Adam Gidwitz is best known for his A Tale Dark and Grimm trilogy (covers just redone by 2015 Caldecott winner Dan Santat). Read Adam’s reaction to the redone book covers here. His new book released on September 27th is incredible and like nothing I’ve ever read in kid lit. I had the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy this summer and was absolutely blown away. It really makes a book set in the Middle Ages accessible and relevant to our world today. Keep it on your Newbery “watch list.”
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, (2016)
by Adam Gidwitz
Goodreads summary: 1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories 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 her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead.
As the narrator collects their tales, the story of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.
Their adventures take them on a chase through France to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned. They’re taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. And as their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.
There is no book trailer for The Inquisitor’s Tale (yet) but you can watch A Tale Dark and Grimm book trailer.
This next book had me laughing and learning the whole way through.
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafal, (2016)
By Firoozeh Dumas
Goodreads summary: Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can’t distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.
Watch an interview with author Firoozeh Dumas.
As a former fourth grade teacher, the National Parks research project is near and dear to my heart. This next book will be a great addition to students’ understanding of our parks’ history.
Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook Up the National Park Service, (2016)
words by Annette Bay Pimentel, pictures by Rich Lo
Goodreads summary: The true story of a Chinese American mountain man who fed thirty people for ten days in the wilderness–and helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service.
Tie Sing was born in the mountains. The mountains were in his blood. But because he was of Chinese descent at a time in America when to be Chinese meant working in restaurants or laundries, Tie Sing’s prospects were limited. But he had bigger plans. He began cooking for mapmakers and soon built a reputation as the best trail cook in California.
When millionaire Stephen Mather began his quest to create a national park service in 1915, he invited a group of influential men—writers, tycoons, members of Congress, and even a movie star—to go camping in the Sierras. Tie Sing was hired to cook.
Tie Sing planned diligently. He understood the importance of this trip. But when disaster struck—twice!—and Tie Sing’s supplies were lost, it was his creative spirit and quick mind that saved the day. His sumptuous menus had to be struck and Tie Sing had to start over in order to feed the thirty people in the group for ten whole days. His skills were tested and Tie Sing rose to the challenge.
On the last night, he fed not just the campers’ bodies, but also their minds, reminding them to remember and protect the mountains.
2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, created by Congress on August 25, 1916.
Today, you can hike to Sing Peak, named for Tie Sing, in Yosemite National Park.
Check out Annette Bay Pimentel’s website.
Check out Rich Lo’s website.
This next book is a 2017 RI Children’s Book Award nominee. It is by a famous author/illustrator couple who have collaborated on many titles.
How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom, (2015)
words by Steve Jenkins, pictures by Robin Page
Goodreads summary: In the latest eye-catching escape into the kingdom of Animalia, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page reveal the skills animals use to survive in the wild in an imaginative and humorous how-to format. With step-by-step instructions, readers learn about specific behaviors; how to catch thousands of fish like a humpback whale or how to sew up a nest like a tailorbird. This fascinating and fun illustrated nonfiction melds science, art, biology, and the environment together in a detailed and well-researched book about animals who live and survive in our world today.
Check out Steve Jenkins’s website.
Check out Robin Page’s website.
This next book is an important one as it sensitively and appropriately handles a situation that is very prominent in our world today: drug addiction. Kate Messner is an amazing writer. This is one of the titles we are considering for the 2017 Newbery.
The Seventh Wish, (2016)
by Kate Messner
Goodreads summary: Charlie feels like she’s always coming in last. From her Mom’s new job to her sister’s life at college, everything seems more important than Charlie. Then one day while ice fishing, Charlie makes a discovery that will change everything . . . in the form of a floppy fish offering to grant a wish in exchange for freedom. Charlie can’t believe her luck but soon realizes that this fish has a very odd way of granting wishes as even her best intentions go awry. But when her family faces a challenge bigger than any they’ve ever experienced, Charlie wonders if some things might be too important to risk on a wish fish.
Check out Kate Messner’s website.
Featured Author/Illustrator of the Week
Cece Bell, author of the 2015 Newbery honor book El Deafo, is reading royalty at our school. And a fun fact: she is married to Tom Angleberger, the author/illustrator of the Origami Yoda series! They’ve just collaborated on a new mystery series called Inspector Flytrap. So it will be great news to our families that Cece Bell will be attending the Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Books and Authors at Lincoln School in Providence on Saturday, October 15th. She will be speaking about her craft and signing books at the festival. We will be raffling off free admission tickets the week before the event. Click on her name to learn more about her.