Friday, April 18, 2014

National Library Week

As National Library Week 2014 draws to a close, let's look at some terrific books featuring libraries! 




 The cutest yellow dog in children's books is back! In Biscuit Loves the Library, Biscuit plays with puppets, listens to recorded books, and meets a friendly librarian.  The Biscuit easy readers are always adorable; this one is doubly so!



Bob Shea's young dinosaur has found himself in many challenging situations, but the library might be his biggest one yet. Dinosaur vs. the Library finds our young friend learning proper library manners in a very boisterous and wacky way, as only Bob Shea can create. 



Angela Johnson's Lottie Paris is a darling character, so I'm hoping that we'll have more adventures with her. What is the "best place" in Lottie Paris and the Best Place? Why, the library, of course! Lottie Paris and Papa Pete not only discover new reads, but also meet a new friend.  




Cross-cultural books are among my favorite type of books to read, so My Librarian is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World has always been at the top of my "books about libraries" list.  Margriet Ruurs introduces us to the way children who don't have physical libraries in their community get access to books. It's an informative and humbling read illustrating how books are cherished by diverse communities. 




We have several excellent picture book biographies about our third president; Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library  focuses on Thomas Jefferson's insatiable thirst for knowledge and his enormous personal library, which became part of the restored Library of Congress collection, whose original contents were destroyed in the War of 1812. 


Adult patrons might want to check out these two intriguing library reads: 



Dewey: The Small-Time Library Cat Who Touched the World is not only a sweet story about a cat who supervises a library, but it's also a fine story about a community and library facing challenging economic times. 



The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, And the Power of Family is not only an awesome title, but it's also an awesome read about a librarian who deals with infertility, struggles with his Mormon faith, and Tourette's Syndrome with a great deal of strength (emotional and physical-he lifts weights), insight, and humor.  

(Psssst....Susan Orlean is writing a book about the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire, in which 20% of the Central Library collection was destroyed, with the remaining holdings suffering smoke and water damage; if you've read her books, you'll agree with me that it will probably be amazing. More details here.) 

Happy National Library Week! 

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 


To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Time to Celebrate

The two most important holidays in the Jewish and Christian faiths are right around the corner: Passover begins the evening of April 14 and ends the evening of April 22 (Jewish holidays and the Sabbath always begin and end at sunset), while the Christian Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday on April 13 and ends with Easter on April 20.  It's not too late to pick up books on your holiday of choice!



National Geographic's Holidays Around the World is an excellent series that looks at the history and culture behind significant holidays. Celebrate Easter With Colored Eggs, Flowers, And Prayer teaches readers about the many traditions and customs centered around Easter;  Celebrate Passover With Matzah, Maror, And Memories is a look at the history of Passover and the ways Jewish families around the world celebrate it.  As can be expected from National Geographic, the photographs are interesting and inviting.



I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Gail Gibbons's nonfiction books are ideal for elementary school students able to read short nonfiction books. Her Easter  nonfiction picture book is a succinct look at the religious and secular observations of Easter, complete with appealing cartoon-like illustrations.





Here Comes the Easter Cat has not lingered long on our new books shelf; with its arrival so near Easter, it's been as popular as hot cross buns straight from the oven.  It's a hilarious and clever tale of a cat determined to usurp the Easter Bunny...until it finds out how hard the Easter Bunny actually works (the ending hints at the cat's aspirations to replace another beloved holiday figure...that sequel will be out in the fall!).




The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah is obviously a take on the traditional folktale, but with a Jewish twist (Yiddish words are even sprinkled throughout the narrative). You can guess how the story goes: no one wants to help Little Red Hen bake the passover matzah (a glossary of terms is included to explain Yiddish words and aspects of the holiday) until her Passover table is set.  Instead of shunning her friends, the Little Red Hen understands that Passover is a family/community event, so she invites them to celebrate (they DO help with the clean-up).  Normally, I'm not a fan of rewriting fairy/folktales to make them "nice," but this one is such a charmer that I can't resist it.




While there are many things I love about Easter and springtime in general, one of the things I really enjoy are new dresses and shoes for the warmer spring days.  However, I'm not a hat person, so a new Easter hat is not part of my outfit (although I LOVE looking at fine millinery). Miz Fannie Mae's Fine New Easter Hat is a charming story about an Easter hat that literally comes alive during an Easter service!





The Passover Lamb  fits my wish list for holiday books: any book that, in addition to being well written, presents a new aspect or angle to the story immediately catches my attention.  There aren't many stories of Jewish families that live in the country, so this sweet tale of a young girl who must care for the unexpected arrival of triplet lambs, at the expense of missing the Passover Seder at her grandmother's house, is a beautiful and joyful read for Passover. One of my favorites from 2013.




The Yankee at the Seder also presents a Passover story in a unique way, for it looks at Jewish life on both the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War.  When a Jewish Union soldier stumbles across a Jewish Virginia family about to observe their Seder meal, he is invited to join the family, even though he fights for the Union Army. The solider and the family discuss the meaning of freedom as it pertains to Passover and the Civil War. This is a thoughtful story based on a true story; author Elka Weber includes information on Cpl. Myer Levy, upon whom the story is based.

If you'd like a more sacred approach to the holidays, browse the selections in the J 226 section for religious Easter titles and the J 296.437 section for religious Passover titles.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 


To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.














Friday, April 04, 2014

Great Reads for Autism Awareness Month

With April being Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to highlight my favorite books about autism.  Before we begin, let's look at some facts from the Autism Society of America:
  • 1% of the U.S. population ages 3-17 has autism or is on the autism spectrum. 
  • 1-1.5 million Americans have autism or an autism spectrum disorder. 
  • Only 56% of students with autism finish school. 
  • Costs of lifelong care can be reduced to 2/3 due to early diagnosis and intervention. 


You can't talk about autism without mentioning Dr. Temple Grandin.  Dr. Grandin may be the most famous person with autism; although her primary work is in animal science (she has pioneered ways in which to humanely handle and house cattle), she is a sought-after and influential advocate for people with autism.  Her books are numerous, but my favorite is The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum.  We also have the award-winning Temple Grandin television drama based on her life. You can read my May 2013 review here (I've quoted the entire review): 
Temple Grandin's latest is a must read for anyone fascinated by neuroscience (I love that stuff, so it's right up my alley).  Although Dr. Grandin obviously discusses autism quite a bit in this excellent read, there's a lot about the effect of brain injuries, the way artists, musicians, authors, and scientists use their brain, sensory issues, and much more.  She also shares her concern over the revised (and controversial) DSM 5 (diagnostic manual by the American Psychiatric Association) and her thoughts on treatment and care of people with autism spectrum disorders. Definitely going on my list for top reads of 2013.



I was very happy when Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World was selected as one of the Fauquier County Middle School Battle of the Books selections.  Not only is it a fine middle grade biography of Dr.Temple, but it also includes her advice for children with autism/autism spectrum disorders.




The Tales From Alcatraz series, which starts with the 2005 Newbery Honor Al Capone Does My Shirts, features a secondary character with autism.  As this takes place in the 1930s, autism is not specifically named.  This look at a family living on Alcatraz Island (father is a prison guard) is a memorable historical fiction novel for middle grades.





Nora Raleigh Baskin's YA novel Anything but Typical won the Schneider Family Book Award, Middle Grade division, for its authentic, occasionally funny, occasionally heartbreaking, and inspirational tale of a high-functioning 12 year old boy on his journey to self-acceptance.



We have a handful of the Medikidz series, and I'd eventually like to get more as needed. Unfortunately, not many are available in the United States.  The Medikidz is a group of preteens from the planet Mediland who help children coping with various issues.  Not the greatest of literature, but it presents medical information with a lot of kid appeal.  In addition to Medikidz Explain Autism, we also have Medikidz Explain Breast Cancer and Medikidz Explain Food Allergies.




My Brother Charlie explains autism from a sibling's point of view.  Although it's sometimes hard to understand Charlie, Callie loves her brother very much.  Although he is different from other children, he is very much the same as other children--he loves to swim, play the piano, and play with his sister.  Perfect for very young children who need books about autism.



Cynthia Lord's exceptional Rules received a 2007 Newbery Honor for its unforgettable portrayal of a 12 year old girl who longs for a normal family life--one that isn't constantly disrupted by younger brother David's embarrassing behavior.  Forming an unexpected friendship with a paraplegic boy named Jason makes her question if anyone could really be called "normal" or have a "normal family."



Free Spirit Publishing is a noted publisher of books for children and parents dealing with a variety of difficulties.  The Survival Guide for Kids With Autism Disorders (And Their Parents) is part of their Survival Guide series, which explains coping mechanisms for children with ASD (we also have the ADD and the Learning Differences guides)



One of the most incredible reads I've experienced in the past five years is Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, And the Search for Identity. Yes, it is unwieldy at times, but if you're into developmental psychology, you need to read this!  My longer 2013 review is here (I've quoted the entire review):

Far From the Tree is a DOORSTOPPER. The actual narrative (minus the notes) runs about 800 pages. Yowza. Andrew Solomon interviewed families with exceptional/special needs children (deaf children, autistic children, severely disabled children, prodigies, children with dwarfism, children affected by Down Syndrome, etc) as well as families affected by adult children with schizophrenia and children (some adult, some not) who committed crimes (he interviewed the parents of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine High School shooters, at length).  When possible, he interviewed both parents and children. He also researched the history of how these very different children and adults were educated and treated by society.  There's lots to absorb in this meaty read--not only in the tons of fascinating information about these families and how exceptional or different children have affected their lives, but also in the emotionally charged stories related by the families and their (grown) children. It's an impressive read, but can be overwhelming at times. In the chapter on deaf children, Solomon delivers an outstanding discussion about cochlear implants, giving both sides of the controversy careful due, and explaining both the benefits and significant limitations and problems of these implants. In the chapters on deafness, autism, dwarfism, and Down Syndrome, he interviews activists who challenge the inclination to "cure" such situations with devices, therapy, genetic engineering, prenatal testing, or surgeries, as well as those who support such inclinations. The chapters on adult schizophrenia and parents of criminals are the most challenging to get through; while the chapters on children afflicted with disabilities and disorders offer many stories of struggle, heartbreak, and challenge, there are also stories of acceptance, integration, activism (by both parents and children), and personal growth. Such stories are few and far between in the chapters on schizophrenia and crime (even less so in the schizophrenia chapter). As you can imagine, you really need to dedicate time to digest this book, but it's well worth it.
For more information on autism, check our selections here.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 


To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.


Friday, March 28, 2014

March Reads

More snow days in March meant more time available to whip through books!



And We Stay
A YA novel about surviving the suicide of a boyfriend could easily slide into mawkish writing.  Jenny Hubbard rather skillfully managed to avoid turning it (and other situations that emerge) into a slobbering mess, and has created a thoughtful and tragic story of regret and renewal.  This is mature YA; definitely one to watch for the Printz.





The Bathing Costume, Or the Worst Vacation of My Life
One of the many reasons I love ALA Youth Media Awards day is that it introduces me to books that I had never heard of until they are announced as winners.  The Mildred Batchelder Award  honors English translations of books originally published outside the United States in a language other than English; more often than not, the books are unknown to me.  Such was The Bathing Costume, Or The Worst Vacation of My Life (one of three honor books); originally published in France, this tale of an eight year old adjusting to a summer vacation without his parents is funny and endearing.






Becoming Ben Franklin
Russell Freedman's biography and history books are tremendous; this biography on Benjamin Franklin is a vivid depiction of the inventor, writer, and statesman.  His books are also beautifully designed; text and images (maps, illustrations, etc) are perfectly aligned.






Biscuit Loves the Library
The ever-adorable Biscuit is having a great day at the library; he plays with puppets, listens to a story on CD, and finds a cozy spot to read with a young friend.  Although not actually about a Paws to Read type program (check out Lola Goes to Work for an actual therapy dog story), this would be a perfect read for our friends who participate in our monthly Paws to Read sessions (check the calendar for upcoming dates)! I appreciate the fact that Alyssa Satin Capucilli portrays a busy, friendly, and modern library; looks like a great place to visit.






The Dolphins of Shark Bay
The Scientists in the Field series astounds me; they are magnificent and fascinating looks at different areas of science.  The Dolphins of Shark Bay introduces us to scientists who are studying the language and intelligence of dolphins located in coastal Australia.  Remarkable insights about these amazing creatures (including their different personalities, especially in their parenting skills and interactions with tourists, which have been greatly limited to their benefit) and striking photographs make this a win for dolphin lovers.








Eruption! Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives
While the Scientists in the Field series has largely focused on animals (so far), the series does occasionally feature non-animal subjects.  Not knowing much about volcanoes, I was immediately drawn into the book through the scientists' passion for predicting volcanoes and for educating citizens who live near known volcanoes.  Keep in mind that volcanoes such as Colombia's Nevado de Ruiz, which erupted unexpectedly and killed 23,000 people are investigated and vividly (but not sensationally) depicted in words and photographs.  Elizabeth Rusch clearly explains that people living near volcanoes rely on them for building their homes and other important features, which makes questions of relocation complicated.  One of the best in the series!





From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
This 1968 Newbery Medal winner about siblings who hide in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a favorite for many children's literature fans. It's certainly a well-deserved classic, but I've never really warmed to it, for some reason.  This is definitely a look at a bygone New York (prices and mention of a transistor radio!).






The King's Fifth
Okay! If you want a depressing story about a young mapmaker for Coronado's troops who is now awaiting a murder trial, try this 1967 Newbery Honor!






The Lightning Dreamer
How is it possible that Margarita Engle published TWO fabulous novels last year? (See my Mountain Dog review).  Engle returns to familiar territory--Cuban history--in this fictional biography of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (nicknamed Tula).  Tula grew up in an upper-class Cuban family, in which she was expected to have a limited education and to be betrothed as quickly as possible.  Tula loved poetry, despised slavery, and yearned for independence, which she fought for all her life.  She used her poetry to speak out against slavery and arranged marriages, which was revolutionary in 19th century Cuba.  Engle explains liberties taken with Tula's story in an afterword.  This is another great achievement from Engle!




The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit's Amazing Migration
Sandra Markle's lengthy career has included many informational nature books that are occasionally
fine read alouds for elementary school children.  The Long, Long Journey, which focuses on the migration of the bar-tailed godwit, is one of her finest (and would be a great read aloud!).  Bar-tailed godwits fly 7,000 miles from Alaska to New Zealand every year, making theirs the longest nonstop bird migration.  Mia Posada's brilliant illustrations also make this a stand-out nature title.





The Mad Potter: George E. Orr, Eccentric Genius
I'm going through all the 2013 ALA Youth Media Awards titles that I missed last year (and titles on the many "Best of 2013" lists as well); The Mad Potter was the only Sibert Medal (for informational books) that I hadn't read, so I checked it out.  If I had known that this was about a Biloxi, MS potter, I would have picked it up long ago! (I spent a lot of time on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during my childhood).  George E. Orr was definitely an unusual artist; he created oddly shaped pots and vases that were not fully appreciated and celebrated until after his death.  Luckily, his art is now displayed at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi (destroyed by Hurricane Katrina 18 months before construction was complete, the museum will eventually be an outstanding collection of not only Ohr's artwork, but also African-American art, a center for ceramics, and plans for cultural/community events).  If you're a biography fan like me, books that fall outside of the standard biography subjects are always attractive; this is an inventive work!





The Noonday Friends
Sorry--no cover image available.  The Noonday Friends (1966 Newbery Honor) is a charming realistic coming of age story in Greenwich Village; Franny's artistic father has unemployment issues, which makes buying anything other than essential difficult.  Although it is a dated look at New York City, it features a Puerto Rican family without cringeworthy stereotypes.







Paperboy
Paperboy was the only Newbery Honor book that we didn't own at the time of the ALA Youth Media Awards announcements, so I'm just now getting around to reading and reviewing it.  Set in 1959's Memphis, this is a moving novel with a character struggling with a severe stutter (author Vince Vawter, who is also a stutterer and offers further information about stuttering in an afterword, based the story on his childhood memories).  It's a sophisticated and mature novel that straddles the children's/YA divide.







Russians: The People Behind the Power
Some of my favorite reading is focused on books that investigate countries and/or cultures; Russians: The People Behind the Power is an engrossing and extremely timely focus on Russian politics and culture, including common views on gender, problems with alcoholism, the importance of friendship, corruption in politics and business, treatment of prisoners, and so forth.  After reading this and Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, I want to read everything I can about Russia. I have many other things to read, though, so I'm trying not to go down that rabbit hole.




Rutherford B. Hayes
I am determined to see this presidential biography project through! Some presidents, however, are more interesting than others. I doubt many people thought much about Rutherford B. Hayes in years until the 2000 presidential election, when comparisons between Hayes's win and that election were drawn (Hayes lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote, and  there were controversies in several states' voting, including Florida).  Hans L. Trefousse's biography (part of the exemplary American Presidents series; I read its terrific volume on Ulysses S. Grant as well) puts Hayes's presidency into new focus, arguing that Hayes's ending of military occupation of the South helped the reunification process of a still-wounded and fragile nation.





Serafina's Promise
I was on the Jefferson Cup committee that named Ann E. Burg's All the Broken Pieces as the 2010 winner, and I'm thrilled that her second novel in verse is just as powerful as her first.  Set in Haiti just before and after the devastating 2010 earthquake, Serafina's Promise is a heartbreaking and hopeful tale of a young girl who dreams of becoming a doctor; school fees, however, make this dream a seemingly impossible one.  Life in Haiti is hard enough for the poor even before the earthquake; the tragedy makes it doubly so, yet the faith of the Haitian people is strong and humbling.  This is an incredible read; I am always appreciative of author notes and afterwords, though, and wish that one had been included (a pronunciation guide to Haitian Creole words is included, which is very much welcomed).  One minor complaint of an otherwise perfect read.





A Star for Mrs. Blake
Oh, look! A 2014 adult fiction read! My second....and also a historical fiction.  (I'm trying to branch out in my adult fiction to reads to things other than historical fiction, which I crave).  Oh, well.  This one was a treat to read.  As 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the first year of World War I, there is an increase in the number of fiction and nonfiction books about that era.  Did you know that Gold Star Mothers (mothers who lost sons in war) were invited to visit their sons' final resting places in France in 1930? A Star For Mrs. Blake is centered on a group of women who have all lost sons on the battlefields of France, but are all from different social backgrounds.  It's a remarkable, intriguing, heartfelt, and sorrowful character study; some parts of the story are funny, but this is a very sobering read.  Well worth it if you are a historical fiction fanatic.




Sugar
Historical fiction novels set during Reconstruction are few and far between.  Jewell Parker Rhodes's latest YA novel (published in 2013), set on an 1870s Louisiana plantation, is an enlightening novel concerning an orphaned former slave child named Sugar; Sugar is torn between wanting to stay with her familiar surroundings and yearning for a new start.  A complicated friendship with the young son of her former master and the arrival of imported Chinese field workers adds tension and realistic conflict to the story (the scene in which the Chinese workers, chained to each other, arrive on the plantation is unforgettable).  Sugar is an appealing and truthful character in which you become quickly invested, and a novel that you won't soon forget.





Words With Wings
Knock, Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me and Words With Wings were the remaining 2014 Coretta Scott King Medal books that I had yet to read; although Knock, Knock is a picture book and Words With Wings is a novel in verse, both are acutely sensitive stories about children thrust into difficult situations.  The young boy in Knock, Knock is dealing with his father's sudden absence, while the young girl in Words With Wings is trying to cope with her parents' divorce and her tendency to daydream, which is affecting her schoolwork. Ideal for readers who prefer character-driven realistic fiction, this is a first-rate story of the importance of creative outlets and the impact a caring teacher can have.




Zlateh the Goat: And Other Stories
I am almost DONE with the 1960s Newbery books; I have three or four left, then it's onto the 1970s era.  Zlateh the Goat: And Other Stories was one of three Newbery Honor books in 1967; it's an amusing collection of Jewish folklore, with the addition of illustrations by Maurice Sendak (in the early days of his career).

We will order a batch of new children's/YA books for April soon; if you are a Fauquier County Public Library patron, you should subscribe to Wowbrary so that you are among the first to know when they have been ordered!

I wrote about bee/butterfly themed picture books on the ALSC blog. Perfect for a springtime story time.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 


To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collectionevents, and programs, visit us on FacebookTwitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.


Friday, March 21, 2014

More Star Quality Reads

Last week, I told you about the 2014 books that have received 3-5 starred reviews. Today, we'll look at the 2014 books in our collection that have received two or one starred reviews. These are awesome books! The number of stars may change as the year progresses and we add more books to our collection, I'll update this list when necessary. There are some fabulous books among this stack, so let's jump right in.

2 Starred Reviews





Baby Bear
This book has been flying off the shelves since we got it in January. Baby bear stories are always popular, and the illustrations in this book by the inimitable Kadir Nelson are tremendous. This is a change for Mr. Nelson, who has made his name creating exemplary nonfiction books about African American history and noted African Americans (he received a Caldecott Honor for Henry's Freedom Box, written by Ellen Levine). In addition to Henry's Freedom Box, my personal favorites are  Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans and We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.





Baby's Got the Blues
Baby is singing the blues--wet diapers, boring soft foods, sleeping in a crib--it's a tough life! But at the end of the day, there's plenty of hugs and kisses, so it's not all bad. This looks like a fun read aloud.





The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond 
I reviewed this in February; very happy it's getting such great reviews!






Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream 
Looking forward to reading this fictional story about the first African American prima ballerina, Janet Collins.







Dare the Wind: The Record Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud
Just in time for Women's History Month!  I've never heard of Eleanor Prentiss, who set a sailing record during the Gold Rush era.  Illustrator Emily Arnold McCully is one of the best: I adore her Mirette on the High Wire.





Dream Dog 
Henry wants a dog. REALLY wants a dog. His dad is allergic to dogs, so that's not going to fly.  His parents offer a lizard, but it's clearly not the same. Henry takes matters into his own hands and creates the most awesome dog ever. Does it matter that no one else can see it? This sounds really adorable (although the reviews I've read make me think that the ending might make some readers tear up!).






Five, Six, Seven, Nate!
I read Better Nate Than Ever, which has great appeal to a specific audience; I found that the obscure musical theater references went overboard in Five, Six, Seven, Nate, while they were somewhat kept in check for the first story (and as someone who has read a lot of musical theater history, some of the references were a bit too obscure for me).








Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? 
Birds are some of my favorite creatures, so this lovely book about bird calls is right up my alley. Might be a good read aloud for preschoolers and kindergartners.






Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons
I took a peek at this when we received it; a panda cutie leads us through the seasons, told through haiku.







A Mad, Wicked Folly 
This YA novel about a young British woman caught up in the suffragist movement sounds like a winning novel; definitely putting this toward the top of my list!




Mama Built a Little Nest 
A steady discussion on Elizabeth Bird's blog is focused on noted illustrators who have somehow not received a Caldecott Medal (they've either received the Honor or have not received any citation at all). While two of my favorites, Lois Ehlert and Denise Fleming, immediately came to mind (both have received Honors, but not the Medal), I later thought of Steve Jenkins, who has one Honor. Could this take on nest building and caretaking be the one?  (He also has another one, which he wrote and illustrated, coming out soon.)





Maple
Maple is adorable. I love it. Going on my Caldecott list. (I started my lists for 2015--look up and to your right!)





Operation Bunny
I'm familiar with Sally Gardner's YA fiction, so I'm happy to find this novel for much younger readers. Those who crave fairy/magic stories will grab this.







The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Isn't that a great title? This sounds like an offbeat fantasy title; the main character is a girl born with wings who struggles to fit in with society.






Threatened
YA adventure stories always catch my eye; they are great for readers who want action-packed stories, but do not want science fiction or dystopian novels.  Threatened takes place in the African country of Gabon; issues of endangered species and the plight of children orphaned by AIDS add depth to this story of survival in the wild.





The Tyrant's Daughter 
 Fifteen year old Laila and her family flee their unnamed Middle Eastern country after her father, the king, is assassinated.  Fleeing to a DC suburb brings about many issues, including culture shock, facing realities about her father's government, and a growing suspicion that a close family member was involved in the bloody coup. Author J.C. Carleson is a former CIA official who is receiving praise for her multi-faceted characters and situations.




What's Your Favorite Animal? 
I'm not always a fan of these sort of collaborations (for various reasons), but I can't resist a collection including Nick Bruel, Lucy Cousins, Steven Kellogg, Mo Willems, and many other favorites. I'm a huge fan of everyone listed on the cover, so this will definitely be a treat. Some authors, such as Rosemary Wells, write and illustrate about an actual animal in their lives; others, such as Mo Willems, create a wildly imaginative creature.




When I Was the Greatest
Fans of urban fiction  will want to pick up this YA novel set in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Fifteen year old Ali, named after the famed boxer, tries to avoid the temptations of the street through boxing.

One Starred Review


Thousands upon thousands of children's and YA books are published every year, which makes earning one starred review a noted accomplishment!








Bad Kitty Drawn to Trouble 
I LOVE the Bad Kitty series; I reviewed this in February. Hilarious AND cunningly educational; this one is about the writing process.





Baseball Is...
Just in time for opening day comes this loving tribute to baseball.  I am SO ready for baseball season, are you?





Beauty and the Beast
I haven't had a chance to really read this yet, but I do know that the illustrations are outstanding. This is a retelling of the fairy tale classic set in an unnamed west African country.





Betty Bunny Wants a Goal 
Betty Bunny is back! In her latest outing, Betty Bunny learns how to deal with the disappointment of losing.





A Book of Babies 
It's always a good day when Il Sung Na comes out with a new book. I have mixed feelings about the Caldecott (and Newbery) being limited to American authors and illustrators, because this means that some of my favorite artists are not eligible for the medals.  Il Sung Na creates beautiful, adorable, and enchanting picture books. This little duck observes the variety of baby animals around him.  LOVE.





Cress
Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles have consistently received fine reviews; I am not a big fan of science fiction/dystopian novels, but Cinder (#1) totally engrossed my reading. I need to get to Scarlet (#2) while I wait for the holds for Cress to die down.  Book #4 (Winter) will be out in 2015.





Divided We Fall 
Yes, yet another dystopian trilogy, but this one is described as a "military thriller," so that's somewhat different. Seventeen year old Daniel enrolls in the National Guard and is caught up in protests against a federal card ID program.  Publishers Weekly calls this a "pageturner" with a "catastrophic cliffhanger." Whoa!






Fake ID 
I'm super happy about this mystery involving an African-American teen; we don't often see multiculturalism in mysteries (another main character is Latino), so this will be a great addition!  Nick and his family are in the Witness Protection Program, which causes a ton of constant upheaval in his life.  School Library Journal says Nick is a "likable Everyman" and that mystery and suspense fans will be "extremely satisfied" by the surprise ending.





Feathers: Not Just for Flying 
Through a scrapbook format, Stewart explains that feathers protect birds from sunlight, carry materials for nests, and attract mates, in addition to flying.





Florence Nightingale 
Demi's gorgeous and inviting picture book biographies are always a must-order. I also take a second look at biographies about subjects who aren't often covered in biographies for youth; the most recent biography we have of Nightingale is a 100+ page biography, so this will fill a void nicely. I've had a chance to browse through this book; the illustrations are, of course, divine, and Nightingale's achievements in hospital orderliness and safety are noted.  Her work in the American Civil War is also featured.





The Forbidden Stone
The prolific and multi-talented Tony Abbott is back with a new series about children who must unravel a mystery that is threatening to destroy the world. Oh, no! The notoriously picky (and occasionally cranky) Kirkus Reviews enthused that "[W]ith engaging characters, a globe-trotting plot and dangerous villains, it is hard to find something not to like."  Fantastic!





Game Slaves
With this eerie cover and name, I knew that our copies would not stay long on our YA new shelves. Characters are real-life players in an online video game;  a new recruit questions the ethics of their game and the game's corporation, which shakes up everything that the players believe in.







Go! Go! Go! Stop!
This is awesomely funny; "Go" only knows one word, which sends the construction site into a frenzy.  Luckily, a new friend named "Stop" shows up. Hidden in this wacky story is a message about working together that isn't hammered into the story.





A Hundred Horses
Sarah Lean, author of the 2013 Schneider Family Award (Middle School Division) for A Dog Called Homeless, is proving to be a fine author of sensitive and moving stories for middle grade readers.  An eleven year old is forced to spend her spring break on a farm with family she has never met, where she meets a mysterious girl with a magical connection to horses.





Jinx's Magic 
Like the first book in the Wizard's Apprentice series, Jinx's Magic is receiving excellent reviews. Wizards, orphans, a mysterious forest--these standard fantasy novel ingredients will never get old.





The Killing Woods 
This YA murder mystery involves a teenage girl grappling with the fact that her father, a veteran with PTSD, is accused in the murder of one of her high school acquaintances.





Let's Get Cracking! (Kung Pow Chicken #1)
A superhero (superchicken?) easy chapter book about a second-grader chicken with an alter ego? Sign me up! This is heavily illustrated, which should attract reluctant readers.





The Lion Whole Stole My Arm 
Although this is a short novel (under 100 pages), this is a sophisticated novel about a young boy, armless because of a lion attack, who must face his new reality and an intense dilemma when he has the opportunity to kill the lion who attacked him.




Matilda's Cat
Emily Gravett is a favorite (and not eligible for the Caldecott *sob*).  Matilda is confident that she knows what her cat likes; her cat, on the other hand, is quite contrary, as cats can be.






Monday, Wednesday, And Every Other Weekend
Picture books about "issues" run the risk of being didactic; this story concerns a young boy dealing with his parents' divorce and his new living arrangements.  Publishers Weekly recommends this for the boy's "calm understanding of his family's situation, combined with his parents' mutual amicability."





New Kid 
Tim Green, along with Mike Lupica, write thoughtful and realistic sports novels, so new books by these two authors are always welcome.  Green's latest story is centered on a troubled youngster who faces a fresh start at a new school and on a new baseball team.




Panic 
Lauren Oliver is enormously popular, so her books are usually automatic orders. Fans will be drawn to this tale about a high-stakes game that awards $67,000 to the winner. This is not chump change in a town with an overwhelming unemployment problem.  Fans of thrillers should check this out.





Peek-A-Boo Bunny
Bunny books will soon be all the rage, so this is quite timely!  This little rabbit enjoys playing hide and seek with his buddies. AWWWWWW.




Sky Raiders
The ever-popular Brandon Mull's kickoff to a new series involves a wild and spooky night of trick-or-treating, during which a group of teens is transported to an alternate universe.





Some Bugs

We can never have enough picture books about bugs.  This looks bright, beautiful, and gloriously buggy.




Sophie's Terrible Twos
Rosemary Wells has a knack for writing stories to which both youngsters and adults can relate. Sophie is not having a good day; unfortunately, it's her birthday (which may be contributing to her feeling of being overwhelmed).  Luckily, Granny has experience in dealing with cranky toddlers.  Should be popular.




Storm
D.J. MacHale's sequel to Sylo  continues this adventure about teens escaping from a forced quarantine.  Kirkus 's stunning review compares this to Stephen King's The Stand; impressive!




Tesla's Attic
After fourteen year old Nick moves to a new house after his family's home burns down (and in which his mother dies), he finds an attic filled with items (destined for an estate sale) that appear to have supernatural powers.  Shusterman is a popular and well-reviewed author, so this will be anticipated by his fans. First in a trilogy.  Although the premise is sad, Library Media Connection noted that humor is "sprinkled throughout" the storyline.





Time for Bed, Fred 
Fred is SO not ready for bed. There are trees to climb and mud puddles in which to splash about.  His loving yet exasperated humans are determined to settle him down for the night.  Who will win in the end? Hoping to add this to my "read aloud" dog stories!





When an Alien Meets a Swamp Monster 
An alligator mistakes a mud-covered helmet and goggles wearing boy for an alien; the boy mistakes the alligator for a swamp monster! Both run home to tell a sibling; their second encounter promises to be just as wacky as the first.  This funny story about misunderstandings is "[T]otal laugh-out-loud joy," according to Kirkus Reviews.

Review journals mentioned in this post: School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly. Some content (including full text reviews) may restricted to subscribers.

Are you excited about the new 2014 books? Looks like a great start to the publishing year!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 


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