The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

61lezc6sz3l-_sx326_bo1204203200_
Originally published in: 2007

What it’s about: An orphaned boy living in a train station in Paris where he steals food to survive and takes care of the clocks.

What made me pick it up: Abby said it contained a lot illustrations so it was practically a graphic novel.

My favorite things: This book is like reading through a silent film. The illustrations are breathtaking, and rightly so, since this was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 2008 for illustrated work. I don’t think I’ve felt so strongly for a character since Harry Potter. Now this is no HP but there are a lot of similarities. It follows a boy on his own as he makes friends and works to solve a mystery before time runs out all while trying to protect his secrets. Magic might be involved. This was heartfelt and also very fun. Plus it flies by so the 533 pages are done in a blink. Seriously, I started this after work and was so drawn in I finished it in one sitting.

Who it’s great for: Readers of all ages. HP fans. Film buffs, especially from the early days of movies. Those looking for adventure.

Erica’s rating: five-shells


Find this book in your local library or on Amazon(affiliate link).


 

Patina by Jason Reynolds


Originally published: 2017

What it’s about: A young teen girl dealing with a new school and a new family situation while finding her place on a new track team.

What made me pick it up: I’ve been wanting to read something by this author for a while. When I saw this audio was available I placed a hold.

My favorite parts: As a former track runner I enjoyed the depictions of how important running is for a runner, as well as how much it is a team sport even though it seems so individualistic. Made me want to run a relay again. I also enjoyed how much this was a just a plain every day story about a regular girl and her situation and how she is dealing with it. It was incredibly authentic both in relationships and experiences.

Who it’s great for: Older chapter book readers looking for a good, but realistic, story. Those looking for proof that you can come through any situation. Runners and wannabe runners.

Erica’s rating:


Find this book on Amazon(affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Stella By Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

stella

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: An 11-year-old African-American girl named Stella growing up in a small North Carolina town in the 1930s and all the challenges she and her family and other African-Americans in her town face.

What made me pick it up: It came up when I placed another book on hold as a suggestion, but I can’t remember what that book was anymore. I’ll pick up almost any title with racial justice themes these days, so I think that may have played a role.

My favorite things: The language in this book is beautiful. I liked how just because it’s a children’s book it didn’t shy away from brutality and injustice to favor a happy ending. The depictions of bravery by young children like Stella, and family and community are very heartwarming and heart wrenching all at once.

Who it’s great for: Anyone interested in the poor treatment of African-Americans in the south during the Jim Crow era.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Find this book in your local library or on Amazon(affiliate link).


 

Bad Guy by Hannah Barnaby

badguy

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about a young boy determined to be bad.

What made me pick it up: I like Barnaby’s work. I’ve only read her YA novels and was excited to get my hands on this, her first picture book. I heard her talk about the process of writing it a few years ago and am excited to see the finished product.

My favorite things: This book will remind you what it was like if you used to be a headstrong, mischievous child. The little boy hellbent on becoming a villain is fun. My most favorite part, though, is the end where he discovers a partner in crime in the most unexpected person. I also enjoyed the subtle send up to Bond villains in the illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Bad kids who grew up. Good kids who think they are or wish they were bad. Anyone with a healthy sense of imagination.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

gregor

Originally published in: 2003

What it’s about: A teen boy and his two-year-old sister fall down an air vent in the laundry room of their NYC apartment building and land in a new world where they have to end a war and rescue their father to get back to the surface.

What made me pick it up: Abby told me to read it because it was good.

My favorite things: This book was so much fun! It’s full of action and adventure and authentic emotion. It has well-depicted family ties and fully fleshed out characters. It had me tearing up in parts and the action was so well paced that I was willing to overlook the minor predictability. In addition to the pace, I really enjoyed Gregor’s process of learning just how strong and capable he is. I can’t wait to read the rest in this series!

Who it’s great for: Young Harry Potter readers searching for a similar title. Readers of all ages looking for a little adventure.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Find this book on Amazon(affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Last Stop On Market Street by Matt De La Peña

market

Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A young boy and his grandma taking the bus through their city.

What made me pick it up: I actually got a few pages into this a year or so ago but didn’t get to finish it. When I saw it available in our Overdrive collection I checked it out.

My favorite things: This has vibrant illustrations and a powerful message of community. I liked the grandmother’s openness to all the people around them and how that rubbed off on her grandson. It is a simple, beautiful story.

Who it’s great for: Littles who want things they can’t afford. Anyone seeking a story of community. Readers who try to find beauty wherever they look.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don’t! by Elise Parsley

IMG_4492.jpg

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about a child who promises to use her indoor voice and not make a mess if only she can bring her circus into the library.

What made me pick it up: I was looking for new books with faces on them for #bookfacefriday when I saw this and grabbed it off a cart to read because libraries.

My favorite things: This is hilarious! I totally understand the spunk of the main character and all of her sincere, if misguided, attempts to make a circus library friendly. Turns out the library isn’t the best place for a circus, but I loved the message of how reading stories is a good alternative. It also has vibrant illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Fans of libraries or circuses. Children who have great, if ill-advised, ideas.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this title at Amazon(affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Sea Otter Heroes by Patricia Newman

IMG_4457.JPG

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Proof that otters are even more amazing than we thought (because they save ecosystems).

What made me pick it up: I don’t know if you know this yet, but I really, really like otters.

My favorite things: I appreciated how much scientific explanation was in this book. It was a little text heavy for a picture book but perfectly detailed for an older reader. It’s separated into chapters to make reading with your little one easier by breaking it up into segments. And of course, I’m always rooting for the otters. I’m so glad they are being protected so we can discover how beneficial it is to have them around.

Who it’s great for: Budding scientists. Otter lovers.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

51ysz8wu56l-_sx258_bo1204203200_
This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: The is a celebration of America, its diversity, and its flag.

What made me pick it up: I really like this illustrator, Kadir Nelson — he did Henry’s Freedom Box and If You Plant a Seed although I didn’t realize that until I got the book. It must have been reviewed well somewhere or sounded intriguing, so I placed a hold on it.

My favorite things: The illustrations are beautiful! Combined with the spare prose this is a powerful book. It really conveys the message of the American flag across history and throughout the vastness of the country, its people, and its customs. I enjoyed such a simple, yet positive, message.

Who it’s great for: Anyone who needs a small reminder of why America is great, especially when it might not feel that way. Readers who enjoy great illustrations and want to feel briefly that they are in an art gallery while reading a book.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon or in your local library.


 

Unbound by Ann E. Burg

IMG_3576

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A family who escaped slavery and their journey to join the colony of maroons in the middle of Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp to live freely.

What made me pick it up: A coworker came down to tell me she was working on her book talk for it and I realized I had read the author’s previous work (Serafina’s Promise) and love a novel in verse so I took it from her when she offered and checked it out.

My favorite things: This book is powerful. The verse nature of the writing makes it go very quickly. The first-person narration helps bring to life the experience of slavery for Grace. As someone who once was a nine-year-old who had trouble keeping her thoughts in her head and not saying whatever she thought, it really brought home how that once had much worse consequences. I could relate to all of Grace’s emotions — especially guilt. Even though you are fairly certain of the outcome, it’s still an edge-of-your-seat read as Grace and her family flee for their lives.

Who it’s great for: Anyone who wants to learn more about a lesser known group of runaway slaves/slave settlement. Readers who want an emotional portrayal of the slavery and runaway experience.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Get this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.