Every month, we’ll 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 August edition of BayViews.
The Cat with Seven Names by Tony Johnston; illustrated by Christine Davenier
On a city street, the neighbors all have their own good reason for the name they use for the hungry and affectionate cat they each assume has adopted them alone. This warm depiction of a diverse neighborhood allows the reader to savor the individual voices along the street and appreciate the small interactions and one burst of excitement that draw them all together. (Preschool – Grade 2)
Little Mouse written and illustrated by Alison Murray
A little girl sitting in Mom’s lap announces that Mommy calls her ‘Little Mouse” when she’s quiet. Subsequent pages take readers through a row of animals she can act like including a lion, horse, and penguin. Each page has beautiful illustrations and appropriately short sentences. A hit at story time!
Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom written and illustrated by John Rocco
Rocco and his friends are superheroes with long hair that they believe to be the source of their superpowers, but, when they are forced to get haircuts, it’s up to an ingenious little girl to reassure the boys that it’s not their hair that makes them powerful. The hilarious disconnect between text and image, plus a smattering of well-placed superhero comic clichés, make this a clever comic gem. (Preschool – Grade 2)
That Is Not a Good Idea written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Balzer & Bray, 2013.
Take one sly, hungry fox and one demure, plump goose, and start the story showing their rendezvous at a cauldron of soup. Constructed as a silent film with title cards, this very simple, dramatic story is sure to surprise and delight. (Preschool – Grade 2)
Al Capone Does My Homework: A Tale from Alcatraz by Gennifer Choldenko
When an unexplained fire is pinned on Moose’s autistic sister Natalie, he and his friends must discover the real arsonist. Nuanced writing and believable characters complement a packed plot that includes a knifing, arson, counterfeiting, mystery gifts, cockroach messengers and a long anticipated kiss. (Grades 5 – 8)
The Apprentices by Maile Meloy; illustrated by Ian Schoenherr
Meloy reunites the characters first met in The Apprentices (2011), fills in their back story and adds new faces in this inventive continuation of a quest to tame the proliferation of nuclear weapons with alchemy. (Grades 5 – 8)
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Williams
Mary Shelley Black moves to San Diego from Oregon to stay with her young widowed aunt. A dark story ensues that involves spiritualism, WWI, mental illness from being in the trenches and murder. (Grade 9 – Adult)
Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
N. Paulsen/Penguin, 2013.
Struggling with Aspberger’s Syndrome, Kiara knows that she’s different, a mutant like her hero Rogue from The X-Men. When Chad moves next door, Kiara is desperate to make a friend, joining him on trips to buy Sudaphed for his parents’ meth lab. Miller-Lachman raises questions about friendship, trust and identity through this gripping, gritty story. (Grades 7 – 10)
The Saturday Boy by David Fleming
Eleven-year-old, Derek, runs into trouble at school, especially with a fairweather friend. Luckily, he has letters from his dad, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, to comfort him. (Grades 5 – 9)
Vietnam: Casualties of War by Chris Lynch
This fourth book in the Vietnam series tells the story of Beck, one of four high school buddies who blindly goes to war based on a teenage pledge. Beck wakes up to the reality of what he has done when he sees up-close the death of his fellow airmen as well one of his hometown-buddies. (Grades 6 – 9)
Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody
Definitely not the classic Howard Pyle, this version of Robin Hood will hook and satisfy contemporary readers who enjoy non-stop adventure mixed with a smattering of history, seasoned with humor and charming characters. (Grades 5 – 8)
Rotten Pumpkin by David Schwartz; pictures by Dwight Kuhn
This non-fiction narrative tells the story of how a Jack-O-Lantern rots and returns to the earth to be born again in time for next Halloween. A shining example of what we can hope to expect from other offerings supportive of the new Common Core standards. (Preschool – Grade 1)