Monday, April 16, 2012

Awesome Books for April

Oh no.

Oh man.

I am so far behind in my 2012 reading. And we just sent our April order. Ay yi yi.  I seriously need to get cracking on the books I already have checked out. Here's a look at what's coming down the pike:

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

When a family's cat takes ill, big sister Oona comforts and distracts little brother Freddy by telling tall tales about Zook the Cat's nine lives. Include a subplot about their widowed mother finding love again, and you've good to go for a feel good teary read.  The notoriously straight-shootin' and lovable grump (well, unless you're an author, I guess) Kirkus Reviews says "hanky recommended." I am officially scared.  If Kirkus Reviews was undone by this novel, there's no hope for the rest of us. If that's not enough, School Library Journal recently weighed in: "This heartwarming family tale is filled with resilient and thoughtful characters who are willing to learn from their mistakes."  I'm crying already.

The Art of Miss Chew

Oh, yay! A heartwarming teacher story. Loooove those!   Patricia Polacco's latest involves a teacher who changes the life of a struggling student. *sniff*  I don't need to quote reviews--they're tremendous, as you can expect from Polacco.

Backseat A-B-See

I've mentioned that I'm fairly critical of alphabet books; it's such a gigantic field, and tons more are created every year.  They have to have something quite different about them in order to catch my attention.  I've seen Mr. Schu and (Mr.) Colby Sharp excitedly promote this several times, so the exceptional reviews that I recently read just sealed the deal.  The alphabet is explored through the use of road signs from the perspective of a child in the backseat of a car. How cool is that? (And the sign for "L" is a public library sign!)

A Black Hole is Not a Hole

Of course, the title begs the question, "So, what is it?" Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano explains it all for us, with "wit, style, and singularly admirable clarity, frequently employing easy-to-understand and yes, down-to-earth ideas and scenarios to help make complex principles comprehensible to readers of all ages (Kirkus Reviews)." Whoa!  School Library Journal says it's "[I]nformative, fun, and so beautiful..." Niiiice.

Boy + Bot

I know, I know, I just know that this will be huuuuge with our patrons.  First of all, who can resist that cover? And who can resist a story about the friendship between a boy and his robot? Very few people, my friends. Very few. Amazing reviews.


When Finley (called White Rabbit because of his quiet nature and because he's the only white kid on his school's basketball team) is asked to mentor a new (and troubled) black student at school, he finds they have a shared traumatic experience in their past.  Ever since Russ's parents were murdered, he's retreated into his own internal world, telling everyone that he's an alien named Boy21.  Boy21 garnered some interesting comments on the Someday My Printz Will Come blog, so I'm eager to read it.

Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team

I'm looking forward to sharing this with the baseball fans on staff.  This picture book biography introduces us to the twelve Acerra brothers of New Jersey, who formed their own all-brother team in 1938, with dad as their coach.  Aww, yeah.  This will hark back to the days when kids formed pick-up baseball games and when baseball was truly America's pastime.  Audrey Vernick was fortunate enough to interview two Acerra brothers for her research.


Had enough dystopia and post-apocalyptic YA novels? If you're looking for a straight-up thriller novel, Double might just be for you.  This tale of mistaken identity is getting tons of praise.  The Horn Book says that it will have "readers on the edge of their seats," and Publishers Weekly is confident that it is the "kind of tense, nerve-wracking story that teens will race to finish."  Sounds good to me.

The Great Cake Mystery

Alexander McCall Smith is introducing his popular detective Precious Ramotswe to young readers in this short mystery novel (fewer than 100 pages) featuring Precious's very first case at the age of eight.  This has received excellent reviews, except for a rather negative one from School Library Journal. Interesting

Hannah's Way

Oh, this little book caught my eye, and I just had to order it.  While books about the Holocaust are absolutely important, I so want us to have books featuring Jewish characters in settings other than World War II Europe (I feel the same way about African American characters outside of slavery and historical fiction set in the South in general). Young Hannah is faced with quite the conundrum when her teacher announces that the class will have a picnic on Saturday. You see, Hannah is Jewish, and the Saturday Sabbath is strictly adhered to in her Depression-era family, meaning that car rides are forbidden on the Sabbath.  The only way Hannah can go to the picnic is if she finds someone to walk with her.  Hannah is quite shy and already feels different for being the only Jewish child in her rural Minnesota school; now, she has to ask someone to walk with her?  I won't quote the Kirkus Review because I don't want to give anything away, but you should keep that hanky that you needed for The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook and The Art of Miss Chew close by.  (Not because it's sad.)'s based on a true story!

The List

Ohhhhhh.  I'm really, really impatient to read this one.  For as long as anyone can remember, the last Monday in September has always brought "The List" at Mount Washington High School.  What's The List? Written by an anonymous author (the "privilege" is reportedly handed down from author to author), The List includes the names of the "prettiest" and "ugliest" girls in each grade. The List is told from the perspectives of the eight girls named to the list.  This has already earned multiple starred reviews.

The Obsidian Blade

Oh, looky. A new trilogy.  This time travel adventure is being hailed as "thrilling" (Publishers Weekly) and
"[P]art science fiction, part adventure, part mystery, but every bit engrossing" (Kirkus). I admit I went a little
cross-eyed when I read the series title. (The Klaatu Diskos series? That's going to be fun to have to remember.)

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs

A nonfiction book about a doggie circus? Sign me up! This is a story about second chances and new beginnings, both for the former shelter dogs turned circus stars and their trainer, a former circus performer forced to retire after a serious injury.  The dogs's natural abilities were observed during training to allow them to do tricks that suited their individual personalities and interests. 

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World

I received an advance reader's copy of this remarkable book, so I can tell you with confidence that Dr. Grandin's extraordinary lifestory is movingly told in this middle grade biography.   Information about autism and factory farming (which can be a bit detailed for sensitive readers) is included, as well as Grandin's own advice to children with autism and autism spectrum disorders.  I have my eye on this for the Schneider Family Award.

Whew! That's enough for now, don't you think? There are several others that I would love to include, but I can't include them all.  Happy reading, everyone!

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