Kiddosphere: Ridiculously Good Reads – March Edition
March is nearly over, so I thought this would be a good time for another “Ridiculously Good Reads” post. Every month or so, I’ll round up my favorite reads published in 2015. (The first post featured a book published before 2015, but now that the 2015 books are pouring in, I don’t need to do that anymore.)
A tragedy has occurred; SOMEONE has eaten someone’s sandwich. The narrator tells an impressive story of a sandwich stealing bear who somehow leaves the forest, stumbles into the city, and just happens upon your sandwich. Quite a story, isn’t it? (High school literature teachers who need to explain the concept of “unreliable narrator” should read this book to their classes.) I’m definitely adding The Bear Ate Your Sandwich to my list of awesome read alouds for K-3 students.
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat is GORGEOUS and already one of my favorites for the 2016 Caldecott, Through American four families making the same dessert, Blackberry Fool, Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall brilliantly depict the evolution of food technology over the course of four centuries. Kirkus Reviews interviewed the pair about their research and creation of this stunning picture book; definitely worth a read. I was bowled over by the intense research and care taken to accurately depict the times in which each family lived.
I Was Here is an authentic, moving, and realistic YA novel about the aftermath of suicide. After her best friend, Meg, commits suicide, eighteen year old Cody attempts to retrace her steps in order to understand why she took her life. For mature teens.
Kadir Nelson made his name for his extraordinary illustrations and writings on African-American history and biographical figures. He took a marked departure last year with Baby Bear, which some adored and which some were rather indifferent. I think even those who weren’t that pleased with Baby Bear will fail to resist If You Plant a Seed. The illustrations are divine, and the moral lesson about kindness is never saccharine or preachy. The pictures and story are beautiful; this would be both a fine addition to an Easter basket and the Caldecott Medal canon.
I adore everything by Marisabina Russo (The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds is one of my all-time favorite read alouds), so I immediately scooped up Little Bird Takes a Bath. Little Bird is seeking the perfect after-rain puddle for a bath, but somehow gets interrupted each time. Eventually, of course, he finds a fine bath in this pitch-perfect read aloud for a bird/weather/spring story time.
March: Book Two continues and expands upon the astounding achievement created by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell in March: Book One. March: Book One ended with the rise of the student protest movement in Nashville; the second volume highlights the Freedom Riders movement and the March on Washington. As with the first title, this is presented as a flashback on Barack Obama’s first inauguration day. It’s remarkably moving (Lewis reflects upon the fact that out of the “Big Six” of the civil rights movement–Martin Luther King, Jr., James Farmer, John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young–he is the only one still alive), and I felt that the scenes involving Obama’s inauguration day were more effectively sewn into the narrative (especially the final pages in which Obama’s presidential oath is juxtaposed with the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing). Although this is written for adults, teens interested in the civil rights movement should definitely read this (wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than that). The third and final title will be released at a later date. (I’m assuming next year, since Book One was published last year.)
Ilyasah Shabazz was only two years old when she witnessed her father, Malcolm X, assassinated (she has no memory of it). X: A Novel, co-written with notable YA author Kekla Magoon (author of the excellent The Rock and the River and How it Went Down), is a fascinating novel centered on Malcolm Little’s chaotic childhood and early adulthood, ending with his first imprisonment and growing awareness of the Nation of Islam (before he became Malcolm X). It’s a gritty and mature read (but truthful); a unique addition to YA historical fiction. I’m hopeful that these two authors write a sequel!
Spring 2015 children’s and YA titles are rolling in! Check out this Saturday’s edition of Wowbrary for many enticing titles.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Service Librarian, Warrenton central library
For book lists, reviews and staff suggestions for children published prior to January 2015, visit Kiddosphere, our blog about children/young adult fiction and non-fiction.