Archive for December, 2014


Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

NPR’s Morning Edition reminded listeners of their new book club today (listen here), originally announced earlier this month, called appropriately, “Morning Reads.”

9780374280604_abe23The first title, selected by Ann Patchett is Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories Of 33 Men Buried In A Chilean Mine And The Miracle That Set Them Free, (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample; Oct) by Hector Tobar. On several best books lists, it just cracked the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list at #15. Many libraries are showing heavy holds on light ordering.

Patchett says she chose Deep Down Dark because it’s a book that “benefits from other people’s insights.”

To become a member of the club, listeners are asked to read the book and send in questions via tweets, #MorningReads, or on Morning Edition’s Facebook page.  Tobar will answer selected question on the show on January 20.

WOLF HALL, Trailer

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

The trailer for BBC’s adaptation of the first two books in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series was just released.

The six-part series will air as part of “Masterpiece,” beginning April 5 (it begins in the U.K. next month). It stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis, known to many American primarily as Brody in the first three seasons of Showtime’s Homeland, as Henry VIII.

After previewing the full series, author Mantel gave it the thumbs up, saying, “Every face seems to me one that Holbein would recognize,” referring to Henry VIII’s court painter. Earlier, she had warned the BBC against indulging in the kind of historical “nonsense” that marred what she called the “big, all-singing, all-dancing American TV series The Tudors” produced by Showtime in 2010.

It seems there is one deviation from history, however. The Wolf Hall cod pieces may be too small. We’re to be blamed for that as well, since the real size was considered a “little too much for American television viewers.”


Wolf Hall: As Seen on PBS Masterpiece : A Novel
Hilary Mantel
Macmillan/ Picador: March 17, 2015
9781250077585, 1250077583
Trade Paperback
$16.00 USD

Bring Up the Bodies: The Conclusion to PBS Masterpiece’s Wolf Hall : A Novel
Hilary Mantel
Macmillan/ Picador: March 17, 2015
9781250077608, 1250077605
Trade Paperback
$16.00 USD

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatrical adaptation opens on Broadway on March 20th, also with a tie-in (note: the Theater Arts Communication tie-in we noted earlier has been cancelled). The Daily Mail quotes Mantel saying that the TV version is very different from the play.

9781250064172_13982Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation
Hilary Mantel, Mike Poulton
Macmillan/Picador: February 24, 2015
9781250064172, 1250064171
Trade Paperback, $16.00 USD



As to when the third book in the trilogy, The Mirror and The Light will appear, Mantel has said it is “unlikely to be ready until 2016.” She is working under a bit of pressure. The BBC is waiting for its release so they can begin that adaptation.

New for the New Year

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

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Need some titles for the tip of your tongue when people ask what to look for in the new year? Take a look at The Barnes & Noble Review‘s selections of “the most enticing new books slated to arrive in the first half of 2015″ and Entertainment Weekly’s “20 Books We’ll Read in 2015” (caution: as we noted earlier, some of the titles on the latter list won’t be out until the fall).

There’s not much agreement between the lists, with just three titles appearing on both lists.

Two overlaps are unsurprising, based on sheer name recognition — Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio, May 5) and Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child,(RH/Knopf; RH Audio, April 21).

The third is less obvious, James Hannaham’s Delicious Foods, (Hachette/Little,Brown; Hachette Audio, March 17). Entertainment Weekly warns, “Don’t let the appealing title fool you. This searing novel tackles death and big food corporations. Also, it’s partly narrated by crack cocaine. Yep,” Adds B&N, “James Hannaham kicks off his new novel (following his debut God Says No) with a teenager’s desperate escape from a twenty-first century slave plantation to which drug addicts are seduced to become captive labor.”

Check both lists. You’ll find at least one answer to the question, “Anything interesting coming out?”

GALLEY CHATTER: 2015 Titles To Read Now

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Editor’s Note: Our intrepid GalleyChatter (some call her the “Galley Whisperer”) Robin Beerbower tirelessly tracks down galleys, making her an authority on what to read next. She is active on the Edelwiss Community board, using it to spot titles and gauge developing buzz among librarians (you can join in; just register on Edelweiss and “friend” Robin).

Below, she wrangles the many titles librarians were enthusiastic about during the most recent session of GalleyChat. Many of them are available now for free download via Edelweiss and NetGalley (remember to nominate your favorites for LibraryReads).

Join us for the next GalleyChat, Tuesday, Jan. 6th, 4 to 5 p.m., EST (details here),


One of the many interesting aspects of monitoring GalleyChat is observing the various genre themes or appeal factors that emerge from the fun mess of tweets. In November love and romance were on the minds of many. This month the focus was on books noted for their moods and settings.

Not Your Grandfather’s Westerns

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This past year an abundance of westerns has been published and leading the pack for 2015 is Mary Doria Russell’s retelling of the events leading to the O.K. Corral shootout, Epitaph (HarperCollins/Ecco, March). Collection development librarian Janet Lockhart (Wake County Public Libraries) called it “compulsively readable” and “A bravura piece of storytelling.“ Russell’s first book, The Sparrow, is still a top choice of books groups. It will be exciting to have something new to recommend.

Black River, S. M. Hulse (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January) was also one of Janet’s favorites.  She says this novel of a former prison guard returning to his home town to bury his wife and come to terms with a violent act is “A haunting story of faith, forgiveness and grace set in a beautifully rendered rural Montana landscape.” It’s been chosen by the ABA as one of ten titles on their “Winter/Spring 2015 Indies Introduce Adult Debuts” promotion.

On the Edge of Your Couch

Even though we couldn’t technically call these titles “suspense thrillers,” they still kept us enthralled to the final pages.

9781476789637_a6e7bWhen John Searles (Help for the Haunted) calls a book “intriguing, surprising, and even shockingly funny at times,” we listen, and a couple of us raced through Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive, (Simon & Schuster, May). This absorbing study of a woman trying to get out of a bad past by remaking herself into a perfect mold wasn’t quite the Gone Girl readalike we expected, but it was still a fascinating story.

9781476786506_78243Lori Lansens’ story of conjoined twins, The Girls, is a perennial library favorite and her latest, The Mountain Story, (S&S/Gallery, May), about a group of strangers who get stranded in the woods above Palm Springs, California, is already receiving attention. Stephanie Chase (Hillsboro, OR, Public Library) said it’s “a deeply moving story of survival, and of the choices we make in our lives. Lansens does a wonderful job of weaving in the stories of the four characters, and moving between the current desperate situation and events in the past.”

9780804178112_7a06cCreepy gothics are always hot and House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy (RH/Ballantine, April) has a great northern New York state mid-winter atmosphere, and the story of a clueless family moving into a crumbling manor house and dealing with inhospitable town residents reminded me of an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

9780399169526_2629dJudging from the positive responses on Edelweiss and from GalleyChatters, I’m going to summon my psychic powers and nominate M. O. Walsh’s My Sunshine Away (Penguin/Putnam, February) as a 2015 contender for a word-of-mouth bestseller (Entertainment Weekly backs us up, saying this is “sure to be a breakout.”)  Three GalleyChatters gave this story of a crime in 1989 Baton Rouge told from the viewpoint of a teen boy high praise, including Vicki Nesting (St. Charles Parish Library, LA) who wrote, “The narrator’s voice is amazing — self-effacing and melancholy, humorous and heartbreaking as he slowly peels back the layers of his close-knit community in his attempt to solve the crime.” NOTE: Check out the video that author Walsh created for our Penguin’s First Flight program and join us for a chat with the author on January 21.

Favorite Authors

9781101874271_0ee2a  9780307700322_3589b  9780062083425_0f4aa

Three forthcoming novels by popular authors are sure to please library patrons.

Anne Tyler heads the list with the February release of her 20th title, A Spool of Blue Thread (RH/Knopf), a novel full of her trademark quirky and sometimes exasperating characters who continually fumble with day-to-day relationships. Another book that undertakes the complexities of domestic relationships — only on a much broader scale — is the eagerly anticipated second book in Jane Smiley’s The Last Hundred Years trilogy, Early Warning (RH/Knopf, April).

Laura Lippman’s Hush Hush (HC/William Morrow) is a continuation of the Tess Monaghan series, and Stephanie Chase said “While Hush Hush features an interesting mystery and heartbreaking incident at the heart of the story, the real story of the novel is the home life of private investigator and long-time series lead.”

Other Favored Titles

9780062316899_93d95  9780812996678_a6c37

Every once in a while a readers’ advisor receives a patron request to find novels with “teachable moments,” so Susie Sharp’s (Eddy-New Rockford Library, New Rockford, ND) mention of Helen Gaynor’s Memory of Violets (HC/William Morrow, February) was well received.  Susie described this historical novel based on actual events as an interesting look at a sad time in London history when many homeless children were required to sell flowers and watercress on the streets by day and sleep in doorways by night. This could be a great readalike suggestion for The Orphan Train by Christina Kline.

Salem Public (OR) librarian Ann Scheppke gave top marks to Rachel Joyce’s The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Random House, March), a companion novel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Ann said it’s “a bittersweet and funny examination of love and loss” and recommends that if a reader hasn’t read the first book, to perhaps read both simultaneously, alternating books as the story progresses.

By now, you may be feeling the pain of Joe Jones who ended the chat by saying “These chats always make my TBR list grow and completely ruin my well-made reading plans for the existing list.” If you want your own list to become even longer, join us for the next GalleyChat on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 4-5 EST. Remember to “friend me” if you want to keep up with my Edelweiss recommendations.

Holds Alert: HERE
by Richard McGuire

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 10.11.17 AM

The graphic novel of the moment (and perhaps the year) is Richard McGuire’s Here (Random House/Pantheon, 12/9/14), an experimental, time-bending, tour de force that Chris Ware calls “a work of literature and art unlike any seen or read before” in his Guardian review. Ware knows what he is talking about, having re-created the comics scene in 2012 with Building Stories (Random House/Pantheon).

McGuire’s book floats through decades, centuries, millennia, as it highlights tiny moments in time, overlapping them in space so that readers see multiple events at once in the same location. The artwork is as compelling as the concept, precisely drawn, finely observed, and charmingly surprising at times.

Review after review after review lauds McGuire’s creation, which he has been working on for 25 years, all pointing out its significance and its place alongside the masterworks of Ware and Art Spiegelman.

Holds are building around the country, with some libraries yet to receive copies and some yet to purchase. Where copies are in circulation holds generally exceed a 3:1 ratio. As we posted earlier, McGuire’s book and work is also the subject of an exhibition at the Morgan library.

60 MINUTES On Pope Francis

Monday, December 29th, 2014

9780770435066_74f48CBS dedicated yesterday’s entire 60 Minutes show to Pope Francis and the Vatican (including a repeat of Morley Safer’s visit to the Vatican Library three years ago).

As a result, On Heaven and Earth by Pope Frances and Abraham Skorka (RH/Image, 2013)  rose to #214 from #43,488 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Titles for R.A. Gurus, Week of 12/29/14

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

The 2015 publishing year begins next week as new books head to stores, ready for customers brandishing gift cards.

All the titles covered here, and several more notable titles arriving next week, are listed, with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet, EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of 12/29/14

Holds Leader

9780345543851_1571cDie Again: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel,
Tess Gerritsen (RH/Ballantine); OverDrive Sample

Among the titles by familiar names (Jack Higgins, W.E.B. Griffin, Brad Taylor, Sherryl Woods, Jane Green) the leader in holds is Tess Gerritsen’s eleventh in her series featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles. The fifth season of the TNT TV series based on the characters returns beginning Feb. 17 and a sixth is in the works, to debut in the summer. In an interview with PW, Gerritsen says the book draws on her own experiences while on Safari in South Africa.

LibraryReads Picks

9780804176378_c14ffVanessa and Her Sister, Priya Parmar, (RH/Ballantine; RH Large Print; RH Audio); OverDrive Sample
Audio clip:

The first buzzy debut of the season, this title is featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, is People‘s Book of the Week, as well as both a LibraryReads and an IndieNext pick.

LibraryReads annotation:

“Told uniquely as part diary, part epistolary novel, Parmar focuses on the relationship of Vanessa (later Bell) and Virginia (later Woolf) Stephens, one filled with unspoken jealousy and a fierceness of love that will ultimately destroy their kinship. This well-researched novel with gorgeous prose brings the characters to life with a unique perspective.” — Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ

Slate uses it as a jumping off point for a piece that offers a jaundiced view of the “biographical fan fiction” trend, beginning with Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank.

9781476767314_daf49The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion, (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio); OverDrive Sample

The followup to Simsion’s The Rosie Project, a book that won an Australian prize for unpublished manuscripts and went on to sell more than a million copies worldwide.

Fans Bill and Melinda Gates recorded a video with the author:

LibraryReads annotation:

“Don Tillman and Rosie are back again, and they’ve relocated to New York. Rosie is continuing her studies, while Don is teaching and even adding to his small circle of friends. But when Rosie announces that she is pregnant, Don is once again out of his depth. What follows are crazy situations that could only happen when Don is involved. Funny and heartwarming.” — Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA — It is also an IndieNext pick.

9780804178983_8c4d5The Dress Shop of Dreams, Menna van Praag, (RH/Ballantine; Thorndike; Recorded Books); OverDrive Sample

LibraryReads annotation:

“Tidy, romantic, and fine escapism. All the characters here have interesting back stories: Cora is believable as a no-nonsense gal trying to rebuff sweet Walt’s advances, and Etta is someone I’d like to meet in real life. Reminiscent of Love Actually and P.S. I Love You, this cute little book is recommended to readers who want to be charmed by the possibilities of love.” — Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, CA

9781616954765_d0d69The Bishop’s Wife, Mette Ivie Harrison, (Soho Crime; Blackstone Audio); OverDrive Sample

Y.A. author Harrison’s mystery debut got an early review by the New York Times‘ Janet Maslin, indicating she thinks it may take off and, indeed, she notes that it “has good reason to draw a large readership” because of its focus on domestic abuse among extremists in some religious communities and because it “incorporates details about Mormon daily life that should fascinate readers who know little about them.” Maslin also notes that it appears to be the beginning of a series.

It is both an IndieNext and LibraryReads pick.


“Linda Wallheim is the local bishop’s wife and the mother of five sons, all but one out of the house and on their own. As a Mormon, Linda has been increasingly frustrated with some of the Church’s doctrine. While her life is busy fulfilling her duties with many community services and being the hostess for the ward at all hours, she chafes under the patriarchal beliefs and practices. When she is called to care for a five-year-old girl whose mother has mysteriously disappeared, Linda begins to question the circumstances of the young wife’s absence. This is a beautifully written story about a woman who supports her husband as the bishop while recognizing that her inner convictions might go against his will. A compelling read!” — Patricia Worth, River Reader, Lexington, MO 


“As a practicing Mormon, I felt Harrison did a great job of detailing Mormon culture and doctrine without evangelizing. I appreciated that the bishop is a good man, and the bishop’s wife is a woman who has been through her own struggles. The bishop’s wife sometimes can barely keep up with all the drama and mysteries around her. But she does, and does it quite well under the circumstances. This is a rather brave book.” — Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA

RA Opportunity: SERIAL

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

9781595581037_05a86  9780812994520_5655e  9781451657586_f00a4

Serial, a nonfiction podcast designed by the creators of This American Life, has become such an obsession, that fans gathered for “listening parties” for the final episode of the first season in mid December. Since the episodes are posted at 7:30 on Thursday mornings, at least one of these events, held at a Lower Manhattan bar, was dubbed “Serial and Cereal” (with a splash of Jameson’s in the coffee).

The debut season, which began in October, focuses on a Baltimore high school student found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to life in prison. Each week, Sarah Koenig, the host of Serial, examines the case and goes where the evidence leads, introducing a rich cast of characters and an immersive and suspenseful story that has become the most listened-to podcast in the history of the medium (see coverage in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Entertainment Weekly).

Libraries have responded to the interest. The Chicago Public Library offers a reading list that includes nonfiction and audiobooks, such as Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (RH/Spiegel & Grau, 2014; OverDrive Sample) andThe Skeleton Crew by Deborah Halber (Simon & Schuster, 2014; OverDrive Sample), also linking to the Serial site.

The New York Public Library highlights six books on criminal justice for Serial fans, including The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (The New Press, 2010; OverDrive Sample). Fanwood Memorial Library in New Jersey also offers listeners guidance for next reading choices, including Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Random House/Nan A. Talese, 1996; OverDrive Sample) and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House/Modern Library [reprint], 2013 ; OverDrive Sample).

In addition, Business Insider recently posted a list of suggested true crime books (such as Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me [Norton [20th Anniversary Ed], 2000; OverDrive Sample]) while BookRiot offers a list of audiobooks to try after Serial concludes (including Mary Roach’s Stiff  [Norton, 2003]).

There will be more. A second season has been announced, thanks to listener donations, although the subject and release dates have not yet been announced.

To Air in February

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Lawrence Hill’s novel, Someone Knows My Name, (Norton, 2008) has been adapted as a 6-part TV series, using the book’s original Canadian title, The Book of Negroes. Set for release in Canada in January, it will begin airing on BET in the U.S. on February 16, 2015.

The novel, a fictional slave narrative,  is based on the stories of American slaves who escaped to Canada after the Revolutionary War and were then recruited by British abolitionists to settle in Sierra Leone. The Washington Post praised its “heart-stopping prose” and noted that “Hill balances his graphic depictions of the horrors of enslavement with meticulously researched portrayals of plantation life.”

Directed by Clement Virgo, the movie stars Aunjanue Ellis, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., and Lyriq Bent.

Gossett was interviewed about the series during its premiere at the  Toronto International Film Festival in November. He compares it to another TV mini-series he starred in, Roots.

Learn more at the Official Web Site.




Lawrence Hill
W.W. Norton; January 12, 2015
9780393351392, 0393351394
$15.95 USD


Friday, December 26th, 2014

In Great Britain, people are celebrating Boxing Day while  analyzing the various Christmas specials, including the conclusion to Downton Abbey, season five.

Here in the U.S., season five begins on PBS Sunday, Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. To tide us over, we have a delicious spoof of the series, created as a fund raiser for the U.K. charity Text Santa:

Season six is likely to begin in the U.K. in September. No news on whether it will be the final one, but British news is atwitter with the possibility of a Downton Abbey movie.

2015’s Best Business Books

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

9780062248541_afcefFor those people whose New Year’s resolutions are work-related, the Washington Post’s leadership columnist offers a dozen books to watch for next year, admitting that business self-help books tend to be “an overcrowded, underwhelming genre if there ever was one.”

One of the standouts is a book that offers lessons from The Second City Improv group (hey, if a bunch of fishmongers can become business gurus, the field is wide open), Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration, Kelly Leonard, Tom Yorton, (HarperBusiness, 2/3/15).


Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Move over Jaws, an even scarier sea creature is about to hit the screens.

The second trailer has just been released for Ron Howard’s  In the Heart of the Sea, scheduled to open in theaters on March 13. It is based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s 2000 National Book Award winner of the same title, about the Essex, a Nantucket whaling ship that was stalked and eventually sunk by a sperm whale South Pacific in 1819, setting the crew adrift for 90 days.

This new trailer gives a sense of how frightening that whale will be on the big screen.

Tie ins (for tie-ins to all upcoming book adaptations, check our Edelweiss catalog):

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Movie Tie-in)
Nathaniel Philbrick
Penguin, Trade Paperback January 27, 2015

Audio: January 27, 2015
Nathaniel Philbrick, Scott Brick

Related Titles

 9780143105954 9780140437966_4804e  9780142400685_5fe4e

There’s several books about the incident, offering opportunities for display.

Foremost is the classic novel, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, who appears in the movie, played by Ben Whishaw.  In turn, the novel was inspired by an eyewitness account, written by the Essex’s first mate Owen Chase, played by Chris Hemsworth, published in 1821 under the wonderful title, Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-ship Essex, of Nantucket Which Was Attacked and Finally Destroyed by A Large Spermaceti-whale, in the Pacific Ocean; With An Account of the Unparalleled Sufferings of the Captain and the Crew during a Space of Ninety-Three Days at Sea, in Open Boats, in the Years 1819 & 1820. It still available in several editions, but with much shorter titles, including The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale, (Penguin Classics, 2000) with an introduction by Philbrick.

In addition to his book for adults, Philbrick also published a version of the story for young readers, Revenge of the Whale, (Penguin/Puffin, 2004).

The INTERVIEW To Be Screened

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Following dozens of protests over canceling the release of the movie The Interview due to threats from hackers, Sony did an about face on Monday, and announced they would authorize screenings.

The movie is currently scheduled for release in 292 theaters on Christmas Day, followed by 91 more after the New Year (far fewer than the 2,000 originally planned). The four largest chains, however — Regal, AMC, Cinemark and Carmke — are still refusing to show it, reports the New York Times.

PEN recently released a letter signed by nearly 50 authors, including Salman Rushdie and Neil Gaiman, as well as several publishers, urging Sony to “demonstrate the power of free expression by denying the cowards who made these threats the satisfaction of thinking they have succeeded,” and saying, “The attack on Sony Pictures is an assault on the wider creative community; one that must be met with unity and resolve.”

Informational Books For Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

lisabadgeWe’re coming down to the wire for seasonal gift giving.Continuing my series about books you can recommend, and give with confidence, we turn to kids who like books about real subjects.

For Kids Who Want to Know About Real People

9781596436039_3a02c-2  9780374380694_f9005Viva Frida, Yuyi Morales, Tim O’Meara, (Roaring Brook Press), Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3Morales’s stunning mixed media art captures Khalo’s life and spirit.The following video explores the creation of the illustrations.The Pilot and the Little Prince, Peter Sís, (Macmillan/FSG), Ages 5 to 8, Grades K to 3This sophisticated picture book biography explores the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.Sis talks about his inspiration in the video below:9780802853851_f1c5eThe Right Word, Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet, (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers), Ages 7 to 18

From the award-winning creators of A River of Words, the life of Peter Mark Roget the creator of Roget’s Thesaurus is expressed through language and collage.A masterpiece.

For Kids Who Like Trucks


Giant Vehicles, Ron Green, Stephen Biesty, (Candlewick/Templar), Ages 6 and upRemember last year’s Caldecott winner Locomotive by Brian Floca?Here is a book for a little younger crowd displaying lift-the -flap cross sections of vehicles from jumbo jets, to trains to spectacular rockets to the everyday dump trucks.

For Kids Who Are Wild About Animals 


Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents, Lita Judge, (Roaring Brook), Ages 6 and upSimple language shares facts about animal families with delicious watercolor and pencil naturalist illustrations (take a look at several here)Chasing Cheetahs: The race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats, Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop, (HMH), Ages 9 and upThe Sibert Award winning author and illustrator for Kakapo Rescue explores a species on the edge of extinction.9780763675080_4f9aaAnimalium, Jenny Broom, Katie Scott, (Candlewick/Big Picture Press), Ages 8 to 12Number one on my wish list is this oversized lushly illustrated book that is modeled on a turn of the last century natural history museum.One can imagine a family sprawled out on the carpet for hours, poring over tiny details of the fact-filled pages.

Poetry For Kids You Don’t
Know Very Well

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014


Three novels in verse stood out this year. All are great read alouds and all exhibit greatness in that intangible but essential quality. “voice.”  All three made me long to read them aloud to classes of students.

9780316247801_b0d7b  9780399252518_ab369  9780803733046

The Red Pencil, Andrea Davis Pinkney, (Hachette/Little Brown; Hachette Audio); OverDrive Sample

The Red Pencil sets us down in the Sudan. We enter the life of young girl yearning for an education but caught in a horrific war as she finally arrives at a refugee camp. Pinkney’s spare language gives voice and a window into the cultures and lives we don’t hear or see every day.

How I Discovered Poetry, Marilyn Nelson, (Penguin/Dial Books); OverDrive Sample

Acclaimed poet, Nelson (A Wreathe for Emmett Till) reflects on her life as a child raised on army bases during the 1950’s where the only black people were her own family.

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson, (Penguin/Nancy Paulson; Listening Library); OverDrive Sample

Winner of the National Book Award, Ms. Woodson’s memoir is more than her own story, it is the story of a generation raised in the sixties and the grounding power of family.