Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New books for middle grades

Many excellent new books have come in to the library lately for students in grades 3 and up. Here are some of my favorites:

Rain Reign by Ann Martin
This novel is narrated by a young woman, Rose, who is diagnosed with autism. She has a love of homonyms and so when she adopts a stray dog she names the dog Rain because it has an interesting homonym, Reign! Her relationship with Rain is central to the plot of the book and is important in that it helps her to develop friendships with students in her class. Beautifully written, the book leads the reader to care deeply about Rose and Rain.

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
Albie is in the fifth grade at a new school in New York City when the story begins. His mom hires a new nanny to watch him after school (even though he thinks he doesn't need "watching")! He has never felt like the smartest student but is kind and very observant, in fact, he thinks "noticing" is the thing he does best. When his new school turns out to not be a very friendly place, he finds the support he gets from Calista, the nanny, is invaluable. Albie is a complex character students would like to get to know -- his experiences will stay with the reader long after they've closed the book.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
Whilemena, Will for short, loves her freewheeling, independent lifestyle in Zimbabwe. She has a pet monkey, explores wherever she and her friend Simon would like to go, and her father loves her adventurous spirit. At a moment of crisis, Will is forced to fly to England to attend an all-girls boarding school. She finds herself unequipped for her new environment and she can't imagine how she'll survive the mean girls, new climate, and new expectations. All the things she was praised for in Africa seem to have no value at her new school--in fact they give the other students reasons to torment her. How will she manage to thrive in this new place?

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
An orphaned brother and sister move from Ireland to England to work at a mysteriously spooky house with a tree growing up through the center of it. The roots seem to have a life of their own and a mysterious figure with muddy boots is heard walking through the house at night. It will take all of Molly and Kip's courage and ingenuity to survive the evil that threatens all who live in the house.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Best books of the year!

This is the time of year when journals start to publish their "best of the year" lists. School Library Journal has released their list which can be accessed via this link: http://www.slj.com/best-books-2014/

The New York Times has released their list of best illustrated books: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2014/10/30/books/review/2014-BEST.html?_r=0

Here is NPR's list for kids: http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2014/#/tag/kids-books

I like to point these lists out to families because sometimes these aren't the books being prominently displayed at big book chains or on Amazon, yet professionals in the field of children's and young adult literature have found the books to be worthy of special recognition.

We are very fortunate to have two independent book stores in Brookline which WILL feature these titles. Please visit Brookline Booksmith and The Children's Bookshop during this holiday season!

Also, did you know that Brookline Public Schools has its own "best books" list? A team of librarians, teachers and local bookstore folks have been working on this list for many years. You can access our own best books list here: http://brooklinesummerreading.weebly.com/best-books.html

The Caldecott and Newbery Awards will be announced in January. Stay tuned!