Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On Shelves Now: UNTWINE by Edwidge Danticat

320 p.
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Ages: 12 and up

Giselle Boyer and her identical twin, Isabelle, are as close as sisters can be, even as their family seems to be unraveling. Then the Boyers are caught in a car crash that will shatter everyone's world forever.

Giselle wakes up in the hospital, injured and unable to speak or move. Trapped in the prison of her own body, Giselle must revisit her past in order to understand how the people closest to her--her friends, her parents, and above all, Isabelle, her twin--have shaped and defined her. Will she allow her love for her family and friends to lead her to recovery? Or will she remain lost in a spiral of longing and regret?

Untwine is a spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.


176 p.
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Ages: 10 to 14

Berry Gordy began Motown in 1959 with an $800 loan from his family. He converted the garage of a residential house into a studio and recruited teenagers from the neighborhood—like Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Diana Ross—to sing for his new label. Meanwhile, the country was on the brink of a cultural revolution, and one of the most powerful agents of change in the following decade would be this group of young black performers from urban Detroit. From Berry Gordy and his remarkable vision to the Civil Rights movement, from the behind-the-scenes musicians, choreographers, and song writers to the most famous recording artists of the century, Andrea Davis Pinkney takes readers on a Rhythm Ride through the story of Motown.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

On Shelves Now: JUNIORS by Kaui Hart Hemmings

320 p.
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Ages: 14 and up

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life.

Part Hawaiian, part Mainlander. Perpetual new girl at school. Hanging in the shadow of her actress mother’s spotlight. And now: new resident of the wealthy West family’s guest cottage.

Bracing herself for the embarrassment of being her classmates’ latest charity case, Lea is surprised when she starts becoming friends with Will and Whitney West instead—or in the case of gorgeous, unattainable Will, possibly even more than friends. And despite their differences, Whitney and Lea have a lot in common: both are navigating a tangled web of relationships, past disappointments and future hopes.

As things heat up with Will, and her friendship with Whitney deepens, Lea has to decide how much she’s willing to change in order to fit into their world.

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life. But it isn’t until junior year that she learns how to do it on her own terms.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On Shelves Now: THE UNQUIET by Mikaela Everett

464 p.
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Ages: 14 and up

In this complex, beautifully crafted debut novel, a teenage girl has been trained to kill—and replace—an alternate version of herself on a parallel Earth. A literary and futuristic novel for readers who enjoy thought-provoking stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe.

For as long as anyone can remember, there have been two Earths. Two versions of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their alternates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her alternate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills her alternate at age fourteen and seamlessly steps into her life. Lira suspects she is not a good person. And she’s beginning to wonder if there’s more. More than endlessly following orders, more than living life in a holding pattern, waiting for a war that will destroy everything and everyone she has come to love. An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet will haunt you.

On Shelves Now: JUMP BACK, PAUL: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby, illustrated by Sean Qualls

128 p.
Publisher: Candlewick
Ages: 9 to 12

Did you know that Paul Laurence Dunbar originated such famous lines as “I know why the caged bird sings” and “We wear the mask that grins and lies?” From his childhood in poverty and his early promise as a poet to his immense fame and his untimely death, Dunbar’s story is one of triumph and tragedy. But his legacy remains in his much-beloved poetry—told in both Standard English and in dialect—which continues to delight and inspire readers today.

More than two dozen of Dunbar’s poems are woven throughout this volume, illuminating the phases of his life and serving as examples of dialect, imagery, and tone. Narrating in a voice full of admiration and respect, Sally Derby introduces Paul Laurence Dunbar’s life and poetry to readers young and old, aided by Sean Qualls’s striking black-and-white illustrations.

On Shelves Now: MIRACLE ON 133RD STREET by Sonia Manzano, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

48 p.
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Ages: 4 to 8

It’s Christmas Eve and Mami has bought a delicious roast for a Christmas feast. But, oh no! It’s too big to fit in the oven. Jose and Papa need to find an oven big enough to cook Mami’s roast. As they walk from door to door through their apartment building, no one seems to be in the Christmas spirit. So they head down the street to find someone willing to help, and only when they do, lo and behold, the scent—the itself magical smell—of dinner begins to spread, and holiday cheer manifests in ways most unexpected.

Sonia Manzano from Sesame Street and two-time Caldecott Honor-recipient Marjorie Priceman have cooked up a Christmas tale about how the simplest things—like the tantalizing smell of Christmas dinner and the sharing of it—can become a holiday miracle.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


288 p.
Publisher; HarperCollins
Ages: 8 to 12

Sometimes a samurai's most dangerous opponent is herself.

Ever since their father's murder, Kimi and Hana have honed their fighting skills and prepared for vengeance against their vicious uncle Hidehira. They have become true warriors with the hearts of samurai.

Now their fight has become more than just a personal vendetta. As Hidehira's quest for power continues, he is destroying the province and is poised to invade the rest of the kingdom. After both girls are nearly killed in a fire while fighting their uncle's soldiers, their mother insists on attempting to enlist the support of the Shogun.

But at the Shogun's court, the sisters are torn apart by their differences, especially when they rediscover an old friend with a shrouded past. Danger lurks in the most elegant circumstances—behind the smiling face of an aristocrat as well as behind the mask of a ninja—and true peril awaits the sisters where they least expect it. . . .

Thursday, September 17, 2015


36 p.
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Ages: 6 to 10

The inspiring story of George Horton, slave and poet, the first southern African-American to be published.

In the nineteenth century, North Carolina slave George Moses Horton taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time—though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

On Shelves Now: OSCAR LIVES NEXT DOOR: A Story Inspired by Oscar Peterson's Childhood by Bonnie Farmer, illustrated by Marie Lafrance

32 p.
Publisher; Owlkids Books
Ages: 4 to 8

Long before Oscar Peterson became a virtuoso jazz pianist, he was a boy who loved to play the trumpet. When a bout of childhood tuberculosis weakened his lungs, Oscar could no longer play his beloved instrument. He took up piano and the rest is history: Oscar went on to become an international jazz piano sensation.

Oscar Lives Next Door is a fictional story inspired by these facts. The book imagines a next-door neighbor for Oscar named Millie, who gets into mischief with him but also appreciates his talents: Oscar hears music in everything, and Millie calls him a magician for the way he can coax melodies from his trumpet. Millie writes to Oscar during his long stay in the hospital for tuberculosis, and she encourages his earliest notes on the piano.

Set in Oscar’s true childhood neighborhood of St-Henri — now known as Little Burgundy — the book provides a wonderful sense of this 1930s neighborhood where most of Montreal’s Black working class population lived. Detailed digital illustrations make the community’s culture and music almost tangible. The book concludes with a page of informational text about the author’s own connection to Little Burgundy and a short biography of the jazz legend.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


272 p.
Publisher: HarperCollins
Ages: 8 to 12

We held our weapons ready. I felt power humming through my limbs.

Kimi and her sister, Hana, disguised themselves as boys to learn the ways of the samurai—and to prepare themselves to take revenge on the uncle who murdered their father and older brothers.

After receiving word that their mother and younger brother are alive and in hiding, the sisters set off on a treacherous journey to find them. But giving up is not an option—if they fail, they will lose the last of their family forever.

Don't miss any of Kimi and Hana's adventures!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

On Shelves Now: BRADFORD STREET BUDDIES: BLOCK PARTY SURPRISE by Jerdine Nolen, illustrated by Michelle Henninger

48 p.
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Ages: 6 to 9

The neighborhood block party is today. Jada and Jamal Perkins are super excited. Their best friends, Carlita Garcia and Josh Cornell, are on their way over. Mr. Perkins promised them a BIG surprise.

The surprise is thumping and bumping its way around the Perkinses' backyard. What could it be? And how will the Bradford Street Buddies get a surprise that BIG to the block party? Join the fun in this new Level 3 easy reader series starring a delightful and diverse cast of neighbors and friends. Plus, a surprise of prehistoric proportions!

On Shelves Now: BRADFORD STREET BUDDIES: BACKYARD CAMP OUT by Jerdine Nolen, illustrated by Michelle Henninger

48 p.
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Ages: 6 to 9

The backyard camp-out is tonight. Jada and Jamal Perkins have never slept in a tent before. Neither have their best friends, Carlita Garcia and Josh Cornell. Camping is going to be so much fun. Or is it? It's really dark in the backyard. And what's that noise? It's coming from the bushes.


Will an unexpected visitor ruin the Bradford Street Buddies camp-out under the stars? Grab a flashlight and find out in this new Level 3 easy reader series.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

On Shelves Now: THESE HANDS by Margaret H. Mason, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

32 p.
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Ages: 4 to 8

Joseph’s grandpa could do almost anything with his hands. He could play the piano, throw a curveball, and tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat. But in the 1950s and 60s, he could not bake bread at the Wonder Bread factory. Factory bosses said white people would not want to eat bread touched by the hands of the African Americans who worked there.In this powerful intergenerational story, Joseph learns that people joined their hands together to fight discrimination so that one day, their hands—Joseph’s hands—could do anything at all in this whole wide world.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

On Shelves Now: SISTERS OF THE SWORD by Maya Snow

275 p.
Publisher: HarperCollins
Ages; 8 to 12

Kimi dreams of being a great samurai warrior, but she and her sister, Hana, are young ladies of feudal Japan, daughters of the "Jito" of the province. Her future seems clear: Girls do not become samurai.

Then, betrayal shatters the sisters' world. Their power-hungry uncle murders their father, and their mother and little brother mysteriously disappear. Determined to seek revenge and restore their honor, they disguise themselves as boys to train at a school for samurai. Kimi and Hana are thrown headlong into a life of warrior codes, sharp swords, and shadowy figures--as they work with fierce determination to avenge the brutal wrongs done to their family.

In a flash, life has swept them into a terrible adventure, more heart-pounding than Kimi and Hana ever could have imagined . . . and once it has been set in motion, nothing will ever be the same.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


208 p.
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Ages: 13 to 17

Khosi lives with her beloved grandmother Gogo, her little sister Zi, and her weekend mother in a matchbox house on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In that shantytown, it seems like somebody is dying all the time. Billboards everywhere warn of the disease of the day. Her Gogo goes to a traditional healer when there is trouble, but her mother, who works in another city and is wasting away before their eyes, refuses even to go to the doctor. She is afraid and Khosi doesn't know what it is that makes the blood come up from her choking lungs. Witchcraft? A curse? AIDS? Can Khosi take her to the doctor? Gogo asks. No, says Mama, Khosi must stay in school. Only education will save Khosi and Zi from the poverty and ignorance of the old Zulu ways.

School, though, is not bad. There is a boy her own age there, Little Man Ncobo, and she loves the color of his skin, so much darker than her own, and his blue-black lips, but he mocks her when a witch's curse, her mother's wasting sorrow, and a neighbor's accusations send her and Gogo scrambling off to the sangoma's hut in search of a healing potion.

On Shelves Now: EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon

320 p.
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Ages: 12 and up

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On Shelves Now: SAIL AWAY by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Ashley Bryan

40 p.
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Ages: 4 to 8

A celebration of mermaids, wildernesses of waves, and the creatures of the deep through poems by Langston Hughes and cut-paper collage illustrations by multiple Coretta Scott King Award–winner Ashley Bryan.

The great African-American poet Langston Hughes penned poem after poem about the majesty of the sea, and the great African-American artist Ashley Bryan, who’s spent more than half his life on a small island, is as drawn to the sea as much as he draws the sea. Their talents combine in this windswept collection of illustrated poems—from “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” to “Seascape,” from “Sea Calm” to “Sea Charm”— that celebrates all things oceanic.

On Shelves Now: WALKING HOME TO ROSIE LEE by A. LaFaye, illustrated by Keith D. Shepherd

32 p.
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Ages: 7 to 11

Young Gabe’s is a story of heartache and jubilation. He’s a child slave freed after the Civil War and he sets off to reunite himself with his mother who was sold before the war's end. “Come morning, the folks take to the road again, singing songs, telling stories and dream-talking of the lives they’re gonna live in freedom. And I follow, keeping my eyes open for my mama. Days pass into weeks and one gray evening as Mr. Dark laid down his coat, I see a woman with a yellow scarf ‘round her neck as bright as a star. I run up to grab her hand, saying, Mama?” Gabe's odyssey in search for his mother has an epic American quality, and Keith Shepherd’s illustrations—influenced deeply by the narrative work of Thomas Hart Benton—fervently portray the struggle in Gabe’s heroic quest.