The first book I’d like to highlight this week is a 2017 RI Children’s Book Award nominee. Told in verse, it is a historical fiction novel. It is pretty amazing.
Full Cicada Moon, (2015)
by Marilyn Hilton
Goodreads summary: Inside Out and Back Again meets One Crazy Summer and Brown Girl Dreaming in this novel-in-verse about fitting in and standing up for what’s right.
It’s 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi’s appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi’s dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade—no matter how many times she’s told no.
This historical middle-grade novel is told in poems from Mimi’s perspective over the course of one year in her new town, and shows readers that positive change can start with just one person speaking up.
Read Mr. Schu’s interview with Marilyn Hilton here.
The next book is on the Mock Newbery list. This talented author has two books on the list this year! I’m only featuring one this week.
As Brave as You, (2016)
by Jason Reynolds
Goodreads summary: When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally.
Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck and—being a curious kid—Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he covers it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans).
How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house—as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into—a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out—he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all.
Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder—is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?
Listen to an audio clip of Jason Reynolds talking about As Brave as You here.
This next book is part of a great series to recommend to students who love a graphic novel or a picture book. Ursula Vernon has also written the Dragonbreath hybrid series which a lot of our readers devour. Full of pictures yet still a chapter book, this series is also sure to win over many readers.
Hamster Princess: Ratpunzel, (2016)
by Ursula Vernon
Goodreads summary: Rapunzel gets a rodent twist in book three of the critically acclaimed and uproariously funny series that’s perfect for fans of Princess in Black and Babymouse.
Princess Harriet Hamsterbone does not like sitting around at home. How’s a princess supposed to have any fun when her parents are constantly reminding her to be careful and act princessly? So when her pal Prince Wilbur needs help finding a stolen hydra egg, Harriet happily takes up the quest. The thief’s trail leads them to a wicked witch and a tall tower, occupied by a rat whose tail has more to it than meets the eye!
Read an interview with Ursula Vernon here.
The third book in the award-winning comic hybrid Hamster Princess series will make you look at rodents, royalty, and fairy tales in a whole new light.
This next series is new to our library. During the book tastings this week I actually heard students gasp and squeal. I even saw a couple students kiss their fingers and then put their fingers to the books. One reader told me, “I don’t even play soccer and I love this series.” Wow, now that is a loving response! These six books are a score! I’m including the summary for book one.
The Kicks series
by Alex Morgan
Goodreads summary: From star soccer player and Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan comes the New York Times bestselling first book in an empowering, fun-filled middle grade series about believing in yourself and working as a team.
Twelve-year-old Devin loves to play soccer. If she hadn’t just left Connecticut to move across the country, she would have been named seventh-grade captain on her school soccer team.
But now that Devin is starting seventh grade in Kentville, California, all bets are off. After all, some of the best players on the US national team come from California. She’s sure to have stiff competition. Or so she thinks.
When Devin shows up for tryouts, she discovers that the Kentville Kangaroos—otherwise known as the Kicks—are an absolute mess. Their coach couldn’t care less whether the girls win or lose. And Devin is easily one of the most talented players.
The good news is, Devin quickly makes friends with funny, outgoing Jessi; shy but sweet Zoe; and klutzy Emma. Can Devin and her newfound friends pull together and save the team from itself?
Watch an interview with Alex Morgan talking about one of her Kicks book here.
I have been actively searching for picture book biographies that showcase inventors. It is important for students to see that growth mindset in action and how it eventually pays off. I’ve heard glowing reviews about this next book so I’m excited to add it to our collection.
Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science, (2016)
words by Diane Stanley, pictures by Jessie Hartland
Kirkus Review: Stanley surveys the brief life of Byron’s daughter, whose scientific education and inquiring mind shaped her foundational contributions to computer science.
Raised by the hyperrational Lady Byron, Ada’s creative ingenuity is shaped by the study of math and science. Touring newly industrialized factories, Ada’s fascinated by Jacquard’s mechanical loom, which uses encoded, hole-punched paper cards to weave fabrics from plaids to brocades. Introduced to London society at 17, Ada is flummoxed by fashion and gossip, but she’s entranced once introduced to mathematician Charles Babbage and his circle of scientists and writers. Encountering Babbage’s “Difference Engine”—a prototypical calculating machine—Ada forms a pivotal connection with the inventor. Marriage and children follow for Lovelace, but her later translation of an article about Babbage’s proposed “Analytical Engine” secures their partnership’s significance within the incremental timeline of machine science. Ada’s extensive Notes explain how to encode complex calculations, marking her own unique contribution. Stanley efficiently takes readers through Ada’s childhood and career, choosing details that develop her subject as both a human being and a landmark scientist. Complementing the clear prose, Hartland’s whimsical gouache pictures portray white figures with coral lips and in period dress. Gestural brushstrokes loosely evoke landscapes and interiors, yet scores of objects—from book titles and period toys to an omnipresent cat—provide plentiful visual interest.
Pithy narrative plus charming pictures equals an admiring, admirable portrait of a STEM pioneer. (author’s note, important dates, bibliography of adult sources, glossary)
Watch an Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science book trailer here.