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 June edition of BayViews.
The Hawk of the Castle written by Smith, Danna and illustrated by Ibatoulline, Bagram; Candlewick, 2017.
This picture book story follows a day in the life of a medieval girl and her father the falconer, showing the equipment, training, and housing of the hawk that helps them with their hunting. The text is patterned after the classic rhyme “This is the House that Jack Built”. The acrylic gouache illustrations depict several individuals, and the appear to be mostly Caucasian, although tiny figures in the background seem to have slightly darker skin tones. Indexed. (Grades 3-5)
Jabari Jumps written and illustrated by Cornwall, Gaia; Candlewick, 2017.
After much preparation, pomp and circumstance, Jabari conquers the high dive, as well as his fear. Cornwall’s mixed media illustrations combined with a highly relatable story make for a picture (book) perfect debut. (P-2)
A Boy Called Bat written by Arnold, Elana K. and illustrated by Santoso, Charles; Walden Pond/HarperCollins, 2017.
Bat wans desperately to be able to keep an abandoned skunk kit as a pet. Arnold’s nuanced picture of a young boy with autism who relates better to animals than people will result in readers who can’t help but root for this plucky protagonist who won’t give up. (1-4)
Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Oh, Ellen; Crown/Random House, 2017.
An anthology of short stories from an array of diverse authors with diverse styles (Matt de la Peña, Jacqueline Woodson, Grace Lin, Tim Federle, Kelly J. Baptist, Soman Chainani, Meg Medina), all written in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. A solid collection with broad appeal. (4-7)
The Librarian of Auschwitz written by Iturbe, Antonio; Henry Holt, 2017.
Imprisoned with her parents in Auschwitz, 14-year-old Dita risks her life in order to hide, maintain, and distribute eight contraband books within the family camp school, which is kept secret from the SS. (7-Adult)
Midnight Without a Moon written by Jackson, Linda Williams; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.
A noteworthy debut coming-of-age novel that examines the harsh living conditions of blacks in Mississippi at the time of Emmett Till’s death is told through the lens of a dark-skinned teenage girl who longs to flee north to escape the brutality and oppression of Jim Crow. Gut-wrenching and authentic, yet also slow-moving in parts, the novel is full of religious imagery, racist language, and violence; this plus excessive cruelty from unsympathetic characters may make it a hard sell for younger readers. (5-10)
Timmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants written and illustrated by Pastis, Stephan; Candlewick, 2017.
While on a vacation/honeymoon in Key West with his mom and her new husband, “Dave the Doorman”, Timmy tries to pretend that the marriage didn’t happen and deals with the loss of his imaginary polar bear friend (who has fled to Cuba) by hiring Dave’s nephew, Emilio Empanada, as his unpaid intern in his detective business, Failure, Inc. (3-6)
Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid written (adapted) and illustrated by Metaphrog; Papercutz, 2017.
This short graphic novel fairy tale of “The Little Mermaid”, adapted by a writing duo called Metaphrog, makes the actual story by Hans Christian Andersen accessible to young readers, sticking closely to Andersen’s tale. Jewel-toned illustrations in predominately blue, coral, purple, green, and gold set the mood, and the text panels are easy to follow. (2-4)
Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism written by Aronson, Marc and Budhos, Marina; Henry Holt, 2017.
Robert Capa and Gerda Taro are the focus of this look at the history of photo-journalism, using the team’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s as the example. The narrative has energy and a feeling of “you are there”, and the book design is equally well done, using clearly captioned b&w photos on every spread. (7-12)
Karl, Get Out of the Garden!: Carolus Linnaeus and the Naming of Everything written by Sanchez, Anita and illustrated by Stock, Catherine; Charlesbridge, 2017.
This biography about Linnaeus, in picture book format, describes the man who created the natural history classification we still use today. The art depicts people with varying skin tones, and the opening which shows how people could speak “the new language of science” created by Linnaeus depicts individuals who appear to be from around the world, including Asia and the Middle East. (3-5)
Penguin Day: A Family Story written by Bishop, Nic; Scholastic, 2017.
Bishop’s signature color close-up photography is the strength of this “day in the life” nonfiction look at Rockhopper penguins. The book design is quite clever, with the photos set on black backgrounds and the large bold print in white. (P-2)
Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song written by Golio, Gary and illustrated by Riley-Webb, Charlotte; Millbrook/Lerner, 2017.
Billie Holiday’s biography and history of her iconic song are highlighted in this work. A wonderful addition to any library. (4-6)