Susan K., our children's book buyer, really knows what kids like to read. She's on top of all the latest excellent titles for kids and young adults. Here, she shares some of her selections
When you see a cat, what do you see? A dog, a child, and a mouse will see totally different things when observing the same cat. And what about an earthworm, which “sees” only in vibrations, or a bee with its compound eyes? In this brilliant picture book, it’s all about your perspective.
It’s Nanette’s first trip to get the baguette! Is she set? You bet! But when Baker Juliette sells Nanette the baguette, she can’t resist krakking into the warm crusty loaf. Nanette is beset with regret! Will she move to Tibet? The goofy wordplay is enhanced by the French village setting and green-frog characters dressed in berets.
It’s the first day of school, and everyone’s a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they be nice to him? The school has a rough start—there’s an accidental fire drill—but as the day goes on, he gains confidence when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters. Illustrated by award-winner Christian Robinson
Finding a new green shoot, some winged insects gather to wonder at its growth. “Du iz tak?” asks one. “Ma nazoot,” comes the puzzled reply. As the plant grows, the insect audience and plot developments do too. The playful invented language and gorgeous illustrations might well send kids to the back yard with a magnifying glass.
Little Ada (like Einstein) didn’t say a word until she was 3. When she does start talking, her first word is “Why?” The questions come fast and furious as Ada’s scientific talents grow, with help from her sometimes exasperated parents, who to their credit don’t freak out when Ada covers the walls near her Thinking Chair with scribbled formulae.
This third “Hat” book, while keeping the slightly subversive humor and the telltale shifty eyes that won This is Not My Hat a Caldecott Medal, also has a surprisingly sweet ending. No animals were eaten in the making of this book!
“Every story begins with a little bit of nothing.” From the blank page to story arc, this imaginative picture book offers a master class in storytelling. First, we need a character, in this case an octopus. “But in order for it to be a story, and not just an octopus, that octopus needs to want something.” This picture book will make a great gift for teachers who encourage creative writing.
This is the last Elephant & Piggie book (*sniff*), and Piggie is moved to say thank you to everyone she knows, including our favorites from the past books. Gerald is not sure this is a good idea—what if Piggie forgets someone very important?
Here is the first of a new series, “Elephant and Piggie Like Reading,” for those of us who can’t bear to say goodbye to Gerald and Piggie! It’s cookie time, but there are four hungry friends and only three cookies. This is not good. How are they going to share the cookies equally? And how are they going to stop Hippo from breaking all of them before there’s nothing left but a pile of crumbs?
With help (and a little obfuscation) from illustrator Adam Rex, Mac Barnett describes how books are made, complete with editorial wrangling (“You’re not the boss of me,” says the author), slow boats from China, pirates, and tigers.
Dog Man is a crimefighting sensation with a real nose for trouble, the result of surgically grafting a police dog’s head onto a policeman’s body. He’s the newest creation of George and Harold, the troublemakers and creative geniuses who came up with Captain Underpants.
In scrapbook-style pages, Caldecott Honor winner Sweet mixes E. B. White’s personal letters, early drafts, photos, and family stories with her own exquisite collages and watercolors to tell his life’s story, including the day he canoed past the Maine farm that would become his home and the setting for one of our most beloved children’s books
When shipwrecked robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is—but she is programmed to survive. After a rough start, Roz realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings. When she adopts an orphaned gosling, the island’s animal inhabitants begin to accept her. The island starts to feel like home—until, one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her.
A new book by one of the Bay Area’s most beloved graphic novelists! Catrina and her family have moved to the coast of Northern California because her spunky little sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool sea air. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahia de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake, and her own.
Castle (“Ghost”), a naturally talented runner and troublemaker, is recruited for an elite middle school track team. “Whoever invented track got the whole gun means go thing right,” he says; Ghost learned this the hard way when his father tried to shoot Ghost and his mother in their apartment three years prior. Now, along with his teammates and help from his Coach, he struggles to stay on track, literally and figuratively. Short-listed for the National Book Award.
Narnia meets The Secret Garden. During World War II, Emmaline is sent to Briar Hill Hospital, formerly a grand estate, to be treated for “stillwaters” (tuberculosis). She is the only one who can see the beautiful winged horses inside the rooms reflected by the mansion’s many mirrors. When one of the horses escapes the mirrored world and takes refuge in the hidden sundial garden, Emmaline, growing ever weaker, tries to save the animal from a menacing black-feathered stallion.
As everyone knows, starlight is the perfect food for babies; but when Xan, a well-meaning witch, accidentally feeds Luna moonlight instead, the baby is powerfully enmagicked. Here is an epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a good witch, a wise swamp monster, and an endearing Perfectly Tiny Dragon, who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep inside her.
Abandoned in the jungle of Nepal, two-year-old Nandu is found and brought to the King’s elephant stable, where he is raised by unlikely parents—the wise head of the stable, Subba-sahib, and Devi Kali, a fierce and affectionate female elephant. When the king threatens to close the stable, Nandu, now 12, comes up with a risky plan to save the community. But to succeed, they’ll need a great tusker, so Nandu sets out to find a bull elephant.
The worldwide bestseller has been revised and updated to capture the latest developments in machines and technology. From windmills to touchscreens and 3D printers, each scientific principle is meticulously illustrated and humorously explained.
Peter found a fox kit he named Pax years ago, on the day of his mother’s funeral, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. When Peter is 12, his father enlists in the military to fight an unnamed war, and forces Peter to return the fox to the wild. At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away, Peter resolves to find Pax, and strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love and grief, to be reunited with his fox. Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures of his own.
12-year-old Reuben lives with his mother in Lower Downs, New Umbra, a bleak and downtrodden place. While his mother is at work, Reuben goes through the crumbling tenements. While hiding on a nearly inaccessible ledge, he discovers what seems to be an spherical antique watch. At first thinking to sell it for a pile of money, Reuben soon learns it has a secret power, and his life takes a magical and mysterious turn.
Ten-year-old Beans Curry, one of the best marble players in Depression-era Key West, Florida, engages in various schemes to earn money while outsiders arrive to turn Key West into a tourist resort. The mishaps and adventures of Beans and his pals bring to mind Spanky and his Gang; the time and place are perfectly drawn, including a cameo by Ernest Hemingway.
Ms. Bixby is one of those world-class teachers who change lives. When she is hospitalized, three of her sixth-grade students want to give her a perfect gift of things they know she loves. They come up with a risky plan—more of a quest, really—to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Includes plenty of comic relief and harrowing action, as well as emotionally satisfying storytelling.
Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, Raymie must do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. DiCamillo is a master storyteller with a unique ability to make us laugh and cry, at the same time, on every page.
When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy Austrian household. The time is 1935, and World War II is fast approaching; the mountaintop mansion is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler. Pierrot is quickly taken under Hitler’s wing, drawn into an increasingly dangerous new world of terror and betrayal, and finds himself hearing, seeing—and doing—things he never imagined.
On a dark night in 1242, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories (Canterbury Tales style) of three children: William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte—recently brought back from the dead. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel.
Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town, despite the shadows of two world wars. Then new student Betty Glengarry, a sweet-looking blond girl, moves to town. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount. Comparisons with To Kill a Mockingbird are unavoidable.
Sixteen-year-old Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought: 1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. Will Nix even exist?
It’s 1943, in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, the world of Anne Frank. “Aryan poster girl” Hanneke makes her family’s living by pedaling the streets, trading in black market goods. A neighbor begs for her help in finding a Jewish girl she had been hiding behind a pantry wall, who has seemingly vanished into thin air. Hanneke is pulled into the heart of the resistance as she attempts to solve the mystery and save the missing girl.
Growing up in Pyongyang, North Korea, the pampered son of a military official, Sungju and his family revere Kim Il-Jong. But when Lee is 10, his parents are banished to the hinterlands and forced into labor. As the famine of the mid-1990s takes hold, both of Lee’s parents resort to desperate measures to survive. Forced at age 12 to live on the streets and fend for himself, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, and begging. Sungju describes what it was like to create a new family with his gang, his brothers; to be hungry and to fear imprisonment and even execution. Young readers will learn about another culture where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.
Part history, part myth, here are the backstories of the peculiars described in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The 10 tales are presented as legends, curated and annotated by Millard Nullings, an invisible scholar whom Miss Peregrine readers will know well. Some signed copies.
World War II is drawing to a close, and in East Prussia thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in alternating points of view, this well-crafted work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the greatest maritime disaster in history.
This is the true story of Minamoto Yoshitsune, the greatest samurai in Japanese history. When Yoshitsune was just a baby, his father went to war with a rival samurai family and lost. His father was killed, his mother captured, and Yoshitsune was sent away to live in a monastery. Skinny, small, and unskilled in the warrior arts, he nevertheless escaped and learned the ways of the samurai. Heed the advisory on the back: Very few people in this story die of natural causes.
Natasha believes in science, not fate. She is also half a day away from being deported with her family to Jamaica, which they left 10 years ago. Daniel is a good student and a good son to his Korean parents. He is also a hopeless romantic who is trying hard to make Natasha fall in love with him. Can they control their own destinies?