Spring Reading Round-up

As children and teens prepare to raid your libraries looking for good books to read, consider adding these titles to your reader’s advisory arsenal:

This morning I finally read Boston Globe–Horn Book honor award-winning Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White (Candlewick). While the gorgeous tiger on the cover receives the most “page time” and is one of the few animals illustrated with color paint (most are rendered in pencil), Jenkins and White also highlight animals that are already extinct, have been rescued from extinction, or are currently threatened. Written in a conversational tone with accompanying factoids and beautifully illustrated, this book will be appreciated by animal lovers, budding artists, and just about everyone else.

Last night I finished Hidden by Helen Frost (Francis Foster Books). While you’ve probably read a million stories about two fourteen-year-old girls at summer camp, you’ve never read one like this. This is poetry you can sell as a suspenseful-surprising-coming of age-quick-read for the 10 and up set. Thank you, Ms. Frost.

Where Do You Stay? by Andrea Cheng (Boyds Mills Press) has the fewest copies in the county of any of these titles, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. What I admired about Cheng’s 2010 offering Only One Year (Lee and Low) was how she never used an unnecessary word. Just like the way my mother irons, there’s never an extraneous stroke. In Where Do You Stay?, Cheng accomplishes the same while incorporating the repetition of key words and phrases, deftly introducing the themes in a way that is both subtle and shimmering. This is the perfect title to hand those future English majors in your book clubs.

Spinning in my car is Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney, read by Bahni Turpin, S’Von Ringo, and J.B. Adkins (Listening Library). There’s something about Davis Pinkney’s writing that begs to be read aloud. When Turpin read four lines of Hibernia (the somewhat overly dramatic aspiring singer) bawling as she thinks “I’m drenched from my bangs to my toe jam,” I laughed until I was misting too. This is summer road-trip worthy.  

And then there’s Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (First Second, ((where you can read an excerpt and view the book trailer here)). Debut graphic novelist Brosgol was born in Moscow and raised in the U.S. Her protagonist, Anya Borzakovskaya, struggles with many of the issues a reader can presume Brosgol experienced herself. This is a sensitive and entertaining look at how a teen haunted by her past can come to a place of self-acceptance from just about any road – but it always helps to fall down a hole.

What are you reading?

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2 thoughts on “Spring Reading Round-up

  1. I’ve recently finished Gloria Whelan’s “Small Acts of Amazing Courage”. I thoroughly enjoyed it and see it as a strong Newbery contender. It bears repeated readings, a hallmark of Newbery books, and on the second read, I gained appreciation for Whelan’s delicate language and imagery. I admit to approaching this book with anticipation because I liked Whelan’s “Homeless Bird”, but knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed as early as page 6, while reading Rosalind’s comment on the doctor and his medical bag: “When I was very young, I thought it was a part of him like an elephant’s trunk.” Rosalind is a memorable character, multi-faceted and inspiring but still appealing and realistic for her age – she recognizes the difference between someone who wants to control you (Ethyl/Louise) and someone who might know more than you and wants what’s best for you (Father). Rosalind may not get it all yet, but she’s thinking about it. I also think the title is well chosen because it reflects not only the action of the book, but its theme(s): that small acts can change your life, and possibly the world. You can make a list of the small acts of amazing courage that many of the characters perform. I could go on with more reasons I think “Small Acts” is distinguished, but it’s too much to type out!

  2. “Just like the way my mother irons, there’s never an extraneous stroke.”… That’s an awesome line!
    I’m listening to “The True Meaning of Smekday”- which has one of the most engaging narrators I’ve ever heard. And I’m about to start reading “Murder on the Orient Express”- the first adult book I’ve been able to read in a while!

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