SLJ's Best Books of 2007

School Library Journal's editors selected these 63 books from the 4500 titles reviewed in our pages this year. In looking over the list, we realized that 2007 saw some of the best and most powerful historical fiction titles in memory, putting human faces on perplexing and painful periods of the past that still resonate today. The golden age of fantasy continues to flourish and we selected 10 titles that have fresh twists, unusual settings, and deliciously wicked villains. Several of the novels will make your readers laugh out loud, and a couple may break their hearts and provide plenty of fodder for reflection and discussion. War and poverty and their resultant change in lifestyles also show up in a number of the books. Picture books for the very young were particularly appealing this year, but you'll also find enough to keep a wide audience of early readers happily engaged and informed. A few of the selections cross genres or simply defy pigeonholing in terms of their styles, content, or prospective audiences. We think you'll find plenty of beautiful, thoughtful, and perhaps provocative choices among these fiction and nonfiction selections. We'd love to hear what you have to say about them.–Trev Jones, Book Review Editor ALEXIE, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. illus. by Ellen Forney. Little, Brown. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978--0-316-01368-0. Gr 7-10–Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, a Spokane Indian, is a bright, geeky teen who transfers from the reservation school to a rich, white high school. With honesty, humor, and unfailing optimism, he comes to terms with tragic realities and family frailties, and learns who he really is. APPLEGATE, Katherine. Home of the Brave. Feiwel & Friends. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-312-36765-7. Gr 5-7–This novel in verse follows Kek, a refugee from war-torn Sudan, who finds himself plunked down in Minnesota in winter and must try to make sense of his new surroundings. Discovering a cow that needs his care is the answer to his sense of isolation as the resilient boy once again feels useful, makes friends, and deals with adversity, American style. ARTIST TO ARTIST: 23 MAJOR ILLUSTRATORS TALK TO CHILDREN ABOUT THEIR ART. Philomel. RTE $30. ISBN 978-0-399-24600-5. Gr 4 Up–These glimpses into the minds, hearts, and sketchbooks of contemporary children's artists are part autobiography, part philosophy, and wholly inspiring. Photos of the subjects as children and as adults and foldouts with reproductions of their work complete this stunning package. BANKS, Kate. Fox. illus. by Georg Hallensleben. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-374-39967-2. PreS-Gr 1–A young fox, looking to strike out on his own, leaves home when his patient parents are finally satisfied that he has absorbed their lessons about the world. Impressionistic paintings, steeped in color, reflect the seasonal changes and convey the beauty and serenity of the natural world. BANKS, Kate. Lenny's Space. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-374-34575-4. Gr 3-5–A whip-smart, but emotionally immature nine-year-old makes major headway with the intervention of a wise therapist and by making his first true friend. The honest and tender narrative conveys the rich rewards of human connection and the heartbreak that empathy sometimes entails. BARAKAT, Ibtisam. Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa Bks. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-374-35733-7. Gr 7 Up–A Palestinian child discovers the Arabic alphabet while a refugee during the Six-Day War, giving her a way to cope with and escape from the deprivation and fears in her daily life. A beautifully crafted memoir that takes readers into the heart and experiences of this talented writer. BISHOP, Nic. Nic Bishop Spiders. photos. by author. Scholastic. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-439-87756-5. Gr 3-5–A tarantula can easily outlive man's best friend. Who knew? Yet fascinating, well-researched facts aren't what sets this book apart. It's the improbable images. Through the wonder of stop-action photography, the multitalented Bishop has made his hairy, eight-legged subjects look as slick and gorgeous as supermodels as he puts a new spin on a garden-variety topic. BUNTING, Eve. Hurry! Hurry! illus. by Jeff Mack. Harcourt. RTE $16. ISBN 978-0-15-205410-6. PreS-Gr 1–Egged on by an excited rooster, the farmyard animals make a beeline to the barn, arriving just in time to witness a wondrous event–and welcome an exuberant chick. The breathless, declarative text and sunny, supercharged artwork build to a crowd-pleasing crescendo. CAREY, Janet Lee. Dragon's Keep. Harcourt. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-15-205926-2. Gr 6-10–A princess wears golden gloves to hide the fact that she was born with one dragon talon until it comes time to fulfill her destiny. A complex fantasy, filled with plot twists, betrayal, and a revenge-seeking dragon. CARROLL, Lewis. Jabberwocky. illus. by Christopher Myers. Hyperion/Jump at the Sun. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-0372-1. Gr 4 Up–“O frabjous day!” Myers's dramatic paintings of a no-nonsense basketball game played on a hot city court are suffused with bold, sinewy silhouettes and fiery reds and oranges. The action bursts forth from the illustrations, which heighten the effect of Carroll's timeless poem. CLEMENTS, Andrew. No Talking. illus. by Mark Elliott. S & S. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-0983-5. Gr 3-6–When self-professed blabbermouth Dave Packer challenges archrival and fellow tongue-flapper Lynsey Burgess to a fifth-grade boys-versus-girls no-talking contest, the sudden silence at Laketon Elementary is deafening. Laugh-out-loud humor and a thought-provoking premise make for an enjoyable and eye-opening read about language, communication, and cooperation. COFFELT, Nancy. Fred Stays with Me! illus. by Tricia Tusa. Little, Brown. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-88269-9. K-Gr 3–A child who shuffles between her divorced parents' homes counts on her beloved pooch as a constant companion, so when both adults threaten to oust the disobedient dog, she puts her foot down and finds a solution. A heartfelt story, told with candor and soothing sepia-toned artwork. COWELL, Cressida. That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown. illus. by Neal Layton. Hyperion. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-0645-6. PreS-Gr 2–When naughty Queen Gloriana has her royal commandos kidnap Emily Brown's much-adored stuffed animal, the spunky heroine storms the castle, rescues her playmate, and teaches the spoiled monarch a thing or two about how to love a toy. Colorful collages articulate the whimsy and vivid realism of a child's imaginary world. CRISLER, Curtis L. Tough Boy Sonatas. illus. by Floyd Cooper. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-932425-77-2. Gr 8 Up–The gritty realities of life in the crumbling, postindustrial city of Gary, IN, are brought to life in powerful poems that palpably capture the anger, frustration, camaraderie, and audacious dreams of its poor young residents. CURTIS, Christopher Paul. Elijah of Buxton. Scholastic. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-439-02344-3. Gr 4-8–Labeled “fra-gile” ever since infancy, Elijah, the first child born free in a Canadian community of escaped slaves, longs to be “growned” up. When circumstances force him to cross the U. S. border, the sensitive boy comes face to face with the horrors of slavery and matures in ways that would have been unimaginable just days before. FREEDMAN, Russell. Who Was First?: Discovering the Americas. Clarion. Tr $19. ISBN 978-0-618-66391-0. Gr 5-9–Written records, artifacts, DNA evidence, and conjecture are all given their due in this accessible and balanced examination of the human presence in the Western world. The plentiful black-and-white and color photos, reproductions, and maps add detail and information about ancient settlements and contemporary scholarship. GANTOS, Jack. I Am Not Joey Pigza. Farrar. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-374-39941-2. Gr 5-8–Joey's deadbeat dad shows up with a large bankroll and a new outlook on life, eager to have his wife and son join him in wiping the slate clean and assuming new identities. With his signature strength of spirit and good humor, Joey learns how to forgive his father and still remain true to himself. GARDNER, Lyn. Into the Woods. illus. by Mini Grey. Random/David Fickling Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-385-75115-5; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-385-75116-2. Gr 5-9-Three sisters who live near a rat-infested village are pursued by evil Dr. DeWilde, who is determined to have the musical pipe their mother left them. Kidnapping, hair-raising danger, and a host of fairy-tale themes make up this wild romp through Victorian England. GORE, Al. An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming. adapt. by Jane O'Connor. Viking. Tr $23. ISBN 978-0-670-06271-3; pap. $16. ISBN 978-0-670-06272-0. Gr 5-8–This adaptation of Gore's adult book and film brings the subject of climate change into sharp focus for young people. The measured prose and arresting illustrations present a compelling call to action. GRANDITS, John. Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems. illus. by author. Clarion. Tr $15. ISBN 978-0-618-56860-4; pap. $5.95. ISBN 978-0-618-85132-4. Gr 5-9–Jessie voices her witty, often-irreverent opinions about ninth-grade life, her less-than-harmonious family relationships, and her search for her “signature style.” With imaginative writing, crisp graphics, and artful layouts, this clever collection of concrete poems will grab language lovers and poetry-phobes alike. GRAVETT, Emily. Orange Pear Apple Bear. illus. by author. S & S. RTE $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-3999-3. PreS-Gr 1–Adroitly arranging–and rearranging–the four title words on the pages, Gravett introduces a curious bear who investigates, juggles, and finally consumes three pieces of fruit. Winsome watercolor paintings provide visual clues as this enchanting selection explores concepts of color, shape, and sequence. HALE, Shannon. Book of a Thousand Days. Bloomsbury. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-59990-051-3. Gr 5-9–Refusing to marry the villainous man her father has chosen for her, Lady Saren is imprisoned in a tower for seven years with her maid, Dashti, a clever, resourceful girl and the story's narrator. Wild escapes and dangerous romance on the Asian steppes will keep readers on the edge of their seats in this novelization of the Brothers Grimm's “Maid Maleen.” HENKES, Kevin. A Good Day. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-114018-1; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-114019-8. PreS–A seemingly random series of events transforms a dismal day to one of delight for four backyard creatures and a little girl. The volatile nature of a child's existence and the ability to embrace simple pleasures are brought to light through the minimal text and spectacular, expressive artwork. HORNBY, Nick. Slam. Putnam. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25048-4. Gr 9 Up-A teen who learns that his girlfriend is pregnant is whisked into the future by his idol, Tony Hawk, to witness his life as a father. Though hilarious scenes abound, they never undermine the seriousness of the situation, which is handled with sensitivity and insight. JENKINS, Steve. Dogs and Cats. illus. by author. Houghton. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-618-50767-2. K-Gr 5–Jenkins introduces trustworthy human companions, touching on evolution, domestication, behavior, and physical characteristics. Filled with fascinating facts and lovely, lifelike cut-paper collages, this vivid volume will captivate pet enthusiasts, who can read about one species then flip it over to read about the other. JINKS, Catherine. Evil Genius. Harcourt. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-15-205988-0. Gr 7 Up–Once enrolled in the Axis Institute for World Domination, teen hacker extraordinaire Cadel Piggott begins to question his teachers' motives and to sift through multiple layers of deception, manipulation, and subterfuge. A fast-paced and absorbing look at good and evil in a high-tech world. JOCELYN, Marthe. How It Happened in Peach Hill. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-375-83701-2; PLB $17.99. ISBN 978-0-375-93701-9. Gr 5-9–In this high-spirited novel set in upstate New York in the 1920s, an itinerant fortune-teller forces her 15-year-old daughter to pose as a mentally disabled person in order to eavesdrop and gather information for her séances. Longing for a stable life and a chance to show her real intelligence, Annie feigns a “miraculous cure” in public, but her mother is not about to be upstaged. JOHNSTON, Tony. Bone by Bone by Bone. Roaring Brook/A Deborah Brodie Bk. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59643-113-3. Gr 6 Up–Despite his unyielding physician father's racist rules, David, who is white, forms a blood-brother relationship with Malcolm, who is black. As the protagonist turns 13, this taut story of prejudice, love, and rebellion in 1950s Tennessee comes to a shattering climax. JONELL, Lynne. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. illus. by Jonathan Bean. Holt. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8050-8150-3. Gr 3-5–Emmy discovers that her evil nanny is trying to control her family's lives and, after the child is bitten by the classroom rat and is able to understand him, she is ready to exact revenge. A rollicking romp, with shrinking people, life-altering potions, a villain kids will love to hate, and laugh-out-loud scenarios. KEPHART, Beth. Undercover. HarperFestival/A Laura Geringer Bk. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-123893-2; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-123894-9. Gr 9 Up–Introspective Elisa writes love verses for the boys in her class, including her secret crush, to woo their sweethearts, and finds release by skating in the dark on a desolate pond. This quiet coming-of-age story about a keenly perceptive “winter girl” has an authentic voice and multiple layers of soul-satisfying reading. KOSTICK, Conor. Epic. Viking. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-670-06179-2. Gr 8 Up–This well-crafted fantasy features a society in which violence has been banned and people must settle their disputes in Epic, an all-consuming virtual-reality game. Erik chooses a female avatar who uses her beauty and wits in lieu of more conventional weapons and teams up with his friends' characters to save his father and take on the powers behind the game. KULKA, Joe. Wolf's Coming! illus. by author. Carolrhoda. RTE $15.95. ISBN 978-1-57505-930-3. PreS-Gr 1–The expected arrival of a big, fierce-looking wolf with fangs, glowing eyes, and a red necktie is cause for small animals to dash indoors–just in time to surprise him with a party. Cartoon illustrations in saturated hues and a spare, rhyming text pair perfectly in this deliciously scary story. LEWIN, Ted. At Gleason's Gym. illus. by author. Roaring Brook/A Neal Porter Bk. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-59643-231-4. K-Gr 5–Men, women, boys, and girls–all boxers-in-training–come to this world-famous gym under the Brooklyn Bridge. Energetic impressionistic paintings and pencil sketches capture the sights, sounds, and scents of a typical day in the rings as visitors train and spar, including nine-year-old Sugar Boy Younan, who is preparing for the National Silver Gloves Championship. A knock-out. MCMULLAN, Margaret. When I Crossed No-Bob. Houghton. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-618-71715-6. Gr 4-8–Life has always been hardscrabble for the O'Donnells, but the devastation of the Civil War has left much of Mississippi in dire circumstances. After 12-year-old Addy is abandoned by her parents, she is taken in by a kind newlywed couple, where she is given the courage and confidence to become her own person and stand up for her beliefs. A well-told historical tale about resilience and hope in the face of hardship. MADISON, Alan. Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly. illus. by Kevin Hawkes. Random/Schwartz & Wade Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-83597-1; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-93597-8. PreS-Gr 3–Velma longs to stand out like her older, more accomplished sisters but is stymied until she discovers her love of butterflies. With humorous wordplay and electric cartoon art, this is an uplifting and way-cool look at one child's metamorphosis. MURPHY, Jim. The Real Benedict Arnold. Clarion. Tr $20. ISBN 978-0-395-77609-4. Gr 7 Up–Murphy presents a compelling portrait of a complex figure. Arnold was an intelligent and talented businessman, a brilliant strategist and a gallant general, and a true believer in the patriots' cause. So what went so terribly wrong? The comprehensive text and excellent supporting graphics piece together a thrilling look at the American Revolution and its successes and failures. MYERS, Walter Dean. What They Found: Love on 145th Street. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-32138-9; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-375-93709-5. Gr 9 Up–These masterfully crafted urban tales highlight a contemporary New York City community, but they have a more universal sensibility in their humor, their heartbreak, and their humanity. They reflect the hopes and dreams of youth, the dilemmas and drama of parenthood, and the debilitating effects of despair. O'CONNOR, Barbara. How to Steal a Dog. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-374-33497-0. Gr 3-7–Left penniless after her father deserted them, Georgina and her family live in their car, a desperate situation that prompts the girl to concoct a plan to snatch a pooch and claim the reward money. Then unexpected events–and persistent qualms of conscience–send her scheme askew. Convincing storytelling, sympathetic characters, and heartrending moments make for a satisfying read. O'MALLEY, Kevin & Patrick O'Brien. Captain Raptor and the Space Pirates. illus. by Patrick O'Brien. Walker. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8027-9571-7: RTE $17.85. ISBN 978-0-8027-9572-4. K-Gr 4–After a near fatal attack by a thieving band of reptilian space invaders, Captain Raptor and his crew encounter a wretched creature who offers to fix their spaceship for a lift. Back in the air, the scalawag shows his true colors. Scenes of treachery and intergalactic battles will keep picture-book readers spellbound. PEET, Mal. Tamar. Candlewick. RTE $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3488-9. Gr 8 Up–This gripping thriller unfolds in parallel narratives. An omniscient narrator vividly describes the struggles of Allied spies sent to support the Dutch resistance, and 15-year-old Tamar, the granddaughter of one of the undercover operatives, tries to piece together the clues to the old man's past left to her following his suicide in 1995. An intricate and powerfully written read about love and loyalty, deceit and betrayal. PENNYPACKER, Sara. The Talented Clementine. illus. by Marla Frazee. Hyperion. RTE $14.99. ISBN 978-0-7868-3870-7. Gr 2-5–The school's “Talent-Palooza” is fast approaching and Clementine, who considers herself exceptionally untalented, surprises everyone–including herself–on the big night. A stellar performance, with snappy narrative and spot-on humor. PERKINS, Lynne Rae. Pictures from Our Vacation. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2007. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-085097-5; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-085098-2. Gr 1-4–Armed with an instant camera and a notebook, a girl chronicles a road trip to her grandparents' farm, where dull rainy days finally turn into a fun family reunion. Playful narrative and vivacious watercolors evoke anticipation, tedium, and delight, revealing that the best memories remain resplendent in the imagination. PINKNEY, Jerry, retel. Little Red Riding Hood. illus. by reteller. Little, Brown. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-01355-0. K-Gr 3-Told with suspenseful pacing and ear-pleasing eloquence, this lushly illustrated version of a classic tale hits all the emotional high notes with an innocent and endearing heroine, a sly and satisfyingly scary wolf, and a rousing yet reassuring resolution. Masterful paintings, rich in color, detail, and vitality, vividly depict the characters and setting. RESAU, Laura. Red Glass. Delacorte. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73466-0; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90464-3. Gr 8 Up–A timid Arizona teen's life is radically changed when her family takes in an orphaned six-year-old, the sole survivor of an illegal border crossing. Sophie, her free-spirited Bosnian great-aunt, the aunt's boyfriend from Guatemala, and the man's son become unlikely travel companions as they escort Pablo back to Mexico to visit his relatives. An evocative and metaphorical road trip, full of cultural richness and romance. REX, Adam. The True Meaning of Smekday. illus. by author. Hyperion. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7868-4900-0. Gr 4-8–In the chaotic turmoil that follows the Boov invasion of Earth, 11-year-old Gratuity Tucci finds herself driving her mother's car to Florida, where all of the humans are being relocated, with her cat and a renegade extraterrestrial named J.Lo as her copilots. Rex balances the wildly imaginative and hilarious goings-on with more serious and thoughtful concerns about American society to create a high-energy futuristic romp. RUMFORD, James, retel. Beowulf: A Hero's Tale Retold. illus. by reteller. Houghton. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-618-75637-7. Gr 5-8–After rescuing the Danes and their king from the horrific Grendel, Beowulf must defend himself against the wrath of the ogre's mother, and years later, a vengeful, rancorous dragon. Breathtaking pen-and-ink and watercolor paintings superimposed on patterned backgrounds chart the bloody battles of man against beasts. SCHLITZ, Laura Amy. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village. illus. by Robert Byrd. Candlewick. RTE $18.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-1578-9. Gr 4-8–Monologues capture the spirit of young people in a vividly imagined, picturesque 13th-century English village, where childhood is fleeting and survival is a daily concern. Pastels panels frame the pages and anchor the minutely detailed, earthy, ink-and-watercolor rural scenes. Notes and sidebars offering fascinating asides make this a perfect mix of fiction and nonfiction. ST. JAMES, James. Freak Show. Dutton. Tr $18.99. ISBN 978-0-525-47799-0. Gr 9 Up–A teenage drag queen extraordinaire takes a conservative boarding school by storm, startling everyone with his outrageous behavior, his exuberance, and his couture, all the while simply wanting acceptance. The story is witty, bold, and bawdy, but it's also a telling account about what it's like to live in Billy Bloom's skin. SHARENOW, Robert. My Mother the Cheerleader. HarperCollins/Laura Geringer Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-114896-5; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-114897-2. Gr 8-10–Thirteen-year-old Louise is stuck at home helping run a dilapidated boarding house while her mother and the rest of the “Cheerleaders” gather every morning to hurl verbal abuse at six-year-old Ruby Bridges as she attempts to integrate the New Orleans public schools. When an outsider comes to observe these events, the high emotions turn to violence in this harrowing and painfully honest historical novel. SIDMAN, Joyce. This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness. illus. by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton. RTE $16. ISBN 978-0-618-61680-0. Gr 4-7-Contrite, disingenuous, heartfelt, and humorous describe the variety of verses, modeled after a William Carlos Williams poem, written by a class of sixth-grade students to one another. Delicate, mixed-media illustrations on pastel pages add touches of whimsy and wit to these delightful missives. SÍS, Peter. The Wall: Growing Up behind the Iron Curtain. illus. by author. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. Tr $18. ISBN 978-0-374-34701-7. Gr 4 Up–Through affecting, minimalist prose, Sís chronicles his artistic and political awakening in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia. Scenes depicting his early years feature disquieting pen-and-ink drawings with splashes of red that blossom briefly into full color when depicting the Prague Spring of 1968. Captions, notes, and illustrated journal entries reveal the importance of dreams in a repressive society. SPINELLI, Eileen. Heat Wave. illus. by Betsy Lewin. Harcourt. RTE $16. ISBN 978-0-15-216779-0. K-Gr 3–The thermometer's soaring and the citizens of Lumberville, both young and old, are doing everything imaginable to cool off, from soaking in bathtubs to sleeping under the stars. Set in a bygone era, this nostalgic snapshot of a close-knit community sizzles with sun-splashed illustrations and warmhearted humor. STEIN, David Ezra. Leaves. illus. by author. Putnam. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-0-399-24636-4. PreS-K–Naive in the ways of the world, a young bear is worried when autumn leaves begin to fall, but anxiety turns to ecstasy when he awakens in the spring to behold branches burgeoning with buds. This engaging introduction to the seasons shimmers with vivacious earth-toned watercolors and a gleefully emotive character. STEWART, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society. illus. by Carson Ellis. Little, Brown/Megan Tingley Bks. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-05777-6. Gr 5-9–Four children without families are selected to enter an isolated school where they must foil an evil master who plans to take over the world. Mysterious clues, puzzles, danger, creative problem-solving, and zany humor all play a part as the youngsters use their special abilities to thwart the villain, restore order, and find a place for themselves. TAN, Shaun. The Arrival. illus. by author. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-0-439-89529-3. Gr 5 Up–A father flees a war-torn country in search of a better life for his family—only to discover himself adrift in a baffling new world. Packed with fantastic (yet oddly familiar) creatures, customs, and landscapes, Tan's wordless tour de force captures the unsettling experience of what it's like to risk everything for those you love. TARSHIS, Lauren. Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree. Dial. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3164-6. Gr 5-7–A superintelligent but socially inept seventh grader learns that her do-good intentions offend her classmates. With her mother's help, she comes to terms with herself and emerges as a truly unique individual who can finally relate to those around her. A thoughtful story, leavened with dollops of humor. THOMPSON, Kate. The New Policeman. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-117427-8; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-117428-5. Gr 7-10–The hours are slipping through everyone's fingers in the Irish village of Kinvara, so when J.J.'s Mum requests more time for her birthday, the 15-year-old musician goes on a quest that leads him into the fairyland of Tír na n'Óg and the heart of his family's deepest secrets. Fantasy, folklore, and musical zeal harmonize into a tantalizing and finely tuned coming-of-age tale. WALKER, Alice. Why War Is Never a Good Idea. illus. by Stefano Vitale. HarperCollins. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-075385-6; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-075386-3. Gr 3 Up–Walker's punch-packing poem personifies War, delineating its devastating ability to poison the environment, annihilate the innocent, and consume “everything/In its path.” Vitale's dynamic folk-art paintings juxtapose scenes of idyllic beauty with violence-ravished landscapes and provide this menacing force with a powerful visual presence. WEIN, Elizabeth E. The Lion Hunter. Viking. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-06163-1. Gr 7 Up–This sweeping historical fantasy set in sixth-century Africa is replete with splendid characterization, vivid detail, political intrigue, and adventure. Twelve-year-old Prince Telemakos has endured physical and emotional pain at the hands of captors and loses an arm in a lion attack, but remains steadfast in his commitment to caring for his baby sister and to protecting the Askumites from treachery and tyranny. WELLS, Rosemary. Red Moon at Sharpsburg. Viking. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-03638-7. Gr 7 Up–A 13-year-old experiences the horrors and dangers of the Civil War and witnesses the appalling medical practices of the time. A powerful novel, unflinching in its depiction of war, as seen through the eyes of a courageous, determined teen who never gives up her dream of going to college. WILLEMS, Mo. Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. photos. & illus. by author. Hyperion. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-0299-1. PreS-Gr 1–When Trixie takes her “one-of-a-kind” companion to preschool, she's shocked to see Sonja with the same stuffed animal, and the ensuing argument is not resolved until both girls realize–at 2:30 a.m.–that they have the wrong toy. Genuine emotions, affable humor, and blithesome illustrations make this book irresistible. WILLEMS, Mo. There Is a Bird on Your Head! illus. by author. Hyperion. RTE $8.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-0686-9. K-Gr 2–After two lovebirds settle down on frustrated, then angry Elephant's head, his friend Pig comes up with the perfect way to send them packing. Through a few well-chosen words and expertly crafted cartoons, Willems offers a funny story that is in perfect harmony with the sensibilities of emerging readers. WILLIAMS, Marcia, retel. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. illus. by reteller. Candlewick. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3197-0. Gr 4-8–This enchanting, uproarious retelling of nine entertaining yarns captures the spirit and flavor of Chaucer's original work. Presented in comic-strip format, the stories are vivified with deliciously down-to-earth language, appropriately bawdy details, and boisterous watercolor-and-ink cartoons.

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