Neve wonders if her bad luck is her own fault.
YA, abandonment, fairy tale, stepparents, LGBTQ+, depression, mental illness

Check, please! by Ngozi Ukazu (#Hockey vol. 1-2). First Second, 2018. 250177952 (ISBN13: 9781250177957)
The hero is a champion skater, a pastry chef and the freshman player on his college’s hockey team.  Hockey’s practice of checking is a whole new concept.  And his team captain?  WOW!
YA, graphic novel, hockey, LGBTQ+

Dig by A. S. King. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2019. 1101994916 (ISBN13: 9781101994917)
The Hemmings grandparents left behind their potato farm to become land developers so that their children and grandchildren could “thrive”.  Five teenagers come together from terribly tangled backgrounds - poverty, Flea Circus? cancer treatments, eager-to-please, Pine Barrens.  Is this what thriving looks like?  A. S. King’s books are hard to describe. YA, mental health, poverty, wealth, family,

Circle of Friends  This is all the notation said.
 I found Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy. Adult
 And a series by Mary Jo Putney Adult
 and a graphic novel series about teens by Sean McKeever, Takeshi Miyazawa and Norman Lee (Marvel Comics). YA, MG, superheroes, Marvel Comics
 AND a wordless picture book by Giori Carmi All ages, kindness, pay it forward

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the siege of Leningrad  by M.T. Anderson. Candlewick, 2015. 763668184 (ISBN13: 9780763668181)
“Absolutely loved this YA non-fiction book. It’s impossible not to cry while listening to Shostakovich’s 7th symphony- the “Leningrad symphony” - after hearing about everything the people of Leningrad suffered during (& before) WWII and the brave performance of the symphony in the city on the dat that Hitler claimed he would be celebrating their defeat.” KUCLC attendee. YA, non-fiction, history, WWII, music, Shostakovich, Leningrad, Hitler

Feed by M. T. Anderson. Candlewick, 2004. 0763622591 (ISBN13: 9780763622596)
“A dystopian Future Society. High School students have an Internet “Feed” implanted and have constant access to the Internet. It does not end well.” KUCLC attendee YA, future, sci-fi, Internet, dystopia

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Little Brown Young Readers, 2007.  0316013684 (ISBN13: 9780316013680)
Semi-autobiographical account of a Native American teen who transfers to a “white” high school in order to improve his chances at success in the larger world. YA, cartooning, memoir, Native American, fiction,

Aru Shah - that’s all the notation says BUT I gave attendees a chance to pick their favorites from the listed books and the first book in this series is on the list.  Check The Booklist for more details.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Tor, 1994 (first published in 1985). 0812550706 (ISBN13: 9780812550702)

Andrew Ender plays video games for the government.  Little does he know that he is engaged in something far more desperate.  His older brothers vie for the power that Ender seems to wield in this first entry in the Ender’s Saga series. YA, adult, science fiction, classic, interplanetary conflict

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Scholastic, 2008. 0439023483 (ISBN13: 9780439023481)

When Katniss’s younger sister’s name is pulled out of the hat as a candidate for the Hunger Games, Katniss takes her place.  The Hunger Games are a yearly punishment for the outlying territories that dared to rebel against the government.  Every year, a candidate from each territory fights to the death with the other candidates in a televised competition. YA, science fiction, dystopia, survival, battles, books into movies.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio. Knopf, 2012. 978-0-375-86902-0 (0-375-86902-6)
After being homeschooled for five years to accommodate the surgeries on his malformed face and skull, Auggie finally enters a private school in New York City. The school is proud to have him and make sure that all the students treat him with acceptance and respect.  But how do the other kids in Auggie’s class really feel?  This book has helped feed the burgeoning movement toward kindness. MG, Elementary, diversity, different abilities, birth defects, kindness, acceptance, appearance

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Dial Press, 1999 (originally published in 1969).
Billy Pilgrim discovers that time is constantly re-occurring in this anti-war book by one of the most important American authors of the 20th century.  The book was inspired by the firebombing of Dresden in WWII.  It introduced the fictional writer, Kilgore Trout, and a planet called Tralfamdore and the mantra “So it goes?” The book needs to be read to be understood. Adult, YA, anti-war, pacifist, science fiction, time travel, social commentary.


I will soon post my book list from last weekend's Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference.  While you wait here is my Addendum.  It is short.  One title is repeated her, even though it is on my list, because I can't stop thinking about it.

KU 2019 addendum

Here are a few more titles to consider, in no particular order.

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez. Disney Hyperion, 2019. 9781368022828 1368022820.  Sal learns to meditate to deal with the loss of his mother.  But he takes his practice a little too far, meditating things into existence. MG, grief, meditation, sci-fi, Rick Riordan presents, mythology, Cuban culture

The Waning Age by S. E. Grove. Viking, 2019. 9780451479853.  Emotions disappear by the time a person is a teenager. But Natalia still loves her little brother fiercely.  When he is kidnapped by a Big Brother-type organization, Natalia does everything to save him. YA, dystopian, future, sci-fi, kidnapping, emotions, love

Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019.9780374305475 0374305471. When her brain cancer returns, Astrid goes on a road trip to find out if cryopreservation could give her a chance to experience a full life. YA, fatal illness, cancer, cryopreservation, road trips

The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst. Clarion, 2018. 1328729451 (ISBN13: 9781328729453)
The marks carved on Mayka’s stone body are fading. Mayka tries to find a human stone carver to sharpen those marks and the marks on her friends. But can human stone carvers be trusted? MG, fantasy, trust, future, self-realization, adventure

*****We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey. Crown Book for Young Readers, 2019. 9781524773050.
After 20 years of suspended life support travel, human refugees arrive at the only planet that will support them. The sentient races that welcomed them 20 years before no longer want them. Only one family is allowed to live on the planet in an attempt to change the minds of the ruling party. MG, sci-fi, immigration, prejudice, assimilation, humor, emotions

The Line Tender by Kate Allen. Penguin Young Readers Group, 2019.  9780735231603 0735231605
 Lucy’s mother died while researching the sharks she loved so much. Five years later, a Great White shows up off the coast of Cape Cod. Lucy throws herself into solving the mystery of why the Great White is there, pulling together a trio of mismatched friends to help her. MG, grief, ecology, sharks, ocean

Monday, April 15, 2019

Make-It, Do-It Monday

NEW FEATURE! Because all 12 of my regular readers need a new feature, I am introducing Make-It, Do-It Mondays. Once a month, I will feature books that encourage young readers and grown-ups to make things and to do things - not just read. (BTW, if YOU follow me maybe someday I'll have 36 regular readers or even more.  Just saying.)

Luckily, Brightly has offered a page of great activity books to help in my effort.  Here's the link.

Nice, huh!

My favorite make-it, do-it book is a book that I can't find anywhere.  I have forgotten the title and the author and I gave it away to someone with small children.  What was I thinking?  The title was something along the lines of "365 Things to Do with Children".  I am positive the author was Virginia Johnson but the book doesn't even come up when I look on the Library of Congress' website.  NOOOOOOO!!!  I know I will search again.

Then, there are books by Steven Caney.
I used Steven Caney's Toy Book with my son - who is a Bicentennial baby.  So, these books have been around a long time.  The black and white photos show children with unkempt hair, "play clothes", (remember play clothes, anyone?) and 70s hippy-ish expressions.

Caney's other books include:
Steven Caney's Play Book
Steven Caney's Invention Book
Steven Caney's Kids' America 


****By the way, wherever possible I will link to WorldCat from now on.  Independent booksellers have requested that bloggers avoid linking to Amazon and Goodreads is an Amazon affiliate.


Friday, April 12, 2019

15 Things I Might Never Have to Do Again

If tomorrows' Grade 5 and up book review session at the Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference, #KULITCONFERENCE, should be my LAST book review session, here is a list of things I will no longer have to do:

1. Enter every single chance to win YA and Middle Grade advanced reader's copies, paper or digital.

2. Get and attempt to read 4 to 7 enewsletters or blog posts that each include four or more book reviews EVERY SINGLE DAY, five days a week - and a few on weekends.

3. Save all the bi-weekly newsletters because I don't have the time to read them all the way through.

4.  Make sure I save every single book review I see on FB, Twitter and Instagram.

5. Visit Goodreads daily to make sure that my reading goal is being met.
   5 a. Make sure I steal my Goodread friends' recommendations.

6. Read the YA dystopian books that are the "groundbreaking" novels that all sound like last year's "earth-shattering" books. (Alas, sometimes they are so very similar.) (Also, girls with sharp things books.)

7. Run out of tissues when another middle grade novel discusses the loss of a much loved (Insert your favorite here), pet, friend, parent, author, imaginary buddy, grandparent, sibling, neighbor, bus driver, teacher, fantastic animal, superhero actor that the main character always hoped to meet, bicycle, other.

8. Discover that at least TWO new MG novels are about people "Destroying the Universe" and wondering how that happened.

9. Read proof, through current non-fiction, that people treat each other horribly for the most trivial of reasons.

10.  Occasionally laugh til I cry, or vice versa, at MG stories about middle school kids dealing with middle school (insert you favorite here), bullies, retiring teachers, Safety Drills, science fair contests, band practices, talent shows, school council elections, hair raising hijinks, ridiculous rules, cafeteria food, other.

11. Struggle through the "NEXT Harry Potter" OR "For readers who LOVED Harry Potter" offerings three times a year.

12. Groan out loud when another teenager chooses to do the WRONG things for the right reasons or the WRONG thing for the wrong reasons just to make sure the book doesn't end too soon.

13. Skip the third quarter of the book because I am pretty sure I know what kind of thing will happen and then discovering I was right.

14. Stay up ALL NIGHT because THIS book is so awesome I can't stop reading.

15.  Find a book I would never have picked up, if I didn't have to read it for a book review session and reading it THREE times because it is so good.

If this IS my last book review session - (I'll let you know on Monday) - it was worth every minute over the last decade - or more. I lost count.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

OH! So CUTE!!!

From Vera Brosgol, the graphic novelist, comes this so adorable picture book about the strength of sharing.

Friday, April 5, 2019

ABRAMS KIDS! You are awesome!

So, I ask publishers for a few books to hand out to the teachers and librarians who come to my book review session at the Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference.  And Abrams Kids ALWAYS sends me a carton or two of ARCs.  I've gotten books from Candlewick and Chronicle and Holiday House in the past and Toon books sent me a few titles - (not this year though).   Publishers are wonderful that way.

BUT this year, ABRAMS KIDS sent me THIRTEEN cartons of books.  So, sign up already.  Get your free books.  Load up your Summer Reading Club giveaway shelf.  Give new and upcoming titles to your teen book club.

The Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference is a TREASURE.  Also, Duncan Tonatiuh will be there! Andrea Warren, Brendan Wenzel and Marc Tyler Nobleman, too.

#books4kids, #KUchildren'slitcon, #freebooks