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Lee, Fonda. Exo. Scholastic Press, 2017. 371 pages (978–0–545–93343–8)

Age 12 and older

Teenage Donovan is a member of the security forces keeping the peace after years of war that followed the invasion of Earth by the Mur zhree. Although the war has ended, an active human resistance remains. “Hardened” with zhree biotechnology as a child, Donovan can activate a protective exoskeleton, but it can’t prevent him being kidnapped by the Sapience resistance when a raid goes awry. When the resistance learns Donovan is the son of the Prime Liaison—his father is the highest ranking human in their district and works closely with zhree leaders—he’s taken to a Sapience hideout as a pawn. Although Donovan has personal issues with his demanding father, he’s loyal to the zhree and, especially, his fellow security officers. But the identity of the principle Sapience propaganda writer turns everything upside down: It turns out to be his mother, who left when he was six, unable to save Donovan from the Hardening his father volunteered him for. The resistance believe exos are no longer fully human. Donovan knows it’s his humanity that makes him feel so conflicted upon seeing his mom—both hungry for and resistant to her love. A fast-paced, compelling work of science fiction with strong world-building deftly addresses the logistical and emotional complexities of political conflict and change through intriguing characters—human and nonhuman alike. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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Thimmesh, Catherine. Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on th Moon. 
Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 80 pages (0-618-50757-4)

Ages 10-15

A vast army of workers comprised the team that sent astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon in 1969. The accomplishments of the individuals behind the scenes, from engineers to space suit seamstresses, were integral components in the Apollo 11 mission, yet their stories are rarely told. Author Catherine Thimmesh describes the vital and varied work of many, while outlining the chronology of the space mission from conception through splash-down. Despite knowing the outcome of these historic events, readers will be on the edge of their seats as potential disasters loom and are conquered by the team, sometimes with mere seconds to spare. Powerful photographs and frequent quotes from the many individuals involved add to the depth of this fascinating work. (MVL) ©2006 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


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Moore, David Barclay.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet. Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.  294 pages (978–1–5247–0124–6)

Ages 9-13

On the edge of young adulthood, Lolly has the support of his hardworking, no nonsense mom and her girlfriend; his dad, who isn’t a daily presence in his life but whose love is never in doubt; staff at the community center; and his best friend, Vega. He’s also keenly aware that the freedom with which he moved through Harlem when he was young has changed now that he’s 12; now that he’s eyed by various crews of older boys and young men as being either with them or against them. The threat feels all the more real since his big brother Jermaine was recently shot and killed, and Lolly’s grief is complicated by the fact his brother, so often his protector, was mad at him for refusing to get involved in Jermaine’s dubious business. But Lolly’s sense of himself and the world and possibilities begins expanding after receiving an architecture book as a gift. Inspired to begin constructing an elaborate city out of Lego bricks, his efforts lead to a surprising new friendship with Rose, a girl most kids shun, who is navigating struggles of her own, and to exploring the real places pictured in the book. Lolly and his family, friends, and neighbors are vivid and alive in a story featuring exceptional characterizations and dialogue. The complexities of family and friendships come into full relief in a story celebrating the power of creativity and community in a child’s life. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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Anderson, Jodi Lynn.
Midnight at the Electric. HarperTeen, 2017. 257  pages (978–0–06–239354–8)

Age 12 and older

In 2065, Adri moves in with her newly discovered cousin, Lily, while she trains for her future life as a settler on Mars. Loner Adri worries living with elderly, open-hearted Lily will be hard, but Lily is respectful of Adri’s privacy and Galapagos, a giant tortoise on Lily’s Kansas farm, is a peaceful companion. In 1934 Catherine lives with her mother, little sister, and a tortoise named Galapagos on their Kansas farm, where the dust storms ravaging the Plains threaten her little sister’s health. Learning the boy she loves also loves her is bittersweet when Catherine, debating something drastic to save her sister, discovers a secret about the past that raises huge questions about her family. In 1919, Lenore lives in England, mourning the loss of a beloved brother in the Great War. Lenore wants to visit her best friend, Beth, in America. In the meantime, she forges a friendship with James, a disfigured young man who tests her understanding of compassion and acceptance while spinning impossible stories about his life. For Adri, who’s never relied on anyone but herself and is struggling to connect with others on her team, the old letters and journals in Lily’s house leading her to Catherine’s and Lenore’s stories hold surprising fascination. Family, friendship, and the family that friendship can be are the gifts Catherine, Lenore, and especially Lily give Adri as she prepares for her journey in this singular novel graced by complex, poignant characters and relationships. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 3

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Primary | Summer - (Comments Off on Summer 3)

book coverMax Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney. Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Ages 3-7


On a day when Max doesn’t feel like talking to anyone, he sits brooding on the front steps of his apartment building until he notices two sticks on the ground. They make perfect drum sticks, and as people in Max’s neighborhood pass by and say hello, Max responds by beating a rhythm with his sticks on something left behind by the previous passer-by. Primary and secondary colors brighten Pinkney’s sweeping scratchboard illustrations which are filled with rhythmic motions. Honor Book, 1994 CCBC Coretta Scott King Award Discussion: Illustration.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 2

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Primary | Summer - (Comments Off on Summer 2)

book coverPenny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2012.

Ages 4-7


Kevin Henkes’s debut titles for beginning readers are two easy chapter books featuring a mouse named Penny. Penny and Her Doll begins with Penny in the garden with Mama admiring the roses when a package arrives in the mail from Gram. Penny immediately falls in love with the doll inside, but agonizes over the course of the day about finding the right name for her. The answer turns out to be growing in the garden where Penny was when the doll arrived. In Penny and Her Song, Penny comes home from school with a song she’s made up in her head, but has to wait until dinner is over to sing it so she doesn’t wake the babies or disrupt the meal. When she finally shares her song, a grand time is had by everyone in the house. Both books feature terrific storytelling, including wonderful dialogue and charming illustrations. And both books are brimming with warmth.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 3

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Summer - (Comments Off on Summer 3)

book coverLittle Pig Joins the Band by David Hyde Costello. Charlesbridge, 2011.

Ages 2-5


Little Pig suffers the fate of being the youngest in his family, and he doesn’t like it. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even like being called Little Pig (his name is Jacob). A familiar scenario plays out when Grandpa unpacks his old marching-band instruments: Little Pig is too little to play the drum, the trombone, the trumpet, and especially the tuba. His older siblings seem to be running the show as they practice the instruments, until an unfortunate musical move causes chaos when they tumble over one another. Little Pig astutely assesses the situation and takes on the role that is missing: a band leader. Under Jacob’s confident direction, the band marches on. The brief text highlights Little Pig’s frustration, a feeling common to young children everywhere, and provides a clever resolution. Dialogue incorporated into the fresh ink and watercolor art adds an extra layer of interest to this upbeat tale.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 2

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Summer - (Comments Off on Summer 2)

book coverDiez deditos / Ten Little Fingers and Other Play Rhymes and Action Songs from Latin America by José-Luis Orozco. Illustrated by Elisa Kleven. Dutton, 1997

Babies – Age 7

Thirty-four traditional and original action songs are abundantly illustrated with Kleven’s trademark collage assemblages filled with happy children, interacting families, and people with individual faces and skin colors. The finger games are graphically represented with brief written directions and clear diagrams. Music notations suggest the tunes and can be played on a guitar or recorder by older children and adults quite new to these instruments. A bilingual subject index cites ten entries under Animals, Body Parts (8), Call-and-Response (2), Clapping (7), Counting (4), Dances (5), Family (3), Farewell (2), Finger Play (8), Food (4), Friendship (3), Greetings (3), Group Play (5), Musical Instruments (2), Professions (1), Self-Esteem (5), Sorrow (1), Special Celebrations (3), Tickling (2), Time (1), Transportation (1), Vowel Sounds (1), and Weather (2). Everything about this cheerful book is child friendly. It’s Spanish-language friendly, too, with Spanish words under the music and nearest to the graphic finger games; the English translations are secondary. Orozco brings a wealth of first-hand life experience to the book’s entries; he and Kleven were matched in the fine earlier volume De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children (Dutton, 1994) aimed at a slightly older child audience than this. CCBC categories: The Arts; Folklore, Mythology and Traditional Literature.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 1

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Summer - (Comments Off on Summer 1)

book coverAlphabet Family Band by Sarah Jones. Blue Manatee Press, 2017

The musical members of a large, multiracial family demonstrate their skills with a wide array of instruments in this upbeat, rhyming board book. Beginning the alphabet with “Auntie Bangs Congas” and continuing through “Vince Works Xylophone,” each family member is featured. The last player showcased is “You,” as “You Zig, zag and zoom,” adding vocals with a microphone. Readers will discover new musical instruments (an ipu and lute are part of the collection) and enjoy the details on the culminating two-page spread of the entire Alphabet Family Band, dressed in floral clothing and leis, performing on a sandy beach. ©Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Ages 2–4


Summer 2

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Middle School | Summer - (Comments Off on Summer 2)

book coverJazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxanne Orgill. Illustrated by Francis Vallejo. Candlewick Press, 2016

Age 10 and older


When Art Kane put out a call in 1958 for jazz musicians to gather in Harlem for a photograph, he had no idea what the response would be. Would anyone show up on the appointed day? One by one they did: singers and saxophone players, pianists and drummers, trumpet players and bassists. Dizzy and Duke, the Count and the Lion, Thelonious and Maxine and Mary Lou. Fifty-seven jazz musicians in all, from the well-known to newcomers to those known only on the local music scene. They came not to perform, but to laugh and talk and get in “Some Kind of Formation, Please!” Neighborhood children were there, too, sitting on the curb in front when Kane’s camera went “Click!” The famous black-and-white photograph he took is a magnificent fold-out feature of this work, which tells the story of that historic event through poems and paintings focusing on individuals, encounters, and the effervescent energy of it all. An introduction provides readers with a grounding, while an author’s note includes a numbered outline of the photo identifying the musicians. Brief biographies of each person, and ample resource material, round out this distinctive volume.   © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 3

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Middle School | Summer - (Comments Off on Summer 3)

book coverThe Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr. Little, Brown, 2013

Age 13 and older


Eight months ago, Lucy, a classically trained pianist wunderkind, walked off stage at a major competition in Prague, furious that her grandfather had withheld news of her grandmother’s death back home in San Francisco. Her grandfather, a rigid force in their family, announces she has made her choice: She’s done with piano (meaning he’s done supporting her career). Lucy thinks she’s happy about it until she meets her ten-year-old brother Gus’s new piano teacher. Gus, also a major talent, is being taught by Will Deva, a former prodigy whose approach is much more relaxed than anything Lucy or Gus is familiar with. Will asks Lucy if she wants to play again and Lucy finally admits the answer is yes. But can she really return to music on her own terms? Then Lucy’s wonderful relationship with Gus—they can understand each other like no one else—frays when she begins to develop a crush on Will, who doesn’t necessarily discourage her attraction despite being married. What Lucy can’t see is that Will is hoping her return will boost his own career. Sara Zarr’s novel about an extraordinarily talented young woman offers insight into the life of a child prodigy. In Lucy’s case, she is a mix of maturity beyond her years and self-centered teen, and caught between the desire to define herself, meet other’s expectations, and wanting to just be a typical teen—a dimension of life explored through her relationship with friends Reyna and Carson.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Summer 2

May 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2017-2018 | 2017-2018 Intermediate | Summer - (Comments Off on Summer 2)

book coverRock & Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story by Sebastian Robertson. Illustrated by Adam Gustavson. Henry Holt, 2014

Ages 9-13


Robbie Robertson’s rise to fame as a founding member of The Band, and writer of some of the iconic songs of the late 1960s and early 1970s, is chronicled by his son Sebastian in a substantial and engaging picture book biography. From the time he was a young child visiting his Mohawk relatives on the Six Nations Reservation in Canada, Robertson was immersed in “rhythm, melodies, and storytelling.” And from the time he got his first guitar, he spent hours practicing. “On the reservation, eleven-year-old Robbie had surpassed the adults as the best guitarist.” He formed his first band at thirteen, and at sixteen was off to Arkansas to join a Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks. He continued to practice, refine, and develop his playing style, coming up with a unique sound that drew the attention of Bob Dylan, and helped pave the way for folk music going electric. The narrative creates both a sweeping picture of Robertson’s influence and accomplishments with small moments and details that marked defining moments in his career and, sometimes, rock & roll. The volume is further enriched by a timeline with photographs, and Sebastian’s terrific q-and-a interview with his father.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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