Feb 17, 2021

Book Spotlight: In a Jar

There's a quote from one of my favorite grown-up books, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, that I immediately thought of when I picked up this picture book several months ago. It's along the lines of wishing that we could bottle up memories just like perfume. The memories would never become stale or faded, and any time we wanted to live them again all we would have to do is simply open the bottle and voila! The magic of memory is at the heart of In a Jar by Deborah Marcero. Llewellyn, a little white rabbit with wonderfully big ears, is a collector. He collects pretty ordinary things in jars like buttercups, feathers, and stones. One day Llewellyn meets Evelyn and together they begin to collect extraordinary things like the sound of the ocean, rainbows, freshly fallen snow, and all of the things they do together (See where I'm going with this memory connection?). Sadly, Evelyn moves away and Llewellyn is left wondering if they can continue their magical collection and their friendship from afar.  If I could wallpaper my apartment with Marcero's illustrations I would. Everything is bright, vibrant, and textured from the fields of flowers to the forests to the shooting stars that Llewellyn watches at night. This book will make you think about the best moments of friendship, and sharing experiences and memories with those you love. It's sweet, magical, and worthy of a place on your TBR list. Look for my Staff Pick sticker on the cover the next time you're visiting the Library!  

Jan 25, 2021

For Children Who Want to Change the World

I remember one of my first babysitting jobs as a teenager. Just before the parents left for a wedding, the mother turned to her little girl and said, "Why don't you tell her what you want to be when you grow up?" The girl grinned and told me without hesitation, "A dinosaur!" Since then I've had quite a few children tell me they want to be a Velociraptor or a Brontosaurus or a Tyrannosaurus Rex so it's clear to me that little ones are the experts when it comes to dreaming big and imagining. From collecting books or food to planting bee-friendly gardens to creating apps to striking for action on climate change or gun violence, children are changing the world in big ways and small ways. It's never too early to inspire your little ones and foster their interests. Below are some of our favorite inspiring stories. Share with us the positive changes your child is making to their corner of the world.

The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta
The illustrations in this picture book biography are so lush, it's like you could reach out and touch every single seed, leaf, and petal. George Washington Carver was born into slavery in 1864, but kept a secret garden in the woods and developed a deep love and appreciation for nature. Carver learned how to make dyes and medicines from plants, discovered which plants needed more sunlight or water, and carefully studied plant life cycles and soils. In 1891, he was the first black student at Iowa State University. He earned not only a Bachelor's degree but a Masters as well, and addressed Congress in 1921 about the benefits of plants, especially the peanut.   

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise
Pura Belpre grew up in Puerto Rico, adoring the stories her abuela told her. In 1921, she came to the United States and became a gifted storyteller in her own right. She landed a job at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant since she could speak English, Spanish, and French. When she noticed the lack of multicultural books at the library, she began telling and writing stories and even creating puppets to share the folklore of Puerto Rico. Currently, the Association for Library Service to Children has the Pura Belpre Award in her honor, which recognizes outstanding children's books depicting the Latinx cultural experience in the United States.   

Yayoi Kusama Covered Everything in Dots and Wasn't Sorry by Fausto Gilberti
Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrors" was wildly popular in 2018; the Cleveland Museum of Art kept selling out of tickets! This quirky picture book biography captures the spirit of Kusama and her art. Born in Japan, Kusama liked to cover things with dots, including clothing, furniture, and even people. After moving to the United States in 1958, she organized performance art called "happenings" where in addition to covering people with dots she protested against the Vietnam War. Kusama developed close friendships with other artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Eva Hesse, and became known for her conceptual, contemporary art.

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles 
This picture book is a lyrical love letter, anthem, and poem to black and brown children everywhere: You matter and you always will. Beginning with an expectant mother, the picture book follows the baby as he grows through first steps, laughter, teen anxieties, hardships, and the heartbreak of current events. Gorgeous illustrations, reminiscent of a quilt, make mentions of taking a knee, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Philando Castile. This is a profound book that needs to be read over and over again. 

The Bug Girl by Sophia Spencer 
Ever since a butterfly landed on her shoulder when she was two, Sophia Spencer, pictured above, loved bugs. Sophia's friends in kindergarten enjoyed hearing her favorite facts about grasshoppers, fireflies, and spiders, but by first grade her peers were teasing her for her passion. Sophia's mom reached out to the entomological community, and an entomologist personally wrote to Sophia to say she could still like bugs... and maybe even grow up to study them. From the simple text to the many bug facts to the watercolor illustrations, there is a lot to love about this book about following your passions.

Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist by Linda Skeers
This picture book biography is perfect for budding female scientists and dinosaur enthusiasts. Mary Anning loved scouring the beach with her father for shells and fossils. One day she came across an unexpected discovery: a skeleton of a creature never seen before! Mary had unearthed a dinosaur fossil, the first ever to be discovered. Her find dramatically changed the scientific world and led to the beginning of paleontology. Skeers doesn't downplay the many barriers and frustrations in Anning's life, writing about how men often took credit for her discoveries, and she shows Anning's incredible perseverance and how she continued to make astonishing fossil discoveries.  

Gidget the Surfing Dog: Catching Waves with a Small by Mighty Pug by Elizabeth Rusch
A pug on a hot pink surfboard? Count me in! When Gidget's owner realized she had a very energetic pug puppy on her hands, she decided dog surfing would be a good fit. Rusch tells the story of training Gidget, her surfing competitions, charity efforts, and even a life-threatening illness that threatened her time on the surf board. Rusch includes plenty of science too, including the physics of surfing, wave formation and buoyancy, water safety, and beach pollution making this a good choice for elementary students. 

How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine by Amy Guglielmo
This picture book biography is a wonderful glimpse into compassion, understanding, and living on the autism spectrum. Temple Grandin loves folding paper kites, making obstacle courses, animals, and building. She can even think in pictures. But she really doesn't like hugs. To Grandin, hugs feel like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world or sandpaper or very stinky cologne. What's the solution? To build a hug machine of course! A thoughtful author's note provides additional information on Grandin's life, career, and activism on behalf of those with autism. 

Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring by Matthew Burgess
There is something very accessible, vibrant, and open about Keith Haring's art - making it perfect for children. This picture book biography captures the playful, inventive life of Haring. Completely devoted to the idea of public art, Haring created murals wherever he went. Most often seen drawing in white chalk on the black, unused spaces of subway stations, Haring's art transformed New York City during the 1980s. Burgess uses uncomplicated language to describe Haring's thoughts about art and his relationship with his partner, and a biographical section doesn't shy away from discussing Haring's death due to AIDS-related complications at the young age of 31.  

Saving Granddaddy's Stories: Ray Hicks, the Voice of Appalachia by Shannon Hitchcock 
This picture book biography is a wonderful celebration of storytelling. As a young boy in the Appalachian Mountains, Ray Hicks loved hearing stories and songs from his grandfather. When his grandfather passed away, however, Hicks realized it was up to him to continue sharing family tales and the mountain way. After speaking at schools, festivals, and more, particularly telling "Jack Tales," Hicks became a renowned folklorist and a recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship. The book's artwork makes this title worth reading again and again.  

Jan 12, 2021

A small list of Miss Katie's Favorite Picture Books

When I was two years old my grandfather visited.  As children do, I wanted to show him everything I owned.  I sat down on his lap and presented him my favorite book.  It was Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells.  Nowadays, parents would gasp at the refrain, “Nora, why are you so dumb?”  To me this book was about as perfect a story as you could get.  I remember loving the rhyme and rhythm, the humor, the way the just-my-size book fit in my hands, and the big word “monumental” at the end.  My grandfather let me hold the book and I am sure he adjusted his aging eyes so as to prepare to read it aloud to me, but to his surprise I started out “Jack had dinner early…”  I had memorized this wonderful little tale about the middle child who yearns for the attention of her parents.  To this day I still have the book memorized.  My grandfather, however, thought that I, a child of two, could read.     

I do not remember this incident, but my parents like to relay the details.  I, however, remember loving this book to no end.  Over the years, I realized that my two year old self could “read” this story to my grandfather because of the pictures.  Picture books are wonderful tools for helping children of all ages, not only tell the story, but understand the concepts.  While chapter books are great for encouraging listening skills, I cringe at the thought of moving past the picture book once a child is able to read.  While I cannot prove a correlation between the expanding collections of graphic novelizations of classics and the devaluation of picture books among society I cannot help but wonder if this notion that picture books are just for small children has had its hand in this phenomena.  The facts remain that the picture book audience expands across all ages and many times there are concepts contained within the pages that only an adult may recognize.  The art alone is a cultural experience that should be given as much credence as the words contained within.  

Having said all of that, please enjoy this list of some of my favorite picture books.  It was a real struggle narrowing this down for this post.  I guess I will save the others for another day.  I have also opted to leave Mo Willems out of this.  Sorry, Mo.

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer is a classic picture book for the very young child.  This is one of my favorites for live storytimes.  The book has it all, simple illustrations, animal sounds, foreshadowing which allows the children to tell the story as they go, and an outrageous plot-line.  Much to his mother’s chagrin, the title character, George, is having trouble doing a very simple thing that all dog’s do.  He cannot bark. The reason for this is UNBELIEVABLE!

Another great title is the ever popular Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney.  Is there anything sweeter than that cuddly title character in red pajamas?  Any parent can relate to the mother in this story who tucks her child in and goes about her evening, but more importantly the young child can relate to the anxiety that ensues just before bed.  Told in rhyme with spot on illustrations that depict the emotions of our little llama perfectly, this bedtime story helps little ones know that feelings of fear and anger are experienced by everyone, but at the end of the night, those feelings cannot rule our behavior.

If you are looking for a retelling of classic fairy tales or fables look no further than Jerry Pinkney.  His version of The Little Red Hen is my favorite of this award winning illustrator’s retells.  I am always amazed by his talents with watercolor. The realistic illustrations of the farm animals bring this story to life about a hen who does all the work and then asks who should reap the benefits.  Meant for the very young child, I have seen this story read at the college level in an ethics 101 class.


For preschoolers through grade three (again these are for everyone), I have three titles to share.  Posthumous Ohio author Jan Wahl’s book The Art Collector presents a story of a young child who, though frustrated with his own art making abilities, embarks on a lifelong journey of art appreciation.  Rosalinde Bonnet illustrates the story and the dynamic art collection accrued by the character.  It shows us that even though we may not always have the skills we want we can appreciate and find connection with the beauty around us.

Dan Santat is no stranger to creating beautiful illustrations.  The next book on my list from this Caldecott Medal winner is After The Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again.  Every child and adult can relate to the setbacks Humpty experiences.  It is the way he works through his fear that we can all take guidance.  This book would also make a great graduation gift.

Last on this list of early childhood books is by none other than Bob Shea, the author of the Dinosaur Versus series.  (Did I tell you that Bob Shea is visiting us in March of 2022?!)  His most recent title Who Wet My Pants? made it to my list.  Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora this “crime” mystery is told in hysterical fashion.  It is up to the reader to solve the mystery.  The only way to find out who wet the main character’s pants is to pay close attention to the illustrations.

For the sake of making my earlier point about picture books being written for all ages I have included a book from one of my all time favorite authors/illustrators.  I think I may actually own all of his books which are extensive.  Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say did not win the Caldecott medal for nothing.  Each page is a pure work of art on its own.  This story, though not as wordy as many of his other books, tells the story of a young boy’s trip from Japan to his new home in San Francisco.  While there is no doubt that the very young child may enjoy the illustrations, the deeper struggle of the character caught between two worlds is something only an older child or adult can really understand. 

I hope this list will help you to reconsider the value of a picture book and see its worth amongst a wide variety of audiences.  I like to think of each picture book as a wing on a great art museum.  The art can tell a story.  It can open your eyes to new ideas.  It can reflect a feeling you hold deep inside.  It can teach you something new about the world around you and all its beauty.  And...as all books do, it can enrich your life and create meaning.  I tell you, there is nothing better than a picture book.  

Jan 4, 2021

Spring 2021 Youth Book Buzz

 Spring 2021 Youth Titles

Last month, I attended a webinar put on by Penguin Random House entitled Youth Book Buzz! There are so many new titles that are being introduced in Spring of 2021 that I wanted to share with all of you! Let us know which titles you are most excited for in the comments! (Personally, I am excited for The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan). 

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson (February 2, 2021)

Summary: Milo is on a long subway ride with his older sister. To pass the time, he studies the faces around him and makes pictures of their lives. There's the whiskered man with the crossword puzzle; Milo imagines him playing solitaire in a cluttered apartment full of pets. There's the wedding-dressed woman with a little dog peeking out of her handbag; Milo imagines her in a grand cathedral ceremony. And then there's the boy in the suit with the bright white sneakers; Milo imagines him arriving home to a castle with a drawbridge and a butler. But when the boy in the suit gets off on the same stop as Milo--walking the same path, going to the exact same place--Milo realizes that you can't really know anyone just by looking at them. 

What’s Inside a Flower? By Rachel Ignotofsky (February 20, 2021)

Summary: Budding backyard scientists can start exploring their world with this stunning introduction to these flowery show-stoppers--from seeds to roots to blooms. Learning how flowers grow gives kids beautiful building blocks of science and inquiry.

In the launch of a new nonfiction picture book series, Rachel Ignotofsky's distinctive art style and engaging, informative text clearly answers any questions a child (or adult) could have about flowers.

Seven Special Somethings: a Nowruz Story by Adib Korram; illustrated by Zainab Faidhi (February 16, 2021)

Summary: A picture book celebrating Persian New Year by award-winning author Adib Khorram

Kian can't wait for Persian New Year! His family has already made a haft-seen, and Kian's baba and maman told him that all the things on it start with S and will bring them joy in the new year. Kian wonders if he could add just one more S, to make his family even happier. Hmm . . . Sonny the cat's name starts with S--but Sonny knocks the whole table over! Can Kian find seven special somethings to make a new haft seen before his family arrives for their Nowruz celebration?

Treasure of the World by Tara Sullivan (February 23, 2021)

Summary: Twelve-year-old Ana wants nothing more than to escape the future set for her and her classmates in her small mining village. Boys her age are beginning to leave school to become silver miners and girls her age are destined to one day be the wives of miners. But when her often ill eleven-year-old brother is forced by their demanding father to start work in the mines, Ana gives up her dreams of school to volunteer in his place. The world of silver mining though is dark and dangerous and the men who work there don't want a girl in their way. Ana must find the courage to not only survive but save her family after the worst happens and a mining accident kills her father and leaves her brother missing.

A New Day by Brad Meltzer; illustrated by Dan Santat (March 2, 2021)

Summary: Sunday quit, just like that. She said she was tired of being a day. And so the other days of the week had no choice but to advertise: "WANTED: A NEW DAY. Must be relaxing, tranquil, and replenishing. Serious inquires only." Soon lots of hopefuls arrived with their suggestions, such as Funday, Bunday, Acrobaturday, SuperheroDay, and even MonstersWhoResembleJellyfishDay! Things quickly got out of hand . . . until one more candidate showed up: a little girl with a thank-you gift for Sunday. The girl suggested simply a nice day--a day to be kind. And her gratitude made a calendar's worth of difference to Sunday, who decided she didn't need to quit after all.

When we appreciate each other a little bit more, all the days of the week can be brand-new days where everything is possible.

Mornings with Monet by Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Mary GrandPre (March 2, 2021)

Summary: A new picture book about the iconic artist Claude Monet, from the Caldecott-Award winning team that created The Noisy Paint Box.

Claude Monet is one of the world's most beloved artists--and he became famous during his own lifetime. He rejected a traditional life laid out clean and smooth before him. Instead he chose a life of art. But not just any art: a new way of seeing that came to be called impressionism.

Monet loved to paint what he saw around him, particularly the Seine River. He was initially rejected for using bright colors, tangled brushstrokes--condemned for his impressions. But soon art dealers and collectors were lining up each morning to see as Monet saw. Monet, however, waited only for the light. The changing light...each morning he had a dozen canvases on hand to paint a dozen different moments. 

The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan (March 2, 2021)

Summary: It's been almost a year since Sila's mother traveled halfway around the world to Turkey, hoping to secure the immigration paperwork that would allow her to return to her family in the United States.

The long separation is almost impossible for Sila to withstand. But things change when Sila accompanies her father (who is a mechanic) outside their Oregon town to fix a truck. There, behind an enormous stone wall, she meets a grandfatherly man who only months before won the state lottery. Their new alliance leads to the rescue of a circus elephant named Veda, and then to a friendship with an unusual boy named Mateo, proving that comfort and hope come in the most unlikely of places.

Starfish by Lisa Fipps (March 9, 2021)

Summary: Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she's been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules--like "no making waves," "avoid eating in public," and "don't move so fast that your body jiggles." And she's found her safe space--her swimming pool--where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It's also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie's weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life--by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family by Sarah Kapit (March 23, 2021)

Summary: When twelve-year-old Lara Finkel starts her very own detective agency, FIASCCO (Finkel Investigation Agency Solving Consequential Crimes Only), she does not want her sister, Caroline, involved. She and Caroline don't have to do everything together! But Caroline won't give up. When she brings Lara the firm's first mystery--why did Dad burn the brisket he was making for Shabbat dinner?--Lara relents, and the mysteries start piling up.

But soon, Lara and Caroline's partnership starts to unravel. Caroline normally uses her tablet to talk, but now she's mostly using it to text a new friend. Lara can't figure out what the two of them are up to, but it can't be good. And Caroline doesn't like Lara's snooping--she's supposed to be solving other people's mysteries, not spying on Caroline! As FIASCCO and the Finkel family mysteries spin out of control, can Caroline and Lara find a way to be friends again?

Fatima’s Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq; illustrated by Stevie Lewis (March 30, 2021)

Summary: Fatima Khazi is excited for the weekend. Her family is headed to a local state park for their first camping trip! The school week might not have gone as planned, but outdoors, Fatima can achieve anything. She sets up a tent with her father, builds a fire with her mother, and survives an eight-legged mutant spider (a daddy longlegs with an impressive shadow) with her sister. At the end of an adventurous day, the family snuggles inside one big tent, serenaded by the sounds of the forest. The thought of leaving the magic of the outdoors tugs at Fatima's heart, but her sister reminds her that they can keep the memory alive through stories--and they can always daydream about what their next camping trip will look like.

Ambreen Tariq's picture book debut, with cheerful illustrations by Stevie Lewis, is a rollicking family adventure, a love letter to the outdoors, and a reminder that public land belongs to all of us.

It Was Supposed to Be Sunny by Samantha Cotterill (Marhc 30, 2021)

Summary: A perfectly planned birthday party goes awry in this gentle story about adapting to the unexpected, written for kids on the autism spectrum

Laila feels like her sparkly sunshine birthday celebration is on the brink of ruin when it starts to storm. Then, just as she starts feeling okay with moving her party indoors, an accident with her cake makes her want to call the whole thing off. But with the help of her mom and a little alone time with her service dog, she knows she can handle this.

Changes in routine can be hard for any kid, but especially for kids on the autism spectrum. Samantha Cotterill's fourth book in the Little Senses series provides gentle guidance along with adorable illustrations to help every kid navigate schedule changes and overwhelming social situations.

The Water Lady by Alice B. McGinty; illustrated by Shonto Begay (March 30, 2021)

Summary: This inspiring picture book tells the true story of a woman who brings desperately needed water to families on the Navajo reservation every day.

Underneath the New Mexico sky, a Navajo boy named Cody finds that his family's barrels of water are empty. He checks the chicken coop-- nothing. He walks down the road to the horses' watering hole. Dry. Meanwhile, a few miles away, Darlene Arviso drives a school bus and picks up students for school. After dropping them off, she heads to another job: she drives her big yellow tanker truck to the water tower, fills it with three thousand gallons of water, and returns to the reservation, bringing water to Cody's family, and many, many others. Here is the incredible and inspiring true story of a Native American woman who continuously gives back to her community and celebrates her people.

The Outdoor Scientist by Temple Grandin (April 6, 2021)

Summary: What are the aerodynamics of skipping stones or the physics of making sandcastles? Do birds use GPS to navigate their migratory routes?

In this book, Dr. Temple Grandin, an inventor and world-renowned scientist, introduces readers to geologists, astrophysicists, oceanographers, and many other scientists who unlock the wonders of the natural world. She shares her childhood experiences and observations, whether on the beach, in the woods, working with horses, or gazing up at the night sky. This book explores all areas of nature and gives readers the tools to discover even more on their own.

With forty projects to give readers a deeper understanding of the world around them, from the depths of space to their own backyard, this is a perfect read for budding scientists, inventors, and creators!

War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman (April 6, 2021)

Summary: The Newbery Award-winning author of Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice tells a heartfelt and humorous story of WWII on the homefront.

Millie McGonigle lives in sunny California, where her days are filled with beach and surf. It should be perfect--but times are tough. Hitler is attacking Europe and it looks like the United States may be going to war. Food is rationed and money is tight. And Millie's sickly little sister gets all the attention and couldn't be more of a pain if she tried. It's all Millie can do to stay calm and feel in control.

Still--there's sand beneath her feet. A new neighbor from the city, who has a lot to teach Millie. And surfer boy Rocky to admire--even if she doesn't have the guts to talk to him.

It's a time of sunshine, siblings, and stress. Will Millie be able to find her way in her family, and keep her balance as the the world around her loses its own?

We Are a Garden by Lisa Westberg Peters; illustrated by Victoria Tentler-Krylov (April 6, 2021)

Summary: This lyrical and extremely timely picture book illuminates the many different migrants who have made their homes in North America through the centuries.

Long ago a strong wind blew. It blew people, like seeds, to a new land.

The wind blew in a girl and her clan, where herds of mammoths still wandered the frozen tundra. It later blew a boy and his family across frigid waters, and they spread across the new land. Over time, the wind continued to disperse newcomers from all directions. It blew in men who hoped to find gold, and slave ships, and immigrant families. And so it continued, for generations and generations. Here is a moving and tender picture book that beautifully examines centuries of North American history and its people.

Born Ready by Jodie Patterson; illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (April 13, 2021)

Summary: Jodie Patterson, activist and Chair of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Board, shares her transgender son's experience in this important picture book about identity and acceptance.

Penelope knows that he's a boy. (And a ninja.) The problem is getting everyone else to realize it.

In this exuberant companion to Jodie Patterson's adult memoir, The Bold World, Patterson shares her son Penelope's frustrations and triumphs on his journey to share himself with the world. Penelope's experiences show children that it always makes you stronger when you are true to yourself and who you really are.

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (April 20, 2021)

Summary: A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity

It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn't particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there's something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug's eerie old house in rural Vermont...and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they're trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light--Bug is transgender.

The Stars Beckoned  by Candy Wellins; illustrated by Courtney Dawson (April 20, 2021)

Summary: A lyrical picture book biography of Edward White, the first American to walk in space--and an ode to the beauty and wonder of the stars that brought him there.

Edward White

loved the night,

lived where stars were big and bright.

The evening sky--

so wide, so high.

Made him wonder. Made him sigh.

Edward White was the first American astronaut to walk in space. But before his spacewalk, he was just a boy who loved the stars. As he grew up, he would look up at the night sky in wonder--he knew that, one day, he would visit the stars themselves. In this touching and poignant picture book biography, we see how Edward's passion for the stars shaped the course of his life, and how he came to realize, even in the depths of space, what was ultimately most important to him--his family.

With backmatter containing photos and more information on Edward's life, Candy Wellins and Courtney Dawson deliver a book that is as much a feast for readers' eyes as the stars were for Edward's.

Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne (January 12, 2021)

Summary: A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend. Perfect for readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Nikki Grimes.

She looks me hard in my eyes

& my knees lock into tree trunks

My eyes don't dance like my heartbeat racing

They stare straight back hot daggers.

I remember things will never be the same.

I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (January 19, 2021)

Summary: Acclaimed author of Ash Malinda Lo returns with her most personal and ambitious novel yet, a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the 1950s.

"That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other." And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: "Have you ever heard of such a thing?"

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can't remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father--despite his hard-won citizenship--Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore (January 19, 2021)

Summary: The highly anticipated next book in the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Graceling Realm series, which has sold 1.3 million copies.

For the past five years, Bitterblue has reigned as Queen of Monsea, heroically rebuilding her nation after her father's horrific rule. After learning about the land of Torla in the east, she sends envoys to the closest nation there: Winterkeep--a place where telepathic foxes bond with humans, and people fly across the sky in wondrous airships. But when the envoys never return, having drowned under suspicious circumstances, Bitterblue sets off for Winterkeep herself, along with her spy Hava and her trusted colleague Giddon. On the way, tragedy strikes again--a tragedy with devastating political and personal ramifications.

Meanwhile, in Winterkeep, Lovisa Cavenda waits and watches, a fire inside her that is always hungry. The teenage daughter of two powerful politicians, she is the key to unlocking everything--but only if she's willing to transcend the person she's been all her life.

Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo (March 2, 2021)

Summary: A mesmerizing novel in verse about family, identity, and finding yourself in the most unexpected places--for fans of The Poet X, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, and Jason Reynolds.

Nima doesn't feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. By her suburban town, which makes her feel too much like an outsider to fit in and not enough like an outsider to feel like that she belongs somewhere else. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself.Until she doesn't.

As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn't give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry.And the life Nima has, the one she keeps wishing were someone else's. . .she might have to fight for it with a fierceness she never knew she had.

The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold (February 9, 2021)

Summary: New York Times bestseller David Arnold's most ambitious novel to date; Station Eleven meets The 5th Wave in a genre-smashing story of survival, hope, and love amid a ravaged earth.

When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico's father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. As swarms of infected Flies roam the earth, these few survivors navigate the woods of post-apocalyptic New England, meeting others along the way, each on their own quest to find life and love in a world gone dark. The Electric Kingdom is a sweeping exploration of art, storytelling, eternal life, and above all, a testament to the notion that even in an exterminated world, one person might find beauty in another.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (February 9, 2021)

Summary: The most anticipated fantasy of 2021. In this world, girls are outcasts by blood and warriors by choice. Get ready for battle. 

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

We are the Ashes, We are the Fire by Joy McCullough (February 9, 2021)

Summary: From the author of the acclaimed Blood Water Paint, a new contemporary YA novel in prose and verse about a girl struggling with guilt and a desire for revenge after her sister's rapist escapes with no prison time.

Em Morales's older sister was raped by another student after a frat party. A jury eventually found the rapist guilty on all counts--a remarkable verdict that Em felt more than a little responsible for, since she was her sister's strongest advocate on social media during the trial. Her passion and outspokenness helped dissuade the DA from settling for a plea deal. Em's family would have real justice.

But the victory is short-lived. In a matter of minutes, justice vanishes as the judge turns the Morales family's world upside down again by sentencing the rapist to no prison time. While her family is stunned, Em is literally sick with rage and guilt. 

From this low point, Em must find a new reason to go on and help her family heal, and she finds it in the unlikely form of the story of a fifteenth-century French noblewoman, Marguerite de Bressieux, who is legendary as an avenging knight for rape victims.

We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire is a searing and nuanced portrait of a young woman torn between a persistent desire for revenge and a burning need for hope.

Tell Me My Name by Amy Reed (March 9, 2021)

Summary: We Were Liars meets Speak in this haunting, mesmerizing psychological thriller--a gender-flipped YA Great Gatsby--that will linger long after the final line

On wealthy Commodore Island, Fern is watching and waiting--for summer, for college, for her childhood best friend to decide he loves her. Then Ivy Avila lands on the island like a falling star. When Ivy shines on her, Fern feels seen. When they're together, Fern has purpose. She glimpses the secrets Ivy hides behind her fame, her fortune, the lavish parties she throws at her great glass house, and understands that Ivy hurts in ways Fern can't fathom. And soon, it's clear Ivy wants someone Fern can help her get. But as the two pull closer, Fern's cozy life on Commodore unravels: drought descends, fires burn, and a reckless night spins out of control. Everything Fern thought she understood--about her home, herself, the boy she loved, about Ivy Avila--twists and bends into something new. And Fern won't emerge the same person she was.

An enthralling, mind-altering psychological thriller, Tell Me My Name is about the cost of being a girl in a world that takes so much, and the enormity of what is regained when we take it back.

Our Last Echoes by Kate Alice Marshall (March 16, 2021)

Summary: Kara Thomas meets Twin Peaks in this supernatural thriller about one girl's hunt for the truth about her mother's disappearance in Kate Alice Marshall's most commercial book yet.

In 1973, the thirty-one residents of Bitter Rock disappeared. In 2003, so did my mother. Now, I've come to Bitter Rock to find out what happened to her--and to me. Because Bitter Rock has many ghosts. And I might be one of them.

Sophia's earliest memory is of drowning. She remembers the darkness of the water and the briny taste as it filled her throat, the sensation of going under. She remembers hands pulling her back to safety. But she doesn't remember who saved her that day. The day her mother died--or so she has always believed.

A mysterious call suggesting that her mother might still be alive has lured Sophia to the island of Bitter Rock, hunting for answers as elusive as her own past. But the more Sophia uncovers, the clearer it is that her mother's disappearance is just one of many.

People have been vanishing from Bitter Rock for decades, leaving only their ghostly echoes behind. Sophia is the only one who can break the cycle--or risk becoming nothing more than another echo haunting the island.

Between the Bliss and Me by Lizzy Mason (April 6, 2021)

Summary: Acclaimed author Lizzy Mason delivers a moving contemporary YA novel about mental illness, young romance, and the impact of family history on one teen’s future, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Robin Benway, and Kathleen Glasgow.

When eighteen-year-old Sydney Holman announces that she has decided to attend NYU, her overprotective mom is devastated. Her decision means she will be living in the Big City instead of commuting to nearby Rutgers like her mom had hoped. It also means she'll be close to off-limits but dreamy Grayson—a guitar prodigy who is going to Juilliard in the fall and very much isn't single. 

But while she dreams of her new life, Sydney discovers a world-changing truth about her father, who left when she was little due to a drug addiction—that he has schizophrenia and is currently living on the streets of New York City. She seizes the opportunity to get to know him, to understand who he is and learn what may lie in store for her if she, too, is diagnosed.


Even as she continues to fall for Grayson, Sydney is faced with a difficult decision: Should she stay close to home so her mom can watch over her, or follow the desire to take risks and discover her true self?

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland (April 6, 2021)

Summary: A dark, twisty modern fairytale where three sisters discover they are not exactly all that they seem and evil things really do go bump in the night.

Iris Hollow and her two older sisters are unquestionably strange. Ever since they disappeared on a suburban street in Scotland as children only to return a month a later with no memory of what happened to them, odd, eerie occurrences seem to follow in their wake. And they're changing. First, their dark hair turned white. Then, their blue eyes slowly turned black. They have insatiable appetites yet never gain weight. People find them disturbingly intoxicating, unbearably beautiful, and inexplicably dangerous.

But now, ten years later, seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow is doing all she can to fit in and graduate high school on time--something her two famously glamourous globe-trotting older sisters, Grey and Vivi, never managed to do. But when Grey goes missing without a trace, leaving behind bizarre clues as to what might have happened, Iris and Vivi are left to trace her last few days. They aren't the only ones looking for her though. As they brush against the supernatural they realize that the story they've been told about their past is unraveling and the world that returned them seemingly unharmed ten years ago, might just be calling them home.