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 March edition of BayViews. Don’t forget, there is no April BayViews as we have our Institute this month.
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend written and illustrated by Dan Santat
Little, Brown, 2014.
Winner of the 2015 Caldecott Medal, this picture book has a delightful story as well as engaging illustrations. A creature that resembles a marshmallow lives on an island, waiting to become some child’s imaginary friend. The colorful cartoon-like illustrations are warm and the hand-lettered text is placed in spaces that add to the drama of the story. (Preschool – Grade 2)
Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird by Misty Copeland; illustrated by Christopher Myers
Both the poetic text and the dramatic full-color collage paintings encourage young people to pursue their dreams in ballet as well as other fields. Myers’ illustrations deservedly received the 2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and Copeland’s poetry is equally adept at expressing these hopes and dreams; Copeland is a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre. (Kindergarten – Grade 3)
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Christian Robinson
A tale of poodles, bulldogs, and two adorable puppies who have seemingly been switched at birth. Brimming with visual humor and lively language, this storytime winner celebrates individuality and values family, both given and chosen. (Preschool – Grade 2)
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson
As CJ and his “Nana” travel through a city that looks like San Francisco, she points out the beauty of their gritty, urban neighborhood and their diverse array of friends. (Kindergarten – Grade 2)
Nana in the City written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Cityscapes drawn with splashes of red and yellow become ever more bold and vibrant as a little boy gains courage and begins to see the city through his grandmother’s eyes. Text and art together capture a living, breathing city and an equally resplendent grandmother clad in red boots, glasses, and feathered hat. (Preschool – Grade 1)
Red: A Crayon’s Story written and illustrated by Michael Hall
Red is a crayon who is clearly blue, but no one is able to see his true color until a new friend comes along. Crayon and cut paper illustrations combine with a simple narrative to create a touching book that will be popular with a variety of ages. (Preschool – Grade 3)
You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang; illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Two Lions, 2014.
In this delightful picture book, winner of the 2015 Geisel Award, two bear-like creatures debate their sizes, and the simple repetitive dialogue is reminiscent of Mo Willems’ “Elephant and Piggie” series, with ink and watercolor cartoon illustrations on stark white backgrounds. Sure to work both as a read-aloud and for those just learning to read. (Preschool – Grade 1)
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Cinco Puntos, 2014.
16 year old Gabi’s senior year is complicated by drama with friends and family, all of whom she loves. Gabi’s funny, sarcastic voice is fresh and honest; told in diary entries, letters and a ‘zine, Gabi’s story is realistic and thoroughly engaging. Use of Spanish adds dimension and authenticity. (Grades 8 – 12)
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
Roaring Brook, 2015.
Printz winner Marcus Sedgwick’s new collection has four loosely connected stories, in each of which spirals play a significant, though changing, role. Set in different time periods, from the prehistoric past, to the space traveling future, this stylish and erudite collection will appeal to mature teen and adult readers. (Grades 10 – Adult)
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Twins Jude and Noah narrate their stories from before and after a family tragedy. The luminous writing and compelling imagery of both the twins’ lives and loves, as well as their artistic processes will give this 2015 Printz winner appeal to teen readers who enjoy the novels of John Green. (Grades 9 – 12)
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Recently moved to Mississipi (aka Mosquitoland) with her father and new stepmother, 16 year-old Mim overhears a conversation that suggests her mother is ill, so she embarks on a 947-mile odyssey to Cleveland, Ohio. This original, episodic novel has idiosyncratic characters and inventive writing. (Grades 9 – 12)
The Question of Miracles by Elana K. Arnold
When eleven-year-old Iris arrives at her new home in rainy Oregon, she is haunted by the recent death of her best friend. This quiet, character-driven novel captures beautifully Iris’s struggle to understand and cope with the loss of her friend. (Grades 4 – 6)
The Second Guard by J. D. Vaughn
Disney Hyperion, 2015.
Tali trains to be a solder in the Second Guard and must also uncover a conspiracy. The diverse world based in medieval Mesoamerica is a welcome departure from the usual European fantasy setting. A good choice for libraries that need more middle grade fantasy series with strong female leads. (Grades 5 – 9)
El Deafo written and illustrated by Cece Bell
This graphic novel memoir recounts the joys and frustrations of author Cece Bell growing up as a deaf child. Her giant hearing aid strapped to her chest makes her feel like an outsider, but also is the source of her superpowers. Kids will relate to the universal themes in this warm, humorous and insightful book.
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell; illustrated by Christian Robinson
Exciting text and colorful, expressive acrylic illustrations make this biography of African-American Josephine Baker one of the best. Readers learn of her struggles to be accepted; triumphs; world-wide performances; WWII war work as a spy for France; adoption of twelve children; and her bankruptcy and subsequent comeback at age sixty-seven. (Grades 4 – 7)
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Mary GrandPré
This refreshing picture book biography of the Russian abstract artist Vasily Kandinsky focuses on his synesthesia, which was his ability to see colors when he heard music, and hear sounds when he mixed the colors in his paint box. Recipient of a 2015 Caldecott Honor. (Grades 1 – 5)
28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World by Charles R. Smith, Jr.; illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Roaring Brook, 2015.
Arranged chronologically from Crispus Attucks’ death to the inauguration of Barack Obama, this celebration of African-American achievement focuses on one date in history. The text written in a variety of narrative styles will engage readers, and the dramatic full color mixed media collages serve the subject and also make this appealing to a wide age range. (Grades 2 – 6)
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko; illustrated by Sean Qualls
Richard and Mildred Loving loved each other, but their interracial marriage was ruled illegal in Virginia until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the state law. This picture-book history succinctly describes the Jim Crow setting, and the Lovings’ struggle for legal recognition. (Grades 2 – 5)
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate; illustrated by G. Brian Karas
With evocative language and moving illustrations this book speaks directly to young readers, describing with tenderness Ivan the gorilla’s 27-year journey from captivity to Zoo Atlanta. For a younger audience than, and lacking the anthropomorphism of, the author’s Newbery Award-winning novel, this includes informative back matter and identifies sources for further information. (Kindergarten – Grade 4)