Hey, Kid Lit friends!
On April 1st, my husband turned on Google Maps to find Waldo from the legendary Where’s Waldo books peeking out from the side of his screen. Have you seen that yet? Google, in partnership with Candlewick Press, launched an April Fools’ stunt that challenged users to find Waldo, his friend Wenda, his dog Woof, the magical Wizard Whitebeard, and even the pesky Odlaw in five locations around the globe — with an extra surprise for the most successful searchers. I tried this out, and it was really fun! (Also, a lot easier than the books because you can zoom in!)
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The game is free to anyone using Google Maps on an Android, iOS, or desktop. People can also access the game through the Google Assistant by asking “OK Google, where’s Waldo?” to be directed to the game in their Google Maps app. Signed-in users will be able to track their progress and win badges.
Another scavenger hunt I adore is called Book Scavenger, based on New York Times bestselling series Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. Copies of Book Scavenger are being hidden and scavenged around the United States, and you can play along. Once you’ve acquired a copy of Book Scavenger, here is how the game works:
Step 1: Read the book!
Step 2: Hide the book in a public place for another reader to discover. Report the hidden book at HIDE & FIND BOOKS so other readers know to seek it out.
Step 3: Share your experience on social media using #BookScavenger
If you have found a book, visit HIDE & FIND BOOKS to report your find. Then start at Step 1 and keep the cycle going.
Lastly, did you know that Indie Bookstore Day is coming on April 29th? This magical day is a perfect way to support your local indie, and many bookstores have bookish scavenger hunts. Last year, the amazing Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California hosted a scavenger hunt between 10am and 2pm. Shoppers were invited follow a series of clues around the bookstore, collect a special token, and turn it in at the Book Information desk to win a prize. Also in California, a group of fifty Bay Area bookstores hosted a quest: visit ten bookstores on Indie Bookstore Day and be entered to win a library of $1,000 hand selected books.
I’ve heard that eighteen independent bookstores across the greater Twin Cities area are banding together in celebration of Independent Bookstore Day this year with the Twin Cities Independent Bookstore Passport. The passport uses bookstore coupons and literary prize packs to encourage customers to visit as many of the 18 stores in one day as they can. Passports will be available to pick up at any of the participating bookstores, and the more bookstores a customer visits, the more prizes they are eligible to receive.
In addition to the scavenger hunts, there are always exclusive literary items only available on that day. Last year I picked up this adorable literary dog pouch:
I’m looking forward to what specialty items are available this year! Follow Bookstore Day on Twitter or check out the Independent Bookstore Day website for news, special events, and of course, bookish scavenger hunt locations!
All of these books release this Tuesday unless otherwise noted. The book descriptions are from Goodreads, but I’ll add a if I particularly loved a title.
Picture Book New Releases
Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini (Chronicle)
From a crescent moon to a square garden to an octagonal fountain, this breathtaking picture book celebrates the shapes—and traditions—of the Muslim world. Sure to inspire questions and observations about world religions and cultures, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets is equally at home in a classroom reading circle and on a parent’s lap being read to a child.
Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Emily Hughes (Chronicle)
Featuring beautiful images and a lyrical text with an exquisitely readable cadence, this book gives life and meaning to all the requisite elements of a treehouse, from time, timber, and rafters to ropes of twisted twine that invite visitors to sprawl out on a limb and slide back down again. For anyone who’s ever wanted to escape real life and live in a nostalgic dream come true, this poignant picture book captures the universal timelessness of treehouses and celebrates all the creativity and adventure they spark.
Libraries on Wheels by Sharlee Glenn (Abrams)
Mary Lemist Titcomb (1852–1932) was always looking for ways to improve her library. As librarian at the Washington County Free Library in Maryland, Titcomb was concerned that the library was not reaching all the people it could. She was determined that everyone should have access to the library—not just adults and those who lived in town. Realizing its limitations and inability to reach the county’s 25,000 rural residents, including farmers and their families, Titcomb set about to change the library system forever with the introduction of book-deposit stations throughout the country, a children’s room in the library, and her most revolutionary idea of all—a horse-drawn Book Wagon.
A Most Unusual Day by Sydra Mallery, illustrated by E.B. Goodale (HarperCollins)
Today is a very unusual day! Caroline wakes up late, forgets her socks, and feels strange all the way to school. She tries to help her teacher, but everything is mixed up today and all Caroline manages to do is make a great big mess. Finally, the school day ends and Caroline rushes outside to greet her parents, who are having a rather extraordinary day themselves. In their arms they hold Caroline’s new baby sister, who has just arrived from far away.
Max Explains Everything: Grocery Store Expert by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Deborah Hocking (Penguin Random House)
Max knows everything about trips to the grocery store because his parents make him go All. The. Time. Even when they run out of little things . . . like toilet paper. So he’s pretty much an expert. Whether it’s choosing the right breakfast cereal or surviving the obstacle course that is the produce section, Max is here to help. Having trouble talking mom into finally getting that puppy she promised? Picking up a bag of dog food might just be the push she needs! And always remember to keep your eyes on the prize–the checkout lane is your last chance to grab the real essentials. Candy!
Friends Stick Together by Hannah E. Harrison (Penguin Random House)
Rupert is a rhinoceros of refined sensibilities. Levi, the new tickbird in class, is not. He burps the alphabet, tells corny jokes, and does really embarrassing air guitar solos. Worse, he lands right on Rupert and is determined to be Rupert’s symbiotic best pal! Rupert wants him gone. But when Levi finally does bug off, Rupert finds the peace and quiet a little boring. It turns out, Rupert could really use a friend like Levi.
Chapter Book New Releases
Cody and the Heart of a Champion by Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler (Candlewick)
In Cody’s life, some people keep her on her toes — just like Mother Nature, who is warm one day and snowy the next. Or like Cody’s brother, Wyatt, who has started wearing collared shirts because his girlfriend likes them. Meanwhile, Pearl has begun playing soccer and it’s all she can talk about. Spencer is busy creating a mysterious museum underneath GG’s house and he’s never around to play. And Spencer’s mom doesn’t look any different. . . . Could she really have a baby growing inside her? Maybe the baby is like Cody’s beloved ants, waiting patiently inside the earth for spring to arrive. It seems like everything around Cody is changing — from seasons to friendships — but if she can just navigate it all with her trademark enthusiasm and charm, maybe the most important things will stay the same.
Buster the Very Shy Dog, More Adventures with Phoebe by Lisze Bechtold (HMH Books for Young Readers)
It’s backyard troubles galore for canine friends Buster and Phoebe in two easy-to-read adventures. The trouble begins when Buster and Phoebe get blamed for trashing the backyard and hatch a plan to find the real garbage bandit. But first they have to stay awake and keep away from skunks! Next, the pals search for buried “bone” treasures only to quibble about which bones belong to which dog. Buster may be shy but he’s smart enough to claim what’s rightfully his and kind enough to share it, too.
Big Foot, Little Foot by Ellen Potter (Amulet Books)
Hugo is a young Sasquatch who longs for adventure. Boone is young boy who longs to see a Sasquatch. When their worlds collide, they become the unlikeliest pair of best friends. At the Academy for Curious Squidges, Hugo learns all manner of Sneaking—after all, the most important part of being a Sasquatch is staying hidden from humans. But Hugo dreams of roaming free in the Big Wide World rather than staying cooped up in caves. When he has an unexpected run-in with a young human boy, Hugo seizes the opportunity for a grand adventure. Soon, the two team up to search high and low for mythical beasts, like Ogopogos and Snoot-Nosed Gints. Through discovering these new creatures, together, Big Foot and Little Foot explore the ins and outs of each other’s very different worlds but learn that, deep down, maybe they’re not so different after all.
Middle Grade New Releases
You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly (HarperCollins)
Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch. Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways, as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school.
Sunny by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum)
Sunny is just that—sunny. Always ready with a goofy smile and something nice to say, Sunny is the chillest dude on the Defenders team. But Sunny’s life hasn’t always been sun beamy-bright. You see, Sunny is a murderer. Or at least he thinks of himself that way. His mother died giving birth to him, and based on how Sunny’s dad treats him—ignoring him, making Sunny call him Darryl, never “Dad”—it’s no wonder Sunny thinks he’s to blame. It seems the only thing Sunny can do right in his dad’s eyes is win first place ribbons running the mile, just like his mom did. But Sunny doesn’t like running, never has. So he stops. Right in the middle of a race.
The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet (Candlewick)
It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay?
Camp Panda: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Roughly a thousand years ago, an estimated 23,000 pandas roamed wild and free through their native China. But within the past forty years, more than fifty percent of the panda’s already shrinking habitat has been destroyed by humans, leaving the beautiful and beloved giant panda vulnerable to extinction. Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds—poaching, habitat destruction, pollution, human overpopulation, and global climate change—the panda is making a comeback. How? By humans teaching baby pandas how to be wild and stay wild.
Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam by Elizabeth Partridge (Penguin Random House)
In over a decade of bitter fighting, it claimed the lives of more than 58,000 American soldiers and beleaguered four US presidents. More than forty years after America left Vietnam in defeat in 1975, the war remains controversial and divisive both in the United States and abroad. The history of this era is complex; the cultural impact extraordinary. But it’s the personal stories of eight people—six American soldiers, one American military nurse, and one Vietnamese refugee—that create the heartbeat of Boots on the Ground. From dense jungles and terrifying firefights to chaotic helicopter rescues and harrowing escapes, each individual experience reveals a different facet of the war and moves us forward in time.
The Crooked Castle: Carmer and Grit, Book Two by Sarah Jean Horowitz (Algonquin Young Readers)
Shortly after saving the faeries of Skemantis, magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III and his faerie companion, Grit, head out to see the world. They soon come across a mysteriously magical flying circus. As they get to know the outlandish world of Rinka Tinka’s Roving Wonder Show, it becomes clear there’s something not quite normal about this circus or its inventor–and that recent airship disasters plaguing nearby Driftside City may have a sinister explanation.
Charlie and Frog by Karen Kane (Disney-Hyperion)
Charlie’s parents have left him (again). This time they are off to South Africa to help giant golden moles. And Charlie? He’s been dumped with his TV-obsessed grandparents. Lonely and curious, Charlie heads into the village of Castle-on-the-Hudson, where a frightened old woman gives him a desperate message-in sign language. When she suddenly disappears, Charlie is determined to find answers. Frog, who is Deaf, would rather be solving crimes than working at the Flying Hands Cafe. When Charlie Tickler walks into the cafe looking for help, Frog jumps at the chance to tackle a real-life case.
Burning Magic by Joshua Khan (Disney-Hyperion)
In Book 3 of a three-book series, when Lily, aka the “witch queen” and bat-rider extraordinaire Thorn travel to Sultanate of Fire, things go terribly wrong. Instead of celebrating a reunion with their old friend K’leef, they are thrust into royal murder, an epic quest, and a deadly battle for the throne. While investigating the murder, Lily learns shocking truths about her life that could destroy all she has achieved. Yet, among the ruins of her old life, she has the opportunity to become someone greater . . . and more terrifying.
You might have remembered me talking up This is Not a Valentine, an absolutely adorable debut picture book by Carter Higgins and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Carter’s second picture book, Everything You Need for a Treehouse (Chronicle), releases this Tuesday as I’ve already mentioned above. It is delightful!
My ten-year-old daughter and I read The Town of Turtle by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Cátia Chien, and we both loved it. My daughter kept exclaiming, “How cute!”, and we thought the illustrations were stunning.
Out of Left Field (Viking, May 1) by Ellen Kluges is about Katy Gordon, the best pitcher in the neighborhood. But when she tries out for Little League, it’s a whole different story. Girls are not eligible, period. It is a boy’s game and always has been. It’s not fair, and Katy’s going to fight back. I’m halfway through this story, and I am loving Katy and her mom.
Until next week!
Book cat 🙂
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