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Juvenile

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

It was an absolute joy to re-read One Crazy Summer this month along with my wonderful Brentwood Bookworms. This first book in the Gaither Sisters trilogy introduces us to Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. They live with their father and grandmother in New York City, but this one crazy summer, their father decides to send them to Oakland, CA, to be with their estranged mother, Cecile. It's 1968, and tensions are as high in the little stucco house as they are across America. Cecile wants only to work on her poetry, and the girls are sent to the neighborhood community center for meals and summer camp with the local Black Panther chapter. Throughout the turmoil, Delphine will struggle to keep her sisters together, better understand race relations in the U.S., and attempt to forge a bond with her seemingly cold mother. This lovely novel is poignant, funny, and a great discussion-starter for upper-grade school children and tweens!

Number of Pages: 
218

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Secret Keepers is the new title by the author of the Mysterious Benedict Society. In the same vein, it is a long read, but I found that it sustained my interest throughout. (That can be important information if you are picking out a book for a young reader, aka, the intended audience.) Reuben lives with his mother and she is working two jobs and not quite making ends meet. Their city is ruled by a secret individual known only as The Smoke. He employs The Counselor to extort the citizens of their money using The Directions, four men who are the eyes and ears of The Counselor and the Smoke. Very ominous. Enter Reuben who is a stealthy kid who likes to sneak out of his apartment building and explore the neighborhood unobserved. In his explorations, he happens to find a mysterious object. It is a watch that doesn't tell time. What happens next will change his whole world and the lives of everyone in his city. He makes fast friends and discovers the identity of The Smoke as he seeks to solve the mystery of the watch. Reuben manages to get himself in and out of some prickly situations. It's great fun to read! There is plenty here for those who love action and also good characters in their novels.

Number of Pages: 
501

Always Remember by Cece Meng; ill. by Jago

Always Remember by Cece Meng; ill. by Jago

Picture books about death and grief are important resources for children and adults alike during difficult times. Always Remember is a particular favorite of mine, relating the story of Old Turtle's passing and all the ocean animals' lives on which he had an impact. The animals miss him, but they also celebrate all the ways in which he taught them, played with them, and helped them. While it is always difficult to lose someone, it is important to remember how their lives have influenced ours and will continue to live on in our hearts. The beautiful message of this book is complemented by the lush, fluid, and altogether gorgeous illustrations of sea life. I highly recommend this book!

Number of Pages: 
32

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

Jessica the frog finds a magnificent rock one day only to be informed by know-it-all Marilyn that it is, in fact, an egg...a chicken egg! And so when it hatches, Jessica becomes friends with the chicken, and they proceed to go on many adventures together. Eventually, the chicken finds its mother and parts ways with the frogs, but you wouldn't believe what the mother called her baby...an alligator! Can you believe that?

An Extraordinary Egg is a sweet, funny classic and a joy to read out loud. If you can manage to read it with a straight face and act like the alligator really is a chicken, children will go crazy every time you refer to "the chicken" throughout the story. Leo Lionni is one of my favortie children's book author/artists, and his distinctive paper collage style is alive and well here. Maybe you can try your own at home!

Number of Pages: 
32

I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

What do you want to do when you see a spider? Cuddle it? Pet it? Smash it to pieces? Spiders may look scary, and sometimes you may hear scary stories about them, but did you know that spiders are really neat animals? Even when spiders are venomous, so few can even bite humans and fewer will harm you. This is a fun book on a sometimes-scary topic. It's full of splotches and bugs (and burritos and Wanted signs...) and interesting facts that will make you consider trying to love spiders.

Number of Pages: 
40

It's a Tiger! by David LaRochelle; ill. by Jeremy Tankard

It's a Tiger! by David LaRochelle; ill. by Jeremy Tankard

Are those vines? Snakes? A sea captain? No! It's a Tiger! RUN! This is one of my most requested books when I do storytime with preschoolers. A tiger chases our protagonist from page to page, but in the end, we find out it didn't want to eat us after all...we just mistook that ROAR for a yawn. This picture book encourages audience participation--readers will be climbing, swimming, bumping, and shouting the whole way through.

Number of Pages: 
36

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett; ill. by Kevin Cornell

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett; ill. by Kevin Cornell

Count the Monkeys is my all-time favorite read-aloud for a preschool audience. You can rely on Mac Barnett books for their zany plots and getting the reader in on an inside joke. In this book, you end up counting everything--cobras, bee swarms, lumberjacks, polka-dotted rhinoceroses with bagpipes and bad breath--EXCEPT monkeys. And if you plan it just right, you can drive your readers wild with the Easter egg when you get to the end papers. This is a book that asks for audience participation, which is easy to do in response to the bold, goofy illustrations. Highly recommended!

Number of Pages: 
32

Rudy's Windy Christmas by Helen Baugh; ill. by Ben Mantle

Rudy's Windy Christmas by Helen Baugh; ill. by Ben Mantle

It's Christmas Eve, and before Santa goes out for his big night, Mrs. Claus serves up a nice helping of sprouts. Santa passes them directly to Rudolph, waiting outside the window, and the smelliest ride ever ensues. Rudy's Windy Christmas is quite possibly the funniest picture book I've read in quite a while. It is sure to delight any child or adult who enjoys gross-out humor. I love that the humor is good-natured, and the euphemisms for passing gas--the word "fart" is never used--are creative and hilarious. To boot, the rhyme scheme is very satisfying, so this makes an excellent read-aloud. This is a great addition to your holiday reading!

Number of Pages: 
32

Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution by Jonathan Tweet; ill. by Karen Lewis

Grandmother Fish: A Child's First Book of Evolution by Jonathan Tweet; ill. by Karen Lewis

Grandmother Fish is a fantastic introduction to evolution that children can grasp. Jonathan Tweet introduces the reader to different familiar animals, asking for participation in the animals' actions, and diagramming how that animal evolved into its more recent relatives. The colorful pictures are bright and simple, and a bunch of extra evolution facts are provided at the end. This is a terrific, accessible book for young children to look into a large topic.

Number of Pages: 
40

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, ill. by Elizabeth Baddeley

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, ill. by Elizabeth Baddeley

I Dissent is a picture book biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As with many children's biographies, it begins with her childhood and the injustices she faced as a woman and Jew. Bader Ginsburg was lucky to have a mother who also disagreed with the gender norms of the time and encouraged her to become educated and dream beyond those boundaries. The story keeps some humor by coupling Bader Ginsburg's strengths with her weaknesses -- she isn't shown as a perfect figure, merely one who was willing to stand up for her beliefs and to keep trying. I Dissent is fairly wordy for a picture book, so it is probably ideal for early grade school age -- they'll enjoy learning all the different synonyms for "disagree." Though it is on the longer side, and mentions difficulties Bader Ginsburg faced in her life, it keeps them simple and the story still upbeat, so it feels more hopeful than dark for the younger audience.

Number of Pages: 
40