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Reynolds, Jason.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man. Marvel Press, 2017. 261 pages (978–148478748–9)

Age 11 and older

Half Black, half Puerto Rican, Miles Morales is comfortable in his own skin, even if some people aren’t always comfortable with his skin. But the same can’t be said for how Miles feels about other aspects of his identity. He’s a scholarship student from a poor Brooklyn neighborhood attending an elite prep school and he wants to do well for himself, his family, and community, but it’s a lot of pressure. And then there’s the fact that he’s Spider-Man. Only his best friend, Ganke, knows this truth. It was on a visit to his late Uncle Aaron, an ex-con his parents had forbidden him to see, that Miles was bitten by the spider that transformed him. Aaron has been on Miles’s mind a lot lately. For all that he has superpowers, Miles wonders if he has the same bad blood that made his uncle turn to crime. And being a superhero doesn’t mean Miles can solve the challenges in his neighborhood, let alone the world; he can’t even challenge a racist teacher without getting suspended. There is a superhero storyline here as Miles comes to understand and confronts a threat to the world—full of the action and moments of humor expected in the genre—but it’s deftly wrapped inside a vivid work of relatable, contemporary realistic fiction. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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Florence, Debbi Michiko.
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen. Illustrated by Elizabet Vuković. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017. 115 pages (978–0–374–30410–2)

Ages 6-9

Eight-year-old Japanese American Jasmine Toguchi makes her debut in an engaging and lively book for newly independent readers. Jasmine is determined to help make mochi for the New Year, even though she’s only 8 and family tradition says girls start when they’re 10. Tradition also says girls and women form the rice into balls after it’s been pounded by the men and boys. When she can’t convince her mom or Obaachan to let her help form the mochi, Jasmine appeals to her dad to help pound it, only to discover it’s a lot harder than she realized. After everything will she fail?  Jasmine’s terrific first-person voice is so believably 8, and so is her behavior. Her reactions to others are rooted in her emotions of the moment, leaving room for her to be surprised when people behave in unexpected ways, and room for her to consider what that means. The book includes occasional black-and-white spot illustrations. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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Denos, Julia. Windows. Illustrated by E. B. Goodale. Candlewick Press, 2017.  24 pages (978–0–7636–9035–9)

Ages 3-6

“At the end of the day, before the town goes to sleep, you can look out your window … / and see more little windows lit up like eyes in the dusk, / blinking awake as the lights turn on inside: a neighborhood of paper lanterns.” An early evening dog walk allows a brown-skinned boy in a red sweatshirt to observe all kinds of things in his neighborhood—a cat, an early raccoon, sleeping plants, but best of all, lighted windows, showing all sorts of life within. “Some windows will have dinner, or TV, / Others are empty and leave you to fill them up with stories.” But the best windows of all are those of the boy’s own home, with his mother waiting just inside, watching for him and waving. A beautifully lyrical text accompanied by quiet ink-and-watercolor illustrations capture the drama and appeal of glimpses into other people’s lives. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


Butler, Dori Hillestad.
King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse. Illustrated by Nancy Meyers. Peachtree, 2017. 42 pages (978–1–56145–879–0)

Ages 4-7

King, a large dog,  narrates this appealing mystery story (part of a series). Here, he and  Kayla, the brown- skinned girl who is, he explains, “my human,” try to determine what happened to King’s ball after Kayla’s friend Jillian accidentally threw it over the fence. It’s nowhere to be found.  Kayla approaches the case by making lists of what she knows, and what she needs to find out. But King knows things he can’t communicate to Kayla, like the fact that the cat with no name says a mouse took his ball (which seems impossible to King). King is a hilarious narrator, in part because he is telling Kayla (and readers) what he knows, but of course all she’s hears is barking, and in part because he’s just funny.  Pencil and digitally colored illustrations accompany the narrative in each book. We look forward to more King and Kayla! ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

I Want to be i n a Scary Story book cover
I Want to Be in a Scary Story
 
by Sean Taylor. Illustrated by Jean Jullien. Candlewick Press, 2017

Ages 3-7

Little Monster is ready to be in a scary story. The narrator begins with a dark and scary forest. “Oh my golly gosh!” says Little Monster, not ready for something quite that scary. The scene changes to a spooky house. “Oh my goodness me! … Oh yikes and crikes!” Finally Little Monster admits it would be better to do the scaring. Anticipation builds as Little Monster walks toward a room to scare whoever is inside … “can we maybe change this book so it’s a FUNNY story?” The back-and-forth dialogue between Little Monster, who is small and wide-eyed, his purple-inked dialogue matching his color, and the unseen narrator, whose words are shown in black, is always easy to follow. So, too, are Little Monster’s emotions. The gentle tension shifts to the comically absurd and then back again in this begs-to-be-read-aloud picture book when Little Monster suddenly disappears and the narrator becomes increasingly worried. “Boo!” Digitally colored ink illustrations show Little Monster against white pages when talking with the narrator, and in full-color, bold, slightly comical (and maybe a teensy bit scary) scenes when part of the various stories being told. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Herbert's First Halloween
Herbert’s First Halloween
by Cynthia Rylant.  Illustrated by Steven Henry. Chronicle, 2017

Ages 3-6

 

Herbert is a little pig who “was not so sure about Halloween.” Herbert’s dad loves Halloween, however. When Herbert decides he wants to be a tiger his dad measures Herbert and sews ears, tail, and paws with claws while Herbert practices his roar. Herbert’s dad carves a smiling-faced pumpkin they name Jack, and tells Herbert about the candy. “You will need a bucket. … A big one.” Herbert’s dad is gently reassuring, helping Herbert navigate his uncertainty throughout a warm, sparely told yet perfectly paced story that follows Herbert through his first night of trick-or-treating. “Herbert roared many tiger thank-yous.” Muted illustrations echo the narrative’s understated charm. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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Sáenz, Benjamin Alire.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. Clarion, 2017. 445 pages (978–0–544–58650–5)

Age 13 and older

High school senior Sal(vador) Silva was 3 when his mom died. Adopted by Vicente, his mom’s best friend, the love between father and son is palpable. Sal’s best friend, Sam(antha) Diaz, has a single mom so wrapped up in her own life that Sam feels like an afterthought. Sal’s friend Fito works two jobs to save money for college and to escape his family of addicts. Sal knows he has a good life. So why is he suddenly full of rage? He lashes out even before he learns that Mima, his grandmother, is dying. Mima means the world to Sal, his dad, and their extended Mexican American family, in which it’s never mattered that Sal is white. Sal worries his instinct to respond with his fists—to a whispered slur about his dad, who is gay, or to a boy who treats Sam badly—is a trait from the birth father he’s never known or cared to find out about. Several explosive events disrupt the shifting currents of daily life in a deeply felt story graced with moments of humor. Exquisitely realized and genuine, it’s about living and struggling and loss and regret. It’s about changing relationships and growing up and friendship. It’s about the power of language. Above all, it’s about the expansiveness of the words “love” and “family.” ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find out more about this month’s titles by clicking a cover image below!

OCTOBER (1)
Riding Chance by Christine Kendall. Scholastic Press, 2016 Since his mom died, it’s been hard for Troy, 13, to stay on an Read more.
OCTOBER (2)
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016 Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Read more.
OCTOBER (1)
When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson. Illustrated by Julie Flett. Highwater Press, 2016 A young Cree girl gardening Read more.
OCTOBER (2)
Little Cat’s Luck by Marion Dane Bauer. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. Simon & Schuster, 2016 A small calico cat, Read more.
OCTOBER
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina. Candlewick Press, 2016 Nora López is finishing high school uncertain about the future. Encouraged Read more.
OCTOBER (1)
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall. Amulet/Abrams, 2015 Jimmy McLean is self-conscious about his blue eyes, fair Read more.
OCTOBER (2)
I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer. Illustrated by Gillian Newland. Second Story Press, 2016 Read more.
OCTOBER (1)
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith.  Illustrated by Julie Flett. Orca, 2016 “My heart fills with happiness Read more.
OCTOBER (2)
Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel! by Paul Meisel. Boyds Mills Press / Highlights, 2016 When Bat loses his home, Read more.

OCTOBER (2)

May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | October - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (2))

Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel! by Paul Meisel. Boyds Mills Press / Highlights, 2016

When Bat loses his home, he has a hard time finding a new one. One animal after another turns him away, but he finally finds the perfect spot inside a leafy nest up a tree. Squirrel’s already there, but she’s dozing and so Bat deposits the bugs he’s gathered on the bed and happily finds a twig to hang from and goes to sleep. Squirrel is startled and annoyed when she discovers the uninvited guest in the morning and writes an emphatic note telling Bat to leave. (“Dear Bat, Bug off! Sincerely, Squirrel”). When Bat finds the note he understands it to mean that Squirrel didn’t like the insects on her bed, so he politely moves them to a corner of the nest. That begins a series of misunderstandings, all conveyed through correspondence, with Squirrel telling Bat to leave, and Bat, ever the optimist, consistently misinterpreting her messages. Eventually Squirrel realizes that she’s come to appreciate the ever-cheery Bat, while Bat knows he’d be lonely without Squirrel, and so the duo agrees to be roommates. Appealing illustrations sweeten this charming comedy of errors featuring an odd couple of the animal world. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: The poem “Fall of the Year”
  • Talk: About how words can have different meanings.
  • Sing: Sing “Skidamarink a Dink a Dink”
  • Write: A note to a friend.
  • Play: Try some leaf rubbings by laying paper over leaves and coloring the paper with crayons
  • Math or Science: Talk about seasons. What season do you think this is? Why do you think that?

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OCTOBER (1)

May 16th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | October - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (1))

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith.  Illustrated by Julie Flett. Orca, 2016

“My heart fills with happiness when … ” A comforting board book offers young children the opportunity for reflection, and for affirmation, too. Moments of happiness tucked into each and every day celebrated here include time with family (“I see the face of someone I love”), self-expression (“I sing”), and the natural world (“I walk barefoot in the grass”). Author Monique Gray Smith (Cree/Lakota) has written a narrative lovingly grounded in First/Native Nations culture, community, and traditions (“I smell bannock in the oven … I drum”). Illustrator Julie Flett (Cree/Métis) invites children into the book’s warm embrace with intimate and expressive gouache and digital collage illustrations of First/Native Nations children, or children and adults together in a book that invites all children to consider, “What fills YOUR heart with happiness?” ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: A book that makes you happy.
  • Talk: What fills your heart with happiness?
  • Sing: “You Are My Sunshine” & “If You’re Happy and You Know It” Use the book to make some new verses. For example, “If you’re happy and you know it, play your drum”.
  • Write: Draw a picture of what makes you happy/or what your face looks like when you’re happy.
  • Play: Act out actions on each page. Make up your own actions to go along – pretend to play the guitar.
  • Math or Science: Talk about what the ingredients – what is used to make — bannock. Have them guess first. And if you can, find some to try?

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OCTOBER (2)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | October | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2017-2018 Intermediate - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (2))

I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer. Illustrated by Gillian Newland. Second Story Press, 2016

Irene Couchie is an eight-year-old Anishinaabe living happily with her family on the Nippissing Reserve in Northern Ontario. But when the Indian agent comes to their home to take her and her two brothers away to attend a residential boarding school, the only thing her parents can do to protect them is to tell them to never forget who they are. Life in the school is terrifying. Irene is separated from her two brothers and has her identity stripped from her—even her name. She is told that from now on she will be number 759. The year passes slowly. Irene faces harsh living conditions and cruel physical punishment for speaking her own language. When summer finally comes, she and her brothers return home, and her parents vow to never send them back after hearing what the children endured, hiding them when the agent returns. Based on the childhood experience of the author’s grandmother, the heart- wrenching story is illustrated with realistic paintings that convey Irene’s fear and sadness. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-read: Why do you think it is it important for people to share their stories/experiences?
  2. What are some of the ways that Irene and the others are being denied their identity?
  3. How do the illustrations help to tell the story? To you think the story would have been the same without the illlustrations?
  4. Is this part of history new to you? Read the afterward. Why is it important to share this history?O

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OCTOBER (1)

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2017-2018 | October | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2017-2018 Intermediate - (Comments Off on OCTOBER (1))

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall. Amulet/Abrams, 2015

Jimmy McLean is self-conscious about his blue eyes, fair skin, and light hair. He even worries about his last name—McLean—which doesn’t sound Lakota, and is sometimes teased at middle school about being too white. Over summer, Jimmy’s Grandpa takes him to visit places significant in the life of the Lakota warrior and leader Crazy Horse, who was known as Light Hair as a boy. Over the course of their journey, which moves chronologically through a number significant events in Crazy Horse’s life, the history of Westward expansion and the Indian Wars, including the Battle of Little Bighorn, unfolds from a Lakota perspective, rooted in the drive for survival, while Jimmy gains insight into courage and identity. Lakota author Joseph Marshall echoes the oral tradition he grew up with in Grandpa’s stories about Crazy Horse. Set in italics, these are gripping accounts full of urgency that reveal the warrior’s intelligence and effort to keep his people free. Light Hair, later Crazy Horse, is witness time and again to brutality, persistence, and lies of Long Knives and others. But Grandpa is not unsympathetic to the fear and discomfort of U.S. soldiers fighting the Lakota and others so far from home—war is a human story for everyone. The present-day narrative featuring Jimmy and Grandpa is less fluid, but at times unexpectedly moving.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What causes Jimmy and his grandfather to start their road trip?
  2. Grandpa Nyles and Jimmy point out that the battle has a different name than they have given it (page 49). Why are there different names?
  3. What does Jimmy learn about himself through this road trip with his grandfather?

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