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 December edition of BayViews.
I’m Brave by Kate McMullan; illustrated by Jim McMullan
Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, 2014.
This fire truck loves to show off his equipment and how it is used to save people. Great for storytimes, especially those focusing on vehicles, rescue personnel, or visiting firefighters. (Preschool – Grade 1)
Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea; illustrated by Lane Smith
Roaring Brook, 2014.
Kid Sheriff comes to Drywater Gulch to rid the town of the Toad brothers who robbed the bank’s vault, in this homage to Hollywood westerns. The snarky humor of the story is well-matched by Lane Smith’s sepia-toned cartoonish illustrations. (Preschool – Grade 3)
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen
Colored pencil and digital drawings construct the comical world of these unflappable diggers. An exceptional story that will keep the reader amused. (Preschool – Grade 3)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Ruining his Christmas break, mysterious strangers arrive to stay at Greenglass House, an old smuggler’s inn run by Milo’s parents. When guests’ items disappear, Milo and the daughter of the inn’s cook assume alternate identities and attempt to solve the mystery. The chilly setting, empty inn, and characters with shadowy intentions set a solid mood. (Grades 4 – 8)
Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
When Lucy moves to a small town she begins taking pictures in order to win a photo contest that her father will be judging. Lord cleverly has her protagonist discover her new surroundings through the lens of a camera, while Lucy’s experiences will be all-to-familiar to young readers. (Grades 3 – 6)
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart,
Twelve-year-old Mark is tired of living with cancer, so he runs away with his dog to follow his dream of climbing Mt. Rainier. Set in Washington, Gemeinhart’s first novel is a moving, thought-provoking, suspenseful story that tackles intense subject matter without being preachy or cliche. (Grades 5 – 8)
Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez
K. Tegen/HarperCollins, 2014.
After witnessing her boyfriend murder a man on her father’s orders, Valentina Cruz runs away to start a new life, but finds it is not so easy to escape her past. This excellent book for readers in 10th grade and up features diverse characters and a thrilling plot. (Grade 10 – Adult)
Nuts to You written and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins
A gregarious squirrel relates a lively tale of adventure, friendship, and squirrel derring-do. His humorous wise-guy tone matched with patches of exquisite writing make this an ideal read-aloud or read alone fantasy. (Grades 2 – 5)
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Afer a superstorm knocks down trees and floods her town, Rose (who has autism but is high functioning), can’t find her dog Rain. The plot is believable and the narrative compelling, without being emotionally manipulative, although some characters are a little too perfect. (Grades 3 – 6)
The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos
Harry Jones is severely scarred and is relentlessly bullied, until Johnny befriends him, and they form a band. This enjoyable novel, set in the 80s, has wonderfully developed characters, particularly Harry himself. Teens who have felt like “freaks” will relate to Harry, as he finds a way out through music. (Grades 8 – 12)
Beetle Busters: A Rogue Insect and the People Who Track It by Loree Burns Griffin; illustrated by Ellen Harasimowicz
Scientists in the Field Series.
The Asian longhorned beetle is a ravenous threat to U.S. northeastern hardwood forests and, since 1996, thousands of people, including scientists, surveyors, arborists, citizens young and old, and even sniffer dogs have been engaged in discovering and fending off its attacks. Fine and fascinating exploration of a controversial effort whose outcome is still uncertain. (Grades 4 – 8)
Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents written and illustrated by Lita Judge
Roaring Brook, 2014.
Young children and their caregivers will find this a fascinating and engaging read-aloud and introduction to a variety of mammal behavior – most of which will resonate strongly with a young listener. Illustrations and brief text are full of vivid and expressive details and the back matter includes additional resources and information. (Preschool – Grade 2)
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan; illustrated by Hadley Hooper
Roaring Brook, 2014.
Patricia MacLachlan’s gift for whittling prose to its essential conveyance of ideas and feelings works harmoniously with the sponge on cardboard art in telling the story of the influences on the art of Henri Matisse. While Matisse’s art is brighter, he would most likely admire the technique used here. (Kindergarten – Grade 3)
My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth; illustrated by Barbara McClintock
In a story based on a Yiddish folksong, an immigrant’s great wedding coat is trimmed to a jacket, then a vest, ever smaller until nothing is left except this story. Illustrated with buoyant art, this fresh, rhythmic retelling places family in the center of the familiar tale. (Kindergarten – Grade 3)
Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting With the Great Hunters of California’s Farallon Islands written and illustrated by Katherine Roy
Roaring Brook, 2014.
In this lively book, the migration of white sharks to San Francisco Bay’s Farallon Islands, where they eat seals and sea lions, is described in a thrilling narrative paired with watercolor illustrations. Roy’s debut is very successful, achieving a nice balance of information with slightly graphic action-oriented artwork that features blood but is not exploitive. (Grades 2 – 7)
Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joy Sidman; illustrated by Rick Allen
An ethereal and lush ode to the lives of creatures in winter. Linoleum relief collages, poetry about plants and animals in winter, and fascinating scientific information combine to create a reading experience that is both visually pleasing and highly educational. (Kindergarten – Grade 4)