UTB Spotlight: Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Greetings! And happy Teen Read Week!

Traditionally here at BCPL, Teen Read Week has become the time when we announce the latest additions to our annual Ultimate Teen Booklist. This year, we are trying something a little different. Instead of providing you with a utilitarian list of all the new additions, we’ve decided to tell you a little more about each of our picks—including an explanation of WHY we believe it deserves a spot on our Ultimate Teen Booklist. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be highlighting new additions for our 2017 list one by one so that you can learn more about each of them. So while Teen Read Week may officially end after today, we’ll be keeping the celebration going!

The first new addition to our 2017 list is Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley!

Whaley’s third novel was a Best of 2016 selection and has since appeared as a Staff Pick from yours truly, so it may come as no surprise that it’s joining the Ultimate Teen Booklist. I’ve read each of Whaley’s books, and every one of them has been named to the BCPL Best of the Year list: Where Things Come Back appeared on our 2011 Best of the Year list (our very first!); Noggin made the 2014 list; and, finally, Highly Illogical Behavior was selected last year.

Where Things Come Back also won Michael L. Printz and Morris awards, and Noggin was a National Book Award finalist. Yet of the three, Highly Illogical Behavior is the first to make the cut for our Ultimate Teen Booklist. All of Whaley’s books are extremely well written, with snappy dialog and intriguing characters, but Highly Illogical Behavior is the one that, for me, is the most memorable.

What it’s about:
Sixteen-year-old Solomon Reed hasn’t left his house in three years, and even the thought of doing so brings on crippling anxiety attacks. Solomon loves his family and Star Trek—and he’s fairly content with the status quo, even if his parents continue to hope he will someday want more. Enter seventeen-year-old Lisa Payton, a type-A overachiever with an essay to write about her “personal experience” with mental illness. Solomon’s breakdown three years ago was pretty public, so Lisa decides to “befriend” him and “fix” him to lock in the scholarship she’s chasing. She also pulls her boyfriend Clark in on the scheme.

Why it belongs on the list:
This is highly readable story about mental illness, friendship, and taking chances. It’s funny, bittersweet, though-provoking, smart, and sometimes eye-opening. Mental illness has become a popular topic of YA fiction in recent years, but Solomon’s anxiety is depicted so vividly that it feels like the realest, truest picture of anxiety I’ve encountered yet in fiction. Whaley has done a remarkable job of making the thoughts and fears of a teenage agoraphobe relatable.

The characters of Highly Illogical Behavior are complex and often defy stereotypes, from Solomon—who is so much more than the labels others might use to define him—to the sweet, unexpectedly layered Clark, who couldn’t be further from the standard one-dimensional “jock” character we’ve come to expect in fiction. Then there’s Lisa, who’s self-serving scheme should make her an easy character to loath, and yet the reader can’t help but see her redeeming qualities or at least understand her—and not just because of some “noble sacrifice” manufactured by the author to make her redeemable. Thankfully, Whaley has also avoided the too-common YA trope of absent or vilified parents—Solomon’s are pretty great without being too ridiculously perfect either. While the book’s characters act in a way that is completely believable, they still keep you guessing. Just when you feel a situation is taking a turn toward the predictable, it goes somewhere so much better and infinitely more honest.

Witty dialog, prose that seems effortless, and oodles of quirky charm make this book a joy to read, and the book is further elevated by the thoughtful, multi-dimensional treatment of a character with anxiety disorder. It’s a book that makes you think about friendship, about forgiveness, and about personal courage—not the courage that wins medals and acclaim, but the small braveries that can be found in each and every day.
Source: Book News and Reviews

SummerQuest 2017: 7 Guest Reviews from Middle-Grade Readers

SummerQuest is on! We’re having a great summer at BCPL with events ranging from awesome makerspaces to gaming nights to an outdoor concert. But the heart of our summer library program will always be books and reading.

And we’re so excited with the response we are receiving from the participants in our 10 in 10 Reading Challenge for Tweens, Teens, and Adults. Here are just a few of the book reviews we’ve received so far; more will be posted here over the month to come. A HUGE thanks to all of our guest reviewers for sharing!

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Reviewer: Victoria R., Age 10
Victoria’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel/Memoir
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: The book Sisters is about two girls named Raina and Amara. Raina and Amara have to travel for a week in the car to Colorado when the incident comes up again.  I think this book is good because its about the sisters. The author is also creative. There is also a lot of drama between the two sisters.

*This book completes the Book By or About Someone I Admire challenge in Victoria’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

EXTRA: Tracy’s Thoughts: This was my first Raina Telgemeier book, and I saw immediately why she has become so popular with both readers and reviewers. Her work is full of  heart and realistic relationships we can relate to. Here’s what I had to say a few years ago, when Sisters made our Best of 2014 list:

In her follow-up to Smile, Telgemeier focuses on the ups and downs of her childhood relationship with her younger sister. The two are wildly different and have frequent battles, and yet they have one very important thing in common. Though there are frequent flashbacks to key moments, the narrative centers on a family road trip to attend a family reunion. The pacing, text, and expressive art are top-notch.

The Hunt for the Hundredth Key by Geronimo Stilton
Reviewer: Victoria R., Age 10
Victoria’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Audience: Young Readers 

Victoria’s Summary & Review: The book, The Hunt for the Hundredth Key, is about Geronimo Stilton wanting to write a book until his sister takes him to help solve a mystery. I like the book because the author is creative. Another reason is because of the characters, setting, and the mystery.

*This book completes the Book I Loved As a Child challenge in Victoria’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

The Baby Sitters Club by Raina Telgemeier
Reviewer: Victoria R., Age 10
Victoria’s Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: The book, The Baby-Sitter’s Club, is about Claudia, Janine, and a baby-sitters club. Claudia and her friends want to baby-sit while Janine wants to study until an accident comes up. I enjoyed the book because of the setting, characters, and the author. The setting is outside and I like the outside, so that is why I like the setting. I like the characters because they are caring. I like the author, Raina Telgemeier, because she is creative.

*This book completes the Graphic Novel challenge in Victoria’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Victoria’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: This book is about a sister who loses her older sister while she was running to fast, so she slipped and fell into the slip. Her younger sister has help with her soul animal to find out why her sister had wanted to run faster. I liked this book, Maybe a Fox, because the author, Kathi Appelt, showed emotion well while writing. I also like how she describe every little detail. She also described each personality of the sisters really well. This is why I like the book Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt.

*This book completes the BCPL Staff Pick challenge in Katelynn’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

Rutabaga The Adventure Chef…Feasts of Fury by Eric Colossal
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Victoria’s Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: Rutabaga continues his mission to find exotic foods for his dishes. While trying to do this, he runs into all sorts of messes. While being a chief he gets taken and forced to work as a chief for an evil goblin. The book was okay because the author didn’t show any emotion while writing. Also, I don’t really like comics. Another thing is that the characters don’t really develop. This is why I think the book was okay.

*This book completes the Graphic Novel challenge in Katelynn’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Victoria’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Comedy
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: This book is about a kid who enters sweepstakes to earn something for his mom, because their dad died and they are put on eviction at their apartment for not paying the rent on time. I like this book because the author, Donna Gephart, puts good emotion into her writing. She also does a good job explaining how things happen in a different way than most authors do. This makes her writing enjoyable. This is why I think you should read the book Death by Toilet Paper.

*This book completes the Book Your Friends Love challenge in Katelynn’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

Middle School Escape to Australia by James Patterson
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Victoria’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Comedy
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: This book is about a kid named Rafe who wins an art competition and wins a trip to Australia. There he finds a group called the outsiders which he fits right into. He then makes a piece of art to display. What the people don’t know is that he has a bigger surprise coming. The book, Middle School Escape to Australia, is something you should read. First the author, James Patterson, does a really good job on showing emotion. Also, he does a good job on describing the characters. Not to mention he has a really good plot. He also does a good job on the setting. He makes the setting fit the story. This is why I think the book Middle School Escape to Australia is a good book to read.

*This book completes the Book Published in 2017 challenge in Katelynn’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2016: Adult Nonfiction

As some of you may know, I tend to gravitate to fiction books over nonfiction. Case in point: of the 80+ reviews I’ve written for Book News & Reviews over the years, only two of them—Sex on the Moon and Tiger, Tiger—have been for nonfiction works. That’s not to say I haven’t read, enjoyed, and recommended plenty of nonfiction books. But perhaps I’ve been a bit less enthusiastic in my desire to share and talk about the nonfiction titles I’ve read.

But this year, there have been nonfiction books I couldn’t wait to talk about. I was delighted when I learned a new essay collection would be released by Annie Dillard, a personal favorite ever since I discovered Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in an undergrad writing class. Then there was Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Klosterman’s But What If We’re Wrong?, both of which helped me finally get a word in edgewise with a certain friend who’s convinced he understands all the mysteries of the universe and tends to lecture his less informed friends (like me) despite pleas for mercy. And who wouldn’t want to tell everyone about a book featuring “the bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu”?

There were so many discussion-worthy nonfiction books in 2016, and not all of them could make our list of the Best Books of 2016. But if you have a favorite that didn’t make our 2016 list, let us know. We’re ready to talk books—fiction, nonfiction, whatever. 

The 2016 Adult Nonfiction committee includes:

  • Stephanie S., Reference Services, Hillview Branch Library 
  • Tanya, Circulation Clerk (various locations) 
  • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer

    The Abundance by Annie Dillard

    I say:
    Annie Dillard can always be counted on for an offbeat perspective on seemingly everyday occurrences, and her way of observing the natural world is nothing short of inspiring. She’s not for everyone, but her writing always leaves me in awe.

    *E-book available via Kentucky Libraries Unbound*

    Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans De Waal

    Stephanie says:
    I am not usually one to read about science, blah! However, De Waal’s book may just change that. De Waal’s cross-species study of cognition is amazing, even to a layman like me. This book is to make you think twice when talking to your pets or walking through the zoo. 

    The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s
    Most Precious Manuscripts
    by Joshua Hammer

    Tanya says:
    It had me hooked in the first chapter. There’s just the right mix of history and mystery, not overwhelming with unimportant details. This is a great read!

    The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams

    Stephanie says:
    LOVED it. It is a simple read, but thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational.

    Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

    Stephanie says:
    Loved it! Often when a musician writes a memoir, they use the same poetry they utilize in lyric writing and the outcome is disjointed, sporadic bursts of words that end up being too stream of consciousness. That is not the case with Born to Run. Springsteen does indeed employ the poetry he is famous for, but the end result is inspiring.

    Evicted by Matthew Desmond

    I say:
    In past years, books like Ghettoside (2015) and Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012) have given me an eye-opening glimpse at an unfamiliar world through in-depth fieldwork and compassionate reportage. Desmond’s stories of eight real families living in poverty in Milwaulkee is yet another gripping ethnographic study that I will remember for years to come. Literary journalism at its finest.

    Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

    Stephanie says:
    This book is definitely a niche book, but it’s really good!

    Morgue: A Life in Death by Dr. Vincent Dimaio and Ton Franscell

    Tanya says:
    I absolutely loved this book! It was a fast read, with very informative insights into current cases as well as infamous cases in history.

    Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

    I say:
    I got more out of this book than I retained from an entire semester of advanced high school physics and two semesters of college astronomy. Rather than introducing boring formulas I’ll never use and endless technical terms and dates, Rovelli focuses on the wider theories, their inconsistencies with one another, and the questions that still exist in our understanding. In under 80 pages, he explains a century’s worth of physics in conversational language, creating an accessible, beautiful meditation on physics and philosophy.

    *E-book and e-audiobook formats available via Kentucky Libraries Unbound*

    Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

    I say:
    Okay, I’ll be honest. I haven’t quite finished this book yet (it’s over 600 pages, and the audiobook I’m listening to is over 19 hours), but so far it’s fascinating! So I had to put it on this list anyway, even if it’s all downhill from here. Jackson’s life is interesting enough on its own, but Ruth Franklin does a wonderful job of grounding Jackson’s work and influence in her time and makes a convincing case for why she deserves more recognition in the greater literary canon. I’m a total book nerd with an interest in the history of publishing, so I am loving the references to Sylvia Plath, Ralph Ellison, and other writing and publishing personalities of the era as well as the insights into Jackson’s life and work.

    *E-audiobook available via Hoopla*

    The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

    Stephanie says:
    This is a book about writing, but more than that. It is about the love of words, sentences. Anyone who loves books for the artform that they are, for more than mere entertainment, would enjoy this book. It was written to inspire, and it did. I wanted to write in the margins and highlight my favorite passages.
    When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    I say:
    What a profound and moving book this is about death and about life. It’s beautifully written—I  have oodles of  passages saved in my Kindle highlights—and the author’s love of literature and his command of it permeates the entire book. One of my highlights (location 355) reads as follows: “Books became my closest confidants, finely ground lenses providing new views of the world.” With his own book, Kalanithi indeed provides a lens into the world, not only into his own life that ended far too soon but also a lens through which its readers can better understand their own hearts and minds.

    Stephanie says:
    Paul Kalanithi always wanted to be a writer; instead, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a doctor. I am sure many lives were saved by Kalaithi’s hands, but I mourn the loss of the writer. When simultaneously faced with death and new life, Kalanithi struggles with the one question we all struggle to answer; why are we here? And in my opinion, he answers it. Full of hope, full of wonder, Kalanitih will help you look at your world through a different perspective. A highly enjoyable read!

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BEST OF 2016: Adult Fiction

    If 2015 was the Year of the Super Long Book, then 2016 was an extraordinary year for short little gems. Four of the books to make our 2016 list—Another Brooklyn, Eleven Hours, Margaret the First, and The Vegetarian—come in at under 200 pages, and News of the World is just a tiny bit longer. Of course it’s possible we were so exhausted from reading massive (but fabulous) tomes like 2015’s Fates & Furies, A God in Ruins, and A Little Life that we were simply more apt to enjoy the shorter books this past year. But honestly, I think several 2016 releases nailed the ability to pack a truly powerful story into a slim volume, and we loved it.

    In addition to these short-but-awesome reads, we also discovered some truly memorable, more average-length works across a variety of genres, including historical fiction, contemporary drama, and even romance. We were especially drawn to thrillers in this year’s deliberations, and the committee had a tough time limiting the number to make the final list. But ultimately, we’ve created a list of titles we feel lives up to the designation “Best of the Year.”

    The 2016 committee includes:

    • Beth, Assistant Branch Manager, Lebanon Junction Branch Library
    • Donna, Circulation Clerk (various locations)
    • Stephanie S., Reference Services, Hillview Branch Library
    • Tanya, Circulation Clerk (various locations)
    • Tobee, Lebanon Junction Branch Manager
    • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer
    • Trish, Reference Services, Mt. Washington Branch Library
    All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

    Donna says:
    A suspenseful page turner!

    Trish says:
    I loved this book. There are so many twists and turns!

    Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

    I say:
    Woodson, whether she is writing in verse or prose, can always be relied upon for her stunning imagery and use of language.

    Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

    Beth says:
    I LOVED this book! It has a great story, and I could not put it down!

    Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    I say:
    Patchett does a fantastic job of detailing the messiness of modern families.

    Donna says:
    I enjoyed this story as seen through the eyes of two families of children that are fused together through the dissolution of their own families and then joined by marriage. These children go through much chaos growing up, actually raising themselves. The bonds they form are lasting, and the stories they have to share are very eye opening and entertaining.

    Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens

    Tanya says:
    Heartbreaking and mesmerizing at the same time. It’s a beautiful, yet sad, portrayal of the emotions that different women can face during delivery. I read this in one night.

    The Fireman by Joe Hill

    I say:
    There were passages in The Fireman that were so visceral and beautifully put that they held me in thrall. I was listening to the audiobook, so I often scanned back on the CD just to hear them again. Easily one of my favorites of the year.

    Beth says:
    Fans of Stephen King may already know that Joe Hill is his son, and you will see many nods to King’s works in this riveting book. Hill’s work is getting progressively better—from Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2, Hill seems to have found his niche and takes you on a ride you never want to end. The Fireman is a terrific read, with characters I cared about within the first 50 pages. Every time I put it down, I was burning to pick it up again to keep reading. The best book I’ve read all year!

    First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

    Tobee says:
    This is an excellent contemporary romance with well-developed characters. The plot is fast moving with several surprises, and the interactions between characters and their unique points of views pull you in immediately.

    Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

    I say:
    Luminous. This sweeping saga begins in 18th-century Ghana and first follows two half sisters who are strangers to one another and then their descendants. While one sister’s line remains on the Gold Coast, the other sister is transported to America. The story of each generation feels like an intimate, powerful tale all on its own, but together they all fit into one beautifully perfect book. It’s a stunning debut and probably my favorite book of the year.

    I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

    Donna says:
    The book was a little slow for the first chapter or two, then it grabbed me with an iron fist! The plot is great, full of unexpected turns. I loved it. 5 stars!

    Trish says:
    When one of the reviewers said that they audibly gasped at one point while reading it I actually snorted. However, while reading this book one afternoon I gasped so hard that I dropped the book onto the ground. I highly recommend this book and I can honestly say that I loved it! Not one but TWO great twists!

    Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

    Stephanie says:
    To call Jane Steele a retelling of Jane Eyre is unfair. Although the heroines share more than just a first name, the books are very dissimilar. Where Jane Eyre sees no justice, Jane Steele revels in it. Where Jane Eyre seems a timid girl, Jane Steele is beyond bold. Even those who have never read Jane Eyre will enjoy Jane Steele, a thoroughly avant-garde anti-heroine.

    Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton

    Stephanie says:
    Dutton’s fictional work paints a beautiful picture of a not-so-pleasant past. This historical work reads more like a contemporary novel, or maybe it’s just that “Mad Madge” was sooo ahead of her time.

    The Mothers by Brit Bennet

    Donna says:
    This is a story about a high school love where choices become lifelong consequences. It’s a story of two sides of a family, with two sides of emotions. It gives readers a lot to think about, and with the different viewpoints, I think the book offers something for everyone.

    News of the World by Paulette Jiles

    Tobee says:
    Very well written and interesting! In a western setting, just after the Civil War, an elderly ex-military man is taxed with the mission of delivering a ten-year-old Indian captive to her relatives. Captain Kidd and Johanna surmount numerous challenges and defy swollen rivers, outlaws, and the less-than-understanding attitudes of other people. The somewhat reluctant Captain and the half wild child become grandfather and granddaughter in a family bond that lasts the rest of their lives.

    The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

    Donna says:
    I highly recommend this one! It’s a story of a powerful love between a mother and daughter and how that love withstands the test of time, under extremely dysfunctional circumstances. It’s a very entertaining story illustrating how many children with single parents that are seeking “true love” eventually find themselves. 

    Tobee says:
    The characters are wonderfully portrayed in all their good and bad traits, and the plot is riveting. Sometimes I laughed and sometimes I wanted to cry, but I always wanted to know what was going to happen next!

    Redemption Road by John Hart

    Beth says:
    I LOVED this book! John Hart is such a wonderful storyteller. This is a really good crime story with a twisty plot and great characters.

    Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

    Donna says:
    There are parts of this book that are extremely hard to read or listen to, but it is so worth it. I loved it. This book really makes a person look at the world in a different way.

    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    I say:
    This creative reimagining of the Underground Railroad as a literal railroad did more to aid my understanding of the risks undertaken by fugitive slaves and the Railroad’s facilitators than anything I’ve read before. It’s a wonderfully written book, with some passages I will probably never forget. 

    The Vegetarian by Han King

    Tanya says:
    Not at all what I expected, but totally worth the read. I couldn’t put it down; it was that good, that surprising.

    The Widow by Fiona Barton

    Tanya says:
    What an excellent read! The book is experienced through the perspective of all the characters involved, plus there’s a plot twist I didn’t see coming at all.

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BEST OF 2016: Our Favorite Books for Teens

    From the fantastic world building of top-notch fantasies to historical dramas and gritty realistic fiction that left me stunned, 2016 was a fantastic year for young adult literature. I’ve laughed at clever repartee (Highly Illogical Behavior), I’ve been mesmerized by gorgeous storytelling (The Sun Is Also a Star), and I’ve been completely engrossed by not one but two stories featuring teenage killers (Scythe and The Female of the Species).

    And those are just some of the YA books I’ve read and loved over the past year. Our Best of 2016 list is a joint effort and includes a wide variety of fiction and a few standout nonfiction titles.

    The 2016 committee includes:

    • Brandy, Circulation Clerk
    • Crystal, Circulation Clerk
    • Elizabeth, Technology Support
    • Stephanie S., Reference Services, Hillview Branch Library
    • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer


    Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

    I say:
    Well-developed, authentic characters and a unique setting make Burn Baby Burn one of my most memorable reads of 2016. The juxtaposition of the fear that permeated New York City during the Summer of Sam with Nora’s own troubled home life creates a sense of edgy urgency that pulled me into the story completely.

    The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

    Crystal says:
    This is a book that grabbed my interest with just the summary, and it definitely did not disappoint. Not only was the plot engaging, but the characters and setting really made me think.

    The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

    Crystal says:
    I loved the premise of this story from the beginning, and it was a very engaging read. The author’s ability to take such a dark topic like murder and shape the story in a way that demonstrates the characters’ maturity was quite fascinating for me.

    The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

    I say:
    A teenage killer who volunteers at an animal shelter, a preacher’s kid with her own secret rebellions, and a player who struggles with the fear that he really is a douchebag may seem like an unlikely trio of narrators, but Mindy McGinnis gives readers a gift with each of these characters. This is an unsettling, brutal book in many respects, but it’s also complex, riveting, and completely brilliant. 

    The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

    Elizabeth says:
     It grabbed me from the start! I had to find out why she was in the mental institution and if she was ever going to get out and come to terms with her past.  

    The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

    Elizabeth says: 
    This is such a great story about a girl drawn into the search for a missing Jewish girl during WWII. A story with mystery, betrayal, and heroism. 

    Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

    I say:
    I can’t say enough good things about this book! Unlike some of the other “award worthy” books of the year, Highly Illogical Behavior doesn’t feel like it’s actually trying to win an award, if you know what I mean. Instead, there’s an unselfconscious ease and wit, creating a highly readable story about mental illness, friendship, and taking chances. The characters are quirky and immensely likable despite their flaws, and Whaley has done a remarkable job of making the thoughts and fears of a teenage agoraphobe relatable.  Even better, he has created a fully rounded character with Sol that is so much more than the fear others use to define him.

    The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

    Elizabeth says:
    It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did I couldn’t wait to see how everything would play out!

    The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

    Crystal says:
    Intriguing and enlightening from start to finish, this book taught me a lot about a time in world history that I knew very little about. It was the kind of book that kept me guessing, and that definitely makes for a great reading experience.

    The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

    Crystal says:
    I listened to the audiobook and was instantly drawn back into the world of Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, thanks to her brilliant use of description and her enigmatic characters. This book perfectly completes the story that began in the first book and kept my interest from start to finish.

    Stephanie says:
    A good storyteller effortlessly compels you to experience the spectrum of emotion; I laughed, I cried, etc. This is true of Stiefvater, and especially true in The Raven King. The book grips you from the first sentence and doesn’t let you go. You will be on the edge of your seat until the end, and what an ending it will be.

    Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

    I say:
    I loved the different points of view and the fact that readers were given the perspectives of characters who are seldom represented in literature about World War II. Here we get a young Lithuanian nurse traveling with a group of refugees, a Prussian apprentice on a self-appointed mission, a determined fifteen-year-old Polish girl with a sad past, and a young Nazi who is staunchly loyal to Hitler’s propaganda, all on a journey to a doomed ship without knowing the greater danger that awaits. Sepetys does a remarkable job of bringing to life a historical event that deserves to be much better known.

    Elizabeth says:
    The story flowed easily and never lost my interest. I loved all the different points of view!

    Scythe by Neal Shusterman

    I say:
    Set in a world where humans are virtually immortal and ordained killers known as Scythes are used to keep overpopulation in check, this is a gripping sci-fi thriller that raises thought-provoking questions about morality and human nature. I can’t wait for the next two books in the planned trilogy!

    The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    I say:
    Nicola Yoon’s follow-up to Everything, Everything is an an intensely moving and thought-provoking journey from beginning to end. What is on the surface a meet-cute romance becomes so much more as questions of destiny and chance arise and underlying connections are unraveled.


    Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America by Gail Jarrow

    Elizabeth says:
    Going into this book I had a very limited knowledge of the bubonic plague. It answered many of my questions and I found it interesting. I’ll never think of fleas the same again!
    March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell

    I say:
    I can’t believe I waited so long to start this series! March: Book Three deserves all the accolades it has been getting and more.

    Radioactive!: How Irène Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World by Winifred Conkling

    Brandy says:
    This book is abundantly full of pertinent and interesting facts.

    Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner

    I say:
    With fluid prose and the occasional snarky aside, this epic warrior tale reads like a novel while creating a fascinating (and often violent) picture of 12th century Japan and a man who became a legend.

    Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II by Albert Marrin

    I say:
    So much of World War II history focuses on the war itself, Hitler, and the European experience, but I have been fascinated by the Japanese-American experience during that time ever since I read John Okada’s No-No Boy as a college undergrad. With Uprooted, Marrin presents a well-researched, accessible account of a dark moment of American history that might also serve as a cautionary tale.

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BEST OF 2016: Our Favorite Books for Middle-Grade Readers/Tweens

    From a shipwrecked robot story to the true tale of a child survivor of the Nagasaki bomb, our 2016 selections are all about variety. There’s the wonderful humor of The Best Man and the breathless intensity of The Plot to Kill Hitler. The heartwrenching beauty of Maybe a Fox, and the fun-filled adventure of Mighty Jack.

    We hope every reader of middle-grade fiction or nonfiction will discover a book they love among our Best of 2016 list. We sure did!

    The 2016 committee includes:

    • Allison, BCPL Outreach & Programming Supervisor
    • Cheryl, Assistant Branch Manager, Ridgway Memorial Library
    • Marianne, Reference Services, Ridgway Memorial Library
    • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer


    As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

    Allison says:
    Realistic characters, wonderfully developed. I am a fan of Reynolds, but I was worried since this is his first foray into middle-grade. He did a great job transitioning from YA; this was excellent.

    Marianne says:
    A nice story about city kids (brothers) and a slow-moving summer spent with Grandparents on a remote farm in Virginia. They learn about family, friendship, and consequences.


    The Best Man by Richard Peck

    Cheryl says:
    Hilarious and fast-paced, this story is told convincingly from a boy’s point of view. I laughed and laughed. I especially love the relationships Archer has with the four men in his life!


    Booked by Kwame Alexander

    I say:
    Anyone who loves words, books, or puns will be unable to resist Booked. It’s a fun and engaging read, a whirlwind of short poems that fit together to form the story of Nick’s eighth-grade experiences, from his parents’ breakup to soccer victories and his first crush. And who doesn’t love a story featuring a rapping librarian as a side character?

    Marianne says:
    I listened to the audiobook and was mesmerized by the style and rhythm of the poetry and enthralled with the story.

    Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

    I say:
    There were so many wonderful middle-grade novels in verse this past year, including Booked (a fellow 2016 Best Book) and Catching a Storyfish (which just missed the cut). What makes this one stand out for me is the stereotype-breaking hero. I also really enjoyed the tanka poetry style, along with Grimes’s explanation at the end of the book.

    Marianne says:
    A short and sweet coming-of-age story told in verse.

    Ghost by Jason Reynolds

    I say:
    Totally gripping from beginning to end. Reynolds covers so much in this relatively slim novel that clocks in at under 200 pages. The story feels both timeless and entirely modern. I am so excited that this is the beginning of a new series!


    Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

    I say:
    I really loved Raina Telgemeier’s portrayal of sisterhood in Sisters, and Ghosts is just as good, with the added benefit of…well, ghosts.


    The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, illus. by Hatem Aly

    Allison says:
    I couldn’t put it down. Went to bed intending to read a chapter or two. Ended up not going to sleep and finished it in one sitting. I didn’t want it to end. I like the Canterbury Tales feel of different narrators, always making it fresh. The tension was nail-biting. Can we say medal-worthy?

    The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

    Allison says:
    Powerful, inspiring, uplifting. I LOVED this one!

    Marianne says:
    I’m a big fat mom, so I had to overcome my horror at the two sisters who were abandoned and left in the care of an abusive “stepmother”…once I was able to set that aside, I really was fascinated at the imaginations of those two little girls.

    Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

    Allison says:
    I don’t cry reading books. Or watching sappy movies, or commercials. I bawled like a baby reading this. Which was even more problematic since I was reading it in public. This was gut-wrenchingly wonderful for me. If it doesn’t receive a Newbery, my faith in humanity is gone.

    Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

    Allison says:

    I really like this one, and the artwork is dramatically good. Is the next book in the series out yet??????

    Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

    Allison says:
    MOVING is not the word. I don’t generally like to read about someone’s struggle with disease, but this one drew me in. Realistic fiction is not usually something middle-grade authors do well, but this is amazing!

    Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illus. by John Klassen

    I say:

    Pennypacker writes with an insightful lyricism that is simply stunning. Also, I love that Pax perceives and acts like a real fox, not a standard children’s book animal who thinks and acts more like a human.

    Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

    I say:
    Yet another standout middle-grade novel from two-time Newbery-winner Kate DiCamillo. The writing is crisp and energetic despite the quiet story. I adored Raymie and the quick, unexpected friendship she builds with her fellow baton-twirling students. There are so many small moments in this book to love.

    The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

    I say:
    Oh my goodness, the illustrations in this book! The design of the book is simply beautiful, as is the story. A wonderful mix of reflection and action, with short, punchy chapters to keep readers in thrall.

    Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

    Allison says:
    I like the setting, the description of the town, and the way Annabelle’s parents take to Toby. There’s a bit of  a To Kill a Mockingbird feel to the story and characterizations.


    Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illus. by Josée Masse

    Allison says:

    The illustrations are gorgeous, and I like the two narrator approach and the rhythmic flow of the poems, their arrangement in the collection. Some prior knowledge of Greek mythology might make it even more enjoyable, but the notes for those who aren’t into mythology are helpful.

    Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxanne Orgill, illus. by Frances Vallejo

    I say:
    The concept behind this book is so inventive! The illustrations are fantastic, and the (mostly) free-form poetry perfectly evokes the spirit of jazz music. Plus, the short bios and further reading suggestions in the back matter provide a path for those who wish to learn more.
    Allison says:
    I’m not usually a fan of poems, but this was neat. Each poem led to the next, adding up to tell the story of the gathering of the musicians from the photograph.

    The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero
    by Patricia McCormick

    Allison says:
    HOLY cow!! I loved this. Faced-paced nonfiction/biography that reads like awesome fiction? Who knew it was not only possible, but that the reader would forget it was nonfiction? This book definitely left me thinking and wondering,

    A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

    I say:
    Wonderful. Of all the spectacular poetic works I’ve read this year, this is the one that most stands out for me. It’s such a loving, fascinating tribute to Ezra Jack Keats and the impact of his work.

    Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson

    I say:
    This is such a powerful book that puts a face on an under-examined moment in US-Japanese history and the longlasting consequences for Japanese survivors in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The story is very readable, and the book is laid out perfectly to provide age-appropriate context with informative sidebars, photographs, etc. Important, harrowing, and beautifully done.

    *Available on Hoopla*

    Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

    Allison says:
    FANTABULOUS!! The story flows from page to page, with bold artwork and personal commentary from White. This feels like you are sitting in someone’s living room looking at their—amazing!— personal scrapbook.

    The Way Things Work Now by David Macauley

    I say:
    I was so glad to see the late-90s classic guide updated to include the digital age! Curious kids who like building and technology or simply want to understand the way things work will love Macauley’s way of illustrating complex concepts. Engaging text and illustrations make it a joy to browse, or you can focus on whatever category interests you, from simple machines to digital devices and Wi-Fi,

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BEST OF 2016: Our Favorite Books for Young Readers

    Over the course of the last year, our Young Readers Committee read (and often reread) nearly 200 books on our longlist to identify those titles we believe to be the best 2016 had to offer for toddlers and preschool- and early-elementary-school-aged children. 
    The 2016 committee includes:

    • Allison, BCPL Outreach & Programming Supervisor
    • Angel, Children’s Outreach & Programming Library Specialist
    • Cheryl, Assistant Branch Manager, Ridgway Memorial Library
    • Monty, Circulation Clerk
    • Pam, Mt. Washington Branch Manager
    • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer
    It was tough narrowing down the finalists and we had plenty of disagreements along the way. For examples, I was unanimously overruled regarding Joyce Sidman’s Before Morning, and two of us adored Cynthia Rylant and Christian Robinson’s Little Penguins while others didn’t like it at all. But in the end, we’re very happy with our final selections. So without further ado, BCPL’s favorite 2016 books for young readers are:
    Picture Books – Fiction

    Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth by Jarvis

    I say:
    There’s a lot to like about this book, including the bold, digitally colored illustrations; multiple humorous scenes; and perfect lead-ins for important parent-child discussions on bullying, not being afraid to be honest with others, and finding your niche. Personally, I loved the expressiveness of the various jungle animals. The big-eyed frog is a favorite.

    Angel says:
    Love it! It’s a very cute book with great talking points about bullying. 

    Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

    I say:
    I love this one! It has a wonderful simplicity but has some stunningly effective nuances in the illustrations. The mostly red, black, and white pencil drawings with their sepia background are charming and elegant. The text and the illustrations work together perfectly to tell a story encouraging individuality, empathy, and imagination. Pre-readers could even enjoy the story through the pictures alone. One of my favorites.

    Allison says:
    I love the seemingly opposing themes and ideas that go hand in hand! Refreshingly simple example of children who might feel different or out-of-place who follow their gut instinct to be who they are. And the illustrations are SUPERB!

    A Brave Bear by Sean Taylor, illus. by Emily Hughes

    Pam says:
    Oh my! That little bear is the cutest. Do I like this story? Absolutely! It is a wonderful father/son story, beautifully illustrated.

    The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Merino

    Several of us were charmed by the amusing, authentic sibling relationships and the quirky illustrations and side characters. Allison is hoping for a story about the dragon with an interesting smirk, and I would love to know more about the mysterious mouse who quietly pops up in the background throughout the book. And the message is one we all love.

    Monty says:
    This is a fun read featuring many colorful illustrations. The story can help children realize that everyone has wonderful ideas that should be shared and that no matter what others may believe about your ideas, you should believe in yourself for nothing is impossible.

    Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

    Cheryl says:
    I love this book. How much fun you can have with a story that has a make believe language included. Awesome!

    Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty, illus. by Julia Sarcone-Roach

    I say:
    This is such a relatable story for anyone who comes from a large family or has overachieving siblings. Through the story of a dog named Ed who is determined to match the excellence of his loving family and enjoy the same privileges as the Ellis children (like sitting on the couch and eating at the table), readers can discover or talk about the things that make them excellent, even if they are less obvious than being a math whiz or a star athlete. The crayon and grease pencil illustrations are perfect for the story, conveying warmth,  movement, and Ed’s loyalty and mischievousness. And the final page is perfection.

    Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins

    Allison says:
    I love it! Vocabulary, school subjects, all related to the life of a dog. It’s humorous enough to keep an adult entertained, busy and visual for children.

    Monty says:
    This book shows a loving relationship between a boy and his dog and how they learn together. The illustrations are great and add much character to the story.

    I say:
    We’re cheating a little bit picking this one since it was originally published in 2015 in the UK, but its first US printing was in 2016. This cute story of a little boy playing hide-and-seek with an elephant is sure to elicit smiles all around. Little kids familiar with the game will get a giggle at the boy’s obliviousness and be proud of finding Elephant for themselves. There are also lots of fun details for observant kiddos (seriously, keep your eye on the dog), or perhaps the book can help kids who are less sharp-eyed to become more observant. As Allison pointed out in our deliberations, this one will encourage kids to look beyond the text and pay attention to visual cues and their own observances.

    Henry & Leo by Pamela Zagarenski

    Cheryl says:
    I really enjoyed this book, and a child will identify with the story about a favorite toy. The imagination in the book is fun and it gives a happy feeling.

    Ida, Always by Caron Levis, illus. by Charles Santoso

    I say:
    This is a beautiful, heartbreaking story with nuance that still remains relatable for children. It’s blunt in places, but still appropriately gentle. I love the scenes illustrating that it is okay to still laugh, to be angry, or to want to be alone. The text is great for vocabulary building, and the writing does a fabulous job of capturing both the energy of the city and the intimacy of the characters’ friendship.

    Allison says:
    I like the gentle way that this story brings hope to struggle and grief. I like that Gus finds a way to move on, though he is sometimes troubled. This is a must for the list, if not for the beautiful yet simple illustrations, then for the gentle way the subject matter is handled.

    Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead

    I say:
    I really enjoyed the mixed-media style. The effect is somewhat reminiscent of Lois Elhert, though the tone and art are actually quite different. Conversational prose poetry addresses both the everyday and a few more elevated topics, like war. I particularly liked the war illustration where the bomb turns into a fish and the final image where Wednesday dreams of a blue squirrel that recalls a paint-splatter horse from earlier in the book. It’s an even, thoughtful story about imagination and creation and offers many interesting opportunities for discussion between children and their parents or educators.

    Allison says:
    This book seems so simple at first glance, and the mixed-media made me wince. I don’t generally enjoy the style, but this time it fits the seemingly disjointed, but oh-so-connected storyline. I think this book will encourage children to notice what is around them in a way that is all their own, and encourage them to discuss their thoughts. And, it isn’t often easy to discuss abstract thoughts with young children, but this book not only gives us an example, but instruction on how to start that process. LOVED IT!

    Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol

     Cheryl says:
    The story and illustrations are both great. And—SPOILER ALERT!—when she gets to the worm hole, you can whisper to the kids how she was completely alone.

    I say:
    Excellent comic timing, richly-colored illustrations, and a touch of the bizarre make this twist on a traditional folktale so much fun to read!

    Let’s Play! by Hervé Tullet

    I say:
    I LOVE these interactive picture books, and so does my 3-year-old niece. I bought her this one for Christmas, and she had me read it to her over and over, twice in one session before she would let me leave her house to go home! It was so much fun to see her enthusiasm and wonder as her actions seemingly affected the outcome of the next page. And in addition to being a great deal of fun to read together, the book is also wonderful for helping children with following directions and learning colors, counting, and other concepts, Let’s Play joins Press Here and Tap the Magic Tree on my list of interactive favorites. Za-za-ZOOM!

    Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
    by F. Isabel Campoy, illus. by Theresa Howell, Rafael Lopez

    I say:
    Brimming with exuberance and color, this visually stunning and inspirational story about creativity and community is based on a true story.

    Penguin Problems by John Jory, illus. by Lane Smith
    I say:

    There were lots of great penguin books this year, and even another book about a grumpy penguin. (We liked Claire Messer’s Grumpy Pants a lot too.) But this story is so perfectly paced and busting with humor, and Lane Smith’s illustrations are so expressive without extra clutter on the page, that I’m claiming this one as my favorite penguin book of the year.

    School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illus. by Christian Robinson

    I say:
    This a story of the first day of school from an entirely news perspective: the school’s! It will be a great first day of school or back to school read, especially for kids who are feeling a little self conscious. Plus, there are a few truly fantastic moments, such as the water fountain incident and School’s resulting embarrassment. 

    Superhero Instruction Manual by Kristy Dempsey, illus. by Mark Fearing

    Allison says:
    This book reads like a how-to, while keeping a story behind the words. I love the asides, the rhythmic flow of the storyline, and the call to greatness in everyday life. There’s a good lesson in how we can think of the stereotypical version of things, and realize that sometimes reality is better than fiction. I also like the comic book feel; this one’s in my top 10.

    Pam says:
    I so enjoyed this book. The facial expressions of the sister and dog add humor to the story. Five stars, definitely! Smiles turn to laughter while reading this one.

    There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

    I say:
    This is a cute little adventure story that also helps build vocabulary and narrative skills. It’s extremely inventive in the way it unfolds, with lots of little details to ponder and discuss. There’s great use of dramatic effect and humor, and the shifting settings, colors, and moods are wonderful. Animal and nature lovers are sure to enjoy. Also, I like that although the protagonist is established as a boy, readers can easily imagine the protagonist to be a girl if they wish. One word of caution, though: There has been a bit of controversy over this one, with some readers expressing concern over stereotypical representations of native peoples due to the use of the word “tribe.” Whether you view the book’s kids as simply a group of primitive children or something else, you might want to be mindful of  possible connotations or questions,

    Angel says:
    I love the illustrations. I love that there are several talking points and the language used in named  each group of animals, I love that in the end, the main character finally finds his place.

    Pam says:
    This book is unique. It is different from the books I have been reading, the illustrations stand out. There is a softness to the pictures and yet they are so colorful.

    They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

    I say:
    This book is a wonderful, visual exploration of perspective and can do much to help children think about other’s points of view and their own perceptions. If you’re reading with a scientifically-minded kid, it can be a great jumping off point for talking to kids about how certain animals see differently (e.g., in black and white or through vibrations) than human or other animals. There’s been a lot of buzz about this one as a likely Caldecott contender.

    Cheryl says:
    This was a good story with a good rhythm. You can do hand claps along with it to make it more interactive and exciting. The illustrations are really good, too.

    This Is Not a Picture Book! by Sergio Ruzzier
    I say:

    Ruzzier’s Two Mice was one of my favorites from our Best of 2015 list, and I like this one just as much if not more. With the minimal text and quietly quirky illustrations, the book has much more to offer than one would expect at first glance. Ruzzier’s characters are always unique—much like those of the beloved Dr. Seuss, though Ruzzier’s work is more far gentle and restrained. Sweet and offbeat, This It Not a Picture Book! is a wonderful picture book, from endpaper to endpaper (just pick it up and you’ll see what I mean).

    Monty says:
    This is a cute story perfect for teaching about reading and how it helps you learn new things.

    Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illus. by Yuyi Morales

    Allison says:
    The illustrations are superb! And even though the author is better known for wriiting for older readers, the book isn’t overly texty, instead focusing on the clues in the text and illustrations to make the points. I love the spirit of the character, and his yearning to be himself. The sky is the limit! 

    We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

    I say:
    I love the deadpan humor and visual cues Klassen uses in his hat books. This one shares many similarities with the other two wonderful books in the trilogy, but with a fun Western feel and a new moral. The result is a surprisingly sweet story about friendship and resisting temptation.

    Pam says:
    So much is expressed in so few words. There is only one hat, but two turtles. Klassen is able to resolve the issue in such a way that it brings out the true meaning of friendship.

    The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem Pangur Bán
    by Jo Bogart, illus. by William Smith and Sydney Smith

    I say:
    This is a quiet tale about easy companionship, working toward a goal, and subtle similarities. The white cat and his pursuit of knowledge helped the monk to find joy and purpose in his plain, dark room. The typography and illustrations are perfectly suited to the story, and the watercolor spread at the end is lovely. Younger children may not make all of the connections without adult guidance, but they will likely enjoy the cat’s adventures (unless—SPOILER ALERT!— they’re traumatized by the mouse’s capture).

    Picture Books – Nonfiction 

    Anything But Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic
    by Mara Rockliff, illus. by Iacopo Bruno

    I say:
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. This story has a great message and the text and illustrations work together to create drama and excitement. I love the colors and 3D paper-doll effect in the illustrations. Older readers will appreciate the back matter info.

    The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

    I say:
    This nonfiction/fiction hybrid does a great job of portraying the diversity and controlled chaos of a large airport without overwhelming. There’s a Where’s Waldo aspect in following the progress of  Monkey as well as hunting down funny additions to the scene, like the woman in the heavy parka and scarf and the characters dressed like the Wright Brothers. There’s lots of opportunity to talk about where they might be traveling to or from, or why they’re going. I liked how the calm recitation of info contrasted with the little sister’s moments of panic about Monkey (which might mirror a child’s anxiety about the airport).

    Cheryl says:
    I really liked this book. At first it can seem very busy, but then you begin to enjoy the details. I like that the pictures are telling several stories along with the informational aspects about an airport.

    Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre

    I say:
    In 2015, we loved Sayre’s Raindrops Roll. The combination of real-life photography and poetic nature observation is just as enjoyable here.

    Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Meilo SoI say:
    This is a really well done true story about environmental awareness, scientific observation, and community activism. Inspiring, especially for kids who love stories about real kids who make a difference.

    Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by R. Gregory Christie

    Pam says:
    The illustrations are beautiful. Each page is a beautiful work of art. They tell an emotional story. The rhyme scheme adds to the story. This was the life of a slave. It was a life that was repeated week after week. This was the rhythm of their life.

    Giant Squid by Candace Fleming, illus, by Eric Rohmann

    I say:
    Marvelous artwork creates an eerie, haunting picture that is echoed in the poetic text. Haunting, exciting, mysterious. Brilliant.
    *BCPL copies are on order*

    The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes retold by Duncan Tonatiuh

    I say:
    Tonatiuh’s stylized art is even more gorgeous and dynamic here than usual, probably because the flattened, Aztec-influenced illustrations are so perfectly suited to the story, a retelling of a Mesoamerican legend. The story itself is bittersweet—as so many legends are—but also very compelling and ultimately triumphant.

    *Available on Hoopla*

    Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist by Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

    I say:
    This is a wonderful true story to encourage children’s artistic aspirations and to promote understanding of  less traditionally “pretty” art styles. The book also does a fantastic job of dealing with sensitive issues with relatable language and expressions. And the illustrations are dynamic, bold, and perfectly reflective of the subject.

    Run for Your Life: Predators and Prey on the African Savanna by Lola M. Schaefer, illus. by Paul Miebel

    I say:
    This book is light on actual fact/detail except for the appendix-like end, but that is perfect for the short attention spans of toddlers. Yet the appendix helpfully provides the info older readers might be looking for or that parents may need to answer curious kiddos’ barrage of questions. I also like the illustration style and the rhythm of the text. Great for animal lovers.

    Angel says:
    This is a good book for learning about animals that live on the African Savanna. There are just enough facts that children can learn about the animals but not be overwhelmed with information.

    Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land by John Coy, photographs by Wing Young Huie

    Pam says:
    The question at the end—”What will we do with THEIR GREAT GIFT?”—really makes a person stop and think. What a wonderful conversation that could evolve from this book. Not only does it make you think about the cultural differences we see in each other, but it also reminds us that we have ancestors that went through the same sort of things.

    I say:
    This is a classic never-give-up story, only it’s true and about the inventor of a toy every kid is familiar with. That’s awesome right there, but the digital illustrations are also fantastic. Budding inventors will soak it up, from Lonnie’s childhood tinkering to his triumph with the Super Soaker. But the best part is the joy Lonnie consistently finds in creating and inventing, whether he’s commercially successful or not.

    Easy Readers

    Big Cat by Ethan Long

    Pam says:
    There is so much fun packed into this easy reader. The humor begins right from the start. Big Cat is willing to tolerate many things for the love of his family. Absolutely a good read!

    The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat

    I say:
    Adorable. This book introduces new vocabulary through the context of synonyms so that kids can easily decipher the meanings, and it also teaches about math and sharing. There’s a great use of humor, with engaging text and standout illustrations. I’m loving this new Elephant & Piggie spin-off series!

    Clark the Shark: Lost and Found by Bruce Hale, illus. by Guy Francis

    Monty says:
    I enjoyed this beginning reader book and believe children will also. The story is cute and teaches the importance of listening and following directions. The illustrations are colorful and fun and add much to the story.

    Duck, Duck, Porcupine! by Salina Yoon

    Allison says:
    This reminds me of Frog and Toad and their adventures. I like the illustrations, which will keep kids busy, as well as the way the text appears for beginning readers. There is a little vocabulary here as well, and concepts old and new to entice children.

    Get a Hit, Mo! by David A. Adler, illus. by Sam Ricks

    Cheryl says:
    This book is a really exciting beginner reader. It has all kinds of emotions in it and then a real good, feel good ending.

    Sky High: George Ferris’s Big Wheel by Monica Kulling, illus. by Gene Barretta

    Monty says:
    Everyone likes Ferris wheels and this tells the story of how the Ferris wheel was invented. The illustrations are very good. I believe early readers will enjoy this book.

    The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

    Cheryl says: 
    Come on, Mo Willems…nuff said! Great!

    The Way the Cookie Crumbled by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illus. by Kelly Kennedy

    I say:
    What a fantastic way to teach kids a little history while holding their interest and helping them strengthen reading skills. Slightly more advanced beginning readers who prefer nonfiction over fiction will get a kick out of this one!

    We Are Growing! by Laurie Keller

    Monty says:
    The personification of the grass with each blade having its own personality adds to the humor and will keep children’s attention along with the large repetitive words. This is a great beginning reader book!

    Early Chapter Books

    Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon

    I say:
    I just love Dory and her big imagination. In her latest escapades, Dory struggles with the idea of reading since she’s always so busy making up her own stories. Her reluctance may be familiar to many kids, but her journey will have kids proud of using their own reading super power. I hope there will be many, many more in this series so I can buy them all for my niece when she’s ready for chapter books (assuming I can wait that long!).

    Inspector Flytrap by Tom Angleberger & Cece Bell

    I say:
    Delightfully silly. This is a fun and funny chapter book with crowd-pleasing illustrations. Plus, it can serve as a great primer in using deductive reasoning.

    The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau, illus. by Matt Myers

    I say:
    This is a fantastic early chapter book for boys who pride themselves in being tough, though girls might enjoy too. The story makes good use of repetition and irony to keep the kids feeling confident and engaged. The book is especially strong in its realistic depiction of a sibling relationship—even if the characters are “hood” rats—and the author does a fabulous job of including hints of more serious family issues without making it the focus of the story. The illustrations compliment the text perfectly without distracting from it. 

    Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina

    I say:
    Abundant full-color illustrations are a welcome addition to this fun opener to a new series about a bright and energetic Colombian girl. This should be a hit with Judy Moody fans!

    Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme by Monica Brown. illus. by Angela Dominguez

    Cheryl says:
    Really a cute chapter book. It has Lola’s diary entries, which are cute and so true and full of drama for that age. The little brother is just what you would expect, annoying. 

    Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker, illus. by Marla Frazee

    Angel says:
    As the story beings, Waylon experiences some big changes all at once, and he struggles to fit in with the most popular boy in school. This is a story children will be able to relate to.

    Weekends with Max and His Dad by Linda Urban, illus. by Katie Kath

    I say:
    This is a really, really good easy chapter book. It’s longer than some, but it’s broken down into easily digestible sections and chapters. There’s a great overarching theme about Max becoming accustomed to the new living situation, but each “weekend” section can stand on its own as well.  Although the reality of  divorce or separation lurks in the background, the story stays very upbeat and never feels issue driven. Laced with humor and the adventure to be found in everyday situations, this is a wonderful portrait of a loving and deepening relationship between a father and son.

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BCPL Patrons’ Favorite Books of 2016

    Our first staff-generated Best Books of 2016 list will be announced this Saturday, but first we’re sharing the books YOU loved over the past year. In December, we asked you to tell us your favorites from the last year, and the results are in!

    Patron Vote:
    Best Book for Young Readers

    We had fewer votes in this category than any other, and a couple of those had to be disqualified because they were not published in 2016. (One disqualified title, Daniel Miyares’s Float—one of our 2015 favorites—actually got multiple votes!) But when the votes were tallied, one book came out on top: Be a Friend by Salina Yoon, a lovely book about friendship and a boy who expresses his feelings through mime.

    Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for
    Middle-Grade Readers/Tweens

    The middle-grade/tween vote came out close enough that we’re calling it a tie. One of the winners is the recent, latest installment of a highly popular series. The other is the latest from a beloved, award-winning author. In Jeff Kinney’s 11th Wimpy Kid novel, Double Down, Gregg Heffley faces parental pressures to expand his horizons beyond video games. And in Kate DiCamillo’s latest, Raymie Nightingale, ten-year-old Raymie Clarke feels the weight of her family on her shoulders as she prepares for the Little Miss Central Florida Tire pageant competition in hopes of bringing her absent father home.

    Patron Vote: Best Book for Teens
    Your favorite 2016 book for teens was clear. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater was the much-anticipated finale to a fantastic series. (We already added it—and the entire Raven Cycle series—to our Ultimate Teen Booklist.) Nothing else came close in votes, but other titles making a respectable showing include The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig and Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum.

    Patron Vote:
    Best Book(s) for Adults

    Votes in the favorite book for adults category were a hodgepodge of bestsellers, with a few lesser-known works—like Blake Pierce’s indie mystery Before He Kills—thrown in for good measure. Not only was there no clear winner, there was not a single title to receive multiple votes! However, there does seem to be a pattern to the votes that were cast: nominated titles overwhelmingly fell into the mystery, suspense, and thriller categories, including Nora Roberts’s latest romantic suspense, the new David Baldacci, Jefferson Bass’s Without MercyClark and Burke’s The Sleeping Beauty Killer, and debut thriller The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña. Outliers include the literary saga Here I Am, westerns by William Johnstone, and the sole nominated nonfiction work, The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    Tracy’s Year in Reading

    Is has become our custom at BCPL to announce our Best Books of the year lists throughout the month of January. I know everyone else’s lists come out in December, but we figure in December most people are too distracted by holiday prep and recovery to pay much attention to our book lists. So we wait until the New Year, when readers are excited and ready to kick off their year by reading a great book (or two or three). (And honestly, the delay also gives us an opportunity to read and discover those late-year releases we might otherwise overlook.)

    Well, this year we are adding a new tradition. I am kicking off this year’s announcements with a retrospective on the various books I’ve read in 2016. Ever since I introduced BCPL’s Best of the Year lists here on Book News & Reviews in January 2012, I’ve always regretted not reflecting more on the titles that didn’t quite make the list, whether they were just edged out or didn’t even come close.

    So here’s my first annual Year in Reading. Some of the included titles will make the final Best of 2016 lists (care to guess which ones?) while others won’t. Regardless, each of these titles has made an impression on me in 2016!

    1 Weirdly compelling book that I still can’t decide whether I liked it or not:

    1. Nutshell by Ian McEwan

    Seriously, this book is told from the perspective of a preternaturally intellectual unborn baby whose mother is having an affair and plotting the father’s murder. It’s fascinating in ways and completely ridiculous in others. But I was hooked.

    1 Book that made me tear up:
    1. Ida, Always by Caron Levis

    The Fault in Our Stars didn’t generate a single tear, but this bittersweet picture book definitely got to me.

    2 historical novels that taught me something I didn’t know:

    1. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
    2.  Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

    Of course, I studied the Civil War and World War II in school (I was even a history minor in college!), but I had very little knowledge about the inner workings of the underground railroad and the dangers not only to the passengers but also to the facilitators. And while the metaphorical railroad is actually a literal railroad in Whitehead’s novel, the experiences of Cora and her cohorts made the journey real to me in a way that other works could not.  As for Salt to the Sea, it still stuns me that the fate of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff, the deadliest ship disaster in recorded history, isn’t better known.

    2 YA standards I FINALLY read:

    1. Song of the Lioness Quartet (series) by Tamara Pierce
    2. I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

    Of course, neither of these is even eligible for the Best of 2016 lists, but I did get to mark them off my massive to-read list!

    2 Great books that realistically explore complex family dynamics: 

    1. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
    2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    A YA novel set during the Summer of Sam, Burn Baby Burn has a lot of layers, but what truly makes it stand out is the juxtaposition of the general sense of fear permeating New York City with Nora’s growing unease in her own home. And Patchett does a fantastic job of detailing the messiness of modern families.

    2 Love stories to feed my inner romantic:
    1. Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
    2. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    Julia Quinn can always be counted on for a fluffy romantic romp. And I dare fans of YA realistic fiction not to inhale Nicola Yoon’s second novel.

    3 Nonfiction works that made me reflect on life and my beliefs from a new perspective:

    3. But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

    Annie Dillard can always be counted on for a offbeat perspective on seemingly everyday occurrences. She’s not for everyone, but her writing always leaves me in awe. 

    4 books perfect for my inner (or not so inner) bibliophile:

    1. Booked by Kwame Alexander
    2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    3. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman
    4. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

    I’ve always loved books about writing or characters who love (or learn to love) books.

    4 YA fantasies that have me eager for the next installment:

    1. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tabir (Book 2 of an Ember in the Ashes)
    2. The Crown’s Game by Elvelyn Skye (Book 1 of The Crown’s Game)
    3. Red Queen & Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Books 1 & 2 of Red Queen)
    4. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (Book 1 of The Dark Artifices)

    I am most looking forward to the next Ember in the Ashes book, but I am curious to see how Cassandra Clare’s newest Shadowhunter series will develop as well. Book one was just so-so for me, but the series looks promising!

    4 Novels with beautiful writing:
    1. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
    2. The Fireman by Joe Hill
    3. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
    4. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    Woodson, whether she is writing in verse or prose, can always be relied upon for her stunning imagery and use of language, and there were passages in The Fireman that were so visceral and beautifully put that they held me in thrall. I was listening to the audiobook, so I often scanned back on the CD just to hear them again. In Pax, Pennypacker often writes with a insightful lyricism that belies the fact that this novel is directed at a middle-grade audience. Nicola Yoon’s follow up to Everything, Everything is an intensely moving and thought-provoking journey from beginning to end.

    4 Memorable nonfiction works dealing with significant social and/or economic issues: 

    1. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
    2. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips
    3. March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
    4. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jessmyn Ward

    In past years, I was captured by books like Behind the Beautiful Forevers, The Men We Reaped, Ghettoside, and Between the World and Me. These titles are all worthy follow ups for anyone who wants to be better informed about these issues.

    5 Audiobooks with fantastic narration:

    1. Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman. Read by Katherine Kellgren.
    2. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. Read by Kate Lock.
    3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Read by Bahni Turpin.
    4. Find Her by Lisa Gardner. Read by Kirsten Potter.
    5. The Fireman by Joe Hill. Read by Kate Mulgrew.

    Seriously, I’d listen to a treatise on wood lice if Katherine Kellgren was reading it.

    5 Super-short reads for adult readers without a lot of time:

    1. Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
    2. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

    3. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaVelle
    4. My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stroud

    5. Nutshell by Ian McEwan

    Some of these I loved, and others were just okay for me. But I am completely okay with that since the time investment was minimal.

    5 Super-fast reads for reluctant middle-grade readers:

    1. Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
    2. Booked by Kwame Alexander
    3. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
    4. The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
    5. The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan

    Garvey’s Choice and Booked are both novels in verse, and Ghosts and The Nameless City are graphic novels. As for the fifth choice, MacLachlan has delivered another slim novel that manages to pack in a full, emotionally engaging story.

    5 Twisty thrillers:

    1. Find Her by Lisa Gardner
    2. The Widow by Fiona Barton
    3. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

    4. All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage
    5. Redemption Road by John Hart

    2016 was a fantastic year for thrillers and suspense novels. There are tons more I still want to read.

    9 picture books with fantastic illustrations:

    1. Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead
    2. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
    3. Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
    4. There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith
    5. The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

    6. The Animal’s Ark by Marianne Dubuc
    7. Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole

    8. Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure
    9. Anything but Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Hermann, Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff

    I liked some books better than others as a whole, but the illustrations are all wonderful. Each has something different to offer—from the fantastically nuanced illustrations of The Airport Book to Dubuc’s soft colored-pencil sketches to the dynamic 3D illustrations of Anything but Ordinary Addie.

    So that’s just a snapshot of some of the books I’ve read this year, though there are plenty I’ve forgotten or chosen not to include in this retrospective. And off course I didn’t get to everything I’d have liked to read—not even close—but all in all, I have to say it was a great year of books and stories. How was your year in reading?

    Source: Book News and Reviews


    It’s fall giveaway time again!

    Our selection of Advance Reader copies (ARCs) is small this time around, but there’s still plenty to be excited about! For example, anyone who loved last year’s YA bestseller All the Bright Places will be clamoring for an early copy of Jennifer Niven’s latest, Holding Up the Universe.

    As always, the rules of entry are at the end of the post. Please note that all prizes must be picked up at a BCPL location within two months of notification, or the unclaimed ARCs will be returned to the stockpile for the next giveaway. The contest runs through the end of Wednesday, November 16th. No entries will be accepted after midnight.

    So without further ado, here are our giveaways for Fall 2016:

    And I Darken by Kiersten White
    Conqueror’s Saga #1
    *ARC – Released June 2016 *
    In this first book in a trilogy a girl child is born to Vlad Dracula, in Transylvania, in 1435–at first rejected by her father and always ignored by her mother, she will grow up to be Lada Dragwlya, a vicious and brutal princess, destined to rule and destroy her enemies.–NoveList

    Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
     *ARC – Released January 2016 *
    When her university professor father is sent by the Gestapo to a concentration camp, seven-year-old Anna travels the Polish countryside with the mysterious Swallow Man during World War II.–NoveList

    Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten
     *ARC – Released May 2016 *
    When a scholarship girl and a wealthy classmate become friends, their bond is tested when a handsome young teacher separately influences the girls in order to further his less-than-admirable interests. –NoveList
    Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
    The Reckoners #3
     *ARC – Released February 2016 *

    David and the Reckoners must face the most powerful High Epic of all to find redemption for his closest friend, Prof. –NoveList

    The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
    *ARC – Released April 2016 *
    When her father dies, Tessa is pulled back to the small Pennsylvania town where her life came apart when her father was sent to prison, her mother went to pieces, and her beloved older sister ran away, and where her testimony and that of her now-estranged friend Callie sent a serial killer to death row–a serial killer who may be getting a new trial as long buried secrets come to light.  –NoveList

    Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
     *ARC – Released August 2016 *

    As she struggles to recover and survive, seventeen-year-old homeless Charlotte “Charlie” Davis cuts herself to dull the pain of abandonment and abuse.–NoveList

    Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
     *ARC – Released October 2016 *

    “A boy with face blindness and a girl who struggles with weight fall in love” –NoveList

    The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
     *ARC – Released November 2015 *

    Sent to America at age nine with nothing but an old guitar, Frankie Presto achieves success on the mid-twentieth-century music scene before becoming overburdened by his ability to affect people’s futures through his music. –NoveList

    Open a World of Possible edited by Lois Bridges
     *Trade Paperback *

    In a series of essays and stories, celebrated literacy experts, language researchers, librarians, children’s authors, and poets share their own real stories about the joys and power of reading.

    Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
    *ARC – Released April 2016 *
    Sixteen-year old Jessie, still grieving over her mother’s death, must move from Chicago to “The Valley,” with a new stepfamily but no new friends until an anonymous fellow student emails and offers to help her navigate the school’s treacherous social waters–NoveList

    A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
     *ARC – Released May 2016 *

    “Hannah and Sam are each searching for The One– but over the summer, a series of hilarious misunderstandings prevent them from realizing that they’re It for one another”- –NoveList

    Rules of Entry

    1. To enter the drawing, you must log in to the Rafflecopter Widget below with your e-mail address or Facebook account and click on “Leave a comment on this blog post.”

    Entry Task #1
     First, you must leave a comment at the bottom of this post stating which titles you would like to receive. To do so, you will need to click on the “Post a Comment” link below the Rafflecopter widget. If you do not leave a comment at the bottom of the post, I will not know which prize(s) to give you if you win the drawing. You may choose as many titles as you like; you are not guaranteed to win your top choices, but I do my best. 

    Entry Task #2 Second, you must Answer the confirmation question and click on “ENTER” at the bottom of the widget only after you have posted your comment as described in Entry Task #1 . After completing the first widget task, you can also earn bonus entries by following the directions in the widget.

    2.  All ARCs must be picked up at a Bullitt County Public Library location. Contest ends at the end of the day on Wednesday, November 16th.Winners will be notified via e-mail and will be posted on this blog no later than Tuesday, November 22nd. Winners will have up to two months from the time of notification to collect their prizes. If items have not been picked up at the end of this period or if I have not been contacted to request an alternative arrangement, unclaimed prizes will be retained for future giveaways.

    Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
    Source: Book News and Reviews