Katya was eight years old in Leningrad when her neighbor died and left her his Bluthner piano, igniting a passion and gift for music. Her closest companion until she marries, it is left behind when her husband decides they will have a better future in America. Clare was approaching her twelfth birthday in Bakersfield when her father gave her an early birthday gift, a Bluthner piano. She lost both parents in a house fire two days later and now 26, she begins to question why she can't let this piano she can't play go and get on with her life. The story of how the piano impacted and connected these lives makes a riveting read.
I'm always thrilled when I discover an entertaining book by a new author. The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson fits the bill. It's full of heart, adventure, and laugh-out-loud humor. Freddie Yates believes in facts, not miracles, and when his grandmother dies and his family dwindles to him and his accident prone stepdad he decides to expand his family by going on a journey to find his biological dad. Joined by his two best friends Ben and Charlie, he embarks on an unforgettable summer adventure and discovers along the way that the fact is, miracles are real and family is closer than you think.
The sister team of Kate & M Sarah Klise (rhymes with mice), who brought has the fun series 43 Old Cemetery Road, have a new book out to tickle your funny bone while slyly showing the power of books and civic responsibility. Written through letters and memos in what we call an epistolary novel, it's a fast fun read. When a new librarian, Rita B. Danjerious, shows up at Appleton Elementary School, students are awakened to the exciting world of books and their own power, armed with knowledge, to fight corrupt power.
On the Horizon by Lois Lowry (ISBN 0358129400) is a slim, but powerful story in verse. Lowry was born in Hawaii in 1937, and after the war, spent part of her childhood in Japan. While watching old home movies of playing on the beach with her Nonny in 1940, a friend noticed the distinctive shape of the USS Arizona gliding in the background. The seed was planted. Focusing on stories of the victims of these devastating events that bookended our involvement in the war, she uses research into the lives of real victims of both man-made disasters and her incredible gift for finding the humanity, encouraging empathy, and exposing the threads that connect us to remind us that we are all in this together and every soul counts.
Fans of R J Palacio's award winning book, Wonder, might want to check out Normal: One Kid's Extraordinary Journey, a young adult memoir by Magdalena & Nathaniel Newman. Nathaniel is a seventeen-year-old boy born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, the condition that afflicts Auggie, the hero of Wonder. Told with honesty, humor, and hope, it tells of the power of love, the miracles of medicine, and the persistence and strength of the human spirit when ordinary people, faced with extraordinary challenges, find a path to an amazingly 'normal' life. An adult companion book, Normal: A Mother and her Beautiful Son includes a forward by Palacio.
If you are planning a road trip sometime soon and need something to keep the younger travelers engaged, try the new audiobook of Charlotte's Web by E B White. At 4 hours in length, this classic tale, preformed by Meryl Streep and a full cast of stellar readers will keep even the most restless travel engaged as they spend the seasons Spring through Fall in the Zuckerman barnyard getting to know the animals who live there and seeing (or hearing) real friendship in action.
Fausto is a rich man, but not rich enough. He believed everything belonged to him and began a journey to claim ownership. The flower, the sheep, the mountain....all bowed to his selfish claims of ownership until the quiet, endless sea showed a way calm way to resist. More than a children's book, this modern day fable has a powerful message for all ages to ponder.
Mo Willems' Pigeon books are beloved by the younger set. DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS introduced us to Pigeon, who knows his mind and speaks it directly to the reader. His latest book, THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL is the perfect book to share with kiddos nervous about heading off to that big, scary, place called school. With humor and a wink, he tackles all the big scary things about school and knocks them down to size. "Whazza-Whazza-Whaaa!?!" Pigeon is ready, and your little one will be, too, after sharing this book.
WHEN ALL IS SAID by debut author Anne Griffin is the story of the night 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan bares his soul. Sitting at the bar one evening, he raises five glasses - one to each of the five people most important to his life and we learn his true story with all its highs and lows. The writing is lovely, but to really experience this story, check out the audiobook. Niall Buggy's narration will transport you to the bar stool next to Maurice, making you laugh and cry as you share the evening with this unique character.
Eighteen-year-old Amelia (Lia) is a hard-hitting, aggressive roller derby star when her world falls apart. The rare liver disorder she was born with rears its ugly head and all of a sudden she is high on the list for a liver transplant. The story, divided into 'Before,' 'During,' and 'After,' is told mostly in Lia's voice as she fights to maintain her identity as a person in control, while trying to face her future with honesty, courage, and hope. The author does a good job of examining the emtional strain on patient, family, and friends and her Author's note at the end of the book brings more context to this important story that shines a light on the importance of organ donations..
BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate was a hit in hardcover. It's just arrived in paper and is sure to be popular with book clubs. Historical history at its best, with attention to historical detail and compelling characters - real and imagined, it exposes the almost unbelievable story of Georgia Tann and her Tennessee Children's Home Society, which upended the lives of innumerable chldren and their families. Traveling between 1939 Memphis, Tennessee and present day Aiken, South Caroline it explores one family's journey to reunion and healing.
In this prequel to EMILY ALONE, Stewart O'Nan lets us into the head and heart of 75-year-old Henry Maxwell as he reflects on his life. It's 1998 Pittsburgh and everything is changing - the neighborhood, the country, the world. The children are grown, married, and living their lives far away. His wife, Emily, and his dog, Rufus, are sounding boards as he weighs dreams and regrets, wondering about the meaning of his life as he reflects on his past, through a present he doesn't recognize, to an uncertain future. O'Nan's talent is beautiful writing that lifts the life of Everyman to a noble height.
Because a young girl gets an unexpected trip to the Symphony, and because the music captures her with its magic, a dream is born and blooms. Mo Willems composed the story of a young girl's journey from dream to reality on center stage. Amber Ren's exquisite art performs magic bringing this true story of contemporary composer Hilary Purrington to vibrant life.
Dani Shapiro's latest memoir raises questions of genealogy, paternity, and what makes family. After a lifetime of feeling 'other' she discovers, through DNA testing, that the father she knew and loved was not her biological father, that the ethnicity she thought was hers was not. This book chronicles her search for her place in the world's genetic melting pot and raises issues of the unintended consequences faced down the road when science allows us to tinker with nature without thought to the ethical, psychological, and medical ramifications of such actions. This is powerful book that shows that secrets never stay secret and unintended consequences can cause life-altering trauma.
Just when I think there's nothing new in the world of alphabet books, P IS FOR PTERODACTYL shows up! It introduces youngsters, in a fun way, to those idiosyncratic letters that don't follow the rules; letters that become shy when they have to stand at the front of some words and letters that pretend to be something else as they mimic the sounds of other letters. All 26 letters have their quirks, and this clever book, with charming illustrations by Maria Tina Beddia highlighting the clever captions by Raj Halder & Chris Carpenter, shines a light on all their mischievous little quirks...from A to Z. And, as a bonus, the glossary in the back of the book unlocks the mystery of pronunciation and meaning for all the words...from the familiar to the not-so-familiar.
Mason Buttle is a twelve-year-old boy who carries lots of issues on his large frame. He's "the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade," dealing with learning problems, and living in the 'crumbledown' with his grandmother, Uncle Drum, and a runaway girl his uncle rescued. He is still, several months on, grieving the loss of his mother and his best friend, Benny. As the investigation into Benny's death drags on, Mason senses the townspeople looking at him with sadness and suspicion. Tell you what...Mason will steal your heart as he finds his voice, tells his story, and brings new life and hope to everyone. This book was short-listed for the National Book Award and, tell you what, it is sure to be in the running for the Newbery.
Ketch Secor, a founder of Old Crow Medicine Show, has penned LORRAINE, a charming picture book about a young girl and her Pa Paw who make music with a pennywhistle and harmonica to lift their spirits - "on good days or bad it was JOYFUL to hear it." All of a sudden, a powerful twister sweeps in and their instruments are nowhere to be found! Can they find a way to set free the music in their hearts and get them through the scary storm? The illustrations, by the wonderfully talented Higgins Bond, are warm, cozy, and colorful. Even the lettering becomes a vibrant voice in the story, using color, size, and a variety of fonts to enhance the story. This book is a winner!
MIRROR PLAY by Monte Shin is a clever, interactive board book that uses a mirror and spinable shapes to turn abstract squiggles into surprising pictures of everyday objects. You can look for the MirrorPlayBook video on You Tube to see how it works or come in, experiment with our sample book and take home your out copy. Your budding creative genius might even try his or her hand at creating unique shapes of their own.
Prince Freddie interrupts his vacation to go back and save the castle. All of a sudden, he realizes he forgot that most important last stop before heading out on a quest. We've all been there! You'll laugh, you'll sympathize, you may even cross your legs as you root for the Prince to get the job done!
Sharon Creech's latest book, SAVING WINSLOW, is sure to steal your heart. Louie loves animals but doesn't have much luck when he tries to nurture small creatures like lightning bugs, worms, and goldfish. When his dad brings home a sickly newborn mini donkey from Uncle Pete's farm, Louie accepts the mission to save the pitiful, sick motherless creature. Winslow, the goat, helps him fill the empty places left behind when big brother Gus, left to serve in the army. If you love animals, if you love stories about the bond between brothers, between friends, and between children and the natural world, SAVING WINSLOW was written for you.
The story opens with 84-year-old Florence Claybourne lying on the floor in her apartment at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. She fell, she can’t get up, and her ‘panic button’ is on the other side of the room. As she waits for someone to rescue her, she reflects on her life-long best friend Elsie, some mysteries and secrets from their past, and the appearance of a new resident at Cherry Tree who bears a striking resemblance to a young man who supposedly died sixty years ago and is bound to blow the lid off their secrets. Cannon weaves, with subtle hints that lodge in your subconscious and ultimately, a tapestry where every thread is vital to the whole.
This story is told through the voice of the voice of Livy, who, after five years, returns to her Gran's farm in Austrailia, with an uneasy feeling that she has forgotten something. It is also told through the voice of Bob...the 'thing' Livy forgot. He's been waiting five long years for Livy to return and keep her promise. This magical story tells how they meet again and Livy gradually remembers and keeps her promise. I LOVE this book and am pretty sure you will too!
Fiona Woodcock's latest book, Look, is a clever trip through the zoo by a brother and sister. Every page has at least one word with a pair of 'o's. Clever illustrations make the text and illustrations an integrated whole. How many oo words can you weave into pictures and a story?
Mixed: A Colorful Story is timely picture book is for all ages. On the surface, a clever introduction to color theory, but in reality, so much more. The loud Reds, bright Yellows, and cool Blues live in harmony until a Red creates a kerfuffle by proclaiming the superiority of Reds. (You just have to love a book that uses the word kerfuffle!) Segregation ensues as the city divides into Redville, Blue Town, and Yellow Heights. Then, one day, a Yellow spots a Blue and something magical happens. Once again, I'm blown away by the ability of a picture book to remind us our diversity is what adds color and spice to our lives.
Rosetown is a lovely, small chapter book for readers young and old. Flora Smallwood's favorite place in her small town of Rosewood is the purple chair by the window of the Wings and a Chair Used Bookshop. With a lot of big, difficult changes in her life, the appearance of a new friend and the continuing comfort of the purple chair, and of course, books, Flora finds a way to cope with the changes and thrive.