Random House Children’s Book Buzz 2017

A Greyhound and a Groundhog by Emily Jenkins and Chris Appelhans looks like a delight. It’s full of wordplay, tongue twisting and spare, stylish illustrations. Should be a fun read aloud if I can handle it!

If you ever get a ride on a time machine, deliver early 2000s me a copy of Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout from Patricia McKissack and Jerry Pinkney so I can have a better repertoire of kid’s songs and such when I was bringing up my little one! As it is, I’ll have to settle for making it my new baby shower go to gift.

Bird, Balloon, Bear by Il Sung Na. You can’t have too many books about shy folks trying to make friends, especially one with this many excellent reviews.

Lucky for you they’ve pushed the release date of the Wonder movie back to the fall, giving you more time to grab We’re All Wonders, R. J. Palacio’s picture book about Auggie from the super popular middle grade novel.

Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh. I’m usually allergic to kid’s books with an overt social/cultural agenda but this collection from the We Need Diverse Books campaign has an amazing lineup and many starred reviews letting me know I’d be foolish to let it slip through the cracks.

If you’re not already on the Hilo bandwagon, grab the first two and pick up this third in the series and you will have happy readers from all grade levels thanking you as well as bugging you for more. Hilo: the Great Big Boom looks as wonderful and as mind-blowingly cool as the first two in the series.

The Explorer’s: The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress looks like just the kind of funny adventure book I would have lapped up as a kid. Hand this first in a new series to those Lemony Snicket fans.

That’s all from me when it comes to ALA Midwinter posts, and not a moment too soon. I just finished inventory and they’re about to deliver the next Scholastic Book Fair tomorrow so I’m kind of in the eye of the hurricane right now. (Dang, now I have Hamilton in my head again…)

Macmillan Children’s 2017 Book Buzz

Macmillan has a large, rich collection coming out. These were a few that I really want to grab for my collection as soon as I can.

Noisy Night by Mac Barnett and Brian Biggs is like a modern update of Brown Bear, Brown Bear what Do You Hear? with noisy neighbors in the upstairs apartment wondering what’s making that noise. The layout of the book makes it seem you’re climbing up to each apartment to see what’s next.

Jason Chin is continuing his breathtaking non-fiction nature books with the addition of Grand Canyon. Gorgeous.

Diversity, humor and writing inspiration can be found in Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan. Lots of great reviews for this one.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham look like it’s in the same ballpark as Smile, Sisters, El Deafo and Sunnyside Up. A graphic novel about friendship. By Shannon Hale, people. Shanon Hale!

HarperCollins Midwinter Book Buzz

Kevin Henkes is publishing his 50th book! It’s called Egg and will be perfect as always.

Since I went to Midwinter this book by the late Walter Dean Myers on Frederick Douglass is sounding even more interesting for some reason.

Drew Daywalt has had some super popular recent picture books. Adam Rex has illustrated some of the best picture books of the last decade. Now they’re together with The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Sounds great.

Invisible emmie is a graphic novel hybrid “perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jennifer Holm.”

This one sounds good and I think I got an ARC of it. Orphan Island by local (to me) writer Laurel Snyder. I’ve heard great things about this one but we’re partial to her here.

I loved Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy summer and need to read the rest in that series. Clayton Byrd Goes Underground is about a kid who wants to be a blues man more than anything and is willing to run away to the city if he has to.

Posted by John David Anderson might be more of a middle school book, but it sounded interesting. Something about a school which bans cellphones completely for some reason and the kids start using post-its on lockers instead. This idea catches on and is a positive thing for all…until some trolling and bulling starts up just like in the online world.

The Goblin and the Empty Chair


Earlier I posted about a dear friend we lost recently. The week following I knew I had to read something about grief but not something so sad I’d be a puddle every time I read it to the kids. Just something that touched on grief that would help me and may be interesting to the little ones.

The Goblin and the Empty Chair was the perfect choice. It’s by the amazing Mem Fox and lushly illustrated by the Dillons. If you click on that link there’s even a full length video of Mem Fox reading the whole story. Wonderful stuff.

It’s written in the style of an old fairy or folk tale. Long ago there was a goblin who happened to see his reflection and was so terrified of his looks, he stayed hidden and covered his face. One day he comes across a family who have obviously suffered some loss and are still grieving. The goblin, in turn, does things to ease the burden of a farmer, his wife and their child. He takes great pains to not be seen, but he is seen and quietly invited in.

It is never obviously revealed who has been lost, who was the former occupant of the empty chair. In an interview Mem Fox has said she imagined it to be a grandparent. If you look carefully at the illustrations, there is one that shows a framed pictureof a family of four on the wall indicating the Dillons took it too mean the death of a child, which is even more tragic.

It was good for me though. I did cry a little the first couple of times I read it but not a big deal. By the end of the week it really had helped me and led to some interesting conversations with the children. I actually didn’t focus on the grief aspect of the book that much. Since I’ve been reading books about kindness for the last few weeks, or at least books with characters having to deal with unkindness (The Invisible Boy, Bootsie Barker Bites, etc.) I focused on how the goblin was doing kind things for this family without even expecting recognition for it. I had the impression that was a new idea for some.

I’m in the middle of inventory but I’ll try to finish up the last three publishers I heard from at the Midwinter book buzz presentations over the next couple of weeks.

Four Feet, Two Sandals


I’ve been reading this 2007 title to some of the classes this week, for obvious reasons. I love that there has been at least one Muslim kid in each class who exclaims “That’s my language!” when I get to the phrase “As-salaam alaykum. Peace be with you.” I always ask if I pronounced it correctly and thank them when they say I did.

A girl from Afganistan is in a refugee camp in Pakistan. She finds a new sandal, her first new shoe in two years. Another girl, new to the camp, finds the other. They decide to share the sandals and become friends. The rest of the book describes daily life in the camp, people they’ve lost and one of them finding out she’s being resettled in America.

Diverse books matter. Representation matters. It matters more than I’d like right now but I’m glad I have books like this to at least get some of them thinking.

More Book Buzz from ALA Midwinter 2017

Two of the standouts for me in the Charlesbridge Publishing presentation was Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education because it’s gorgeously illustrated and because you can’t have enough books about Malala, a personal hero of mine. The other one was about a young Nina Simone but it doesn’t seem to be on their website yet.

I don’t usually discuss board books but Disney Book Group’s Feminist Baby is hilarious.

Feminist Baby likes pink and blue.
Sometimes she’ll throw up on you!

Feminist Baby chooses what to wear
and if you don’t like it she doesn’t care!”

And Mo Willems has a board book called Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals that is his first one written specifically for the format, but again, not up on their site yet.

If you are unaware, there is a popular Marvel series of comics about a new superhero called Squirrel Girl. I am not making this up. Now Shannon Hale (yes, THAT Shannon Hale!) has a middle grade chapter book about her called Squirrel Meets World. I already had a favorite 5th grader read the ARC and she loved it (and she hadn’t heard of Squirrel Girl before this.).

Disney is also going to be putting out Elephant and Piggie “Biggies” which will be hardbound books with collections of five Elephant and Piggie stories each. Kind of like the George and Martha books. These will not be new stories, just collections of the books we already know and love.

Bloomsbury 2017 Book Buzz

Picture Books

Okay this one will be timely. The first book they showed off that caught my eye was a lovely one about Pete Seeger. Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the path to Justice. The times are certainly ripe for re-listening to Pete Seeger songs.

My Kite Is Stuck! And Other Stories is a colorful and easy reading collection in the Elephant and Piggie vein. Looks like another fun reader’s theater choice.

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes. Multiple starred reviews. The best African-American artists do the illustrations. And it’s by NIKKI GRIMES y’all! What else do you need to know? Looks great.

Chapter Books

Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren looks good. The publisher rep said it was for fans of Shannon Hale books. It’s got a prison break, action, adventure, girl power, a cool cover painting and looks like something kids who grew up watching Frozen and Brave on a loop will be ready for.

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos sounds weird in a good way. There are books that show you how amazing people can be and books that show how terrible people can be and then there’s this kind that shows both at once. There’s cancer, there’s eBay, there’s a tumor with a point of view and a strong father/child bond. Oh, and starred reviews of course.

Young Adult

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles sounds exciting and gripping and all those buzzwords. James Dasher, Cassandra Clare, and even filmmaker Peter Jackson all love it. It’s the first of a series. It’s sounds like it’s a people from different worlds coming together story with great characters.

Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas is a follow up book to Because You’ll Never Meet Me getting starred reviews.

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson sounds powerful and intense. A young girls works hard to get out of her poor neighborhood but finds the mentoring program she’s signed up for which billed itself as being for “at risk” students is really just for Black girls from “bad” neighborhoods and even though her mentor is African-American, that doesn’t mean she understands. Multiple starred reviews.

Crossing Ebeneezer Creek looks like a powerful historical novel. Based on true events, it traces the journey of a young woman and her younger brother following Sherman’s March and dreaming of what comes after slavery. Starred reviews.

Penguin Young Readers 2017 Book Buzz

At the ALA Midwinter conference I sat through many publisher presentations showing off some of their current and upcoming titles. Penguin is first because they fed us lunch. I’m not the President and the Emoluments Clause doesn’t apply to me. It was yummy.

This is not a complete list. Just some of the ones that caught my eye or are otherwise seem worthy of the buzz.

Picture Books

Penguin has a delightful Ordinary People Change the World series. I admit I thought they looked a little twee when I first saw them but heard from someone who’s opinion I respect that their kid was devouring them up so I got a few to try in the library. Yup, very much enjoyed, so will be getting more soon. These are for the K-2 crowd and they have a new one on Jim Henson.

Tired of reading Scaredy Squirrel when it comes to trying something new? NOPE! by David Sheneman looks gorgeous and hilarious. It’s about a mother bird trying to get her little one out of the nest.

Life on Mars by Jon Agee looks fun, as his stuff usually does. Kid goes to Mars to prove there IS life there with unexpected and hilarious results.

The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra. C’mon! Do I even have to tell you more? Ok, goats with a candelabra (it’s fine, keep going) go looking for the feared Chupacabra with hilarious results.

Charlotte and the Rock looks fun. Girl wants a pet, parents get her a pet rock. Can it love her back? Maybe…especially if not is all as it seems…

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts) and illustrated by the super amazing Dan Santat. Already has a starred review and looks like a beautiful book on facing your fears.

Chapter Books

See You in the Cosmos is one you will be definitely hearing about. Already has starred reviews and sounds great. Being compared to Wonder and Walk Two Moons for it’s grace and emotional journey. A boy who idolizes Cal Sagan (okay, I’m hooked already!) travels around and records what life on Earth is life with the intention of launching his iPod into space the way Carl Sagan’s golden record was launched on the Voyager probe. Along with other things, he discovers some secrets and learns about his family.

Well, That Was Awkward is not something that remotely interests me, but my daughter might like it as well as many fifth graders and middle school students. It’s that whole girl with a crush on a boy who has a crush on her best friend thing, but apparently it’s really well done and getting starred reviews because of it’s wonderful characters and dialog.

Young Adult

I don’t buy YA for elementary school but I like to keep up with what’s out there for my soon to be in high school daughter (AAAAAHHHHHH!) and just because. Three titles they have coming out that look great are City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie Anderson, We Are Okay by Nina LeCour and Alex & Eliza: A Love Story (for those jillions of young Hamilton fans).

2017 Picks for the Book Club

January – Ancillary Justice – Leckie

February – Hateship, Friendship, Loveship, Courtship, Marriage – Munro

March – March by John Lewis! (I want to read all three of these…)

April – A Coney Island of the Mind – Ferlinghetti (and we bring poems to read aloud)

May – Symphony for the City of the Dead – Anderson

June – Confederates in the Attic – Horowitz

July – Eating Animals – Foer (and our annual July potluck)

August – I Hate to See the Evening Sun Go Down – Gay

September – Razor Girl – Hiaasen (If in paperback. If not, then maybe this one.)

October – Night Circus – Morgenstern

November – Over the Plain Houses – Franks

December – The Odyssey – Homer

You see anything here you might try? Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s What 4 Years of Book Club Looks Like

This is a photo from a fellow Guys Read book club member. He started in June of 2012 with On Writing by Stephen King on the bottom left shelf and Thursday we’ll be meeting to discuss Packing for Mars by Mary Roach which you can see on the top middle next to the funny bookend/tissue dispenser.

So satisfying! I read books: sometimes buying them, sometimes getting them from the library. Sometimes I get it on Kindle or audio. So while I keep a good list of the books I don’t have a monument like this one. As he says, “A job well done.”