We are winding down the Fall 2011 publishing year. The usual suspects are producing their best books list; I'm happy that we have the majority of the books on the lists, but there are always a handful of books that require further investigation for possible ordering! That's for the December/January orders, though. Let's take a look at some enticing November releases:
All These Things I've Done (YA)
AwwwManNotAnotherDystopianYABook. Hold your horses. As someone who can only take dystopian fiction in small doses, I can tell you that I'm eager to read this one. This one involves illegal chocolate, caffeine, and teen use of cellphones. And a Mafia family. School Library Journal calls it "incredibly compelling"; Publishers Weekly opines that it offers "the excitement of a crime drama and the allure of forbidden romance." Woo hoo.
Anna Dressed in Blood (YA)
Horror fans, take note. You'll want to grab this one. Theseus's family business isn't like your normal mom-and-pop operation: his family kills ghosts. But only the ghosts that kill people. (Got it?) His next assignment involves a ghost named Anna, who's apparently been causing all sorts of havoc. When Kirkus loves a book, they really, really, really, really like a book. Like they want to cover it in chocolate and eat it all up: "Abundantly original, marvelously inventive and enormous fun, this can stand alongside the best horror fiction out there." Nice.
Dad decides to take the family on a fishing trip, and look what happens: they end up on an island that's not so much an island as it is the submerged body of a monster. Don't you hate it when that happens? This graphic novels already has its fans: School Library Journal calls it a "rip-roaring adventure," and Publishers Weekly approvingly notes that it "features sympathetic adult characters as heroic as the children." I like the sound of that!
Bun Bun Button
A beloved stuffed animal gets separated from its owner and has wild adventures on its own before reuniting with its young owner. Yes, there are similar stories out there (such as one of my favorites, La La Rose), but THIS one is written by Patricia Polacco. (Ooooh. Aaaah.) It's receiving lovely reviews, as can be expected.
Caleb's Wars (YA)
Historical fiction about the civil rights movement and slavery is important, but I'm always keen to read African-American oriented historical fiction that's set during different eras. Life's not easy for 15 year old Caleb, nor for any other African-American in Georgia during World War II. Hoping to escape a bad home life, Caleb takes a job washing dishes in a local restaurant, where he's shocked to find a German POW on staff. Andreas seems eager to be his friend; as he is a)not only white but b) a German POW, this is a bit unsettling for Caleb. This is getting excellent reviews; very intrigued about this one.
The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood
I thought I had ordered all the new winter holiday books that I was going to order for this year, but I couldn't resist this one. When boxes of donated clothing arrive in time for Christmas at the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, Virginia and her brothers must always be the last children to chose from the selection. As children of an Episcopal priest, they have been told that others take precedence. Naturally, the beautiful fur coat that Virginia has had her heart set on is taken by Virginia's rival. But what can be in a special box marked specifically for Virginia and her brothers?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (YA)
Is this the next breakout YA novel? Publishers Weekly named it one of the best books of 2011, and it's received FIVE starred reviews and bang-up reviews from The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly (can I just say how awesome EW is in taking YA literature seriously?). Teen Vogue, American Cheerleader magazine, and Amazon love it too. Author Laini Taylor (and her pink hair) is on a mega-tour right now. Are you getting the picture? It's set in Prague and features an art student who considers her artist notebook of monsters her true family. There's lots of angels and battles between supernatural beings, so fantasy lovers will definitely eat it up. First in a trilogy.
The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way
Imagine it: The 1929 Rose Bowl tournament between the University of California and Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech drops the ball! UC center Roy Riegels grabs the ball and sprints--the wrong way! He realizes his error at the 1 yard line, but it's too late. Thankfully, as Riegels demonstrates (and as the narrator, a grandfather telling his grandson the story, tells us), "...mistakes are not the end of the world." Dan Gutman is a master of sports stories and crazy middle grade fiction in general, so I have high expectations for this picture book.
Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite
Duke Ellington's band and recording executives were plenty skeptical about jazzing up the Nutcracker score, but Ellington was not to be dissuaded. Publishers Weekly cheers author Anna Harwell Celenza's "vibrant writing" in this "upbeat Christmas book about breaking boundaries and experimenting with new ideas." This comes with a CD recording of Ellington's score (a "must listen" according to Kirkus Reviews). I dig that.
Three children of a king and a band of warriors find themselves stranded on a deserted island in the winter. Based on Norse mythology and history, this has been picked as a Newbery favorite on some blogs and blog comments. School Library Journal recommends this for Ranger's Apprentice fans (must remember that!).
Lost! A Dog Called Bear
Yaaay! A new easy chapter book series! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Wendy Orr. This first entry (Missing! A Cat Called Buster is the second book) in a series about children helping animals and an animal shelter will undoubtedly appeal to both boys and girls. It's received high praise from the major review publications.
I'm all for YA thrillers; they're awesome for reluctant readers and are welcomed by those who aren't into the supernatural craze (particularly supernatural romance). Outlaw seems a step above your everyday thriller, because it's set in Burkina Faso and deals with contemporary issues involving much of Africa. Technology also plays a big part of the story, which isn't common in a story set in an African country. The teenage children of the United Kingdom's ambassador to Burkina Faso are kidnapped by a man whom some consider a terrorist and others consider Africa's modern day Robin Hood. "Nonstop action" sayeth Kirkus Reviews.
Snow in Summer: The Fairest of Them All
Finally! I've been waiting for Jane Yolen's latest novel for some time. How can you blame me, knowing that it's an adaptation of the Snow White story set in 1940s West Virginia? Publishers Weekly informs us that it's "beautifully written and deliciously scary." Awesome.
The Winter Pony
Kudos on that beautiful cover, Delacorte Press. Well done. Horses, adventure, and the race to the South Pole with Robert Falcon Scott. Are you hooked yet? It's told from the perspective of James Pigg, one of the twenty ponies that accompanied Scott's team to the South Pole. If you don't know anything about Scott's expedition to the South Pole, here's a helpful hint for you to decide if you want to emotionally invest in a story about that gorgeous little pony with the soft, trusting gaze on the cover...it doesn't end well. I haven't read reviews of this yet; I'm going solely on the author's past works and on the subject matter. November 1st marked the 100th anniversary of the first day of Scott's expedition, so this is quite timely.
Lily's mom has been possessed by a zombie trying to take over the world! Killer tarantulas and teenage vampires are out for M.T. Anderson's Pals in Peril group. Kirkus Reviews ended its positive review with this: "Ridiculous in all the best ways." Having read the previous Pals in Peril, I can definitely believe that.
Does that sound good to you? We have so many great stories coming to our new shelves in the upcoming weeks. Cannot wait.