Posted in ALA Midwinter, Conferences & Events

Youth Media Awards Winners!

I was voluntarily #ALALeftBehind yesterday (online conference fatigue is real), but you know I was pinned to social media during the Youth Media Award announcements. I’m so happy with all the Medalists and Honorees!

Image source: AmericanLibrariesmagazine.org

This is a great chance to put together virtual and in-person Award Winner displays – those always get attention – and add these to your Readers Advisory toolkit. Make bookmarks with this year’s winners and honorees, update your current lists, and spread the word.

Lists of the winners are available via the ALA press release, American Libraries magazine, Book Riot,  and watch the streaming replay on ALA’s Midwinter website (you don’t need to be registered for the conference to view).

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

October graphic novels have something for everyone!

There are some solid graphic novels hitting shelves in October: LGBTQ+ positive stories and a dystopian adventure for tweens and teens, and for tweens and teens, Art Baltazar’s adorable artwork for kids are just a few of the books you can look forward to. Let’s dive in!

 

Gillbert, Vol. 1: The Little Merman, by Art Baltazar, (Oct. 2018, Papercutz), $14.99, ISBN: 9781545801451

Ages 6-10

If you have readers who get a kick out of Joey Weiser’s Mermin books, they’ll love Art Baltazar’s Gillbert: The Little Merman! He’s the son of King Nauticus and the prince of Atlanticus, and he’s surrounded by cool friends, like his turtle buddy, Sherbert, and his starfish buddy, Albert. One day, he meets playful mermaid named Anne Phibian, who takes him to a rocking party at WeWillRockTropolis. Meanwhile, aliens invade Earth, but quick action by Queen Niadora and her alien friend, Teeq, save the day.

Art Baltazar creates art that kids love: Tiny Titans; Grimmiss Island; DC Super Pets, and countless more comics have his signature bold, bright artwork and zest for zany adventure. He’s got kid-friendly artwork, storylines, and humor that kids eat up. When my library kids are too young for the DC comics on “the other side of the library” (the teen collection), but still want superheroes, I give them Art Baltazar’s books, and they’re thrilled.

Gillbert’s first outing looks like it’s the start to a fun new under-the-sea series. Papercutz won’t steer you wrong; add this one to your graphic novel shelves.

Lost Soul, Be at Peace, by Maggie Thrash, (Oct. 2018, Candlewick), $18.99, ISBN: 9780763694197

Ages 13+

Acclaimed Honor Girl author Maggie Thrash’s latest book is a continuing memoir with a touch of fiction. A year and a half after the events of Honor Girl, Maggie is spiraling into a deep depression. She’s failing 11th grade; her stuffy, image-consumed mother is baffled, and her workaholic father, a federal judge, pays no attention to her. The only thing Maggie cares about is her cat, Tommi, who seemingly disappears in her rambling home. While searching for Tommi, Maggie discovers a ghost named Tommy, who leads her to peel back layers of her father’s life and see him through new eyes.

Maggie Thrash beautifully captures the tedium and angst of adolescence and the hopelessness of depression. The feeling of shouting into the void is poignantly captured when she opens up about coming out… and being ignored, regardless. She maintains a bitter sense of humor through her journey, making her likeable and relatable, and her watercolor artwork intensifies the feeling of being not-quite-there.

Lost Soul, Be at Peace is a beautifully thoughtful graphic memoir and a must-add to upper middle school and YA collections. Download an author note (also included in the back matter) and Maggie Thrash’s Top 10 Songs for Lost Souls playlist here; view a sample chapter here. Lost Soul, Be at Peace has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus.

 

Last Pick, by Jason Walz, (Oct. 2018, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626728912

Ages 10+

Last Pick is the first in a new dystopian trilogy. Three years ago, aliens invaded earth, taking everyone between the ages of 16 and 65: everyone they deemed “useful”. The survivors left behind live under cruel rule. Too young, too old, too disabled, they’re seen as worthless, receiving slim food rations and living under constant threat. But Sam and Wyatt, a twin brother and sister, are about to change all that. Sam’s the rebel, distributing food and fomenting revolution; Wyatt, her special needs brother, is the brains of the operation: he’s cataloging the aliens, and knows how to work with their technology. They start disrupting the aliens’ plans and making themselves a general nuisance until the aliens decide they’re too much of a threat, right on the eve of their 16th birthday.

Last Pick is SO GOOD. I tore through this one during a lunch hour; it’s compulsive reading with a tight storyline and characters you want to root for. Aliens appear to be enthralled with earth culture and are played in part as comic relief, from the overlord who seems to be influenced by American Westerns, affecting a cowboy-type flavor of speech, to the gooey creature that shares a love of Ultraman with Wyatt. There’s some intrigue going on among the aliens, too; I’m looking forward to learning more in the next installment. Sam and Wyatt are a solid sister-brother unit; Wyatt’s special needs appear to place him on the autism spectrum, and Sam acts as his partner and protector. An underground radio broadcaster, a Latinx who refers to herself as La Sonida, offers moments of retrospection and I hope we get more of her, too.

Adventure, science fiction, and dystopian fans are going to love this. If you have readers who love Spill Zone and Mighty Jack, hand them this one. Last Pick has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

On a Sunbeam, by Tillie Walden, (Oct. 2018, First Second), $21.99, ISBN: 9781250178138

Ages 14+

Eisner Award winner Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam collects all the installments of her webcomic. It’s a science fiction adventure in a universe that embraces all relationships. Mia is a young woman on a reconstruction crew that travels through space, restoring buildings and structures. The narrative shifts between the present and Mia’s past, where she fell in love at boarding school with a girl named Grace; a girl who was taken away by her family before Mia could say goodbye. Mia learns more about her crewmates and their own stories as they travel through space, ultimately creating a family of their own.

The cast is incredibly, wonderfully, diverse. There’s Char, the co-captain; she’s an African American woman who shares captain duties with her Caucasian wife, Alma: “Char may have the degrees, but Alma knows how to yell”, according to one character, Jules. Jules should know: she’s Alma’s niece, taken in when her mother – Alma’s sister – died. Jules seems to be the youngest member of the crew; she’s most likely a teen, loves playing games, and is the happy optimist of the crew. Ell/Elliot is a Caucasian nonbinary person who prefers they/them/their pronouns – and the crew vociferously defends their right to those pronouns, as Ell is nonverbal. Grace, Mia’s lost love, is African American.

As the narrative shifts between Mia’s past and present, we see Mia and Grace’s relationship develop, right up until Grace’s departure from the school. The color palette shifts with the narrative: cooler colors like blues and purples dominate the flashbacks, while warmer colors creep during the present day. Mia is the central character, but every character in this novel has a story to tell. This is a book I had to move back and forth with during the first few chapters; not having read the webcomic, I wasn’t altogether sure I was reading a connected story until I got the hang of the shifts, and of Mia’s place in them. Stick with the story: it’s an wonderful work of queer speculative fiction that deserves a spot on your shelves. On a Sunbeam is good for young adult/new adult readers.

Posted in programs

Who’s Doing Mock Caldecotts?

I just got back from my library system’s Mock Caldecott awards. What are you reading? What did you pick? Here are our nominees:

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt/Illustrated by Adam Rex,
(Apr. 2017, Simon & Schuster),. $17.99, ISBN: 9780062438898
Recommended for readers 4-8

The greatest fight in history happens here. I needed to take breaks the first time I read this book, because I was laughing too hard to keep reading it to my own 5-year-old. Rock may be the greatest champion since Russell Crowe picked up a sword in Gladiator. Adam Rex’s artwork is at once hilarious and stunning, with lots of motion and action. Rex can make a battle of rock, paper, scissors look like theatre. We had one interesting question come up in our discussion here: with all the different fonts, font sizes, and font directions, does this become part of the picture book art? We had some mixed emotions. All in all, an outright hilarious book that I can’t wait to bring out during storytime. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors has five starred reviews and oodles of downloadable activities.

 

Little Fox in the Forest, by Stephanie Graegin,
(Feb. 2017, Schwartz & Wade), $17.99, ISBN: :978-0-553-53789-5
Recommended for readers 4-8

A wordless picture book that uses monochrome and color settings to tell its story, Little Fox in the Forest is the story of a young girl and her stuffed toy fox. The girl brings her toy to school, where it’s stolen by a real fox, who jumps out of the woods and grabs it. The girl follows the fox back to its home, where the spreads go from bluish-gray/white to a vibrant color palette. The girl and fox reach an understanding. The endpapers lead readers into the story and provide a nice epilogue at the end. I enjoyed the book, but this one wasn’t my favorite. My group had mixed feelings on this one, too; two of my group weren’t big fans of wordless picture books; I liked the use of panels and loved the endpapers and color work, but overall, there were books I enjoyed more. Little Fox in the Forest has four starred reviews.

 

The Book of Mistakes, by Corinna Luyken,
(Apr. 2017, Dial Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9780735227927
Recommended for readers 4-8

Thiiiis is the book my friends and I were pulling for! I love the evolution of the artwork; how a seeming mistake can unfold into a story. It’s quirky, fun, and unexpected, with a stark white page serving as the backdrop. I love these kind of books; books that just take the way you see things and very sweetly flip the book on its head. It’s an inspiring story for kids: don’t think of mistakes as something embarrassing or bad; they’re all – we’re all – just a work in progress. The Book of Mistakes has three starred reviews.

 

Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters, by Michael Mahin/Illustrated by Evan Turk,
(Sept. 2017, Athenum), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4814-4349-4
Recommended for readers 6-10

Beautifully illustrated biography of legendary Jazz and Blues musician Muddy Waters. The artwork reminds me a bit of 2016’s Caldecott medalist, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat; there’s some amazing urban-infused artwork here, not to mention brilliant colors and bold lines. You can feel the rhythm thrumming through the pages. I loved Evan Turk’s collage and mixed media work. This one got high praise from my group. Author Michael Mahin has some powerful words about his book, multiculturalism, and racism, which you can read here.

 

Blue Sky White Stars, by Sarvinder Naberhaus/Illustrated by Kadir Nelson,
(June 2017, Dial Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-8037-3700-6
Recommended for readers 3-10

Let it be noted right now: I will gush about anything Kadir Nelson illustrates. I would brush with one particular brand of toothpaste if he did the box art. He has a way of bringing pictures to breathtaking life. Going into this panel, Blue Sky White Stars was more or less my go-to pick for the winner, because it’s Nelson. A tribute to the American spirit, Blue Sky introduces readers to the American landscape; touches of Americana from our history, including the Statue of Liberty, Betsy Ross, and our flag; and the people of America, with words to tie each spread together. A spread of African American and white freedom walkers march, holding the flag, with the words, “woven together” titling the spread. Each spread uses phrasing that ties the pictures together, and while I admit one or two are were a stretch, it’s a love letter to what exactly makes America great, no red caps necessary. Blue Sky White Stars has four starred reviews.

 

The Antlered Ship, by Dashka Slater/Illustrated by The Fan Brothers,
(Sept. 2017, Simon & Schuster), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481451604
Recommended for readers 5-8

Last year, I went into the library’s Mock Caldecotts pushing HARD for The Fan Brothers book, The Night Gardener (They All Saw a Cat won, which I was mollified by). I love their artwork – it’s always an exploration, with new things to find, nuances to discover. The Antlered Ship is filled with moments both fantastic and fun as we follow a fox on his quest to find a friend. Map endpapers let readers know we’re going on a trip. The rogue’s gallery of animal pirates will get a rise out of readers – who doesn’t love a pirate’s tale? – and the spread illustrating the confrontation between ships is amazing. Everyone in my group enjoyed this one, too. Oddly, this one received a lot of votes from our groups, but not enough to make it their number one choice.

The votes were collected and tallied, and the winners were…

QUEENS LIBRARY MOCK CALDECOTT 2017 MEDAL

 

QUEENS LIBRARY MOCK CALDECOTT 2017 HONORS

Next question – has anyone done a Mock Caldecott with the kids in your library? I’m wondering if this would be good for my school-age kiddos. I’d love to hear about any experiences, please comment, post blog links, anything you want to share.