Outstanding! – September 2015

Every month, we post an annotated bibliography of books that were rated ‘Outstanding’ and nominated for our Distinguished List at our previous month’s meeting. Members can see full reviews of these books and many more in the September edition of BayViews.

PICTURE BOOK

Sonyas_Chickens_09-2015Sonya’s Chickens written and illustrated by Wall, Phoebe; Tundra 2015

Sonya becomes mama to three chicks and raises them to be happy and healthy, until a fox arrives. This beautiful story shows the natural cycle of birth, growth and death in a child’s chicken coop. Sonya is embraced by her loving, freckled and bearded mixed-race family and soon her grief subsides, life begins again. (PS-3)

Ask Me by Waber, Bernard; illustrated by Lee, Suzy; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015Ask_Me_09-2015

A father and daughter walk through their neighborhood park, with the daughter encouraging the father to ask her questions, such as “What do you like?” The text is a dialogue, with the daughter’s words in black, and the father’s responses in blue ink The fine illustrations by Suzy Lee are accomplished using colored pencils, dominated by red, orange, and yellow. (PS-2)

Glamourpuss by Weeks, Sarah; illustrated by Small, David; Scholastic Press, 2015

Glamourpuss_09-2015“Once upon a pillow sat a glamorous cat named Glamourpuss.” Things change, however, when Aunt Eugenia comes for an extended visit – and she is not alone, but has brought along Bluebelle, her Chihuahua. Sarah Weeks’ charming story of competition for attention is enhanced by David Small’s creative and hilarious illustrations. (PS-K)

The_Skunk_09-2015The Skunk by Barnett, Mac; illustrated by McDonnell, Patrick; Roaring Brook Press, 2015

A skunk randomly follows an anonymous man in this Kafkaesque picture book. The man’s increasingly absurd attempts to escape form the backbone of the story. A plot twist and open-ended conclusion to the chase make this a sophisticated romp. Cartoonlike illustrations expertly heighten the levels of absurdity and tension. (K-2)

One_Family_09-2015

One Family by Shannon, George; illustrated by Gomez, Blanca;                           Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015

A celebration of diverse families and a conclusion that we are really all one big family is the gentle message imparted in this short counting book. An appealing repetitive text and large, twopage layouts depict engaging characters and fun details set against flat backgrounds. (PS-K)

FICTION

Marvels_09-2015Marvels written and illustrated by Selznick, Brian; Scholastic, 2015     

Joseph runs away from boarding school and ends up at his eccentric uncle Albert’s old home in London, where he finds out more about his distant family. The book begins with a wordless 400 page story that begins in 1766, about a boy named Billy Marvel, orphaned at sea who becomes the patriarch of a noted theatre family. The prose story and the wordless tale intersect; the book has a deep, emotional resonance that will appeal to a wide age range due to its many layers. (Grades 5-8)

I_Survived_True_Stories_09-2015I Survived True Stories: Five Epic Disasters by Tarshis, Lauren; Scholastic Inc, 2015

Another installment in the I Survived series. This time it’s a collection of short stories and facts. The short stories manage to be both engaging and educational. The author includes information on how she researched the stories, and how children who experienced the 2011 Japanese Tsunami and 2012 Henryville Tornado helped add to the book. A great high interest read. (Grades 2-6)

Princess_X_09-2015I am Princess X by Priest, Cherie;  Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015

In fifth grade, two best friends created a fantasy about a character named Princess X, but that story ended when one of the girls was killed in a tragic accident. Or did it? Attractive packaging and web comics add clever, contemporary elements to the thrilling tale. (Grades 7-12)

Conviction_09-2015Conviction by Gilbert, Kelly Loy; Disney-Hyperion, 2015

16 year-old Braden Raynor is a witness when his white father kills a Hispanic police officer – but is it deliberate or accidental? In this rich and complex novel, set in a conservative Christian community, long submerged family memories bubble up when Braden’s estranged half brother moves back while their father awaits trial. (Grades 9-12)

George_09-2015George by Gino, Alex; Scholastic Press, 2015

A 10 year-old, white, transgender girl tak.es first steps toward introducing her true self to the world when she and her best friend contrive to reveal her secret during a school performance of Charlotte’s Web. Pitch perfect, 4th-6th grade novel. (Grades 4-6)

The Safest Lie by Cerrito, Angela; Holiday House, 2015Safest_Lie_09-2015

Historical Fiction. Anna is eight when she rescued from the Warsaw Ghetto, by Jolanta (after the real life Polish resistance figher,Irena Sendler) and begins a new and dangerous life, hiding in plain sight of the Nazis, as a German speaking, Christian child. Told in short chapters in first person present tense, the age appropriate story is nevertheless suspenseful and emotionally powerful. (Grades 4-7)

READER

Pig_in_a_Wig_09-2015What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Virjan, Emma J.; HarperCollins, 2015

What this circular story needs is a reader, which shouldn’t be too hard, since it improves with each successive review. Virjan’s charcoal sketches are retro with a digitally painted bright mod pallet soars as both a picture book and early easy reader. (Baby/Toddler-Grade 2)

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Drowned_City_09-2015Drowned city : Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Brown, Dan; HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015

Brown’s powerful illustrations in a graphic novel format presents the onslaught and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating destruction of New Orleans. Local and national government’s disgraceful inability to act is part of the narrative as are those good people who did help. A strong story about this storm, and the challenges of facing any natural catastrophe. (Grade 4-8)

NON-FICTION

Courage_Defiance_09-2015Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Hopkinson, Deborah; Scholastic Press, 2015

This gripping, lively and intelligent narrative nonfiction account of Danish resistance to the German occupation in World War II brings to life the response to tyranny through the wartime activities of three young men. Courage & Defiance will engage and inform teen readers looking for a real life action story. (Grades 6-10)

BIOGRAPHY

Growing_Up_Pedro_09-2015Growing up Pedro written and illustrated by Tavares, Matt; Candlewick, 2015

Dominican Republic native Pedro Martinez achieved a childhood dream of playing in the major leagues where he pitched the Red Sox to a 2004 World Series championship. Well-constructed text, vibrant illustrations, and rich back matter make this a top choice for reports and pleasure reading.  (Grades 2-5)

PROFESSIONAL

Top_250_LGBTQ_09-2015Top 250 LGBTQ Books for Teens: Coming Out, Being Out, and the Search for Community by Cart, Michael; Huron Street Press, 2015

With thoughtful reviews of nearly 200 fiction titles, 22 graphic novels, and 34 nonfiction titles, this slim volume gives a real sense of what each book is about, the significant aspects of the LGBTQ content, and why teen readers would appreciate it. Librarians and teachers will find this reference book invaluable. (Grades 7-Adult)

-Annabelle

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