By Noelle, Librarian Extraordinaire
We may have begun a new year, but let’s wrap up the old one with some favorite titles from 2015. If you are looking for some books to spice up your child’s or teenager’s life, one of these may do.
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton. Princess Pinecone wants nothing more than a great war horse to charge into battle competitions with for her birthday, but she gets a fat pony instead. Still, that pony might have a few surprises under those rolling eyes. Hilarious illustrations and tongue in cheek humor make this a winner.
Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker. The Dullards are, well, dull. They try their very best to keep their children dull as well by having them engage in such activities as watching paint dry and enjoying vanilla ice cream. However the children might have some slightly different ideas. Very funny pictures with clever phrasing will attract kids who love Harry Allard’s The Stupids.
Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins. Lumphy, StingRay and Plastic are the toys who star in a series of funny chapter books (Toys Go Out) and get their own picture book that celebrates a simple and perfect snowy adventure. Young children will love thinking about how their own toys would play in the snow.
Wait by Antoinette Portis. In this very simple book, using just the words “hurry” and “wait,” a boy is being pulled impatiently through the city to catch the morning train by his mother. He continually wants to stop to look at a butterfly or a workman or some ducks while she drags him inexorably forward until finally there’s something his mother agrees is worth waiting for. A lovely title that will encourage us all to stop and look around once in a while.
Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea. Shea is a master of telling humorous stories that will have kids and adults laughing. In this one, Sparkles the pony wants to play with Ballet Cat—as long as it ISN’T ballet. But when you have a bossy friend, how do you let them know how you feel without causing your friend to feel hurt? Very funny with a good lesson mixed in.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. A grandmother takes her grandson every Sunday on a bus ride to the poor part of town. As the boy questions why they have to go, grandma points out positive spins to their trip until he agrees when they reach their final destination. A heartwarming story that addresses public service. Controversial winner of the 2016 Newbery Award and also a Caldecott Honor.
Finding Winnie: the True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick. The true story of a veterinarian who rescued an abandoned bear cub, named her Winnie, and brought her with him to the war. Winnie eventually is given up to the London Zoo where she befriends a boy named Christopher Robin, and the world is never the same. Winner of the Caldecott Award in 2016.
Middle Grade Books
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Historical fiction title for grades 4 to 7 set in England during World War II. Ada lives with her brother and mother in a poor part of London. Having been born with a club foot, her mother is ashamed of her and doesn’t allow Ada out of the flat to go to school and won’t even give her a crutch to learn to walk with. But when Ada learns all of London’s children are being sent by train to the countryside to escape possible bombing, she is determined to get there with her brother. She makes it to the country, but a whole new set of challenges await. You won’t meet a fiercer character that you want to root for than Ada. It’s a deep and touching story that stays with you. A Newbery Honor book for 2016.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. In this graphic novel, 12 year old Astrid falls in love with the sport of roller derby when she attends a game with her best friend. They sign up for summer derby camp together, but her friend decides to go to dance camp instead, leaving Astrid (who can’t even skate) to fight her way through the basics by herself. Ultimately, this is a book about growing up, making friendships and learning how to manage ones that change. It feels authentic and wonderful. Great for grades 3 to 6. A Newbery Honor for 2016.
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton. In this piece of historical fiction set in 1969 in Vermont, Mimi is half black, half Japanese and completely foreign to her schoolmates in 7th grade. In a series of free verse poems, Mimi talks about her year that involves moving from California to Vermont, experiencing varying levels of prejudice, struggling to hold onto her dream of someday becoming an astronaut, and tenuously making friends. Readers might be surprised at the very benign seeming ways you can show your prejudices, invisible to you but not to the person you are talking to. Beautifully written, readers will love Mimi and they might even change the way they think about things. Perfect for grades 4 to 7.
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. In this story of magical realism, Micah lives with his beloved grandfather Ephraim, who spins tales of the mysterious and magical Circus Mirandus. When Ephraim falls seriously ill, his strict sister shows up to take over, practically pushing Micah out of the door. That’s when Ephraim tells Micah the truth: Circus Mirandus is real and he has requested a miracle from the Lightbender. Micah sets off with his new friend Jenny to try and retrieve the miracle from the Circus, only to find everything is more wondrous and less clear than he would have ever believed. A strong tale about family and faith that will appeal to many readers. Grades 4 to 6 will enjoy it.
Winter by Marissa Meyer. This is the final book in the Lunar Chronicles, and it certainly delivers. It’s science fiction and fairy tales fused together as Meyer weaves the stories of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Rapunzel together to form an exciting tale of secrets, lies, glamours, evil plots, good plots, and adventure as our band travels around Earth and the moon desperately trying to save our planet from the clutches of Levana. If you are new to it all, start off with Cinder; it only gets better from there. For teens ages 12 and up.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Set in a world like the Roman Empire (known as the Martial Empire), a legion of soldiers have taken over a town of Scholars. After Laia’s family is murdered, she escapes to the resistance and is placed as a spy and slave girl in the commandant’s house. Meanwhile, Elias is one of the brightest and best of the Martials but he wants out of that life. However, when things go spiraling out of control, he finds he has to stay and see things through. Laia and Elias are bound to meet, but are natural enemies. The story is harsh and brutal and fantastic; a real pageturner. Teens ages 14 and up will devour it and wait anxiously for a sequel.
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. Jackson’s rural family takes in a new foster brother on their farm, but Joseph is no superstar. He’s been in juvenile detention and has even fathered a child at age 13. While others continually sneer at him or warn Jackson away, Joseph is actually a gentle soul underneath and Jackson immediately feels the need to protect his new older brother. But even as Joseph slowly makes progress forward in the family, other elements are at work that are fated to pull him away. In the end, this very short book is a story about the power of love and kindness, even when it is at its most devastating. You’ll remember this book long after you put it down. Teens ages 12 and up.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you’ll either love or hate this book. Based off of characters she invented for her excellent book Fangirl, Rowell writes about a set of characters very like our friends at Hogwarts, only the hero is named Simon Snow and his arch nemesis Baz is also his roommate. Told through several points of view, we get a picture of a completely twisted on its ear version of Harry Potter. It’s a lot messier and more emotional and a heck of a lot more REAL. If you’ve read any fanfiction before, you will get an inkling of what it might be like. If you like different twists on favorites, you will adore this book. Definitely meant for older teens ages 15 and up.
Did you have any favorite titles for kids or teens published last year? Let us know in the comments!
|Noelle has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She’s also been a student teacher, worked as an online account manager, worked in a pet shop and as a supermarket checkout clerk, and as a dishwasher and fry cook. She is the proud mom of a beautiful daughter. You can read more of Noelle’s book reviews at Rave Reviews Log Noelle can be reached at “Noelle @ DadDoes.Com”|