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 October edition of BayViews.
The Bear’s Sea Escape written and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
Little Bear is accidentally whisked away, with Papa Bear in hot pursuit. The vintage sensibility of Chaud’s stylized art pairs well with the fluid exuberance of the illustrations. Like an ursine Where’s Waldo?, children will repeatedly enjoy poring over the large-format illustrations full of wonderful discoveries and charming details. (Preschool – 2)
The Flat Rabbit written and illustrated by Bardur Oskarsson
After discovering a flattened rabbit in the street, a dog and rat work together on a plan for what to do with her. The simple story and brilliant line drawings with muted washes of watercolor convey compassion and raise questions about what happens and where we go when we die. (Preschool – Grade 5)
Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood; illustrated by Hazel Mitchell
Mackinac Island, 2014.
Imani wants to touch the moon, and though nay sayers and physical barriers stand in the way, she perseveres. Early readers will be drawn in and inspired by Imani’s spunk, creativity, and determination. Clear, gentle text and colorful, expressive illustrations harmoniously mesh together. (Preschool – Grade 3)
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Random House, 2014.
Ellie’s mom brings home a 13-year-old relative from the police station, who turns out to be Ellie’s scientist grandfather who has discovered a way to reverse the aging process. This is more thoughtful than one might expect, due to its similarities to movies like “Freaky Friday” and “Big;” humor, an authentic first-person voice, dynamic dialogue, and a popular premise make for an engaging read. (Grades 3 – 7)
The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang; illustrated by Sonny Liew
First Second, 2014.
A compelling adventure story about an unlikely Chinese American super-hero who defends his family against a Chinatown crime boss. The striking color and bold, gestural art conveys the humor and authentic emotions of Yang’s text. This nuanced portrayal of a family nursing their unfulfilled dreams is an essential addition to any collection. (Grade 7 – Adult)
Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious by Jacqueline Briggs Martin; illustrated by Hayelin Choi
Readers to Eaters, 2014.
The motivation that inspired chef Alice Waters to open Chez Panisse, a restaurant in Berkeley, and start the Edible Schoolyard Project is conveyed well in this picture book biography. The cheerful and colorful digitally enhanced brush and ink illustrations beautifully complement the text. (Grades 2 – 4)
Branching Out: How Trees Are Part of Our World by Joan Marie Galat; illustrated by Wendy Ding
The inspiring dialogue about trees and their benefits to humans, animals and the environment will make this book a valuable addition to school and public library collections. The photos, pop-up illustrations, and maps complement and augment the text. (Grades 3 – 7)
The Family Romanov : Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
Schwartz and Wade/Random House, 2014.
As engrossing as fiction, this history weaves correspondence and personal observations as well as facts and figures into a narrative that captures the grit and grandeur of the era, the small thinking and big ideas, and the Romanovs as royalty and as family. (Grades 9 – Adult)
Strike! The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights by Larry Dane Brimner
Calkins Creek, 2014.
The engaging, well-researched, and thoughtful text describes the United Farm Workers, using many quotations so that those involved in the 1960’s grape pickers strike get to tell their story (including the Filipino workers who began the strike). But it is the amazing large and spacious book design that is a standout, using b&w photos, political cartoons, maps, sidebars, timeline, author’s note, index, and source notes. (Grades 6 – 12)
Stubby the War Dog : The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog by Ann Bausum
National Geographic, 2014.
A dog of “obscure origins,” Stubby served heroically in World War I trenches, was honored after the war, and wound up in the Smithsonian. Carefully sorting facts from speculation, and integrating chunks of World War I history, this is an unsentimental yet awe inspiring true dog story. (Grades 4 – 8)