Category Archives: New in 2017

Amina’s Gift by Hena Khan

Three or so years ago, we were lucky to have a family move in across the street from our house with 3 children: 2 girls and a boy.  These were kids that played, laughed, biked, were outside and active and exactly who my kids hoped for in a new family.  Hours were spent playing with these kids.  We know them, care for their family, and miss them dearly.

Like neighbors do, we exchanged holiday greetings and went to their birthday parties.  The typical librarian, I often gave the children books as gifts; however, the stories never featured characters that were mirrors of themselves and their life experiences.  My neighbors didn’t get to read stories about kids like them – Pakistani American children growing up in the U.S.

Amina’s Voice, published by Simon and Schuster’s new Salaam Reads imprint, changes that.

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Meet Amina.  Much like many middle-schoolers, she wants to keep a low-profile.  It’s a bit harder with a unique name like hers, something her best friend Soojin understands.  But Soojin starts taking about making her name more “American” and mean-girl Emily, who has made fun their cultures (Pakistani and Korean) for years, starts joining them for lunch and projects, throwing Amina’s world into chaos.  At home, it’s no better: there’s no chance of escaping unnoticed when she and her older brother are signed up to give a Quran recitation at her mosque with the expectation of excellence from her parents and visiting uncle from Pakistan.  When the mosque is the target of a hate crime, Amina’s home and school communities come together in unexpected – yet fully believable – ways.  Khan knows her background and gives all readers an accessible story that will educate as well as entertain.  An important book for all libraries.  Highly recommended.  Share with ages 8-12.

Find Momo by Andrew Knapp

Pet books – specifically dog books – were hot commodities for readers in MTigersLibrary.  There was an overflowing shelf of them in the 600’s which was usually decimated by the end of September.  While my elementary readers liked books on each breed, they really liked the ones with good pictures.  Forget the words: they wanted to coo over the photos of the doggies.  Like Momo.

Find Momo Coast to Coast & Let’s Find Momo by Andrew Knapp

The original Find Momo isn’t a typical addition to the elementary library: it’s a photo-journal of a dog, Momo, in landscapes and interiors.  But one element makes Momo a bona fide hit: the black and white dog hides in each photo.  This I Spy aspect is age-appropriate and perfect for readers of any age, language, or ability.  Momo’s first book had enough fans (my students included) to spur more titles: Find Momo Coast to Coast and a board book for the youngest readers Let’s Find Momo.  Both keep the element of I Spy and showcase beautiful photography with one hidden dog.  Momo Coast to Coast gives young readers a picturesque view of the United States through the adventures of an appealing dog.  Imagine the mapping activities one could do with Momo! The board book Let’s Find Momo is great for emerging readers and English-language learners, as it showcases four words and objects in a quadrant, inviting readers to find the matching objects on the following page…along with Momo, of course.  The only drawback may be if readers learn the name “Momo” as representing a dog.  Fun and appealing, share these with dog-lovers of all ages.   

Find Momo published in 2014.  Find Momo Coast to Coast published in 2015.  Let’s Find Momo is released April 18, 2017.

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Quirk books booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

It’s a gift to be able to write for children.  It’s really impressive, though, to be able to write in an authentic child voice: to represent the conversations, behaviors, and internal monologues with developmentally-appropriate actions, thoughts, and dialogue.  A few authors and characters spring to mind as exceptional examples, including Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and Kevin Henkes’s Billy Miller.

They have some company with Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Julia Marks.  Sloan impressively nails both a solid kid-friendly plot line and authentic voice and actions in Short.  

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

It’s summer vacation, and Julia’s brother wants to audition for the local summer play.  She does not.  Julia has far more important things to do this summer, like writing letters to her friends and mourning her dog Ramon’s death.  But she tags along to the audition, reads for a part, and is surprised to learn that she’s cast in the production of The Wizard of Oz…as a Munchkin.  This is a sore point, as she’s shorter-than-average and a bit sensitive about it.  Following through in the role – with the support of fellow cast members and little adults – Julia learns what commitment means as she discovers the strength of community, both on stage and in her town.  By getting out of her comfort zone, she starts daydreaming less and doing more – both in the play and in the real world.

Sloan has crafted Julia’s world with a deft hand: it can be scattered at times as Julia flits from one thought to another.  However, this is what makes Short exceptional: it is all-kid. What child doesn’t jump from one idea to the next?  Consider this passage:

Julia’s loss of her dog is a big part of who she is – Ramon is woven through the narrative – and her flitting thoughts about his smell, collar and the carving are as authentic as Ramona cracking an egg on her head or Billy’s fear of performing poetry stage.  High praise, there.

Share with ages 8-12.  Highly recommended, especially for teachers looking for a read-aloud with strong voice.

Short released January 31, 2017.  Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for an advance copy.

Cheers, y’all! –arika

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

Recommending books – to students, teachers, colleagues, friends, neighbors – is the bread and butter of any librarian worth her or his salt.  But as a librarian MOM, it’s a bit different.  Because Mom comes first, and not often will one’s child take mom’s advice – be it about slowing down on the slick grass or wearing a coat on a rainy day or trying a new title – without some resistance.  However, ‘resistance is futile’: this librarian mom doesn’t give up when it comes to books. My two children are starting to figure this out.  Case in point: James Nicol’s The Apprentice Witch.

At ALA in Orlando in June, I’d picked up a pre-release copy. Printed on 8×11 paper and bound by plastic combs, logic said that a book shared in such an early state must be exciting. After a quick read, the first person that came to mind was my daughter – this was similar to some of her favorite books.  But she was not interested in Mom’s opinion, even with a stellar booktalk.  So I tried a new tactic and started reading it aloud one night (this, by the way, is a great trick).  Within two chapters she was hooked, and so was my 7 year old son.  That night, they stayed up and she read aloud to him about Arianwyn and her “friends”.  She finished it less than a week later to rave review.  See for yourself.  🙂

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

summary & review by JMD, age 9

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol is a fascinating book to read. A young girl that is about 16 years of age named Arianwyn is becoming a witch, and according to schedule, every young girl that is her age that she can test to see if she can become a real witch. Everything seems to be going right when then something goes wrong… Arianwyn fails the test. Her punishment is to protect a small town, Lull, that Arianwyn soon finds out is a town with big problems.

I enjoyed reading The Apprentice Witch because there is a lot of magic and fantasy put into the book and those are things that I look for when I look at books. I recommend this book for ages 8 and up. Also, this book is for fans of the series Upside-Down Magic and Fairy Tale Reform School.

The Apprentice Witch is out July 25, 2017 in the US and released July 6, 2016 in the UK

And a little side note: It was serendipitous that I picked up this advance copy at Scholastic’s Chicken House reception. Chicken House is Scholastic’s publishing arm for titles originally published in the UK.  Little did I know at that time that I’d be moving to the UK!

 As seen at the 2017 London Book Fair at the Scholastic booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

This Is How We Do It by Matt LaMothe

There’s been a push in education (and in school libraries) to make connections with those outside of our building.  Tools like Skype and Google Hangouts make it easier to see and interact with children outside our school walls, but those connections are usually across the US.  Trying to get out of North America and learn about others in the world is harder, if for no other reason than the time differences. And that’s where books and librarians can come into play.

It takes a concerted effort to teach global understanding and build empathy for others.  Finding titles that encompassed multicultural backgrounds and deepened world understanding AND are engaging read-alouds is even harder.  Lucky for us, there’s a new book to make teaching global literacy a bit easier.

This is How We Do It: one day in the lives of seven kids from around the world by Matt LaMothe

Children take center stage as they explain what their daily lives are like in seven diverse countries around the world.  Because none of the countries featured are from North America (children from Japan, Russia, Uganda, Peru, India, Iran, and Italy are included), it stands to reason that this was created for children with background knowledge from that continent.  The big takeaway is that we have similarities regardless of where we are from: we play, we go to school, we eat meals, etc.  It’s the little details that make our countries, our cultures, distinctive: while many children walk to school, it is what they experience on that walk – from mosques to fruit stands to cafes – that is unique to their country and culture.  The crisp font and child-like illustrations lend themselves to sharing with a group, and the captions on each page, describing the child’s experience in each country, are brief yet informative.  A book with a timeless quality, this is highly recommended.  Share with ages 6-10.

For teachers developing and implementing social-emotional learning in their classrooms, This is How We Do It is a must-purchase. Oftentimes, a lack of cultural awareness or knowledge is what leads to exclusion and bullying in schools.  There are rich research opportunities within these pages, too. Paired alongside the CultureGrams database, students could research about lives of children not featured in this book and – potentially – create their own.

Were I still teaching in the Northwest, this would be the 4th book in a “Learners Around the World” unit (the other three are Rain School, Waiting for the Biblioburro, and I’m New Here).

 

This Is How We Do It publishes on May 2, 2017.

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Chronicle/Abrams booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Triangle by Mac Barnett

There’s something special about a book cover that has no text on it. It may well be the eyes.  Martin’s Big Words, by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier, stands out as the larger-than-life portrait of Dr. King emits radiant life through his smile and eyes. Similarly, Jerry Pinkney’s Lion and Mouse depicts a lion’s strength – and ultimate downfall – through reproachful yet alert eyes.

It stands to reason, then, that there would never be any text on the cover of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s latest collaboration, Triangle.  Because Klassen is, if anything, the master of the picture book eye. With a (not-so) simple dot, he lets readers know how characters feel and think. Paired with Barnett’s always-unique storyline, this hotly-anticipated book didn’t disappoint.

Triangle by Mac Barnett, pictures by Jon Klassen

Triangle lives in the land of triangles: triangle-shaped house, door, even art. Wide eyed, he gives an innocent vibe.  But don’t be fooled: he is a sneaky fellow and, one day, sets off to play a delightful trick on his friend Square.  Square, seeking revenge, chases Triangle back to his house.  Readers will delight in predicting Square’s predicament of not fitting through Triangle’s door and inferring whether Square’s intentions were to play a similar sneaky trick on Triangle.  Square’s legs and – yes – eyes give it away: he is a square, after all.  The first in a planned trilogy (lucky us!), Barnett continues to create inventive, unique storylines and, paired with Klassen, he’s at his best.  Highly recommended.  Share with ages 3+.

The case design stands out, too: a board over paper cover, with rounded corners and heavier-than-average stock pages sewn into the binding. With no dust jacket, there is no chance to a peek underneath for any additional insight into the mind or actions of either character. A well-played choice.

Let’s circle back (pun intended) to Martin’s Big Words and Lion and Mouse.  The two covers shown earlier were upon initial publication. Today, however, they look like this:

People – librarians, booksellers, teachers, students – saw something in those eyes.  They stood out.  Were memorable.  Impactful.  One can only speculate if Triangle will join their esteemed ranks.

One thing is for sure: kids won’t be able to take their eyes off this one!

Triangle was published March 14, 2017 in both the US and the UK

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Candlewick/WalkerUK booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko

Newbery Honor Author.  Caldecott Award Illustrator.  Those two facts alone would sell a book, but when it’s Gennifer Choldenko (of Al Capone Does My Shirts fame) and Dan Santat (the brilliant Beekle creator) that we’re talking about, just take my money now.  Because their collaborative effort Dad and the Dinosaur released yesterday.  And we are all richer for it.

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko

Young Nicholas is afraid of everything – from big concepts like the dark to inconsequential things like manhole covers.  But don’t tell his dad, who is the biggest, bravest, most fearless person Nicholas knows and who knows that Nicholas is, too.   And Nicholas can be brave – when he has his trusty little dinosaur by his side.  The small, plastic dinosaur he carries gives him the strength to be big and confident.  It goes with him everywhere, small but mighty, until the day it goes missing. Nicholas had it tucked securely in his sock during his soccer game, and he’s desperate to go out and find it.  But it’s bedtime.  Dark.  Nicholas must face his greatest fear – disappointing his dad – if he’s going to get the dino back.  The tender side of fatherhood isn’t often seen in picture books, and even more rarely when interacting with young sons.  Choldenko’s story – paired with Santat’s eye-catching illusrations – is one for every dad to read and share.  A great springboard to talk about fears and how children can cope with them.  Share with ages 4-10.

Dan Santat created the trailer for the book, below.  Is anyone else as happy as me to see another Santat book featuring dinosaurs?

Still another sneak peek – click the picture below for a flip-through of of Dad and the Dinosaur from Dan.

 

Dad and the Dinosaur released March 28, 2017 in the US.

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Penguin Random House booth. Look how busy it was!

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika