Monday, September 24, 2018

Book of the Week: All That I Can Fix

by Crystal Chan
Published by Simon Pulse, 2018
314 pages
ISBN: 978-1-5344-0888-3

Age 13 and older


Teenage Ronney’s small Indiana town has been overrun by wild animals released from a private zoo, the owner’s last act before committing suicide by gun. Ten-year-old Sam, a friend of Ronney’s little sister, Mina, is convinced Ronney can find his older brother, who ran away. Ronney is worried about Sam, worried about Mina, and worried about his stressed out mom. He also feels betrayed, and heartbroken, when he learns his two best friends are dating (they all know he has a crush on one of them). Above all, Ronney is uncompromisingly angry at his dad, who’s battling depression and recovering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a suicide attempt months before. His dad has retreated from family life and, Ronney feels, abdicated his responsibilities, which Ronney is doing his best to fill. This compelling, ambitious novel has just the right touch of the absurd to balance its serious themes. Some of the dangers and complexities of guns in society continue to play out as townspeople arm themselves against the animals. (Some animals—and some people—prove more dangerous than others.) Mixed-race Ronney’s specific heritage is intentionally never revealed. His experience as a brown-skinned teen is that people want to categorize him, and do judge him. He is an irresistible force at the center of this story, a heart that won’t be denied, caring with each beat despite every claim he makes to the contrary.  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book of the Week: You and Me


by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Illustrated by Susan Reagan 

Published by Creative Editions, 2018
16 pages
ISBN: 978-1-56846-321-6

Birth - 6


“His skin’s so soft. / His hair’s so fine. / “I know my numbers / up to nine.” A board book brimming with warmth offers a fresh, lively, relatable look at family change. Rhyming couplets pair third-person statements in the voice of an adult (who appears to be the mom) making observations about the new baby in the family to an older sibling, and first-person statements in the voice of the older child, who is eager to tout their own accomplishments. The big sibling is also, of course, assuring they still have a place at the grown-up’s center of attention, something that there is no doubt about even before the big kid finally gets undivided attention--lap and storytime--when the baby falls asleep. “Hurray! / It’s time for you and me!” The baby is a boy; the older child could be any gender in story that celebrates both children in this Black family. The illustrations, like the narrative, provide a vivid, comforting sense of realism. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 10, 2018

Book of the Week: You Go First



by Erin Entrada Kelly

Published by Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2018
288 pages
ISBN: 978-1-06-241418-2

Ages 9-12


Twelve-year-old Charlotte’s Dad is hospitalized and she’s scared to visit him. Meanwhile, her best friend wants to move up in the social hierarchy at school and is willing to belittle Charlotte to do so. Eleven-year-old Ben is surprised and then furious when his parents announce they’re divorcing. He throws himself into running for student council treasurer, although his earnest campaign is destined to fail. Both smart and precocious, Charlotte and Ben live in separate cities. Their connection to each other is through an online word game and the online chatting that has grown around their play. Ben is generally oblivious to his social awkwardness and inability to pick up on cues that would no doubt make his transition to middle school easier. Charlotte is more aware of the ways she’s seen as odd. Alternating chapters follow each of their lives over the course of a difficult week, although neither is honest with the other about their current challenges. The parallels offer readers plenty to ponder. So, too, does the fact that Charlotte and Ben’s personalities are a matter of fact, not fault or in need of fixing. When they each connect with someone new at school, it’s clearly because of who they each are, not in spite of it. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Charlotte Zolotow Symposium: Illuminating Experience


The early bird registration rate for the Charlotte Zolotow Symposium expires September 15.  


Join us for a day of illuminating presentations, book discussion, breakouts, and conversation featuring Angie Thomas, Benjamin Alire S√°enz, Candace Fleming, Crescent Dragonwagon, Eric Rohmann, Javaka Steptoe, and editors Anne Hoppe and Neal Porter.

Click on the link above for a complete schedule and more information. 




Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Book of the Week: We Don't Eat Our Classmates


by Ryan T. Higgins


Published by Disney / Hyperion, 2018
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-368-00355-1


Ages 5-8


Penelope Rex is nervous about starting school, but she’s prepared: She’s got a new backpack with ponies on it (she loves ponies--they’re delicious), and 300 tuna sandwiches packed for lunch. But she is not prepared when she walks into her classroom and discovers the other students are all children. “So she ate them. Because children are delicious.” She spits them back up after being yelled at by her teacher, but it isn’t easy to make friends after that. Everyone is afraid of her, especially as she’s prone to the occasional relapse. Discouraged, she asks Walter, the class goldfish, if he’ll be her friend. Walter’s response gives Penelope a new perspective on how it feels to be someone’s snack, paving the way to friendship with her classmates. There’s no heavy-handed lesson in this hilarious picture book but that doesn’t mean there isn’t food—or at least a snack—for thought. The humor gets an even greater boost in mixed-media illustrations showing sweet-faced Penelope in her bright pink overalls alongside a diverse cast of sometimes angry, sometimes fearful, ultimately friendly human classmates. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 27, 2018

Book of the Week: Pride



by Ibi Zoboi

Published by Balzer + Bray, 2018
304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-256404-7

Age 12 and older


Zuri is second-oldest of five sisters in the Dominican-Haitian-American Benitez family. After the wealthy Darcys move into a renovated brownstone across the street from the Benitz’s apartment building in Bushwick, Zuri’s older sister, Janae, and friendly Ainsley Darcy fall hard for each other, but Zuri finds Darius Darcy to be arrogant and aloof. Once she’s thrown together with him, however, she begins to see there’s more to Darius. She’s intrigued, and more than a little attracted, until Warren, who attends Darius’s private high school on scholarship, tells her a story that confirms Zuri’s initial impression. Warren, meanwhile, is fine, not to mention sweet and charming. And he’s from the neighborhood, the real deal in every way. Isn’t he? Readers of Pride and Prejudice may find delight, recognition, and surprise in how this remix reimagines characters and plot for the 21st century, but familiarity is not required. Zuri is smart, witty, and perceptive; her sisters lively and entertaining. Rooted firmly in the specifics of people and place, this novel is steeped in Zuri’s tight-knit Afro-Latinx family and working class community, her love of them both, and her plans for attending Howard University and returning to Bushwick someday. It explores economics and race and culture and gentrification, revealing the complexities where and how they intersect. It’s also a satisfying love story. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 20, 2018

Book of the Week: Bob



by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

Illustrated by Nicholas Gannon 

Published by Feiwel and Friends, 2018
208 pages
ISBN: 978-1-250-16662-3

Ages 7-10


It’s been over five years since Livy, now almost 11, last visited her grandmother in Australia. Her grandmother is disappointed that Livy doesn’t remember much from that earlier trip. It’s even more disappointing to Bob, whom Livy finds in the closet of her mother’s childhood bedroom. A tattered chicken suit disguise 5-year old Livy made can’t hide the fact that Bob’s a small green creature, neither human nor fowl. Bob’s been waiting in the closet for Livy’s return, passing the time practicing the hokey pokey, constructing and de-constructing a Lego pirate ship, and occasionally crying as he wondered where and why his friend had gone. Livy’s memories of Bob gradually return in bits and pieces as he tells how she rescued him—or did he rescue her? Chapters alternate between Bob’s and Livy’s perspectives, and the impossible truth about Bob emerges within a larger story of family and home. Livy’s voice is firmly grounded in childhood as she struggles with anxiety about staying without her mother, who is off seeing friends, reconnects with Sarah, a girl she played with during her last visit, and attempts to keep Bob safe from all who might not be fooled by his chicken costume. Occasional brown--tone illustrations add a reassuring tone to this seamless merger of everyday and extraordinary.  (MVL) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center