The following are SLJ’s July Popular Picks, a monthly selection of must-have new titles for kids and teens chosen by SLJ’s book review editors. Authors featured in July include Kelly DiPucchio, Kekla Magoon, and Dav Pilkey.
Chan, Ruth. Where’s the Party? illus. by Ruth Chan. 40p. (Georgie and Friends: Bk. 1). Roaring Brook. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722699. POP
PreS-Gr 1 –Georgie is a gray tiger kitty who loves nothing better than throwing a party. So he makes a list, buys a cake, and invites his friends. Sadly, his friends all give reasons why they can’t come: Lester is changing his lightbulbs, Bunny’s ears are itchy, and Giraffe needs to fold his socks. His best friend Feta is busy making pickles. Disappointed, Georgie heads home. He arrives at his house to find “the most perfect party he’d ever seen.” Chan’s cartoonish ink and watercolor animals are candy-colored and appealing. Offbeat details, like Georgie’s to-do list, his friends’ excuses, and a dwindling cake, lend charm to the lighthearted story. The darkened pages when the dejected Georgie heads home make the predictable “SURPRISE” all the more delicious. VERDICT Chan’s first book is a fun and endearing offering for cake and pickle lovers everywhere and party-loving friends to share.
Collins, Ross. There’s a Bear on My Chair. illus. by Ross Collins. 32p. Nosy Crow. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763689421. POP
PreS-Gr 2 –Mouse has a problem—someone is on his chair! In a miniature red-and-white sweater, Mouse complains to readers, “There’s a bear on my chair. He is so big, it’s hard to share,” and with a friendly wave, viewers meet a polar bear. Mouse tries various ways to get the bear off his chair, such as “a nasty glare,” “a pear,” and “a scare,” and, finally, in a fit of “despair,” Mouse leaves. Bear, finding himself alone, returns to his home of snow and ice to announce, “Hey! There’s a mouse in my house.” The delightful rhyme and rhythm make this title great fun to read aloud. The text takes up one side of each spread, emphasizing words that appear in red font to convey the escalating emotions. Expressive digital illustrations are placed on single-color backgrounds that help focus readers’ attention on the characters’ dilemmas. VERDICT A must-purchase and instant classic for storytime and one-on-one sharing. Sure to become a favorite.
DiPucchio Kelly. Dragon Was Terrible. illus. by Greg Pizzoli. 40p. Farrar. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374300494. POP
PreS-Gr 2 –An unruly dragon with a bad attitude stomps on flowers, scribbles in books, and snatches candy away from baby unicorns. The king recruits knights to deal with the problem, but they all fail miserably. In response, the dragon ramps up his nastiness and toilet papers the castle and pops birthday balloons. A clever boy, with superb fairy tale–writing skills, saves the day by luring the dragon with a trail of marshmallows and then captivating him with a story he can’t resist. Funny details abound in Pizzoli’s cartoon illustrations, from royal posters tagged with “Dragon Was Here” graffiti to the not so scary dragon trying to feign readerly disinterest by shuffling a deck of cards and surreptitiously peeking around a tree. The witty, conversational-style narration interjects timely comments (“HEY, WAIT…What about the reward?”). VERDICT In this laugh-out-loud picture book, the powers of storytelling triumphantly tame the beast.
DiTerlizzi, Angela. Some Pets. illus. by Brendan Wenzel. 32p. S. & S./Beach Lane. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481444026. POP
PreS-Gr 1 –This bright and bouncy story in verse is about an array of pets and what they do. “Some pets slither. Some pets bound. Some pets scurry round and round.” Verbs describe how pets move, how they make sounds, how they eat, and how they show affection to their owners. The story ends with a statement about what all pets have in common. Humorous illustrations flesh out the simple text with mixed-media art that includes lots of cut-paper collage and what appear to be googly eyes. The bright, colorful illustrations are at their best when showing animals dressed for a costume party. Readers will have many observations about the animals in this story, as well as comments about their own pets or other animals they have known. Encourage young readers to find a word to describe how their pets move, make sounds, eat, or show affection, and, if appropriate, discuss the difference between nouns and verbs. VERDICT This fun, lively book will entertain kids at storytime, but it is also a simple way to begin discussing parts of speech. Recommended for all collections.
Litwin, Eric. Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs. illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. 40p. Scholastic/Orchard. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545883788. POP
PreS-Gr 2 –This title has all the elements of a classic Litwin story: fun characters, a heartwarming message, and a catchy song. It also has things that kids love: dogs, dinosaurs, and ice cream. “Groovy Joe saw something yummy. Groovy Joe started rubbing his tummy.” So begins the story of Groovy Joe, a guitar-strumming dog who has found himself with some delicious ice cream. So delicious that he has to sing, “Love my doggy ice cream! Love my doggy ice cream!” But his crooning draws the attention of a little dinosaur, a big dinosaur, and a huge dinosaur. They all take out spoons, put on bibs, and pull up chairs. And of course Groovy Joe exclaims, “It’s awesome to share!” But what happens when the ice cream runs out and all the dinosaurs are glaring at Joe? Lichtenheld’s illustrations are adorable and give all the characters personalities. VERDICT The story is fun and repetitive without being annoying, which makes it a good choice for storytimes, and there’s a great message about sharing. A welcome purchase.
Anderson, John David. Insert Coin To Continue. 336p. S. & S./Aladdin. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481447041. POP
Gr 4-6 –Ready Player One for the middle grade crowd. Bryan “Bilbo Baggins” Biggins spends most of his time playing the video game Sovereign of Darkness with his best friend, Oz, and pining after his crush, Jess Alcorn. He has been trying in vain to unlock a secret bonus level at the end of the game, one that Oz keeps telling him just doesn’t exist. But he keeps playing, over and over, until he finally reaches it one night before bed. The next day, something strange happens. Bryan’s life becomes a role-playing game (RPG). His middle school adventures turn into dramatized video game escapades, including an intense game of dodgeball, a recitation from Romeo and Juliet, and (in one of the strangest quests) an attempt to retrieve a Twinkie from the teachers’ lounge vending machine. With fast-paced action and a fun, engaging voice, there is plenty here to hold interest. Some of the interactions with Bryan’s adversaries (hall monitor, teacher, school bully, etc.) are a bit over-the-top, but that’s to be expected given the subject. The video game parody is clever and would also appeal to adults with a fondness for vintage arcade games. VERDICT Anderson combines action and realistic middle grade issues with video game references to produce a winning pick that’s ideal for gamers or reluctant readers.
Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Twisted Staff. 384p. (Serafina: Bk. 2). Disney-Hyperion. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484775035. POP
Gr 5-7 –Serafina’s tale picks up just three weeks after the defeat of “the man in the black cloak.” Serafina would like to settle into a comfortable existence at Biltmore House as Chief Rat Catcher, especially now that the Vanderbilts have accepted her role in their household. She wants to please her father and spend time with her best friend, Braeden. Her plans are thwarted when Lady Rowena Fox-Pemberton visits the estate. Serafina cannot stand Rowena’s snooty ways but is pleasantly surprised when the Lady bravely helps out when mysterious events recur at Biltmore. Many new characters are introduced, such as Mr. Grathan, a guest of Mr. Vanderbilt claiming to be a detective, and Essie, a helpful maid. Serafina’s backstory is fleshed out, and readers will relish learning more about her strange origins, including the identity of her father. As in the first novel, the narrative gracefully blends the majestic history of Biltmore House with the ethereal beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains along with the deep-rooted superstition of mountain lore. Serafina’s relationship with her catamount mother plays a stronger role this time. The characterization is solid, and the powerful imagery that made the first installment such a success is more consistent here. Readers who enjoyed the first novel will not be disappointed in this continuation and will anxiously await the next exciting adventure. VERDICT Eerie gothic imagery, a ferociously scrappy heroine, and an elegant setting combine seamlessly to create a captivating mystery that will be well received by fans.
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Children of Exile. 304p. ebook available. S. & S. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442450035. POP
Gr 4-8 –Twelve-year old Rosi has spent her entire life away from her parents. She, her brother, and the other children from her hometown were brought to Fredtown as infants to be kept safe from danger. This small, structured, and simple community named after the Norwegian word for peace is the only environment the children have ever known. When the Fred-parents abruptly inform the children they will be returning home, questions flood Rosi’s mind but are left unanswered. The children are forced onto an airplane heading to a place that feels foreign, where they are greeted by biological parents who are strangers to them. At first, Rosi is desperate to return to Fredtown. Then she begins to uncover mysteries and question what she’s been told all along. Haddix brilliantly sets up her story, giving readers just enough information to keep them grounded while elevating tension through Rosi’s uncertainty. Fast-paced action, plot twists, and cliff-hanger chapter endings will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Haddix’s tone and language and the absence of graphic violence make this an ideal selection for younger readers eager for a dystopian novel. VERDICT Fans of Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember and Haddix’s own “Shadow Children” series will want to be first in line for this book.
Magoon, Kekla. Rebellion of Thieves. 256p. (A Robyn Hoodlum Adventure: Bk. 2). Bloomsbury. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619636552. POP
Gr 5-8 –Magoon immediately draws readers into the world of 12-year-old Robyn Loxley, who establishes her leadership in the rebellion against evil despot Ignomus Crown. Readers do not need to be familiar with book 1, but the story will be more satisfying for fans of the first novel. Robyn and her band of thieves have found a way to infiltrate Castle District by entering the Iron Teen competition. A fancy dinner at the governor’s mansion awaits the winning finalists, and Robyn is certain she can win. But they will need to successfully break out the political prisoners locked inside the mansion, including Robyn’s mom, to overthrow Crown’s oppressive government. Readers see Robyn mature and grow as the leader of the rebellion. Robyn is at the helm of the battle to bring back justice to Nott City, but her struggle is internal as well. The heroine is starting to understand that she’s part of something greater than herself and learning how to share the heaviness of her responsibility by counting on others. Woven throughout are themes about social justice and personal integrity. The diverse cast of characters and familial traditions connected to cultural heritage add complexity and appeal. Magoon’s writing exemplifies the best in what readers and educators seek in diversity in children’s literature. VERDICT A satisfying and nuanced follow-up to this hit series. Readers will anxiously anticipate the next installment.
Blake, Kendare. Three Dark Crowns. 416p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062385437. POP
Gr 8 Up –A poisoner—a teen who comes from a line of people who are supposed to ingest poison without being harmed—whose body betrays the gift that should have been innate suffers the ravage of toxins to defend her house’s reign over Fennbirn Island. A naturalist who dims in the brilliance of her childhood friend turns to low magic to mold the earth and its creatures. An elemental whose beauty is made more terrible by her savage fires and storms is trapped within the palms of the Temple priestesses, ruthless in their scheme to overthrow the Black Council. Three sisters celebrate their 16th birthdays at the Beltane festival, but two are to be murdered during the Quickening, and one is to be crowned the red-handed Queen. This is a story entrenched in deceit, twisted by selfish desires for redemption and revenge in a crooked game set in generations of insidious matriarchal rule. Readers will be riveted by Blake’s ingenious world-building, stunning developments of main and supporting characters, and spiraling tensions. VERDICT Highly recommended for fans of fantasy action thrillers with strong female leads, such as Victoria Aveyard’s “Red Queen” and Sarah J. Maas’s “Throne of Glass” series. School Library Journal
Clarke, Cat. The Lost and the Found. 368p. ebook available. Crown. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101932049; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9781101932056. POP
Gr 9 Up –Clarke delivers a suspenseful, timely tale with a plot taken straight from the headlines. Faith’s sister Laurel reappears after her kidnapping 13 years ago. What begins as a story about readjusting to life after the unimaginable happens gradually morphs into a gripping thriller. Slowly, Laurel reveals subtle discrepancies that lead Faith to believe something is amiss. Is Laurel an imposter? Or is Faith jealous? Readers share Faith’s doubt and cheer her on as she starts to discover the truth. Instead of confiding her fears in Michel, her father’s partner and Faith’s most trusted adult, Faith confronts Laurel, and what follows is a convoluted but page-turning conclusion that Clarke cleverly lays tracks for earlier. The strong hook and trail of clues keep readers guessing and overshadow slight weaknesses, such as a brief lull in the pace, an unfinished thread regarding the betrayal of Faith’s boyfriend, and fuzzy setting details. Clarke’s indictment of vulturelike media and a poetic metaphor about cuckoo birds will linger in readers’ minds, lending this novel a bit more gravity than typical teen thrillers. VERDICT This mystery will have wide appeal and keep teens riveted.
CÓrdova, Zoraida. Labyrinth Lost. 336p. (Brooklyn Brujas: Bk. 1). ebook available. Sourcebooks/Fire. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781492620945. POP
Gr 9 Up –Alejandra Mortiz comes from a long line of powerful brujas (witches), although she has unsuccessfully tried to hide her powers from her family. They dismiss her disinterest as typical teenage behavior and continue to have high expectations of her and her abilities. At her Deathday celebration, a special ceremony where she is expected to take her place as a bruja and embrace her abilities, Alex rebels. Seeing magic as a curse, Alex rejects her destiny by secretly casting a canto (spell) to strip herself of magic but instead banishes her entire family to Los Lagos, the underworld. Horrified by what she has done, Alex is determined to make things right and free them. She embarks on a dangerous quest into the deadly underworld with the aid of the untrustworthy and handsome Nova and her nonmagical BFF Rishi. What they find is certainly more than any of them bargained for. This work is a magical journey from start to finish. Córdova’s realistic world-building is the backbone of this engaging read. She spins a fantasy tale based in Latin American culture, with original mythology that rings true. Her focus on family and relationships, along with themes of loyalty, friendship, love, revenge, and being true to oneself, comes across effortlessly. A complex cast of characters drives the plot while keeping readers captivated. VERDICT A compelling must-have for teens.
McGee, Katharine. The Thousandth Floor. 448p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Aug. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062418593. POP
Gr 10 Up –One hundred years in the future, New York City’s skyline has been dramatically altered by the addition of a 1,000-story tower. The wealthy dwell in the upmost levels, while those who support the infrastructure of the tower live below. The book opens with an unidentified young woman plunging to her death from the penthouse. The remainder of the title flashes back two months and follows the points of view of five teens. Perfect Avery Fuller lives in the penthouse. She harbors a secret love for her adopted brother, Atlas. Meanwhile, her best friend, Leda, is tentatively dating Atlas. Cool girl Eris is about to lose everything. Rylin, who works for party boy Cord, tries to juggle her feelings for her boss with her loyalty to her incarcerated boyfriend. All of these plotlines intersect with the expected amount of fashion, scandal, partying, drug use, and hookups. Readers will spend time wondering which teen’s dark secret would lead her to jump or be pushed from the tower. This will be gobbled up by fans of “Gossip Girl” and its ilk. High-tech elements are prevalent throughout, but it is the characters who will keep young adults reading. VERDICT An excellent hook and familiar tropes make this title a likely hit with teens.
Maberry, Jonathan, ed. Scary Out There. 512p. ebook available. S. & S. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481450706. POP
Gr 9 Up –Some of the finest horror YA writers have chimed in to create a collection that showcases a variety of repressed fears that are prominent during adolescence. This anthology draws upon themes such as loneliness, death, and lack of control. Protagonists have realistic motives and concerns while engaging with evil forces. All of the characters have troubled pasts or unforgiving circumstances that infect their daily lives, such as bullying, neglect, and suicidal thoughts. The pacing is steady in most of these entries, but some of the stories are a little slow to start. The selections are not frightening in a spine-tingling way but are thought provoking and conclude with obscure resolutions and cliff-hangers—leaving readers wanting more. The stronger vignettes come from renowned authors in the genre, such as Madeleine Roux, Neal and Brandon Shusterman, Kendare Blake, and R.L. Stine. There are some graphic and violent descriptions of death but nothing too gory. VERDICT Recommended for all YA horror collections and a perfect choice for teens who just want a taste of the genre. School Library Journal
Rubens, Michael. The Bad Decisions Playlist. 304p. ebook available. Clarion. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544096677 POP
Gr 9 Up –Musically inclined Austin Methune is his own worst enemy. A decidedly lazy stoner, he seems to find motivation only in grandstanding for beautiful girls. Unfortunately for Austin, his attempts to impress have earned him a long history of mishaps, most of which are hilarious. As his junior year winds down and adulthood looms on the horizon, the teen is faced with a series of life-changing events. His longtime single mother is considering marriage to a man Austin despises, and his dead father turns up on his doorstep, a very much alive rock star. Realistically, Austin does not handle these surprises with grace and poise. Over a single summer, the protagonist deals with love, sex, drugs, and fallible parents. Somehow, he manages to mature and put an end to his playlist of bad decisions. This work is rife with funny little interludes and well-developed characters. While the story starts out slow and at times is corny in its lack of believability, persevering readers will be rewarded with a deeper tale about the hairier issues teens confronting adulthood encounter. VERDICT An interesting coming-of-age story. Recommend this to mature teens who enjoyed Jordan Sonnenblick’s Notes from the Midnight Driver and Are You Experienced? or Andrew Smith’s Winger.
Von Ziegesar, Cecily. Dark Horses. 336p. ebook available. Soho Teen. Sept. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781616955175. POP
Gr 8 Up –Von Ziegesar, best known for the “Gossip Girl” series, makes a solid return to the world of privileged and troubled teens. Merritt Wenner has been struggling with just about everything since the death of her beloved grandmother and her grandmother’s horse. When she crosses the line, her parents send her to Good Fences, an equine therapy program for troubled girls. Merritt strikes an unusual connection with Red, a wild and aggressive horse whom nobody else can control. Their bond makes Merritt a standout rider, and she and Red soon find themselves stars of the competition circuit. As she builds relationships with her groom and another rider, Merritt begins to heal, but the horse becomes increasingly possessive and jealous, with disastrous results. This work alternates points of view between Merritt and Red. This is as effective as it is entertaining. Red makes a complex and somewhat unpredictable antagonist, and once a radio is placed in his stall, his sections are peppered with song lyrics, which provide much-needed levity as his possessiveness turns threatening. Other than Merritt, the human characters are a fairly stock combination of the rich and the miserable, but it’s unlikely teens will pay them much mind as they read on to see what Red will do next. VERDICT While Von Ziegesar’s original fans have long since moved on to adulthood, this page-turner will draw in a whole new audience, with just the right blend of glamor, scandal, and horses. Recommended for public and high school libraries.
Wood, Fiona. Cloudwish. 320p. ebook available. Little, Brown/Poppy. Oct. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316242127. POP
Gr 9 Up— Vân Uóc Phan is a student at Crowthorne Grammar. She’s a “scholarship kid” from Vietnam whose parents came to Melbourne, Australia, by boat after the fall of Saigon. Her observations about being privileged are sharp but not critical. She’s also more concerned with her mother’s chronic depression than she is with her own assimilation, and together mother and daughter offer a more complete picture of what it’s like to live—and succeed—in an unfamiliar culture. Vân Uóc works hard and earns excellent grades, but socially she’s supposed to disappear, a message she gets from both ends: her peers feel their turf is crowded enough, and her parents dictate a strict schedule that leaves her no time off. They pin their hopes on Vân Uóc’s future. She’s a good girl who nonetheless sees through her parents. Enter Billy Gardiner, who is Vân Uóc’s secret crush. When he notices her, she thinks she’s been found out, and, even more confusing, he seems so nice. It turns out they share a rebellious streak; she wants to be an art major but has so far kept this from her parents, who expect her to go to med school. And the Gardiner men have rowed crew for three generations, but Billy’s pranks may cost him his position as team coach. He’s also entitled and a bit mischievous: Will Vân Uóc lose her head? If they suspend disbelief that two teens from very different worlds can fall in love, readers will enjoy this culminating book in Wood’s trilogy. VERDICT A strong choice for YA collections, especially where the author’s previous novels are popular.
Cazenove , Christophe. Just Like Family. illus. by William Maury. 64p. (The Sisters: Bk. 1). Papercutz. Jun. 2016. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781629914701; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781629914930. POP
Gr 4-6 –Sisters Maureen and Wendy are intelligent, passionate, headstrong, and volatile. This book is based on the wildly successful series originally published in France, and the sisters have lost none of their exuberant charm in this translation. Sure to be popular with readers hungry for female protagonists, this installment features short, episodic story lines that should appeal to reluctant readers. The girls get into all sorts of sisterly troubles while learning lessons of patience and love. Younger sister Maureen just wants to hang out with Wendy, whom she idolizes. Wendy, meanwhile, craves independence—a familiar conflict that will resonate with many readers. VERDICT A popular addition to any school or public library graphic novel collection.
Doerrfeld, Cori. Truth in Sight. illus. by Cori Doerrfeld & Tyler Page. 48p. (Cici: A Fairy’s Tale: Bk. 2). Graphic Universe. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $26.65. ISBN 9781467761536; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781512411560. POP
Gr 2-5 –Cici is adjusting to her parents’ divorce and her newly acquired fairy magic. She spends her weekends at her dad’s house with her younger sister, Sofia, who cries the entire time, and her days at school lonely after having a falling out with her best friend. Cici gets to know Kendra, the daughter of the man her mother is seeing. Resentful because she believes that Kendra’s life is perfect, Cici plays a mean trick on the other girl, distorting the features on Kendra’s beloved doll. This alters Kendra’s appearance in a way that only Cici and other fairies can see, which leads the protagonist to believe that it isn’t causing any lasting harm. When Cici’s grandmother discovers the magical misdeeds, she uses the moment to teach the girl an important lesson about her magic. The themes of divorce, friendship, and the implications of magic will resonate with kids. Spanish language is peppered throughout the text, and the vibrant cartoon illustrations give readers insight into the characters’ inner lives. VERDICT Fans of Ashley Spires’s “Binky” books and Victoria Jamieson’s new series “Pets on the Loose!” will be ready to tackle this next. A wonderful addition to a must-have series.
Pilkey, Dav. Dog Man. illus. by Dav Pilkey. 240p. (Dog Man: Bk. 1). Scholastic/Graphix. Sept. 2016. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780545581608. POP
Gr 1-4 –Part canine, part human, Dog Man is a crime-fighting sensation. He fights crime, sniffs out wrongdoing, and battles his doglike tendencies. His nemesis is Petey, a cat who cooks up devilish plans in his secret lab. The pages are filled with bold lines and colorful artwork that has a childlike feel and will delight readers. In an author’s note, Pilkey explains that Dog Man is based on a character he created back in second grade, when he longed for silly books, and states that he hopes his title will help children associate reading with fun and even inspire some to craft their own stories. The text contains intentional grammatical errors, so readers should be prepared for misspellings. Panels that feature instructions on how to draw will motivate budding artists. VERDICT A riotously funny and original addition for all elementary school collections.
Jennings, Jazz. Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen. 272p. ebook available. further reading. photos. websites. Crown. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399554643; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780399554650. POP
Gr 6 Up –Jazz Jennings has been in the public eye for a long time, drawing media attention when her family allowed her to transition at a very young age. In this memoir, Jennings (now 15) shares stories and experiences from her life as an openly trans girl. Battles to get her on the girls’ soccer team, to allow her access to the girls’ restroom at school, and to educate the public at large dominate Jennings’s story. The memoir shares a varied and anecdotal account of her life, offering a behind-the-scenes look at being an LGBT celebrity, navigating preteen romance, and treating depression. The narrative flow is choppy, but the voice and tone are genuine and provide an incredibly normalizing view of a trans teen’s life. Jennings speaks frankly about things like anatomy and boyfriends, but mentions of her depression and struggles with peers are subtle. Subjects of violence against trans people and the high rates of suicide in the trans community are also kept at an arm’s length, helping the book appeal to younger or unfamiliar readers who may not be prepared for the less uplifting stories of trans life. The teen’s successes and nearly limitless self-confidence and optimism will be reassuring for the family and friends of trans youth, but older teens may find the book hard to relate to. A very accessible resource list is included, as well as interviews with the Jennings family. VERDICT A great introduction to trans life for middle schoolers and a balancing addition to the more harrowing stories available.
Rockliff, Mara. Around America To Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles. illus. by Hadley Hooper. 40p. further reading. Candlewick. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763678937. POP
K-Gr 3 –A car made up of bright primary colors—yellow hood, blue doors, and red luggage compartment—transports suffragists Nell Richardson and Alice Burke, a kitten, and readers across the United States all in the name of “Votes for Women!” Throughout, the pacing is excellent, and Rockliff begins the adventure with a litany of items found inside the petite yellow vehicle (“tools,/spare parts,/a teeny-tiny typewriter”) and introduces Richardson and Burke and emphasizes their determination to get the word out (“V. for W.!”). Readers will follow the two women (and their kitten) from New York City to Philadelphia, through a blizzard, a stop at an all-yellow luncheon, a stint in a circus parade, and more as they drive down South and along the U.S. and Mexican border all the way to California and back. Rockliff communicates the boundless energy of these two figures and adds touches of humor to lift the narrative; this small but significant historical moment is presented as accessible and fun without undermining the importance of Richardson, Burke, and the fight for women’s equality. Hooper shows the women working together (a concluding image of Richardson handing Burke a daffodil is wonderful), the curiosity and interest on the faces of passersby (mainly white folks), and the dress and style of the times. While this is an excellent introduction to the efforts of suffragists, when discussing this text and the Nineteenth Amendment, librarians may want to clarify that statements such as “At last, American women had won the right to vote” (mentioned in the back matter section titled “Winning the Vote”) did not always reflect the reality of African American women and other women of color, who often faced legal and illegal barriers to vote (especially in the South) until well into the 1960s. VERDICT Prepare for the arrival of the “little yellow car” into the hearts of readers; this charming and vibrant account of two lesser-known figures will bolster historical collections. School Library Journal
Last Stop on Market Street. Dist.by Dreamscape. 2016. $38.99. ISBN 9781520011356. POP
K-Gr 3 –Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal, as well as numerous other awards, this picture book by Matt de la Peña receives a lovely treatment in this video presentation. Arnell Powell reads the deceptively simple text, which follows CJ and his grandmother as they take the bus through their diverse neighborhood after church. CJ is not content with his lot (he wishes he was in a car instead), and he uses the opportunity to complain just a little. His grandmother, however, sees beauty around her and finds joy in small experiences, gradually helping CJ do the same. She teaches her grandson to be grateful and to enjoy what he has. Their final destination is, in itself, a lesson in counting your blessings: serving food at a soup kitchen. The book is warm and rich, and this video presentation, with its simple animation of Christian Robinson’s blocky, expressive, and poignant illustrations, gives viewers the chance to savor every moment. It allows for a close examination of the small details of urban life—details that might be missed from a casual reading of the book itself. VERDICT This is a delightful treatment of a praiseworthy book and merits a place in any library serving children.–
You Are (Not) Small. 5 min. Dist. by Weston Woods. 2016. $59.95. ISBN 9780545938280. POP
PreS-Gr 1 –This delightful animated short pits two gender- and species-neutral “animals” against each other as they argue about who’s big and who’s small. It all depends on your point of view, of course, as they discover a humorous lesson of tolerance. Based on the 2015 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award–winning book by Anna Kang and illustrator Christopher Weyant, the piece will make children giggle and laugh out loud as they watch the antics of the two beasties. Virginia Wilkos’s animation of the picture book is terrific. Jazz piano music enhances the atmosphere, and the paw graphics for read-along subtitles and chapters are amusing. The DVD comes with excellent lesson plans and ideas for follow-up discussion, along with an illuminating conversation with the author and illustrator, which is suitable for older students. These extras are icing on the cake, providing teachers and librarians with a useful resource that captivates young children. VERDICT Perfect for a discussion starter with children about differing points of view, tolerance, and respect.–