Monday, February 19, 2018

And the Winners Are...

Last Monday, the Youth Media Awards were announced at the American Library Association's Midwinter conference. Committees for the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and other awards have been reading and critiquing like mad all year long. It's an honor to serve on these committees, but it's an enormous time committment (and financial, since members have to finance conference attendance if their employers do not). You can see the full list here, but I'm just going to mention my favorites: 

Newbery Medal: Hello Universe
Newbery Honor: Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut; Long Way Down; Piecing Me Together

I did not have a favorite for the Newbery this year. From reading other blogs and Twitter feeds, I know that I was not alone in that. The only one I haven't read is Long Way Down. Crown (also an Author Honor recipient for the Coretta Scott King award) was one of my favorite 2017 reads, so I'm very excited that it received so much recognition. Piecing Me Together (also the Author winner for the Coretta Scott King award) is on the older end of the Newbery eligibility (0-14); it's a fantastic middle school read. Hello, Universe is moving and memorable; definitely a worthy selection. 

Caldecott Medal: Wolf in the Snow

Caldecott Honor: Big Cat, Little Cat; Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut; A Different Pond; Grand Canyon

Excellent selections in this group! Big Cat, Little Cat was on my hopefuls for the Caldecott, so I'm excited that this sweet "circle of life" story won. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is utterly unique, fresh, and joyous: it deserved everything it received. A Different Pond is a beautiful father-son story and a tribute to the immigrant spirit. Grand Canyon is a marvelous depiction of one of our greatest national parks. Wolf in the Snow was a surprise for me; it's definitely a fun book, so not unhappy that it won. 

Geisel Award/Honor (for beginner readers/chapter books): King and Kayla is one of my new favorite beginning chapter book series, so I am thrilled that King and Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats is one of the honor titles for 2017's best beginner reader/chapter book. This mystery series featuring a girl and her dog solving mysteries is adorable (and narrated by the dog, King!)

The Sibert Medal for nonfiction titles often goes to history/science/biography books, which is why I was not expecting  Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability to be one of the honor titles! This is an eye-opening, honest, and revealing read by a charismatic author. 

Two of my favorite 2017 reads were honored by the Pura Belpre committee, which recognizes outstanding Latino/Latina authors and illustrators: Lucky Broken Girl and The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora. If you want something powerful and compelling with unforgettable characters, read these two titles.

The Printz, Oh, the Printz. This award for YA literature is always difficult to predict. I've read and admired two of the honor titles: The Hate U Give (winner of the Morris Award for an outstanding debut YA title and an Author Honor for the Coretta Scott King award)) and Vincent and Theo (also the winner for YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction). 

The Schneider Family award honors books that depict "the disability experience." One of its winners, You're Welcome, Universe, is a poignant and occasionally funny YA novel about a student kicked out of her deaf school for creating a graffit mural in order to cover up an ugly slur against her friend. 

Want more award winning books? These awards will be included in next year's Youth Media Awards presentation, giving these awards more visibility! 

Asian Pacific American Library Association recognized  Saints and Misfits, Cilla-Lee Jenkins, Future Author Extraordinaire, and A Different Pond as distinguished titles by Asian/Pacfic Islander American authors. 

Association of Jewish Libraries acknowledged The Language of Angels: A Story About the Reinvention of Hebrew, Refugee, The Librarian of Auschwitz, and This is Just a Test for its Sydney Taylor award.

The American Indian Library Association named #notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women and Marrow Thieves among its recipients for the AILA Youth Literature Award.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sweet Reads: Books for Valentine's Day

With Valentine's Day just around this corner, let's look at some sweet reads to share with your favorite little valentine(s):

Alfonso wants to catch Ida's eye, but she constantly has her attention on her book. When he decides to make a cake, only the salt from the deepest sea, butter from the summer sun, and flour as delicate as snowflakes from the sky will do. Apple Cake: A Recipe of Love is a gentle, warm, and beautiful story that features an interracial couple; one of my favorites.

Blanket of Love is a unique celebration of love, symbolized by comforting and enveloping blankets: blankets of flowers, blankets of kisses, etc.

Celebrate Valentine's Day is part of the excellent National Geographic's Holidays Around the World series. Like the others in the series, it explores the history and traditions of the holiday as it is celebrated around the world.

Emma Dodd is the queen of gentle, sweet, and comforting stories about unconditional love. Forever  features a polar bear mama and her cub; her other similar stories feature animals as well.

When I did preschool story time on a regular basis, Full, Full, Full of Love was one of my standard titles for my Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day story times. It features a large family gathering for a meal at grandmother's house, full of good food, fun, and definitely hugs and kisses.

Sophia and Mrs. Goldman have been friends for a long time--ever since Mrs. Goldman knitted baby Sophia a hat to keep her warm.  Mrs. Goldman is so busy knitting hats for everyone else that she doesn't have a hat of her own! Sophia tries very hard to knit a hat, but gets discouraged with all the lumps, holes,  and missed stitches...until she gets a brilliant idea!   A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love is charming, funny, touching, and multicultural (Mrs. Goldman is Jewish; Sophia is Latina); a great choice for kindergarten and lower elementary school students.

Here Comes Valentine Cat continues Deborah Underwood's hilarious Cat series. Cat is definitely not interested in Valentine's Day and all its mushiness. Next-door-neighbor Dog constantly throws things over the fence, annoying Cat in the process...until he throws a ball! This is a tad less snarky than the other Cat books, which makes it more accessible for toddler young preschool audiences (the other Cat stories are great for K-3 students).

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? is part of Jane Yolen's super popular How Do Dinosaurs...? picture book/board book series, featuring dinosaurs demonstrating good/bad behavior. Dinosaurs show their love in different ways, from cleaning up their messes, to not roaring, and more. This series shows positive behavior without being boring or preachy, which is why it continues to be a hit!

Love Is is a gorgeous rendition of the 1 Corinthians passage, ideal for sharing with young listeners (especially if you have a Sunday School or religion class scheduled around Valentine's Day).

A Mother for Choco is one of my standard Valentine's Day read alouds. It's become an adoption classic of sorts, as Choco finds a mother that looks very different from him (with a delightful surprise at the end).

Looking for a biography about the saint for whom the holiday is named? Saint Valentine is a richly illustrated biography of the Christian martyr (Ann Tompert's biography is another good choice).

My favorite Valentine's Day story, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, is a bit too long to share with my regular story time groups; happily, all library copies are checked out, so it's well-known to our patrons. Mr. Hatch is quite the curmudgeon, which makes the fact that someone is anonymously sending him valentines quite surprising! In the process of finding out the source, Mr. Hatch extends kindness and friendship to all, which has a rippling effect. It's a sweet story without being saccharine, and its message remains timeless.

By the time this is published, the 2018 Youth Media Awards will be underway (I'll post thoughts on them the following week!). Unfortunately, due to residency requirements, Town is by the Sea  won't be one of the Caldecott winners, which is a shame. It's quiet, sophisticated, and rather lengthy, which means that it's not for everyone; however, this stunningly illustrated story about a young boy thinking about his father as he works in the coal mine is a unique gem.

If you want a nonfiction read aloud for kindergarten and lower elementary school students. Gail Gibbons's Valentine's Day Is-- is one of your best bets. Gibbons's trademark cartoon-like illustrations and succinct text makes this accessible for young learners.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Let the Games Begin: Books for the Winter Olympics (Feb 5)

Personally, Summer Olympics > Winter Olympics. I find that Summer has a greater variety of interesting events than Winter. When it comes to Winter, the only events that I really follow are the figure skating competitions. However, I'll still have the Games on every night, whether it's ski jump, snowboarding, or the bobsled/luge competitions.

Buzz Beaker and the Speed Secret finds Buzz entering a skiing competition, using his own invention! Will it work--and will he overcome his nerves?

If you're planning to watch the ladies' figure skating competition, you'll definitely want to read Karen Chen's Finding the Edge: My Life on the Ice. Written especially for middle grade readers, this is her memoir of her early childhood and skating career.

Want to get into the scientific nitty-gritty of the competitions? Pick up the Full-Speed Sports and learn about the physics of skiiing, figure skating, and hockey.

Kate Messner is a reliable and strong crowd pleaser, and  Sugar and Ice is no exception. Claire's natural skating talents catches the eye of an influential coach. When she receives a scholarship to an exclusive training facility, she soon has to deal with the competitiveness and snobbery from some of the other skaters. Middle school readers might enjoy Gold Medal Winter, which also features a competitive skater.

Finally, if you want a quick rundown on some major events (including curling!), the Winter Olympic Sports series is for you. These quick high-interest titles will explain the rules and techniques of the events, as well as high-profile athletes competing in South Korea!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Are You Ready for Some Football?

And then there were two....

Football season is coming to a close. For some, the season ended in spirit well before December. Others had a shocking defeat in playoffs seconds before an assured victory (Saints fan...still not over it!). And in the final divisional playoff, there was the trademark come-from-behind win by the Patriots, followed by a blowout win by the Eagles. If you're looking for some great books to pass the time before the Super Bowl, you've come to the right place!

Very excited to get The Super Bowl: Chasing Football Immortality just in time for the game! We needed an updated history of the championship. From the biggest wins to the most heartbreaking defeats, this covers the excitement of the tournament from its inception in 1967.

Love him or hate him, but you can't deny that Tom Brady is the GOAT...and this is coming from a Drew Brees fan (crossing my fingers that we'll see a Brees-Brady Super Bowl...a game for the ages).  Tom Brady and the New England Patriots: Super Bowl XXXVIII relives the drama of the 2004 Super Bowl.

What is the Super Bowl?, part of the entertaining What Is? line, packs fun facts about the history of the tournament, famous players and events, and even tidbits about the halftime show.

Books of lists are popular with all kinds of readers (I love them too!), so it's no surprise that 1st and 10: Top 10 Lists of Everything Football has been popular with our young patrons. Presented by Sports Illustrated Kids, cool facts about the best comebacks, hitters, and even fans are highlighted in this browseable guide.

If you're serving wings at your family's Super Bowl party, don't miss Buffalo Wings. When Rooster finds a recipe for the big game, he goes off in search of the ingredients...before reading the entire recipe through. Rooster's face when he discovers that buffalo wings are not made from buffalo is a winner.

The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way is a (true) college football story, but it's such a super read aloud for elementary school students that I can't ignore it. It's a great story about sportsmanship and learning from your mistakes.

Poor Mo. It's tough being the smallest kid on the football team, especially when you're struggling with catching the ball. Luckily, Mo's coach has a plan! Don't Throw it to Mo is a charming easy reader (baseball fans will enjoy Get a Hit, Mo!).

No More Dead Dogs is classic Gordon Korman: tons of humor and heart. Eighth grader Wallace is definitely sure that he's not going to enjoy attending rehearsals of the school play; unfortunately for him, it's part of his detention sentence, so he doesn't have a choice. In spite of himself, he becomes more interested and involved in the process. The title comes from Wallace's (not entirely wrong) observation  about award-winning children's books. If you're in the mood for more outstanding sports novels for children (or teens), check out anything by Mike Lupica or Tim Green's novels for children/young adults.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, January 22, 2018

New Books!

We need to talk. We need to talk about all the AMAZING books coming our way. Are you like me and still trying to catch up on 2017 reads? Well, we're never going to catch up, so let's just accept that. And wouldn't it be awful to run out of things to read? I actually had to whittle down this list (chose top two!) because I have so many titles that I

Picture Books

Everybunny Count!

Counting! A story in rhyme! Bunnies! This will be super popular.

Hey Ho, To Mars We'll Go: A Space-Age Version of "The Farmer in the Dell"

CANNOT wait to add this to my outer space story time.

Chapter Books and Graphic Novels:

One of my favorite graphic novel series is back with Hilo 4: Waking the Monsters. We'll learn more about Hilo's backstory in this one, so hopefull this will answer some lingering questions!

Bobbie Pyron gave us a sneak preview of A Pup Called Trouble when she visited us last year; fans will be thrilled to know that the book will be available very soon! This story of a coyote pup's adventures in New York City will undoubtedly be endearing and a must read for fans of animal stories.

Children's Nonfiction

If you've read Misty Copeland's memoir (or her memoir adapted for younger readers), you know that Raven Wilkinson, the first African American woman to dance with a major American company, is an inspiration and a mentor (Copeland provides the foreword). Trailblazer has received fantastic reviews.

A book about the accidental invention of the Band-Aid? Yes, please! The best inventions often have stories of setbacks, determination, and an "against all odds" flavor. The Boo Boos That Changed the World: A True Story About an Accidental Invention (Really) seems to have all that, plus more. From the little I've read, this sounds like an outstanding read aloud for K-5 students.


The Belles

In the world of Orleans, everyone is born gray. If you are luckly, a Belle will help you become gorgeous and talented. When Camellia achieves her dreams--being an attendant to the Queen of Orleans--she discovers the dark truths of her society. This is getting amazing reviews, and adds much needed diversity to fantasy/science fiction.

It's been a few years since we've had a new book from Maureen Johnson, so I'm eagerly anticipating Truly Devious . Teen amateur detective stories are usually a sure-fire hit, and with Johnson's wit and expertise, this will definitely rise above the crowd. This first in a trilogy has received strong reviews.

Adult Fiction

The impetus for Andrew Carnegie's wideranging philanthropy remains a mystery; could it have been inspired by the lives of staff who worked for him? Carnegie's Maid imagines this possibility through the story of a (fictional) Irish-American maid who becomes quite close to the Pittsburgh businessman. I love historical fiction set in the United States, so this is at the top of my list.

Historical fiction fans know that a new Melanie Benjamin novel is something to celebrate.  The Girls in the Picture takes place in (really really) old Hollywood in the early days of silent movies, particularly focused on the friendship between screenwriter Frances Marion and actor Mary Pickford. I'll confess that I don't have much knowledge (or tolerance) for most silent movies, but I know Mary Pickford is considered a pioneer in film history, and was an early champion of Charlie Chaplin. This looks like a glamorous and inviting read; if you need a historical fiction break from wars, kings, and queens, this should be on your list.

Adult Nonfiction

Jefferson's Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, In a Young America investigates the lives of Thomas Jefferson's three daughters: Martha, Maria, and Harriet. Researching Harriet's life was difficult; as the daughter of Sally Hemings, there is limited information about her life (Kerrison's efforts are part of this story). We have a number of holds on this one, so this is already receiving pre-publication interest.

Bringing Columbia Home: The Final Mission of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew is deeply personal for co-author Michael D. Leinbach, as he was the launch director when the shuttle disintegrated in its return flight home. Leinbach, along with other NASA employees, FEMA, FBI, US Forest Service, many other government employees, and hundreds of volunteers participated in the heartbreaking (and dangerous) effort to recover the astronauts' remains and shuttle parts. The quest to determine the cause of the explosion and to complete the vital International Space Station was enormous, challenging, and emotional; as the 15th anniversary of the disaster looms, this will be a timely read.

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Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

Monday, January 15, 2018

Favorite 2017 Reads: Picture Books and Graphic Novels

Wrapping up my 2017 favorite reads with picture books and graphic novels! I wrote this entire thing before I realized that I didn't do it in the same format as the other posts; too late to change it.

Picture Books/Easy Readers: 

I can run hot or cold on Lane Smith books--A Perfect Day is probably my favorite Lane Smith book so far! A perfect day means something different to each of the animals in the backyard; the surprise ending with the bear makes this a standout. On my Caldecott list.

Written from both the perspective of turtle Alfie and his human, Nia, Alfie is a funny and charming tale of a turtle that finds himself temporarily free on the night before her birthday. His reason for his disappearance will melt the heart of pet owners!

I'm ready for Elisha Cooper to receive a Newbery, so I'm hoping that we'll hear Big Cat, Little Cat announced as one of the Caldecott Honor--or even Medal!--recipients. Pet loss/circle of life stories can be tricky, but it's one that we're often asked about, so I'm always happy to find one that addresses the situation with honesty and heart, and without being maudlin. This one definitely might bring a little tear to the eye, but the ending is totally worth it.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut not only celebrates the fine feeling that you get after an awesome haircut, but also the longstanding importance of black-owned barbershops in African-American communities. This is one of a kind, and utterly joyous.

It's not often that a quiet and tenderly created story about an immigrant family becomes super popular at our branches, but A Different Pond is quite a special case. Bao Phi and his father don't rise before dawn to fish for fun; they are fishing to put food on the table. In the quiet pre-dawn hours, Bao Phi's father tells him about the pond at which he fished in Vietnam. As the child and author have the same name, you immediately know that this is a deeply personal story. Quite a winner.

April Pulley Sayre's books are amazingly gorgeous. It's high time a photographic picture book won the Caldecott Medal; Full of Fall is classic Sayre, complete with eye-popping photos and text that a wide range of children can enjoy and understand.

Finding something between Biscuit and actual chapter books can be tricky, which is why I'm always stoked to find superb easy readers with genuine chapters. These are especially important when readers are struggling to advance beyond chapter books, but find the readers on their level babyish looking. The  King and Kayla series follows a young girl and her trusty dog, King, as they solve mysteries in their community. The stories are narrated by King, which adds a humorous perspective!

Antoinette Portis is also due a Caldecott, so Now is definitely on my Caldecott wish list. There's not much story to this; a girl shares her favorite things (that exist in the present moment), accompanied by rich and warm illustrations.

Kids are drawn to T. Veg: The Story of a Carrot-Crunching Dinosaur because...hello, dinosaurs! Parents like the emphasis on vegetables (especially if they are vegetarian!) and message of accepting others' differences. They'll both enjoy this story of courage, finding oneself, and being yourself.

There Might be Lobsters

Life at the beach can be rough if you're a small pup; there's lots of things that can be scary, from the rushing tide, big beach balls bouncing around, and lobsters with pinchy claws! However, you can be surprised by your own strength and bravery in the most unlikely situations, as Sukie discovers. Evocative beach scenes mingle with a sweet story of courage.

Honorable Mention: 

These books are too awesome to pass up!

Blue Sky, White Stars 

Early Sunday Morning


Niko Draws a Feeling

Graphic Novels: 

I didn't think I could love All's Faire in Middle School more than Roller Girl, but Victoria Jamieson's full-hearted graphic novel work continues to astonish. Having been homeschooled since elementary school (and participating in Renaissance Faires for as long as she can remember), Imogene (Impy) wants to try middle school. She quickly finds out that middle school is quite tricky, as the group of girls she initially connects with turn out to not be as nice as they initially seemed to be. When she does something totally against her nature and instinct in order to fit in, her troubles don't improve. Jamieson totally gets middle school trials and tribulations; this is hilarious, moving, and 100% realistic.

George O'Connor is saving his favorite Greek gods and goddesses for the tail end of his Olympians series, so I'm eagerly anticipating his final volumes. Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt is one of his best; lots of action and adventure, with brilliant illustrations.

The uproarius Comics Squad series continues with Comics Squad: Detention!, bringing back the top names in children's/YA graphic novels. While the previous volumes covered Lunch and Recess, this covers something no one enjoys: detention! Although detention is not supposed to be fun, there's plenty of adventures in these detention halls.

Victoria Jamieson continues the funny and adorable Pets on the Loose series with The Great Art Caper, in which class hamster GW finds his pursuit of making a gift for his (human) friend is thrawted by a mouse plot to derail the school art event. Here's hoping for more classroom pet adventures in Pets on the Loose!

I read the second volume in the Lowriders series before reading Lowriders in Space; luckily, it didn't matter in the slightest. The opener in this wacky graphic novel series about a low-rider gang in space is deliciously funny and weird, complete with Spanish phrases sprinkled throughout the story.

Based on the Pied Piper legend, Piper is a gorgeously created fairy tale centered on a deaf young woman and the strange man who promises to rid her town of rats. (YA)

I am loving Gareth Hinds's graphic novel editions of classic literature (have yet to read his Odyssey). Poe is a creepily and hauntingly illustrated presentation of Edgar Allan Poe's most famous works, including Annabel Lee and The Tell-Tale Heart. (YA)

Real Friends is Shannon Hale's first graphic novel (delightfully illustrated by LeUyen Pham), and her most personal work to date. Shannon finds herself in the midst of friendship issues when her friend starts hanging out with the most popular girl in school.Starting with their first encounter in kindergarten and ending in fifth grade, this is a hugely affecting, distinct, and authentic story.

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt is also a second volume in a series, apparently, but it's not necessarily to read the first one (which we will get). This is pure silliness and fun under-the-sea adventure.

Jennifer Holm's sequel to her outstanding graphic novel memoir, Sunny Side Up, is just as endearing, humorous, and tearjerking as its predecessor.  Swing It, Sunny follows Sunny as she navigates the world of middle school, while dealing with the complications of her older brother being sent off to military school. Based on Holm's (and brother and frequent co-collaborator, Matthew's) childhood experience with a troubled family member, this is a must read for Holm's fans and anyone who loves graphic novel memoirs.

I hope that you've found something new to read! I'm hoping to find some of these fabulous books named during the Youth Media Awards on February 12 (yes, a much later announcement this year!).

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library