LEROY NINKER SADDLES UP
Somerville, MA : Candlewick Press, 2014
IL K-3, RL 4.2
The tiny thief, Leroy Ninker, who tries to steal the toaster in Mercy Watson Fights Crime, has mended his ways and returns in this spinoff series. Still planning on a career as a cowboy, Leroy, the drive-in movie concession salesman, makes plans to fulfill his dream. His coworker, Beatrice, informs him that he needs a horse, handing him a “Horse for Sale” advertisement. Leroy can’t wait to find the horse of his dreams and soon locates Maybelline, an old horse with a velvety damp nose and only four teeth. After hearing her former owner’s advice (firstly, be kind to her, “you got to talk sweet to Maybelline,” secondly, give her lots of grub, and, thirdly, never leave her alone), Leroy and Maybelline gallop away faster and faster across the fields. He has never been happier! But when he forgets an important tip about Maybelline, he fears his cowboy dreams are over. Read to find out what hair-raising adventure occurs, AND if Leroy and Maybelline ever run into some old friends. (Booktalk by Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Committee)
THE CHICKEN SQUAD : THE FIRST MISADVENTURE
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014
IL K-3, RL 3.1
J.J. Tully, a dog, has his paws full. He is in charge of protecting the Chicken Squad and their mother, Moosh. Dirt, Sugar, Poppy and Sweetie (the members of the Chicken Squad) are trying to solve the mystery of what BIG, SCARY, ENORMOUS, FRIGHTENING, HUGE, TERRIFYING, ROUND, SHINY thing has scared the squirrel, Tail. You won’t believe what it is! Read The Chicken Squad and discover along with Tully what has gotten the chickens’ feathers ruffled. (Booktalk by Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Committee)
ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF THE SEAS
New York : Schwartz & Wade Books, 2014
IL K-3, RL 4.2
Elephant seals belong in the ocean, but Elizabeth is different. No one knows what draws her to settle in a busy intersection in the middle of Christchurch, New Zealand, but she makes it clear that is where she wants to be. This true story of love and determination will warm your heart! (Booktalk by Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Committee)
MY TEACHER IS A MONSTER! (NO, I AM NOT)
Boston : Little Brown, 2014
IL K-3, RL 1.7
A young boy named Bobby has the worst teacher. She's loud, she yells, and if you throw paper airplanes, she won't allow you to enjoy recess. She is a monster! Luckily, Bobby can go to his favorite spot in the park on weekends to play. Until one day... he finds his teacher there! Over the course of one day, Bobby learns that monsters are not always what they seem. (Booktalk by Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Committee)
Bloom, C. P.
THE MONKEY GOES BANANAS
New York : Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2014
Monkey spies a banana tree. What will he do to get his hands on them? Monkey cleverly finds a way to outsmart a shark and get to the bananas. This mostly wordless picture book is truly hilarious! (Booktalk by Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Committee)
SAM AND DAVE DIG A HOLE
Somerville, MA : Candlewick, 2014
IL K-3, RL 1.9
Sam, Dave and their dog have a challenge. They want to dig and dig and dig until they find something spectacular – something huge – something thrilling. They seem unsuccessful. But are they really? Pay close attention to the illustrations and you’ll discover what Sam and Dave found. This book won a Caldecott Honor Medal for outstanding illustrations. (Booktalk by
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Committee)
Katherine Tegen Books, 2014
Jamie is a senior on the staff of Gumshoe, the school's literary magazine. He is confident with his sexuality at home where his mom and stepdad applaud him - in fact, his mom can't wait for him to have a boyfriend, and his stepfather wanted to be sure to support Jamie when he came out, so he threw him a party with balloons and "congratulations" - very charming family!
At school, though, it's a different story. He's had a crush on his best friend Mason for a long time and fears losing his friendship if he fesses up to being gay. The girls in the art class have it all figured out, though, and they attempt to work their magic to get Jamie together with his dream boy and best friend. When Jamie makes an independent decision about including a gay-themed comic for the magazine, things start happening - big time! .(Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN
New York : Dial Books, 2014
Noah and Jude are twins who have always felt connected. Jude is the popular one, pretty and outgoing. Noah is the quiet, artistic one, who sees more in the world, but is always being picked on, until Brian moves in next door.
Fast forward two years, and things have changed. Their mom is dead, and the twins seem to have swapped lives. What happened and why comes in spurts of insight/story from each twin, both past and present, until it all comes together.
The language and imagery is delightful, with Noah being the more fanciful, but this excerpt is Jude talking to Noah:
“‘Maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people’ I say. ‘Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.’ Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.
“He grins. ‘Each new self standing on the last one’s shoulders until we’re these wobbly people poles?’
“I die of delight. ‘Yes, exactly! We’re all just wobbly people poles!’” (Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE
New York : Simon and Schuster, 2014
Lara Jean has this habit of writing really detailed love letters to boys she has crushes on in order to get them out of her system. Detailed, down to cataloging their good and bad qualities. Then she puts them away, and is done with both the boy and the letter.
Suddenly, the letters are missing, and boys are coming up to her with her letter in their hands.
This wasn't just a story of mortification, though it could have been, but it's about how Lara Jean copes with the revelations, as well as her sister Margot going off to college in Scotland, being in love with Margot’s boyfriend, taking care of her father and Kitty, now that Margot isn't around to do it, etc. (Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
Jury, Walter. SCAN
GP Putnam's Sons, 2014
I expected to hate this from the very beginning. Wrestling? Um, no. Aliens? Nope. But then the action drew me in.
The story of Tate and his friends and family was relatively interesting until people started shooting at them, and then the pace really picked up.
“[Dad’s] fingers close over my shoulder. ‘Tate, I know you’re angry with me. But we can fight later.’
“I wrench myself away from him. ‘Get off me.’…
“‘Tate.’ Dad grabs my arm again. ‘It’s very important that we run. Now.”… “Tate, wir müssen fliehen. Jetzt. Jetzt!” my father barks, snapping me out of my trance.
“We have to escape. Now. Clipped German words, tinged with pure desperation.”
I was emotionally involved right up until the big cliffhanger. Luckily, the sequel, Burn, comes out May 12th. (Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Gabe is a trans man, born as Liz, finally about to get out of high school, so he can begin living his life as himself.
He tells us:
“I’ve been a boy my whole life. I wish I’d been born a vampire or a werewolf instead, or with a big red clown nose permanently stuck to my face, because that stuff would be easy. Having a brain that doesn’t agree with your body is a much bigger pain…”
His best friend, Paige, is totally supportive, though there's that pesky attraction to her that makes life difficult. Gabe's parents and brother haven't been able to look him in the eye since he broke the news to them. His next-door neighbor and mentor, John, doesn't know yet, and Gabe's nervous about telling him. In the meantime, John and Gabe share a passion for music, and John's just gotten Gabe a gig DJing on KZUK in the middle of the night. Gabe calls his show Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, and is so honest and inspiring, he inspires an Ugly Children Brigade to form.
(Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
WE WERE LIARS
The wealthy Sinclair family (or is this the Kennedys?) owns a private island off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. They are beautiful and perfect in every way. Or are they?
Cadence is our narrator who talks about a particular summer she spends with her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and also Gat Patil (a friend and love interest of Cadence) who often stirs up the family with his political stance on the wealthy - trying to remind them that there are people who are NOT ridiculously loaded with money . They've been summering on the island together as a group for years (the patriarch of the family built three houses on the island besides his own for his three daughters, and these houses are filled with people who have secrets and lie), but this year deserves a special telling, and along the way, we learn that seemingly typical quirky teenager Cadence is damaged - has debilitating migraines and we don't learn why -- until we reach, or so we think, the TRUTH, and the book's end.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
(Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
Sanderson, Brandon. .
The future is rather grim - populated and dominated by superheroes, but these superheroes - or EPICS as they're called, are not your comic book characters. Ever since "Calamity"arrived, which from the description sounds like a kind of satellite - and is hovering over the Earth, the superheroes have populated the earth as villains intent on ruling the world and eliminating anyone - human or fellow epic - who get in their way. Main character and snarky teen David's city of Chicago is ruled by Steelheart who is strong beyond measure, and can control the elements. He has turned Chicago into a shining city of STEEL. After losing his father to Steelheart as a 6 year old, David spends his entire life dedicated to finding this Epic's weakness and plans to destroy him.
Enter the Reckoners - a group of rag tag kids and adults whose mission is to restore peace by systematically taking out the epics. When David finds them, his knowledge becomes essential to their plans. Will they get to the strongest Epic to destroy him?
(Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
FAR FAR AWAY
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
Jeremy is a regular kid in modern-day middle America, but there are a couple of unique things about him: he lives in the back of the Two-Book Bookstore that he inherited from his grandfather, which only sells both volumes of his grandfather's memoir, with his shut-in dad, and he has an interesting relationship with a ghost that only he can hear: Jacob Grimm. Yep, that Jacob Grimm, or, as it is properly pronounced and specifically mentioned in the book, Yaukub. (Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
This beautifully written story follows Jeremy through the tribulations of both regular teenage life and the potential loss of his home as the bookstore fails, and then life begins to resemble the fairy tales that he loves so much (and don't forget that they are the grim Grimm versions). (Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
MORE THAN THIS
Take a moment to imagine what your own private hell might look like... Got an image? Well, in the opening scene of this book, our main character Seth drowns and dies - a rather intensely portrayed drowning, I might add (and note that this is NOT the worst of it!) He is bewildered to awaken unclothed, starving, and thirsty in a bizarrely unpopulated and dusty world that is somehow familiar to him. Turns out, it's his childhood home in England - where he lived before the family moved to America - and he's about to face his own private hell. Interestingly, it's taken his own death to get him to confront his demons. Whenever Seth closes his eyes in this strange world, troubling past events haunt him in nightmares - these dreams include his family, the boy he loves and past traumas. The reader shares the oddity of the situation and wonders whether Seth is in heaven, hell, a fully reborn life? What the heck is happening? Is he really alive? (Booktalk by NH Flume Committee)
FOOTER DAVIS MIGHT BE PROBABLY IS CRAZY
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015
IL 5-8, RL 5.4
Footer Davis' mother just "ain't right". That's what they all say. Actually, she has bipolar disorder. When she is sent to a mental hospital, Footer misses her so much. To distract herself from thinking about her mother, Footer and her best friend Peavine Jones set out to investigate the disappearance of two children. Both girls take the investigation seriously and want to find out what happened. But Footer begins to have hallucinations and worries that she is going crazy just like her mother.
TOUCH THE BRIGHTEST STAR
New York : Greenwillow Books, 2015
IL K-3, RL 1.7
What happens when the sun goes down? The night becomes magic. “Magic happens every night. / First wave good-bye to the sun’s bright light.” Come along on a journey through the night. Tap the firefly to make it light. Pat the deer. Swipe the sky. Rub the owl heads. And when the night is over, a new magical day begins.
LOOT : HOW TO STEAL A FORTUNE
New York : Scholastic, 2014
IL 5-8, RL 4.2
Advice from Alfie McQuin to his son, March:
*Never trust a guy who says “trust me”.
*If you think nothing can go wrong---you’d better think again.
*Panic doesn’t get you anything but arrested.
March McQuin has led an “interesting” life so far. Being raised by his widowed dad, who also happens to be an international jewel thief, has resulted in many moves to many countries and countless transfers from one school to another. Through it all, though, they’ve always had each other, and Alfie has passed on his wisdom as well as “homeschooling” March in the art of burglary.
But Alfie’s latest heist has gone terribly wrong. Now March is on his own, and he’s being followed. He’s going to need all of the skills and wisdom his father gave him just to survive, let alone to solve the mystery of Alfie’s last request---“Find jewels…”
What jewels? Or, maybe, who is Jules? March will find friends and allies where he least expects them, but there are enemies out there, too. And they’re all trying to be first to find….the loot.
This high-speed adventure will have you hooked from the first chapter to the last. (Booktalk by the NH Great Stone Face Committee)
HALF A CHANCE
New York : Scholastic, 2014
IL 3-6, RL 4.3
When you take pictures do you just point and shoot? Do you frame your picture? Do you consider the “story” the photo will tell?
Lucy’s family has just moved into a year round home on a lake in New Hampshire, her third move in her twelve years. Lucy’s Dad, a famous photographer, never stays in one place too long, and truth to tell he will be taking off within a day for a summer long assignment in Arizona leaving Lucy and her Mom to sort out the move and settle into this new life. Even before unpacking her first box Lucy is driven to grab her own camera and, with her dog Ansel (after Ansel Adams), “capture a first New Hampshire photo, so that in time she will feel the relief and comfort of looking back at this first one and remember how brave and scary everything was then, and realize she ‘made it’ once again. Like creating a memory in reverse.”
Memory and photography intertwine in the telling of this story.
Very quickly, Lucy meets Nate, the boy next door, and his family who are summer residents in the cottage owned by his Grandma Lilah. Grandma Lilah is passionate about participating with the Loon Preservation Society’s annual egg count and hatchings. However, she can no longer manage daily kayaking to the loon nesting island and enlists the help of Nate, his sister, and “Lucy of the Loons” as she dubs Lucy on her first venture. Sometimes another neighbor Megan, who sees Lucy as a rival, participates as well. As you will discover, Grandma Lilah is having more trouble managing other things as well this summer.
Through a desire to help Grandma Lilah and a secret longing to have her photography skills measure up to her father’s highly demanding standards, Lucy, with Nate’s interest and help, work to gather samples for a Photo Scavenger Hunt run by a magazine, nine photos reflecting a creative approach to nine words or phrases. Ethical issues arise when Lucy has to enter the contest under Nate’s name since her father is one of the contest judges. But even more difficult ethical, friendship, and creative choice issues arise over the use or non-use of a particular photo of Grandma Lilah that “reveals a story, show me why I care?” but one that Nate cares too much to want to see.
(Kathleen Fencil, NH Great Stone Face Committee, 2015)
Hunt, Lynda Mullaly.
FISH IN A TREE
New York : Nancy Paulsen, 2015
IL 5-8, RL 4.2
Ally Nickerson spends a lot of time in the Principal’s office. She does not always understand what she did wrong to get there. She has also had to move a lot, seven schools in her twelve years. Her father is in the military and is currently deployed overseas.
Ally demonstrates unique brightness and interesting drawing capabilities as she doodles in her “Sketchbook of Impossible Things,” but at other times her good intentions lead to disastrous consequences, all because she cannot tell the absolute truth, not to her principal, not to her teacher, not to her Mom, not to her friends. Ally still cannot read, no matter how hard she tries. And she does try, but reading for Ally is “still like trying to make sense of a can of alphabet soup that’s been dumped on a plate. She just doesn’t get how other people do it. Ally Nickerson + reading = Impossible!
To say that Ally stands out is stating the obvious, but she is not totally alone. She develops friendships with a couple of other class misfits; “Tell–it-like-it-is Keisha and science and fact obsessed Albert who wears the same “Flint” shirt to school everyday and is often seen with mysterious bruises.
In the course of their school year they get a new teacher, Mr. Daniels who sees the child first, before the student. There are heroes in this book and they are not only the adults.
This book is a “Silver Dollar” read.
The Fish in a Tree title comes from a quote often misappropriated to Albert Einstein;
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
The truth of a quote has nothing to do with who it came from, but it would be fine and fitting had it been Einstein.
(Kathleen Fencil, NH Great Stone Face Committee)