There's a moment in Kwame Alexander's middle grade novel, The Crossover, when protagonist Josh Bell's father is telling him all about jazz musician Horace Silver: "Josh, this cat is the real deal. / Listen to that piano, fast and free, / Just like you and JB on the court." Alexander's poetry is the real deal, and its action, energy and heart earned it the 2015 Newbery Medal as well as a Coretta Scott King Author Honor. Alexander told us all about what it's like to win the prestigious Newbery.
The sweet, crowned star of Dan Santat's picture book, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, is a hero like no other—because he almost doesn't exist! Beekle's an imaginary friend with no child to imagine him, and so he leaves his fantastic island, full of other strange creatures like him, in search of a friend. It's so nice to be acknowledged, and there's no better nod than the 2015 Caldecott Medal! We contacted Santat in the whirlwind of his win.
Owls are stealthy predators known to swoop through the night to surprise unsuspecting prey. This isn’t quite the case with Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise. In this clever book for preschoolers, Hoot is as cute as can be, with bright, bold and simple illustrations by French artist Jean Jullien.
Eleven-year-old Ari Hazard is living in the shadow of her mother’s dying wishes: She must get into the prestigious Carter middle school and stick by older brother Gage no matter what. When Gage has a falling out with their guardian, he takes to the streets with Ari in tow. Staying with friends and occasionally at a juvenile shelter, they do the best they can, but the stress is overwhelming.
It’s hard to know what to do about Black History Month. On one hand, it might be the only time of year that schoolchildren will learn about the important moments and people in black history that shaped our country and world. On the other hand, one month seems paltry when there are so many stories. This year, when the news of Ferguson, Missouri, #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #BlackLivesMatter were trending issues that only the most out-of-touch could ignore, we need books about Black History more than ever. Lucky for us, there are some wonderful books out this month.
Sally M. Walker likes to connect young readers with history. In her new picture book, Winnie, she does just that, telling the little-known story of the real bear who inspired A.A. Milne’s legendary children’s book character, Winnie-the-Pooh.
When young Ursula Brown reaches the estate of the Vaughns (who are also recognizable as the Three Bears) to be a governess for their son, Teddy, her story becomes less a simple fairy-tale retelling and more of a mash-up of classic literary tropes.
Young Elmore Green’s life seems perfect and orderly until one day when “somebody else came along,” and that someone happens to be The New Small Person. This new creature, whom Elmore refers to as “it,” squawks during Elmore’s favorite cartoons and once “actually licked Elmore’s jelly-bean collection, including the orange ones.”
Three months after her friend Sarah dies, Iris Abernathy and her parents move from sunny California to an old farmhouse in rainy Oregon, where the miserable weather suits Iris’ mood. While Iris’ mother is adjusting well to her new job at a university and her father has taken to gardening and raising chickens, Iris can’t move past her grief. She believes Sarah is a ghost living in her new house.
Finding the Worm is Mark Goldblatt’s second book about Julian Twerski and his 34th Avenue gang, based on the author’s childhood experiences in Queens, New York. The sequel to Twerp continues with language that is simple and accessible but packs a punch, especially when dealing with the sensitive topic of cancer.