Selected and annotated by Lauren Gray, Hannah Mueller, Anna Lapp, and Sam Greenfield
There is a book for just about everyone in this large collection of picture books, chapter books, and titles for young adults. The CCB’s current graduate assistants compiled a number of their favorite books for youth in this end of the year bibliography.
Aveyard, Victoria. Red Queen. HarperTeen/HarperCollins, 2015. 388 p. Gr. 8-12. Recommended by Anna.
Enchantment and despair swirl in this dystopian fantasy where class divisions are marked by the blood you bleed: red or silver. Meet Mare Barrow–a Red who lives in poverty with her family. Reds don’t get special privileges, they don’t get wealth, and they certainly don’t have supernatural powers: those advantages lie only with Silvers. But when Mare meets a perfect stranger in the night, life seems to twist at its seams. She receives an invitation to be a maid at the palace and when her abilities are revealed, her very status as a Red threatens her life and safety. As a stopgap measure, the royal family disguises her as a Silver and she is suddenly betrothed to a prince. Will Mare be able to keep up the ruse for the sake of society’s balance and her personal safety?
Atkins, Jeannine. Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science. Atheneum, 2016. 208 p. Gr 5-8. Recommended by Anna.
STEM meets poetry in this novel in verse that focuses on three different women absorbed by science — all from different time periods. Comets, fossils, and caterpillars all have a role in this fascinating story based on real women.
Barnhill, Kelly. The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Algonquin, 2016. 388 p. Gr. 5-8. Recommended by Lauren.
Xan, a witch who lives at the edge of the forest, is ardently feared by the people of the Protectorate. In order to satiate her malevolence, a newborn baby is sacrificed to her each year. However, what the Protectorate people don’t know is that Xan is not evil, but benevolent and well-meaning. As Xan receives each child, she cares for them, feeds them starlight, and finds them loving homes. What will happen when Xan mistakenly feeds young Luna magical moonlight?
Bray, Libba. Beauty Queens. Scholastic, 2011. 396 p. Gr 7-10. Recommended by Anna.
From start to finish, Beauty Queens will surprise you. Fifty teen beauty queen contestants were on a plane. The plane crashes on an undiscovered island. Thirteen girls survive. Cue the mayhem as these beauty contestants attempt to keep up their contest skills. As these beauty queens are revealed for more than their outer veneers, they may just pack a literal and metaphorical punch at the commercialism that threatens their personal integrities. Try this title out in audiobook form to hear the author Libba Bray tell the tale with panache!
Brown, Don Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans; written and illus.
by Don Brown. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015 96p. Gr. 5-9. Recommended by Hannah.
Drowned City tells the story of New Orleans beautifully, through this chronological graphic novel. His as-it-happens narrative draws the readers into the catastrophic natural disaster that submerged an entire city. Brown does not shy away from the gritty reality of storm, which brought to light government ineptitude, the horrific conditions of the superdome, and the ghastly reality of dead bodies floating among the rubble. Brown’s graphic novel displays the harsh realities of a city still trying to rebuild after devastating natural disaster.
Ellis, Carson. Du Iz Tak?; written and illus. by Carson Ellis. Candlewick, 2016. 48p. 5-8 yrs. Recommended by Sam.
Three insect friends discover a sprouting flower and, speaking in a language currently unbeknownst to humans, ask each other “Du iz tak?” As the flower grows, it becomes the friends’ hangout and eventually home, but not without some conflict along the way. By the end of the story, the effect that the changing of the season can have on flowers and summer fun is evident, but so is the fact that spring will always come again.
Fogliano, Julie. When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons; illus. by Julie Morstad. Porter/Roaring Brook, 2016. 56p. Gr. 3-6. Recommended by Sam.
Author Julie Fogliano walks us through one year of changing seasons with her short but sweet free verse poems. The journey starts on March 20th, the cusp of spring, and continues through April showers, May flowers, August beach trips, and January snowfall. Poems as simple as May 6th’s “everywhere is chirping/ and now there is purple,” are able to encapsulate the essence of the season, while turning a page shows us how fast they can change.
Goslee, S. J. Whatever.: or How Junior Year Became Totally F$@cked; Roaring Brook, 2016 272p. Gr. 9-12. Recommended by Hannah.
Dating in high school is already a complicated matter, but for Mike Tate it became even more complicated when his sexuality starts to come into question. He’s only ever dated girls before, but after a drunken make-out session with a guy he finds himself having an existential crisis. Mike awkwardly flounders through what this newfound sexuality means. This journey of self-discovery and acceptance is a refreshing title about teens questioning their sexuality.
Graegin, Stephanie. Little Fox in the Forest. Schwartz & Wade, 2017. 40 p. 4-8 yrs. Recommended by Lauren and Sam.
In this wordless picture book a young girl takes her very best friend (her stuffed fox) on an adventure to the playground. After a mischievous real fox swipes her favorite toy, she follows him into a mysterious forest. What she finds is an inviting, magical, and downright adorable world. Experience a whimsical land full of tiny creatures wearing tiny clothes in a picture book suitable for all ages of fantasy lovers.
Hatke, Ben. Nobody Likes a Goblin. First Second, 2016. 36 p. 4-8 yrs. Recommended by Lauren.
Goblin loves his life. Snuggled in his cozy dungeon, he passes his days playing games with his bats, his rats, and his best friend Skeleton. What will he do when a crew of wicked adventurers storm the dungeon and kidnap his only friend? Follow Goblin through the woods, over the mountain, and into the hearts of those who don’t really like goblins…
Hartzler, Aaron. Rapture Practice. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013. 416 p. Gr. 7-10. Recommended by Anna.
Aaron has grown up aware of a certain fact: Jesus may come any day now and take him and his family to heaven. But as Aaron ages, obeying his parent’s strict lifestyle and faith becomes increasingly at odds with his own interests. How can he party let alone listen to a CD this isn’t pre-approved by his Evangelical parents? Read on in this memoir to find out how Aaron can find himself without losing his family.
Jamieson, Victoria. Roller Girl. Dial, 2015. 240 p. Gr. 4-7. Recommended by Anna.
Astrid and Nicole are best friends and always have been. But when Astrid excitedly signs up for Roller Derby camp and Nicole has other plans, this middle school friendship may be deteriorating. In this colorfully drawn graphic novel, Astrid’s difficult venture into roller derby and friendships is packed with a punch of girl power!
Miller, Sarah. The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden & the Trial of the Century. Schwartz & Wade, 2016. 288p. illus. with photographs. Gr. 8-12. Recommended by Sam.
Readers of this nonfiction book might remember the rhyme about the infamous maybe-murderer Lizzie Borden: “Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one.” While history and children on playgrounds often remembers her as guilty, Miller provides a fair and balanced portrayal of Lizzie and her trial, relying on photographs, court transcripts, newspaper articles, and other primary sources of the time.
Oppel, Kenneth. Every Hidden Thing. Simon, 2016. 361p. Gr. 9-12. Recommended by Sam.
Every Hidden Thing is sold as “Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones,” and the moniker definitely fits. Both Rachel and Samuel accompany their rival paleontologist fathers on a fossil hunting trip to the Badlands in the mid-nineteenth century. The two bond over their mutual love of science and desire to make the next big fossil find. They are brought even closer together by their fathers’ escalating amorality towards each other and the Native American tribes whose land they are occupying, brought on by their efforts to continually one up one another. Will Rachel and Samuel have the courage to pursue their relationship despite the disapproval of both of their families? Will they discover the new type of dinosaur they have been searching for? Perhaps both?
Pung, Alice. Lucy and Linh. Knopf, 2016. 352 p. Gr. 9-12. Recommended by Lauren.
Lucy is sweet and smart. Linh is brave and edgy. When Lucy receives a scholarship to an esteemed Australian private school, she leaves her ramshackle, dull suburb behind. While she fears not fitting in, the Cabinet (the most glamorous clique at school) quickly embraces her. With Linh’s influence, Lucy must come to terms with celebrating who she is, being who she wants to be, and missing who she once was.
Sedgwick, Marcus. Blood Red Snow White. Roaring Brook, 2016. 288p. Gr. 7-12. Recommended by Sam.
Fans of biographies, historical fiction, romances, and fairy tales will all find something that interests them in Blood Red Snow White. Readers follow the life story of British writer Arthur Ransome as he becomes a journalist and spy on Russia during the Russian Revolution. He falls in love with revolutionary leader Trotsky’s secretary and to be together, the two must undertake a journey worthy of one of Ransome’s famous tales.
Snicket, Lemony The Dark; illus. by Jon Klassen. Little, 2013 40p. 5-7 Years. Recommended by Hannah.
Laszlo was afraid of the dark that lived in the basement of his creaky old house. Most of the time, Laszlo can ignore the dark but one night the dark came to him. Through a muted palette, and simple but suspenseful language Snicket and Klassen tell the story of Laszlo coming to peace with the dark.
Stevenson, Noelle Nimona; written and illus. by Noelle Stevenson. Harper-Teen/HarperCollins, 2015 266p. Gr. 7-9. Recommended by Hannah.
Nimona is a shapeshifting sidekick with an impulse problem, Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain holding a serious grudge, and Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin is the golden champion. Or so you might think: Lord Ballister Blackheart is not near as villainous as his name sounds, and Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin is not near as squeaky clean as he appears. Just like the setting, the relationships are complicated, especially between Blackheart and Goldenloin, but appealing and frightening Nimona remains the core. This graphic novel is a wild ride through, mayhem, arch-enemies, dragons, and symbolism.
Tamaki, Mariko. This One Summer; illus. by Jillian Tamaki. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2014. 320p. Gr. 7-10. Recommended by Hannah.
Rose and her parents journey to their lake house every summer, where they are usually met with lazy days spent with Rose’s younger best friend Windy. This summer feels different: her parents are unhappy, her younger best friend has become obnoxious, and the local teens have become incredibly interesting. Rose finds herself wading into the teenage world that she does not understand but desperately wants to be a part of. This graphic novel paints a melancholy picture of a girl on the cusp of adolescence.
Telgemeier, Raina. Ghosts. Graphix/ Scholastic, 2016. 256 p. Gr. 4-6. Recommended by Lauren.
In this richly colored and sharply drawn graphic novel, Catrina’s family drags her away from her friends, her house, and her favorite burger joint to move to Bahía de la Luna. Her new town is dreary, cold, and windy… welcoming plenty of friendly spirits. Follow Catrina as she makes friends, cares for her sick sister, and copes with the facts of life.