Outstanding! July 2015
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 July edition of BayViews.
Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) written and illustrated by Josh Schneider
Fred, a small, blond boy in striped pajamas, goes through his bombastic bedtime to-do list much to the discomfort of all those around him. This humorous picture book works on many levels and will be a hit with many audiences, including one-on-one and group story times. (Preschool – Grade 2)
I Yam a Donkey! written and illustrated by Cece Bell
A donkey and a yam have a dispute over grammar that will remind many of Abbott and Costello’s legendary “Who’s on First?” comedy routine. Teachers could use this to kick off a grammar lesson, as well as offering a subtle message on being tolerant of new English speakers. Full color cartoon-style illustrations, complete with dialogue balloons. (Kindergarten – Grade 3)
Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead; illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Roaring Brook, 2015.
Sadie is determined to bring an elephant to her lonely Great Aunt Josephine in this madcap picture book adventure. The humorous watercolor and ink illustrations add to the book’s enjoyment. The use of sound makes this a great read aloud and the expressions found on the elephant’s face as well as the many comic details on each spread will elicit repeat readings. (Preschool – Grade 1)
The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.
Moving between mordant humor and contemplations on life and death, this compelling, compact Australian novel is narrated by Aaron Rowe as he starts work at John Barton’s funeral parlor. The mystery of Aaron’s life is slowly unraveled for both himself and the reader, and a satisfying resolution is reached. (Grades 9 – 12)
Detective Gordon : The First Case by Ulf Nilsson; illustrated by Gitte Spee
With his new assistant, Chief of Police Detective Gordon ventures out of his cozy office to track down the “wretched thieves” who have stolen squirrel’s nuts. Droll, understated humor and soft expressive illustrations make this charming mystery a choice read-aloud for families and classrooms. (Grades 1 – 4)
Jinx’s Fire by Sage Blackwood
Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins, 2015.
Blackwood has crafted a wonderful conclusion to her Jinx trilogy, filled with an inventive mix of creatures, the thrilling landscape of the Urwald forest, and the layers of power that lie below. In a beautifully paced narrative, she employs a light touch to leaven the complexity of characterization and the nuances of balancing good and evil. (Grades 5 – 8)
The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond
Dominic Hall is a brilliant beast of a boy growing up on the rank banks of the Tyne river in England in the late 1950’s. Author David Almond’s brutal prose offers some harsh philosophical conundrums to try and solve, leaving readers feeling like they have just been beaten. This is not a children’s book. (Grade 9 – Adult)
The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
After his brother’s sudden death and his mother’s slide into deep depression, Peter believes that baseball holds the key to his family’s happiness. Taiwanese-American immigrant expectations, family tragedy, historical references, and realistic baseball moments are seamlessly knitted into a richly believable, absorbing story. (Grades 4 – 7)
Roller Girl written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson
A light-hearted message about endurance and the importance of practice is driven home in Jamieson’s first efforts as an author. Pencil and pen full color illustrations depict twelve-year-old Astrid’s fledgling steps as she comes into her own via roller derby. (Grades 4 – 7)
Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.
Tracing the facts behind the sensationalized accounts, and tracking the few known details about Mary Mallon, also known as “Typhoid Mary,” this insightful history examines social attitudes, personal ambitions, and medical decisions leading to Mallon’s capture and exile. (Grades 5 – 10)
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prevot; illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
Prevot provides just the right amount of information for his audience paired with Fronty’s vivid paintings for one of the year’s most memorable biographies. Although at least four picture books about Wangari Matthai have been published in the last decade, it will be very surprising if this book is not recognized by the Batchelder committee. (Grades 2 – 5)
I See a Pattern Here written and illustrated by Bruce Goldstone
Beautiful photographs of art, nature, and everyday objects illustrate mathematical concepts related to pattern-making. A superb STEAM book. (Grades 1 – 5)