March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Penguin Young Readers: Summer 2017 Preview

Recently, Penguin Young Readers Group hosted a group of librarians to give them an advance peek at what’s new for the summer of 2017.

9781101994856The question of the day was how would Lauren Wolk follow her Newbery Honor Book Wolf Hollow (Dutton, 2016)? The big reveal? Beyond the Bright Sea (Dutton, May) an historically accurate story set on Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Islands. It is a coming of age story that explores questions of identity, belonging, and the true meaning of family.


The meaning of family is also explored in several other middle grade titles coming this Summer.

The Great Treehouse War (Philomel, May) by Lisa Graff has Winnie and her friends who are at odds with their parents barricaded in a treehouse. The result is a kids vs. parents showdown.

9781101993859-(1)A twelve-year old’s life in a trailer park is explored in Ann Dee Ellis’ first middle grade book, You May Already be a Winner (Dial, July). In this story, Olivia discovers that family may be as close as next door.

Justin Sayre follows his Husky (Penguin9780448484174 Workshop, 2015) with another “adjective” titled book, Pretty (Penguin Workshop, July). “Pretty” describes Sophie, the main character. Set in affluent Park Slope, Brooklyn, Sophie must step in to help as her mother’s addiction spirals out of control.

9780399169007Melanie Crowder’s YA Novel An Uninterrupted View of the Sky (Philomel, June) is set far from affluent Brooklyn, in 1999 Bolivia. Francisco and his sister are torn between living in a prison with their father or breaking up the family and going to live with their grandparents in the Andean highlands.

On a lighter note, comes Funny Girl (Viking, May) a collection of essays for middle graders from funny Kid Lit women ranging from Cece Bell to Raina Telgemeier and edited by Betsy Bird.

9780451477316Teens will enjoy BuzzFeed senior writer Erin Chack’s essays in This is Really Happening (Razorbill, April). She offers a fresh perspective on universal themes of resilience and love as she writes about surviving cancer.

LGBT issues are surfaced in both Perfect Ten 9780425288115(Viking, June) by L. Phillips and Felix Yz (Viking, June) by Lisa Bunker. Sam in Perfect Ten resorts to a Wiccan love spell to find the perfect boyfriend in this coming-of-age romcom.

9780425288504Meanwhile, Felix has it a little more difficult with a hyper intelligent fourth-dimensional being fused inside him. In addition, Felix must deal with his attraction to his friend Hector and understanding his gender fluid grandparent.

9780399173721Boys are not the only ones who have it rough on the summer list. Girls have their share of angst but also empowerment. In The Impossible Light (Philomel, June), a novel in verse, slam poetry star Lilly Myers tackles body image, eating disorders, self-worth, mothers and daughters, and the psychological scars we inherit from our parents.

9780425290330-(2)And, who knew that Mayim Bialik, star of The Big Bang Theory has a PhD in neuroscience?  In her book Girling Up (Philomel, May) she put that knowledge to work to help girls grow into a woman biologically, psychologically and sociologically.

Sarah Dessen, the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award winner will have her thirteenth book out in June. Once and for All (Viking) is set in the world of wedding planning, a perfect place for romance.

Penguin is teaming up with the non-profit organization Girls Who Code to present the first book in a multi-format, cross-imprint partnership.

9780425287538Reshma Saujani, the founder of the organization, is the author of Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World (Viking, August). It is the first of 14 books coming for girls about computer science and coding.

9780399542510Also, out in August is a fiction title, Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code (Penguin Workshop, August) by Stacia Deutsch.

Strong determined women such as Nellie Bly, Marie Tallchief and Oprah are the basis of Chelsea Clinton’s latest book She Persisted (Philomel, May).

Another strong woman, Eliza Schuyler, is the central character in Alex & Eliza (Putnam, April). As Hamilton fans know, it is the historical YA fiction love story based on Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler.

The revolution is also the setting for Ben’s Revolution: Benjamin Russell and the Battle of Bunker Hill (Nancy Paulsen, May) by Nathaniel Philbrick and illustrated by Wendell Minor. The book allows younger readers to experience the revolution from a child’s perspective.

Middle grade readers will enjoy learning about the great Houdini and his interest in the spirits and the afterlife with Deborah Noyes’ The Magician and the Spirits (Viking. August).

9780735227927The mood at the preview turned reflective as the book The Little Excavator (Viking, June) was presented. This picture book story about a little heavy machine with a big heart was created by Anna Dewdney of Llama Llama fame who died in September 2016.

My pick for debut book of the preview was The Book of Mistakes (Dial, April).  This picture book by Corina Luken follows an artist on her creative journey mistakes and all. As Stacy Dillon, lower school librarian at the Little Red School House tweeted, “Caldecott watchers take note”.

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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.

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