Each 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 November edition of BayViews. Not a member? Join, come to our monthly meetings, and hear about these Outstanding books in person!
Mulan: The Legend of the Woman Warrior written by Wu, Faye-Lynn and illustrated by Ang, Joy; HarperCollins, 2019.
China is at war and families must send their men to fight, but to save her family, Mulan insists on taking her father’s place. This empowering story is a translation of the Chinese poem The Ballad of Mulan, and beautifully illustrated in the style of historical Chinese paintings. (Grades Kindergarten-4th.)
The Pawed Piper written by Robinson, Michelle and illustrated by Lee Chinlun; Candlewick, 2019.
“I wanted a cat to cuddle. A great big furry fluff ball, like the cat in my book. So I laid a trail.” A young girl sets out to attract a cat with surprising success – she “lost count at SIXTY-SEVEN!” Watercolor-and-pencil art includes a pale-skinned family, and cats of all descriptions. (PreK-1.)
Reading Beauty written by Underwood, Deborah and illustrated by Hunt, Meg; Chronicle, 2019.
Princess Lex loves to read just like everyone on her planetoid, but on her fifteenth birthday all books are hidden away to avoid the spell placed on her by an angry fairy. With the help of her clever dog, Prince, Lex goes on a quest to try to make the fairy break the curse. (K-4.)
The Scarecrow written by Ferry, Beth and illustrated by The Fan Brothers; HarperCollins, 2019.
A picture book with rhyming text that tells the story of a lonely Scarecrow and his unlikely friendship, this is a heartwarming tale of love that is beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated. (PreK-3.)
Song of the River written by Cowley, Joy and illustrated by Andrews, Kimberly; Gecko, 2019.
Young Cam follows the river’s source, a trickle of water, as it grows and grows until it eventually becomes one with the sea. This tribute to the connectedness of nature is perfectly illuminated through the lush illustrations, and articulated through Crowley’s poetic words. (1-5.)
Whose Footprint is That? written by Lunde, Darrin and illustrated by Oseid, Kelsey; Charlesbridge, 2019.
This delightful guessing game picture book asks the reader to guess which animal made each footprint. The reveal pages name the animal and give brief descriptions of their unique features. Readers will enjoy learning about footprints of familiar animals while being challenged to identify new prints. (PreK-1.)
Anthem written by Wiles, Deborah; Scholastic, 2019.
It’s 1969, and Molly (age 14) and her cousin Norman (age 17) drive an old school bus from South Carolina to San Francisco to find Molly’s older brother Barry, who has been drafted. There are many b&w photos of historical events, such as the war in Vietnam, that give the story context. (6-10.)
Butterfly Yellow written by Lai, Thanhhà; HarperCollins, 2019.
Butterfly Yellow is the story of Hang, a refugee from Viet Nam to Texas, who meets want-to-be cowboy Leeroy as she searches for her brother Linh, whose escape she engineered six years earlier. This pair develops a relationship of exasperation and deep attachment as they try to unite the siblings. (7-12.)
Cog written by Van Eekhout, Greg and illustrated by Blue, Beatrice; HarperCollins, 2019.
Cog looks like a twelve-year-old boy, but his actually a seven-month-old robot designed to learn. When an accident happens, uniMIND takes Cog back to remove his brain, but Cog assembles an unlikely posse of robots to escape from uniMIND and return to his caregiver, Gina. (3-7.)
Dactyl Hill Squad: Freedom Fire written by Older, Daniel José; Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2019.
The second installment of Magdalys Roca’s dinosaur-riding, Civil War adventure is even more action-packed than the first book. Diverted on their way to rescue Magdalys’ brother, the protagonists end up attached to the all-black regiment of the Louisiana Native Guard, led by General Sheridan. (5-9.)
Hazel’s Theory of Evolution written by Bigelow, Lisa Jenn; HarperCollins, 2019.
Hazel Brownlee-Wellington is spending 8th grade in a new school, trying to survive until high school can reunite her with her one friend. Coming of age and coming into focus as an individual, Hazel is a heroine who can both milk goats and examine their taxonomy in a convincing and compelling manner. (4-8.)
Lalani of the Distant Sea written by Kelly, Erin Entrada and illustrated by Cho, Lian; Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2019.
Filled with ethereal illustrations and a brilliant bouquet of human and fantastic characters, this is a fantasy adventure which underscores the need for each of us to look inside for our own strengths and unique abilities, even when the outside world may tell us we have none. (4-7.)
Suggested Reading written by Connis, Dave; Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, 2019.
“We read with all that our eyes have seen and all our hearts have felt since birth.” When super-library-volunteer and scholarship student Clara Evans finds that her elite prep school is banning fifty titles in a censorship spree, she creates an underground library for her fellow students. (8-Adult.)
Thirteen Doorways , Wolves Behind Them All written by Ruby, Laura; Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2019.
Frankie and her siblings are put in a Chicago orphanage following her mother’s illness. From 1941-1946, Frankie grows up and learns about love and loss, while the ghostly narrator Pearl slowly learns the truth of her own live and death. (9-Adult.)
When You Ask Me Where I’m Going written by Kaur, Jasmin; HarperCollins, 2019.
In her debut collection, Jasmin Kaur blends poetry, illustrations and prose to highlight the beauty and struggle of being a woman of color. Kaur does not sky away from the struggles faced by Sikh women. The poetry itself is beautifully written, full of emotionally charged imagery. (9-12.)
Nose Knows: Wild Ways Animals Smell the World written by Figueras, Emmanuelle and illustrated by De Gastold, Claire; What On Earth, 2019.
French import about the invisible world of smell, which is easy to read and highly browsable. Features large, expressive, and realistic illustrations with liftable flaps for more details. More novelty than informational, this book is a good companion to Mary Holland’s more serious Animal Noses. (1-5.)
Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound written by Rhodes, James and illustrated by O’Neill, Martin; Candlewick, 2019.
Seven composers are featured in this introduction to classical music, and each gets a two-page chatty biographical profile followed by an analysis of two musical compositions. The illustrations and book design are unusually bright and colorful. (6-12.)
Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963 written by Robinson, Sharon; Scholastic, 2019.
With her perspective as the daughter of baseball great Jackie Robinson coming of age in Connecticut in 1963, Sharon Robinson presents her readers with an absolutely unique window into the civil rights movement, and a year in the life of one individual who wants to make a difference in the world. (4-9.)
It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way written by Maclear, Kyo and illustrated by Morstad, Julie; HarperCollins, 2019.
The life of children’s book illustrator and social justice advocate Gyo Fujikawa is poignantly portrayed through simple text and gorgeous illustrations. A well-documented account of how the artist defied racial prejudice and sexism to become a pioneer in making diverse books for children. (K-3.)