Hey Kid Lit friends,
I will have a recap of the American Library Association’s Annual Conference next week, but with American Independence Day coming up I thought I would drop some independence-themed picture book recommendations.
Annotated presented by Hachette Book Group is Book Riot’s new audio documentary series about books, reading, and language.
The first episode, “Is it 1984 yet?” traces the recent rise of the not-new 1984 to the number one spot on Amazon’s best-selling books list. Jeff and Rebecca explore the backstory of 1984, from how it became stock high school reading to its CIA-supported appearance on the silver screen, to how, seemingly, a January 22nd news interview thrust it back into our collective consciousness as the example of a political nightmare.
Annotated can be downloaded for free from Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or your podcatcher of choice.
Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by the amazing Kadir Nelson, is a stunning picture book celebrating images of our nation, from the American flag to Ellis Island to civil rights protesters. Mr. Nelson’s artwork brings such life and humanity to America’s history, and for me it’s a must-have-on-my-bookshelf type of book.
Independence Cake: A Revolutionary Confection Inspired by Amelia Simmons, Whose True History is Unfortunately Unknown by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Giselle Potter, is a sweet picture book about Amelia Simmons, the author of America’s first cookbook and the first one to incorporate native ingredients into her recipes. The pictures are reminiscent of 18th century portraits, which adds to it’s charm. This is a delightful read. (Plus: there’s a recipe!)
We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers, is filled with beautiful prose and thought-provoking illustrations. Filled with quotes from famous Americans, this book recognizes diverse voices and their contributions to history and freedom. Although a picture book, it contains information that might be better understood if used as a read-aloud to third graders and up.
Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and Her Star-Spangled Creation by Kristen Fulton, illustrated by Holly Berry, is the true story of the flag that inspired America’s national anthem. Caroline Pickersgill came from a family of the best flag makers, and she worked on the flag that flew over Fort McHenry. When the British attack Baltimore in 1814, Caroline waits to see if their flag still waves. I loved the illustrations for this one, done in Holly Berry’s signature bold illustrations.
New Picture Book Releases!
Ladybug Girl’s Day with Grandpa by David Soman and Jacky Davis
“When Lulu and Grandpa visit the museum, Lulu wants to see it all! Grandpa suggests exploring bit by bit, but Lulu can do it all—she’s Ladybug Girl! But there is so much to see. Even Ladybug Girl may never see it all. Then Grandpa shows her something extra special: the butterfly room! Inside, Lulu slows down. She looks and listens. And she realizes that Ladybug Girl can be like a flower if she holds very still and thinks flower thoughts. When a shining blue butterfly lands on her finger, she understands that even if she can’t learn everything in one day, she can learn so much from each moment, if she only takes the time to look around.”
Imagine That! by Yasmeen Ismail (July 3, Bloomsbury)
“Lila might seem quiet, but that’s because she’s off on a pretend adventure . . . Only Lila can see that she’s wrestling an octopus, racing along in a winged chariot, and flying with birds over a noisy jungle. But playing by yourself can get lonely. So Lila’s grandpa decides to join her–because using your imagination is even more fun when you play together.”
New Middle Grade Releases!
There are so many great middle grades releasing this week! Here are some of my favorites:
Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen (July 4, Aladdin)
“After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…”
Katana at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee (July 4, Penguin Random House)
“Sword-wielding Katana isn’t like most high school students—but with classmates like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl, Super Hero High isn’t like most high schools! In addition to training to be a super hero, Katana also follows the noble warrior traditions of the Samurai. Now a mysterious presence has given her the responsibility of guarding a hundred ancient Samurai swords—but why her, and for what purpose? With the help of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Ms. Martian, and some of her other super friends, she intends to find out. But she just made captain of the fencing team, she has a huge school project due, and a villain with ties to her family’s past seems to be amassing an army.”
Overboard! (Survivor Diaries) by Terry Lynn Johnson (July 4, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)
“Eleven-year-old Travis and his family are on a whale watch off the coast of Washington when disaster strikes. The boat capsizes, throwing everyone into the ice-cold chaotic waves. Separated from their families and struggling to stay afloat, Travis and twelve-year-old Marina must use all of their grit and knowledge to survive.”
The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline Ogburn, illustrated by Rebecca Green (July 4, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)
“For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away. One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead. When Eric discovers the unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed.”
Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy (July 4, Penguin Random House)
“Alice is angry at having to move to Rainbow, Georgia—a too small, too hot, dried-up place she’s sure will never feel like home. Then she gets put in charge of walking her elderly neighbor’s dog. But Clarence won’t budge without Miss Millie, so Alice and Miss Millie walk him together. Strolling with Clarence and Miss Millie quickly becomes the highlight of Alice’s day and opens her eyes to all sorts of new things to marvel over. During their walks, they meet a mix of people, and Alice sees that although there are some bullies and phonies, there are plenty of kind folks, too. Miss Millie shares her family’s story with Alice, showing her the painful impact segregation has had on their town. And with Miss Millie, Alice is finally able to express her own heartache over why her family had to move there in the first place.”
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
I used to read this picture book all of the time with my daughters, and I thought about it again when I listened to Hillary Clinton’s closing speech at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference this past Tuesday. Hillary Clinton has a new picture book coming out on September 26, It Takes a Village, which is illustrated by Marla Frazee and has that same All the World feel. Listen to Hillary Clinton’s closing speech here. It’s powerful.
“When I got that library card, I felt like I had been handed a passport to the world.”
– Hillary Clinton
“If we’re serious about raising curious, emphatic, brave citizens, that starts with raising readers.”
Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn
I really love this set of three stories about two mice who secretly work behind the scenes by looking after Arthur and Lucy, the human children who live in the cottage. This is a great book for kids venturing into longer chapter books as the print is larger and there are pictures sprinkled throughout. It’s also split into separate stories, which makes it manageable for younger readers.
And, with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone celebrating twenty years last week, how could I not drop a mention here? Have you seen the twentieth aniversary editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Bloomsbury UK that celebrate the four Hogwarts Houses? Take a look at all of them here. Book Riot contributors wrote Harry Potter themed posts to commemorate the day, including Alison Doherty who wrote a sweet tribute called As a Teacher I Don’t Play Favorites, Except When Kids Love Harry Potter, Ashley Holstrom who collected Lessons Harry Potter Taught Us, and Kelly Jensen’s If Hermione Granger Had Had Girl Friends…
What children’s books are you reading and enjoying this week? Find me on social media and let me know! I’m on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or send me an email at email@example.com. Have a great week!
Izzy is very protective about her Harry Potter.
If this e-mail was forwarded to you, you can follow this link to subscribe to “The Kids Are All Right” newsletter and other fabulous Book Riot newsletters for your own customized e-mail delivery. Thanks!