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Picked by Myllicent F.
About Outstanding in the Rain:
Outstanding in the Rain tells the story of a young birthday boy spending his big day in Coney Island. Holes cut out of the pages act like windows into the next page, allowing fun wordplay and rhyming. Take a look for yourself!
Young Adult See All Young Adult
Gift For Your Brother Who Doesn't Read
Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler — and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon — from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic — to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun — a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend...if she can survive.
This book will be a beautifully designed package with illustrated endpapers, a map of the Tearling, and a ribbon marker. Buy Now
Living with a foster family in Germany during World War II, a young girl struggles to survive her day-to-day trials through stealing anything she can get her hands on, but when she discovers the beauty of literature, she realizes that she has been blessed with a gift that must be shared with others, including the Jewish man hiding in the basement. Buy Now
Alexie nimbly blends sharp wit with unapologetic emotion in his first foray into young-adult literature. Fourteen-year-old Junior is a cartoonist and bookworm with a violent but protective best friend Rowdy. Soon after they start freshman year, Junior boldly transfers from a school on the Spokane reservation to one in a tiny white town 22 miles away. Despite his parents’ frequent lack of gas money (they’re a “poor-ass family”), racism at school and many crushing deaths at home, he manages the year. Rowdy rejects him, feeling betrayed, and their competing basketball teams take on mammoth symbolic proportions. The reservation’s poverty and desolate alcoholism offer early mortality and broken dreams, but Junior’s knowledge that he must leave is rooted in love and respect for his family and the Spokane tribe. He also realizes how many other tribes he has, from “the tribe of boys who really miss...their best friends” to “the tribe of tortilla chips-and-salsa lovers.” Junior's keen cartoons sprinkle the pages as his fluid narration deftly mingles raw feeling with funny, sardonic insight.
(Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl. This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life. Buy Now
A boring summer stretches ahead of Ari, who at 15 feels hemmed in by a life filled with rules and family secrets. He doesn’t know why his older brother is in prison, since his parents and adult sisters refuse to talk about it. His father also keeps his experience in Vietnam locked up inside. On a whim, Ari heads to the town swimming pool, where a boy he’s never met offers to teach him to swim. Ari, a loner who’s good in a fight, is caught off guard by the self-assured, artistic Dante. The two develop an easy friendship, ribbing each other about who is more Mexican, discussing life’s big questions, and wondering when they’ll be old enough to take on the world. An accident near the end of summer complicates their friendship while bringing their families closer. Sáenz’s interplay of poetic and ordinary speech beautifully captures this transitional time: “‘That’s a very Dante question,’ I said. ‘That’s a very Ari answer,’he said.… For a few minutes I wished that Dante and I lived in the universe of boys instead of the universe of almost-men.” Plot elements come together at the midpoint as Ari, adding up the parts of his life, begins to define himself. Meticulous pacing and finely nuanced characters underpin the author’s gift for affecting prose that illuminates the struggles within relationships.
(Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. Buy Now
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. Buy Now
Grudging hipster love story meets un-ironic Christmas romance in this dual-narrator tale – an awkward but ultimately acceptable pairing not unlike that of the two title characters. One afternoon in late December, pretentious, world-weary Dash visits “that bastion of titillating erudition,” New York City’s Strand Bookstore. Next to a copy of his beloved Franny and Zooey, Dash discovers a red notebook with instructions inside for a sort of scavenger hunt through the store. He responds with an assignment of his own, and soon he and the elusive Lily are sending each other on absurd adventures throughout the city. The two are ringed by a merry band of side characters – among them, an unnervingly friendly department-store Santa, a big-hearted oaf and a pair of gay, fedora-topped “unorthodox Jews” – but the real show-stealer is Lily, an unabashed cookie-baking, embroidered-reindeer-skirt-wearing, dog-loving and ever so occasionally tantrum-throwing force of nature. Believable? No. Formulaic? A bit. But good fun, with some wisdom to boot.
(Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape. Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices – Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred – with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning. Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.
(author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
After a young girl is left to fend for herself in World War II Poland, she stumbles upon an intriguing gentleman who she hopes will guide her out of the emerging chaos of war. Anna Lania is 7 at the start of this multiyear tale with its overtones of folklore and magical realism. Her linguistics-professor father is taken away by the Germans during the expulsion of intellectuals at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. A linguist herself, Anna is drawn to the language abilities and bird savvy of the Swallow Man, so named to preserve his anonymity. As they make their way together across Poland, the Swallow Man has ingenious ways of explaining their new realities to Anna via storytelling while his real activities remain an enigma until the end. Most striking here is that debut author Savit creates a young girl’s world that only consists of father figures – and it is not always clear how Anna is to determine whom to trust and whether or not these relationships and how she thinks of them are ultimately safe. The eventual conclusion: human connection, however brief or imperfect, has the potential to save us all. Artful, original, insightful.
(Historical fiction. 12 &; up) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
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John Corey Whaley
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What We Knew
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Sci-Fi ParanormalSee All Sci-Fi Paranormal
Six of Crows
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The Walls Around Us
Nova Ren Suma
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Daniel José Older
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Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
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Maria Dahvana Headley
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A Wizard of Earthsea
Ursula K. Le Guin
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Middle Grade See All Middle Grade
Caldecott Honor Winner
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, and who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner. But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. Then, more notes, that make Miranda realize that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. 199p. (Ages: 10 & up). Buy Now
There are many pleasures to this satisfying tale: a precise lyricism to the language (“The world was as dark as eyes closed” or “Miri's laugh is a tune you love to whistle”) and a rhythm to the story that takes its tropes from many places, but its heart from ours. Miri is very small; her father has never let her work in the linder stone quarries where her village makes its living and she fears that it’ss because she lacks something. However, she’s rounded up, with the other handful of girls ages 12 to 17, to be taught and trained when it’s foreseen that the prince’s bride will come from their own Mount Eskel. Olana, their teacher, is pinched and cruel, but Miri and the others take to their studies, for it opens the world beyond the linder quarries to them. Miri seeks other learning as well, including the mindspeech that ties her to her people, and seems to work through the linder stone itself. There’s a lot about girls in groups, both kind and cutting; a sweet boy; the warmth of friends, fathers and sisters; and the possibility of being chosen by a prince one barely knows. The climax involving evil brigands is a bit forced, but everything else is an unalloyed joy.
(Fantasy. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
A multilayered novel set in turbulent times explores music’s healing power. Sweeping across years and place, Ryan’s full-bodied story is actually five stories that take readers from an enchanted forest to Germany, Pennsylvania, Southern California and finally New York City. Linking the stories is an ethereal-sounding harmonica first introduced in the fairy-tale beginning of the book and marked with a mysterious M. In Nazi Germany, 12-year-old Friedrich finds the harmonica in an abandoned building; playing it fills him with the courage to attempt to free his father from Dachau. Next, the harmonica reaches two brothers in an orphanage in Depression-era Pennsylvania, from which they are adopted by a mysterious wealthy woman who doesn’t seem to want them. Just after the United States enters World War II, the harmonica then makes its way to Southern California in a box of used instruments for poor children; as fifth-grader Ivy Lopez learns to play, she discovers she has exceptional musical ability. Ryan weaves these stories together, first, with the theme of music–symbolized by the harmonica–and its ability to empower the disadvantaged and discriminated-against, and then, at the novel’s conclusion, as readers learn the intertwined fate of each story’s protagonist. A grand narrative that examines the power of music to inspire beauty in a world overrun with fear and intolerance, it’s worth every moment of readers’ time.
(Historical fiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
A creepy Victorian house, secretive aunties, and a great escape combine in this debut that is part Mysterious Benedict Society, part Roald Dahl, and all quirky, smart, hilarious storytelling. Join the League...
Anastasia is a completely average almost-eleven-year-old. That is, UNTIL her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident. UNTIL she’s rescued by two long-lost great-aunties. And UNTIL she’s taken to their delightful and, er, “authentic” Victorian home, St. Agony’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane. But something strange is going on at the asylum. Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are not who they say they are. So when she meets Ollie and Quentin, two mysterious brothers, the three join together to plot their great escape! BONUS: Includes an excerpt of Viola Snodgrass’s Etiquette Manual for the Prim and Proper Sort! Buy Now
For fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, a heartwarming graphic novel about friendship and surviving junior high through the power of roller derby.
For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.
In her graphic novel debut, real-life derby girl Victoria Jamieson has created an inspiring coming-of-age story about friendship, perseverence, and girl power! Buy Now
The future author of Frankenstein teams up with the future inventor of the computer to establish a young ladies’ detective agency.The fact that in real life Mary Shelley, nee Godwin, was 18 years older than Ada Lovelace, nee Byron, doesn’t seem to bother Stratford one whit. He simply reduces the age difference by 15 years and arranges for Mary to be sent to Ada’s house for tutoring. Their tutor is a hapless Percy Shelley (bumblingly incognito); illicitly sharing Mary’s carriage every day is a cheerful young Charles Dickens. Young readers unencumbered by the knowledge that the setup is laughably ahistorical may enjoy the slight mystery, which unfolds when Mary and Ada decide to spice up their routine by investigating interesting crimes. They will probably warm to Mary’s steady intelligence. They will certainly relish Ada’s many eccentricities, especially the hot air balloon she keeps tethered to her roof and her willingness to store Shelley in the distillery closet when he get s in the way. But even the most credulous child may find it very hard to believe that a Victorian family submits to the interrogation of two strange girls about a lost gem under the guise of a school project. An author’s note attempts to correct the text’s inaccuracies. At best readers won’t get it, and at worst they will believe it.
(Historical mystery. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
Steven must fight for his own life as well as for his baby brother’s when he’s offered a chance to exchange human life for something better. Steve has figured out strategies to cope with many of his anxieties and OCD behaviors, but this summer the pressure is on. Readers see through Steve’s eyes his parents’ fears for the new baby, whose congenital health issues are complicated and unusual. Readers may find parallels with Skellig in the sibling anxiety and the odd encounter with a winged creature–but here the stranger is part of something sinister indeed. “We’ve come to help,” assures the winged, slightly ethereal being who offers a solution to Steven in a dream. “We come when people are scared or in trouble. We come when there’s grief.” Oppel deftly conveys the fear and dislocation that can overwhelm a family: there’s the baby born with problems, the ways that affects the family, and Steve’s own struggles to feel and be normal. Everything feels a bit skewed, conveying the experience of being in transition from the familiar to the threateningly unfamiliar. Klassen's several illustrations in graphite, with their linear formality and stillness and only mere glimpses of people, nicely express this sense of worry and tension. Steve’s battle with the enemy is terrifying, moving from an ominous, baleful verbal conflict to a pitched, physical, life-threatening battle. Compelling and accessible.
(Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
When a young girl gains confidence from her failures and strength from what her community dreads most, life delivers magic and hope. Stella Mills and her brother Jojo witness the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross late one starry night, setting off a chain reaction that leaves their entire community changed. During the Depression, North Carolina was less than hospitable for African-Americans forced to work more to earn less while being deprived of basic human rights. Through the perspective of Stella, young readers glimpse the nearly suffocating anguish that envelops this black community, illuminating the feelings associated with suppression. In a telling passage, Stella’s mother attempts to comfort her: “ ‘It's gonna be all right,’ her mother whispered as she smoothed down Stella’s hair. But Stella felt the tension in her mother’s arms, and she knew that in reality, fear hugged them both.” Draper expertly creates a character filled with hope, dreams and ambition in a time when such traits were dangerous for a girl of color. While the use of language honors the time period, the author is careful to avoid the phonetic quagmire that ensnares lesser writers of the period, allowing the colorful idioms to shine. A tale of the Jim Crow South that’s not sugar-coated but effective, with a trustworthy narrator who opens her heart and readers’ eyes.
(Historical fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
George, a fourth-grader who knows she is a girl, despite appearances, begins to tell her secret. The word “transgender” is used midway through, but far more work is done by the simple choice to tell George’s story using third-person narration and the pronouns “she” and “her.” Readers then cringe as much as George herself when bullies mock her or—perhaps worse—when well-meaning friends and family reassure her with sentiments like “I know you'll turn into a fine young man.” Each year the fourth-graders at George’s school perform a dramatized version of Charlotte’s Web, the essentials of which are lovingly recapped (and tear-inducing ending revealed) for readers unfamiliar with the tale. George becomes convinced that if she plays Charlotte, her mom will finally see her as a girl. George’s struggles are presented with a light, age-appropriate, and hopeful touch. The responses she gets when she begins to confide in those closest to her are at times unexpected but perfectly true-to-character–most notably her crude older brother’s supportive observation that, “No offense, but you don”t make a very good boy.” A coda to the Charlotte’s Web story, in which George presents herself as a girl for the first time, is deeply moving in its simplicity and joy. Warm, funny, and inspiring.
(Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
Award WinnersSee All Award Winners
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The Graveyard Book
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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
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The Great Gilly Hopkins
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Historical FictionSee All Historical Fiction
The War that Saved My Life
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
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A Tiny Piece of Sky
Shawn K. Stout
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Stella by Starlight
Sharon M. Draper
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The Madman of Piney Woods
Christopher Paul Curtis
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Early Readers See All Early Readers
Hiding her secret identity as a monster-fighting superhero, Princess Magnolia interrupts her fancy tea with the unsuspecting Duchess Wigtower to stop a big blue monster from endangering her kingdom’s goats. By the author of the Newbery Honor-winning Princess Academy. Buy Now
Bad Kitty’s in a bad mood...a very bad mood, and Puppy is not helping.
Enter Uncle Murray, who’s tasked with taking care of Puppy for the day, but that’s when the trouble begins. When they go on a walk through the park, Uncle Murray almost gets himself arrested while Puppy ends up in the pound, where he meets some very peculiar new pals. Buy Now
Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher. With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths–so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D'BLOOOM!” Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.
(Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
Geronimo Stilton is summoned back to the Kingdom of Fantasy, but he finds Blossom, Queen of the Fairies, surrounded by dark fairies and behaving very coldly—and it is up to Geronimo to figure out just what is going on and find the allies he needs to free Blossom from the evil spell that is affecting her. Buy Now
The New York Times bestselling Magic Tree House series has a brand-new paperback! Jack and Annie travel to Thebes, Egypt, to find Florence Nightingale, world-famous nurse.
Don’t look down! Mary Pope Osborne brings chills, thrills, and spills to young readers in this Magic Tree House adventure.
Jack and Annie are on a mission for Merlin the magician! This time, the magic tree house whisks them off to Thebes, Egypt, to find Florence Nightingale, a world-famous nurse. But when they find her, the Florence Nightingale they meet is not a famous nurse at all – she’s not even a regular nurse! Have they found the right person? Or did Merlin make a mistake? An easy mission turns dangerous when Jack and Annie try to solve the mystery! Buy Now
From award-winning author Ellen Potter comes a charming new chapter book series where kids, lobster boats, and a hint of magic are part of everyday life.
There are three things you should know about Piper Green:
1. She always says what’s on her mind (even when she probably shouldn’t).
2. She rides a lobster boat to school.
3. There is a Fairy Tree in her front yard.
Life on an island in Maine is always interesting. But when a new teacher starts at Piper’s school—and doesn’t appreciate the special, um, accessory that Piper has decided to wear—there may be trouble on the horizon. Then Piper discovers the Fairy Tree in her front yard. Is the Fairy Tree really magic? And can it fix Piper’s problems? Buy Now
Summoned by their friend Will Mystery, the Thea Sisters journey through Mount Everest and enlist the help of fairies, elves and unicorns that they meet along the way to the Cloud Castle, where they hope to discover why the clouds are disappearing from the magical Land of Clouds. Buy Now
The Newbery Medal-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux and the award-winning author of the #1 New York Times best-seller, Someday, present the adventures of two precocious girls who don bright socks and rollers skates for an imaginative trip to the Andes. Illustrated by the creator of the SLJ Best Book of the Year, Let’s Do Nothing!
2011 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner. Reprint. Buy Now
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Bink and Gollie
Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
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In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories
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Freckleface Strawberry: Loose Tooth!
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Biscuit Loves the Library
Alyssa Satin Capucilli
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Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury
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Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak
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The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party
Shannon Hale and Dan Hale
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Heroes in Training
Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
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Escape From Horrorland
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Lulu and the Brontosaurus
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Ellray Jakes the Recess King!
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The Haunted Library
Dori Hillstead Butler
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Picture Books See All Picture Books
A half-pint warrior princess wants a battle-ready horse for her birthday but instead receives a little farting pony—who brilliantly defies all expectation. Pinecone is small and young, and normally she receives cozy sweaters for presents, but she has a warrior’s determination. With this, she attempts to train her sweet, round pony—but to no avail. They are clearly outmatched at the big battle, yet Pinecone shows her mettle, and under the pony’s innocent gaze, hardened warriors melt into sweater-wearing softies. The artist's digital illustrations, done in an earthy palette, have a warm, handcrafted feel. As majestic horses, iconic warriors (from Genghis Khan to Robin Hood), and cool tools are juxtaposed with Pinecone and her vacant-eyed pony, differences in stature, weaponry, and achievement are cleverly emphasized. Cinematic in layout and perfectly set-dressed, each page will elicit a new round of giggles. Beaton blurs the boundaries of traditional storytelling, marrying fantasy elements to pop culture with a free-associative swagger. This emerging genre, with its zinelike irreverence and joyful comedy, is hip, modern, and absolutely refreshing. Where else can readers find hipster warriors, anime influences, perfectly placed fart jokes, a hidden ugly-sweater contest, and a skirmish packed with delightful nonsense (llamas! knights! hot dogs! turtle costumes!)—and have it all make such wonderful sense? Instead of breaking bones, this warrior princess breaks the mold–and Beaton is in a class of her own.
(Picture book. 3-8) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
A crotchety bear unwillingly raises four goslings. Bruce is a stocky, black-and-dark-indigo bear with a scowling unibrow. He dislikes sunny days, rainy days, and cute little animals. He likes one thing: eggs, cooked into gourmet recipes that he finds on the Internet. He “collects” eggs from Mrs. Sparrow or Mrs. Goose—asking, hilariously, whether they’re “free-range organic”—but the pictures reveal the truth: he’s clearly stealing them. As Bruce brings home some goose eggs that unexpectedly hatch and imprint on him—“Bruce became the victim of mistaken identity”—wry text and marvelously detailed pictures juxtapose uproariously. Setting out to “get the ingredients” means wheeling a shopping cart into a river; “for some reason” he loses his appetite placing a pat of butter atop a live gosling’s head on his plate. Grumblingly, Bruce rears them from “annoying baby geese” through “stubborn teenage geese” (wearing headphones, naturally) into “boring adult geese.” Still they won't leave him. Rather than migrating (by wing or by the giant slingshot Bruce builds for the purpose), they don winter hats and coats. Befitting Bruce’s personality, there’s no sappy change of heart, but this family is forever. Higgins’ softly fascinating textures, deft lines, savvy use of scale, and luminous landscapes (which evoke traditional romantic landscape painting, atmospheric in air and light) make for gorgeous art. Visually beautiful, clever, edgy, and very funny.
(Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
How often does a sequel pick up exactly where its predecessor left off—75 years later? Sayer, who worked for years as Slobodkina’s assistant, uses scanned and manipulated images from the classic Too Many Caps and the late author’s other work to fashion illustrations that are impressively faithful to those of the previous book. The text, too, retains its predecessor’s folktale-style prose. The peddler still carries his caps on his head (“First he had on his own checked cap, then a bunch of gray caps...”), and the monkeys still copy everything he does. Where Too Many Caps was a story of saucy fun, Sayer sees in the monkeys’ mimicry the opportunity to set a good example. First the monkeys learn to throw their banana peels into the trash barrel by copying the peddler; then they redeem themselves the next day by following him into the city and mimicking his cap-selling routine: “When the peddler bowed, the monkeys bowed, too. Everyone was smiling to see such a sight.” Success! The peddler sells all his caps—none the wiser about the help he’s had. Though it ends a bit abruptly, it’s a worthy successor to Slobodkina’s original. Ages 4–8. Buy Now
Klassen’s coy effort combines spare illustration, simple, repetitive text and a “payback’s a bear” plot.
A somber, sepia-toned bear longs for his missing hat and questions a series of forest animals about its whereabouts. While everyone denies seeing it, a rabbit (sporting, readers will note, a pointy red chapeau) protests a bit too indignantly. Ten pages on, as the bear describes his hat for a solicitous deer, realization hits: “I HAVE SEEN MY HAT.” The accompanying illustration shows the indignant bear suffused in the page’s angry red. There’s the subsequent dash and confrontation, followed by bear in hat and rabbit—well, nowhere to be seen. Klassen’s ink-and-digital creatures, similarly almond-eyed and mouth-less, appear stiff and minimalist against creamy white space. Foliage is suggested with a few ink strokes (though it’s quite bashed-up after rabbit goes missing). The text type, New Century Schoolbook, intentionally evokes the visually comfy, eminently readable design of 1960s children’s primers. Font colors correlate with the animals’ dialogue as well as the illustrations’ muted color palette, and the four-sentence denials (first rabbit’s, then bear’s) structurally echo each other. Indubitably hip, this will find plenty of admirers. Others might react to a certain moral vapidity. And the littlest ones will demand to know where the heck that rabbit went.
Cynical on wry. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved. Buy Now
Inside a tent it’s cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it. Buy Now
Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal—to fly—Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose inisists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. Buy Now
The creators of Dragons Love Tacos (2012) and Secret Pizza Party (2013) serve up another heaping helping of silliness. A robot-crazy kid whips up a batch of Robo-Sauce, a magical concoction made up of a list of ridiculous ingredients such as “12 volts gluten-free kookamonga flakes” and “a sprig of sparkenfarfle.” After pouring it over himself, he morphs into a robot and has a blast, at least until everyone skedaddles and he realizes that a rampage is “a bit more fun for the giant robot than it is for all the squishy little humans.” Perhaps counterintuitively, Robo-Kid destroys the ROBO-ANTIDOTO that would have restored him to squishy humanity, opting instead to launch a vat of Robo-Sauce at his family. Ultimately, he turns everything into a robot, including his friends, his dog, and finally, the book itself! Following the instructions provided, readers can pull out and attach a special silver dust jacket, and ROBO-BOOK is born! This slim silver volume contains a brief story starring the new robo-family and features a QR code leading to an interactive website. The engaging art, wry narrative voice, and surprise ending make for a winning combination. An abundance of absurdity that will entertain boys and girls of all ages.
(Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved. Buy Now
This book may not have pictures, but it’s sure to inspire lots of conversations—and laughs. Television writer, actor and comedian Novak delivers a rare find, indeed: a very good celebrity picture book. It doesn’t even seem fair to call it such, since it has nothing to do with his Emmy Award-winning writing for The Office or the fame his broader career has afforded him. The jacket flap even eschews a glossy photo, instead saying “B.J. has brown hair and blue eyes,” in order to keep with the book’s central conceit. What this book does have is text, and it’s presented through artful typography that visually conveys its changing tone to guide oral readings. Furthermore, the text implies (or rather, demands) a shared reading transaction, in which an adult is compelled to read the text aloud, no matter how “COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS” it is. Employing direct address, it pleads with the implied child listener to allow him or her to stop reading. Nonsense words, silly words to be sung and even a smattering of potty talk for good measure all coalesce in riotous read-aloud fare. Although the closing pages beg the implied child reader to “please please please please / please / choose a book with pictures” for subsequent reading, it’s likely that this request will be ignored. A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall.
(Picture book. 3-8) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved. Buy Now
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After busy days flying around the world, chasing villains, and keeping people safe, DC’s beloved super heroes need to go to sleep. Super heroes in training will definitely relate to this charming bedtime book.
Like the other bestselling DC Super Heroes board books (ABC 123, Colors and Shapes, Opposites, Busy Bodies, My First Book of Super Villains, and My First Book of Girl Power), Even Super Heroes Sleep uses DC’s classic art to illustrate fan favorite characters getting ready to re-charge. Batman knows his brain works best after he’s gotten a good night’s sleep (Goodnight Gotham City!). Green Lantern needs his Power Battery, and Superman’s super-strength fizzes out at the end of the day. Budding super heroes will appreciate that they, too need a good night’s sleep if they’re going to grow big and strong... Buy Now
With thick pages cut into the shape of each letter, children and parents will enjoy this peek-through guessing game around the letterform itself. Sprinkles, hot fudge, and cherries hint at I’s ice cream sundae, while aquarium accessories hint at F’s fish. As readers interact with the pages, they will familiarize themselves not only with the 26 letters and associated words, but also with each letter’s physicality—angles, holes, and curves, both front and back. With Peskimo’s animated, stylish visuals, this fresh ABC book encourages readers to manipulate the alphabet in a whole new way. Note: illustrations have a retro feel, with imperfect variations in color and texture. Buy Now
When Kitten mistakes the full moon for a bowl of milk, she ends up tired, wet and hungry trying to reach it, but her adventure eventually leads her back home where something special is waiting just for her, in a board book edition of the Caldecott Medal-winning picture book. 75,000 first printing. Buy Now
It’s Easter, and Spot and his friends hunt for eggs at Spot’s grandparent’s house. Once everyone has collected the eggs, there is still a surprise waiting in the bushes. What could it be? This charming reissue of Spot’s Easter Surprise is perfect for children to share with their grandparents this Easter. Buy Now
Dr. Seuss’s youngest concept book is now available in a sturdy board book suitably designed for his youngest fans. All the original stunning illustrations and imaginative type designs are here, as are the intriguing die-cut squares in the cover. 16p. (Ages: 0-4). Buy Now