May 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Poetry, History, and Anticipated New Titles | Penguin Young Readers Spring 2016 Preview

Penguin_logo.svgWith Marilyn Singer as the special guest speaker, a poetry theme was appropriate for the recent Penguin Young Readers Spring Preview. The event featured several titles noted as  “Poetry Picks” and even included the Grosset & Dunlap editors presenting in verse. Debut author Micha Archer lead the way with her picture book Daniel Finds a Poem (Feb.). Winner of the 2012 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Reynolds Working Writer Fellowship, Sarah Dooley, uses poetry in her middle grade story Free Verse (Mar.), in which her protagonist finds solace after the death of her brother and father. There were several novels in verse including The Lonely Ones by Kelsey Sutton (Apr.), a story that includes imaginary monsters, and American Ace by Marilyn Nelson (Jan.), which tells the story of an Italian American boy who discovers that his grandfather was a member of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen.

salt-to-the-sea-bigcoverPresident Franklin Roosevelt is the topic of the Dial picture book biography Nice Work, Franklin! by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain and Larry Day (Jan.). FDR is also part of the back story for Sweet Home Alaska by author and librarian Carole Estby Dagg (Feb.). Roosevelt’s New Deal Palmer Colony Project gave loans and land to families who would pioneer the Alaska frontier that serves as the setting for the story. Ruta Sepetys’ latest novel, Salt to the Sea (Feb.), uses the little-known World War II Wilhelm Gustloff maritime disaster as the setting for her story.

Other nonfiction titles include an in-depth look at intrepid “girl reporter” Nellie Bly in Deborah Noyes’s Ten Days a Madwoman (Feb.) and a new addition to Brad Meltzer’s “I Am” picture book biography series, I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jan.).

RaybotAs with most previews, animal stories feature prominently—with dogs taking the lead. Hudson Talbot shows us the evolution of the dog in From Wolf to Woof (Apr.) in a rich 40 pages chock-full of information. Mutt’s Promise (Apr.) is a middle grade novel by Julie Salamon with illustrations by Jill Weber. It tells the story of dogs escaping from a puppy mill. In another middle grade debut, author Victoria J. Coe combines humor, compassion, and a Jack Russell terrier in Fenway and Hattie (Feb.). For those looking for a picture book, there is The Best Days are Dog Days by Aaron Meshon (Apr.), a story about a little girl and her French bulldog who explore the neighborhood. While looking for the creature that goes “BARK,” Raybot, the curious robot in Adam F. Watkins’s new picture book, finds all sorts of interesting creatures who say things like “oink” and “moo”.

Witches of BeneventoSeveral favorite authors have new titles or sequels coming out in the Spring, including a new sports fiction novel by Joan Bauer called Soar (Jan.), Sally Green’s conclusion to the “Half Bad” YA trilogy, a chapter book series collaboration between John Bemelmans Marciano and Sophie Blackall called “The Witches of Benevento,” and Sabaa Tahir’s hotly anticipated follow up to An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night (Apr.). Continuing a trend of well-known YA authors venturing into middle grade, Ally Condie’s Summerlost, an emotional story of grief, friendship, and theater, comes out in March.

It it is interesting to note that schools teaching larceny are featured in both Lauren Magaziner middle grade Pilfer Academy (Feb.) and the picture book Dylan the Villain by K. G. Campbell (Feb.), in which student Dylan has to cope with a more villainous classmate.

At the culmination of the event, Marilyn Singer presented her third book of reverso poetry, Echo Echo (Feb.)This follows Mirror Mirror (2010) and Follow Follow (2013)Reversos are poems that read up and down from different perspectives with the same words in reverse order. The poems in Echo Echo are all inspired by Greek mythology.

Watch Marilyn Singer reciting a reverse poem from Follow Follow:

2016 also marks the 40th anniversary of Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. In celebration, a new edition will feature stunning illustrations by Kadir Nelson.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.