SUNDAY – THURSDAY
9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
FRIDAY – SATURDAY
9 a.m. – 12 a.m.
On Wednesday, November 25 our 5015 Connectiut Avenue store will close early for the day at 5 p.m.
Busboys and Poets Locations close at 10 p.m. All locations will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving.
Blast from the Past
Jennie waits with great anticipation to receive the new hat her aunt has promised to send her. She expects it to be big and flowery and beautiful. But when the hat finally arrives, she is disappointed because it is so plain. She wants a fancy hat so badly, she even tries on various household items (a straw basket, a lampshade, a TV antenna)! She reluctantly wears her plain hat to church, where she finds herself surrounded by beautiful hats. But as she and her family are leaving, some fine, feathered friends transform Jennie’s Hat (Puffin Books, $6.99) into something unexpected and amazing. This book is nothing less than vintage Ezra Jack Keats -- a fun, whimsical tale with just the right mix of the realistic and the fantastic, beautifully illustrated with multi-media collage. Ages 3-7. Marc Villa
Blast from the Past
Leave it to clever William Steig to write and illustrate an autobiographical picture book for little ones that both delights and informs. In When Everybody Wore a Hat (Harper Trophy, $8.99), Steig recalls his youth in the Bronx as the second youngest child of Polish immigrants. The simple narrative includes eight-year-old Steig's random observations as he describes his amusing family and somewhat eccentric neighborhood, including humorous portrayals of Barney the butcher and Marian Mack, the “prettiest girl on the block.” His illustrations are sophisticated in detail yet poignantly childish, on one page depicting elegant household furnishings and clothing and on another, a comical likeness of Prince, the janitor’s mean dog, complete with studded collar and band-aid on his scruffy muzzle. This book is the perfect introduction to the immigrant experience as it elicits both dialogue on an important issue and an excited request to “read it again!” Ages 4-8. Renee Bosco
This November, YA Picks will be celebrating the joy of writing through some of our favorite YA novels. Follow us on Tumblr for more of our writing celebration at kidsandprose.
Imagine finding literary fame at age seventeen. On the other hand, imagine surviving a terrorist homicide and gaining a supernatural ability as a result. In Afterworlds (Simon Pulse, $12.99) Scott Westerfeld offers readers both scenarios in a perfect blend of fluff, sarcastic realism, and bone-chilling suspense. Darcy arrives in New York City with a $100,000 book deal, nowhere to live, and all the wrong clothes. In alternating chapters, readers get to know Darcy’s protagonist Lizzie, a girl well known for surviving a terrorist attack, who has the ability to consciously slip between the world of the living and the ghostly Afterworlds. Ages 15 and up
After surviving Kristallnacht in 1938, Oskar’s parents send him to America to save him from the Nazi persecution of Jews. He arrives in New York City on the last night of Hanukkah, which this year is also Christmas Eve. He has yet another journey in front of him: he must walk over one hundred blocks to his aunt Esther’s house. A stranger’s act of kindness reminds him of his father’s parting words: “Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings.” As he walks on, the people he meets show him the truth of his father’s dictum. Oskar and the Eight Blessings (Roaring Brook, $17.99) is a heartfelt tale from authors Richard and Tanya Simon and illustrator Mark Siegel that celebrates love, survival, the kindness of strangers, and the city that so many refugees have come to call home. Ages 6-9.
A century before the Grinch stole Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge was doing his best to convince everyone that the holiday was mere humbug. Charles Dickens’s classic tale of the miser who learns to love his fellow humans after some startling visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come has entranced generations of Christmas revelers. Adam McKeown’s new retelling for young readers skillfully preserves the spirit of the original A Christmas Carol (Doubleday, $17.99). Evocative illustrations by Gerald Kelley will make children shiver at Scrooge’s initial coldness, only to delight in his subsequent conversion to compassion. Tiny Tim himself would bless this book’s publication. Ages 6-10.
All aboard the 30th anniversary edition of The Polar Express (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99). Chris Van Allsburg’s timeless story of a magical train ride to the North Pole is now accompanied by a golden holiday ornament, an audio reading by Liam Neeson, and a new author’s note. Just like the small sleigh-bell Santa presents to the boy at the story’s end, this is a book that still rings true for all those who find joy in the spirit of Christmas. Ages 6-9
Olivier Tallec’s picture-book puzzle, originally published in France, is entertaining, educational, and clever in its simplicity. Each two-page spread features a lineup of children and animals under a question like, “Who forgot a swimsuit?” Readers then hunt for visual clues in the book’s horizontal pages. Children will learn to identify a range of emotions as well as infer cause and effect; for example, finding the unhappy scratched-up child in response to the query, “Who played with that mean cat?” Parents and children alike will enjoy spotting Who Done It? (Chronicle, $15.99) again and again. They also can make up their own seek-and-find games using the expressive characters and funny situations. Ages 4-8
In a fresh retelling of Aesop’s fable about City Mouse and Country Mouse, award-winning artist R. Gregory Christie employs an adroit text peppered with onomatopoeia. Vibrant double-page spreads portray the solitude of the country and the faster pace of the city. Each mouse discovers where his heart lies and where he feels safe: Mousetropolis (Holiday House, $16.95) is home for City Mouse, but not for Country Mouse. Messages abound between the words and pictures in this soon-to-be classic. Ages 4-8
Thanks to the New York Review Children’s Collection, which re-publishes out-of-print books for today’s children, The Little Witch (New York Review of Books, $15.95) has returned. Originally published in Germany in 1957, Otfried Preussler’s delightfully old-fashioned tale tells of a young witch “who was only a hundred and twenty-seven years old” and breaks the rules to attend Walpurgis Night, even though she is officially too young to do so. Caught and punished, the little witch must spend an entire year proving herself worthy of witchhood. But does she succeed? Read the story, enjoy the charming pen-and-ink illustrations, and find out for yourself. Ages 7-10
Winner of the 2010 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, Kitty Crowther addresses the perennial issue of fear of the dark in a sensitive and playful early reader. When the sun sets over the pond beside the frogs’ house, Jeremy’s nightly worries begin. Scritch Scratch Scraww Plop! (Enchanted Lion, $16.95): are these just the sounds of the night that keep little Jeremy from falling asleep? Expressive line drawings capture every emotion and anxious moment of Jeremy’s and his parents’ pursuit of worry-free sleep. Emerging readers and their younger siblings will delight in a surprise turn of events and happy resolution. Ages 4-8
When an independent cat boasts that he likes living alone, his animal friends are skeptical—and they’re right to be. The cat’s tune changes when he meets a little girl who has just moved into the neighborhood. She shares her tuna mac and cheese. She gives him backrubs and boxes to play in. She even gives him olives. Eventually, the cat realizes that his human is desperately sad because she doesn’t have any human friends. He wants to help her, but the animal control officer is on patrol. Will he risk his freedom for her sake? Yasmine Surovec lovingly authors and illustrates My Pet Human (Roaring Brook, $12.99), a clever portrayal of what just might be rattling through the minds of our companion animals. Ages 6-10
Return to Deckawoo Drive for Kate DiCamillo’s latest installment in her companion series to the famous Mercy Watson tales. Fearless, famous, and fortified, animal control officer Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon (Candlewick, $12.99) and almost runs afoul in this hilarious new chapter book with whimsical illustrations by Chris Van Dusen. Join Francine, new friend Frank, the very persistent Mrs. Bissinger, and a far-from-ordinary raccoon in this laugh-out-loud tale of courage and friendship. You will not be disappointed. Ages 6-8
Come and hang out with the Bradford Street Buddies for a Backyard Camp-Out (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $3.99) and a Block Party Surprise (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $3.99)! Author Jerdine Nolen and illustrator Michelle Henninger have teamed up to give readers a glimpse into the lives of four neighborhood friends, twins Jada and Jamal and their friends Carlita and Josh. Both books are full of excitement and fun, featuring appealing stories and lively and colorful illustrations. Whether it’s anticipating the upcoming block party or finding and setting up an old tent, new readers will enjoy sharing these pals’ adventures. Ages 5-8
Musician Robbie Robertson heard the story of Hiawatha and the Peacemaker (Abrams, $19.95)—the origin story of the uniting of the five nations of the Iroquois—as a youngster in Ontario. Of Mohawk and Cayuga heritage himself, he retells the story with verve and drama: After surviving a devastating battle, Hiawatha, a Mohawk, is visited by the mysterious spiritual leader known as the Peacemaker, who appears rowing a white stone canoe. Together, they embark on an odyssey to the warring and distrustful tribes—Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, and Onondaga—to bring a new message. David Shannon’s full-page oil paintings alternate perspectives and dynamic close-ups to take us into the action. Included is a bonus CD with Robertson’s song based on the story. Ages 10-12.
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Arthur A. Levine, $39.99) has always been magical. Now, with the help of Jim Kay’s superb illustrations, Hogwarts has never felt quite so real. In this magnificent edition, each page offers a magical surprise. There are illustrated guides to dragons and trolls and rich double-page spreads of scenes that have captured children’s imaginations from the inception of this series, like Harry’s discovery of the unicorn in the Forbidden Forest. This edition offers something new to readers, artists, and the one or two people on the planet who have not yet read this most beloved of tales. Ages 11 and up.
Lloyd Alexander first introduced Taran, the heroic assistant pig keeper, and his quest to destroy The Black Cauldron (Henry Holt, $25.99 HB/$9.99 PB) 50 years ago. This beautiful reissue also provides an additional short story, pronunciation guide (for those of us who always wondered), and two short introduction letters. Ages 9-12
Do you dream of attending a certain tea party in the company of a dormouse, a hare, a Hatter, and a girl named Alice? Do you wish you could play croquet with the Queen of Hearts? Satisfy your love of Lewis Carroll’s immortal protagonist with The Complete Alice (Henry Holt, $40). This sumptuous edition, which boasts a gorgeous white cover with a die-cut rabbit hole as well as pages edged in shining red, includes both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Several other works by Carroll, including a “deleted episode” of Alice’s adventures, are also featured. Restored, full-color versions of Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations make this a worthy addition to any Alice fan’s bookshelf. Ages 8 and up.
Before an American boy named Timmy ever fell into a well, a certain famous collie was utterly faithful to Joe Carraclough, a schoolboy in the English town of Greenall Bridge. Rediscover their story of loyalty, devotion, and adventure in the 75th anniversary edition of Eric Knight’s classic Lassie Come-Home (Henry Holt, $19.99 HB/$9.99 PB), complete with original illustrations by Marguerite Kirmse and a new introduction by Ann M. Martin. Ages 9-12
Step into Lyra Belaqua’s Oxford in this gorgeously compiled anniversary edition of The Golden Compass (Knopf, $25.99). Phillip Pullman’s shockingly original and gripping adventure story has become a modern classic that fully deserves its beautiful new packaging. Ages 12-15
There’s a sleeping-sickness from across the mountain range that’s slowly infecting the kingdom. Rumors of witches, spells, and a sleeping princess in a thorn-covered castle abound. The young, raven-haired queen decides to take action, and with the help of three dwarves, goes in search of the mysterious source of the troubles. Author Neil Gaiman cleverly rings the changes on two classic fairy tales—with a powerful heroine and a shocking ending—in The Sleeper and the Spindle (HarperCollins, $19.99). Chris Riddell’s fine-lined, cross-hatched illustrations bring even more personality to the characters. From its vellum-covered jacket to the touches of gold in the drawings, this is a beautiful book, and a splendid new classic tale. Ages 12-15
The night before they leave for colleges on opposite coasts, Clare and Aidan set out on a twelve-hour “chronological scavenger hunt” of memories to determine whether or not to stay together. Clare hopes that visiting people and places significant to their two-year relationship will help with this difficult decision. As the night progresses, readers will become as invested in the relationship and as uncertain about its future as Clare and Aidan themselves. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between (Poppy, $18) is Jennifer E. Smith’s heartfelt paean to the joys, pains, and discoveries of first love. Ages 14-18
Rashad and Quinn are high school classmates and All American Boys (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $17.99) whose lives are changed when Quinn’s white police-officer mentor suspects Rashad, who is black, of shoplifting from the neighborhood bodega and beats him to a pulp. Quinn cannot reconcile the man he knows with the violence he witnesses firsthand—but when Rashad misses days of school due to his injuries, both teens are forced to confront realities they never wanted to face. Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely respectively authored Rashad’s and Quinn’s voices and together have created a book that will spark discussion and inspire action for a long time to come. Ages 13 and up
Simon is having a bad day. After leaving his e-mail up on a school computer, he finds himself blackmailed by a classmate who discovered his messages to Blue, an anonymous boy at school who just might be Simon’s first real romantic relationship—if only life, not to mention extortion, doesn’t get in the way. So begins Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Balzer & Bray, $17.99), a brilliant debut from Becky Albertalli. Ranging from wildly funny to deeply poignant and back again within sentences, Simon’s story grabs hold with its marvelous opening line and doesn’t let go even after the final page. Ages 15-18
One day, a young girl exploring the junkyard near her trailer happens upon a robot as diminutive as she is. After using her mechanical skills to help bring it back to life, she sets out to teach the Little Robot (First Second, $16.99) about everything in her world, from cats to flowers. When an enormous automaton comes to take her new friend back to the factory from whence it came, the girl must save it—and herself—from their enemy’s jaws. Ben Hatke’s nearly wordless adventure is as charming as it is unique, and will be sure to attract fans of graphic novels as well as newcomers to the format. Ages 6-9
When Nimona (Harper Teen, $17.99 HB/$12.99 PB) offers to be a sidekick for the villain Ballister Blackheart, he’s less than enthused—but that’s before she reveals that she’s a gifted shapeshifter. Nimona also has some creative ideas for how to increase the scope of Blackheart’s evil doings (two words: more fires), and in turn Blackheart proves to be a valuable mentor. Noelle Stevenson’s quirky graphics add humor to a story that’s full of heart. While some of her tropes will be familiar to fantasy fans, Stevenson ultimately creates a complex tale in which the lines between good and evil aren’t as clear-cut as they first appear. Ages 13-17
Wanda knows she’s going to be a star someday, so why not start acting like one right now? Her siblings and her dog, Wilbur, languish on the sidelines as Wanda demands more than her fair share of attention. When the tables turn and another member of the family experiences a taste of fame, Wanda must decide how to handle being outside of the spotlight as she watches someone she’s taken for granted Flop to the Top! (Toon, $12.95). Author/illustrator Eleanor Davis and co-illustrator Drew Weing have created a lighthearted romp that will make children laugh even as they pause to consider the error of Wanda’s ways. Ages 5-8
Little Nemo first started dreaming in 1905. Drawn by visionary Winsor McCay, the Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strip inspired hundreds of modern-day graphic novelists and illustrators. In Little Nemo’s Big New Dreams (Toon, $16.95) 31 of these artists come together to reimagine this classic character. The introductions by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly serve as a reminder of the history of graphic novels as well as a tutorial on how to best experience the book. Ages 12 and up
Cuando recibe una nueva caja de lápices de color (“lo más cerca que llegas a tener un pedazo de arco iris,” según ella), una joven empieza a crear un cuento Escrito y dibujado por Enriqueta (Toon, $12.95). Obsérvela con asombro mientras Enriqueta baja en picada hacia el papel, haciendo una fábula tan absorbente que ella misma comienza a creerla. Mientras trabaja, da a su gato Fellini—y al lector también—consejos para crear un cuento increíble. Gracias a la genialidad narrativa del historietista argentino Liniers, el cuento dentro de un cuento de Enriqueta, lleno de monstrous y con una protagonista valiente, cautivará sus jóvenes lectores tanto como Enriqueta misma. Edades 5-8
Upon receiving a brand-new pack of colored pencils (which, she notes, is “as close as you can get to owning a piece of the rainbow”), a young girl begins to make a story Written and Drawn by Henrietta (Toon, $12.95). Watch with wonder as Henrietta swoops onto the paper, creating a tale so engrossing she even begins to believe it herself. As she works, she gives her cat, Fellini—and the reader—tips on how to make an amazing story. Thanks to Argentine cartoonist Liniers’s own storytelling genius, Henrietta’s tale-within-a-tale, replete with monsters and a strangely familiar young girl filled to the brim with bravery, will enchant young audiences as much as Henrietta herself does. Ages 5-8
Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons (Sterling, $17.95) is a collection of twelve newly unearthed songs and poems written by legendary children’s author Margaret Wise Brown, whose distinctive combination of language, lyricism, and cadence infuses each piece. Renowned artists including Peter Brown, Floyd Cooper, Molly Idle, and Bob Staake provide breathtaking illustrations for these beautiful verses. An accompanying CD includes songs composed and performed by Tom Proutt and Emily Gary. This lovingly crafted combination of art, verse, and music is a delightful treat for children and adults all year round. Ages 3-6
At her grandmother’s house, a girl finds a box of Poems in the Attic (Lee & Low, $19.95) that were written by her mother. As she reads the short verses, the girl explores her family’s history and her mother’s world travels as the child of an Air Force captain. Textured and warmly colored collage and paint illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon juxtapose Nikki Grimes’s poems, written in the voices of both mother and daughter. With a gift for her mother created from poems old and new, the girl has done what her mother did long ago: “…My mama glued her memories with words/so they would last forever.” Ages 6-10
If you have ever yearned to celebrate a sunrise, praise a prairie, or marvel at a mountaintop by reciting the perfect line of poetry, the National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic, $24.99) is for you. Selected by former U.S. Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, these 200-plus pieces offer a range of tone, form, and origin as varied as the environments and creatures they exalt. From reverential odes to snappy couplets and haikus, this collection shows the many ways in which poets throughout the ages, from Langston Hughes to Joyce Sidman, have been awed and amused by the natural world. Every poem is set beside full-color photographs designed to captivate and inspire young listeners, bards, and botanists alike. Ages 4 and up
Poetry is meant to be heard; this is especially true of the writings of African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, born in Dayton, Ohio in 1872. In Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar (Candlewick, $16.99), a “grandmotherly” narrative voice weaves with Dunbar’s poems to present a compelling portrait of the man and the times in which he lived. Illustrations by Sean Qualls provide a visual interpretation of the emotion suggested in Sally Derby’s text and Dunbar’s poetry. This slim volume is the perfect introduction to Dunbar’s life and work for young poets. Ages 9-12
Want to travel from Niagara Falls to San Francisco’s Chinatown in a single afternoon? Amazing Places (Lee & Low, $18.95), a collection of fourteen original poems anthologized by Lee Bennett Hopkins, allows the restless reader to do just that. This lyrical travelogue leads its audience through the geography, culture, and history of the United States with poems as strikingly diverse as their subjects. Together with Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale’s accompanying illustrations, the verses infuse settings from Fenway Park to the Oneida Nation Museum with distinctive personalities. A cross-country companion, an introduction to history and geography, and a celebration of verse, this collection is as multi-faceted as the places it celebrates. Ages 7-11
Rarely does any biography capture a subject’s life so effectively with so few words. In Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova (Chronicle, $17.99), Laurel Snyder’s spare but flowing prose dances across each page, entrancing audiences as completely as Pavlova herself once did. Julie Morstad’s illustrations exquisitely portray Anna’s delicate and graceful physique as well as her strength of character as she brings her gift to all people, particularly in her signature title role in The Dying Swan. As it was said of this generous, talented woman, both during her life and at her untimely death, “Anna was born for this. Anna IS the swan.” Ages 6-9
Artist Jacob Lawrence was only thirteen when he moved from Philadelphia to Harlem during its celebrated renaissance. Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts imagines what a day in his life might have been like at this time, following young Jake from the hour he wakes up at dawn and notices color returning to the world. As Jake walks to Utopia Children’s House, he notices the sights, sounds, and smells that comprise 1930s Harlem. Upon his arrival, he takes this multisensory barrage and Jake Makes a World (MoMA, $18.95) of his own, a miniature Harlem in a shoebox that uses color to capture the essence of his environment. Rhodes-Pitts’s lyrical prose captures the magic of art-making, while Christopher Myers’s joyful illustrations burst with individuality and charm. Ages 5-8
Get with the Groove and it will take you on Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound (Roaring Brook, $22.99). Start in 1920s-30s Detroit, known as “The Motor City” and a boomtown for African Americans, where you’ll meet Berry Gordy. The next-to-youngest of eight children, he was known as a troublemaker, but he was also ambitious and entrepreneurial. In addition to writing hit songs himself, Berry had a keen sense of others’ talent and was beginning to recognize R&B’s potential to reach audiences of all colors. With an $800 loan from his family, Berry bought a two-story bungalow in the heart of Detroit’s black community; converted it into offices, his living space, and a studio; and launched his own record company. He called it Motown. The rest is history, which Andrea Davis Pinkney explores in this fascinating look at the influence of young black performers from urban Detroit on the American psyche. Ages 10-14
Robert Battle wore leg braces until he was six and didn’t take up ballet until he was thirteen. Yet a performance of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations inspired him to moonwalk in Miami, study modern dance at Juilliard, and eventually direct the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In My Story, My Dance (Paula Wiseman, $17.99), Lesa Cline-Ransome chronicles Battle’s struggles and successes in a detailed and personal narrative that will embolden young readers to dream. James E. Ransome’s illustrations are as thrilling and inspiring as the story, with warm depictions of the family and teachers who supported Battle, and exhilarating spreads of Battle’s triumphs on the stage. With a foreword from the dancer himself, this exultant work’s drama and emotion will surely inspire a new generation of dancers. Ages 6-10
Drum Dream Girl (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99) can’t stop dreaming about drums. “Only boys should play drums,” says her father, and forbids her from playing. Still, she daydreams about beating the bongo and finds rhythm in everyday life. Tapping on chairs and stepping in time to imaginary beats, she floats through her days. Award-winning author Margarita Engle tells a beautiful story of empowerment and ambition, based on the life of Millo Castro Zaldarriage, Cuba’s famous female drummer. Coupled with striking illustrations by Rafael Lopez, this book will have readers wanting to dance, drum, and follow their own dreams. Ages 4-8. Kasie Griffitts
The world is populated with all kinds of bizarre and unusual creatures, some better known than others. In Creaturepedia (Wide Eyed, $22.99), Adrienne Barman compiles more than 600 of the most fascinating of these diverse beings. Grouped together by appearance, color, and type, from the long-tongued to the emerald greens, the unusual organization makes browsing these pages a constant surprise. This celebration of some of the unique denizens of this planet is also a reminder of the importance of protecting the environment that allows them to thrive. An extensive index makes it possible to browse more specifically, and colorful illustrations invite the reader to spend endless time with these multi-talented creatures. Ages 7-10
Just how many lives can one Tree of Wonder (Chronicle, $16.99) shelter? Kate Messner highlights the amazing capacities of the almendro tree, found in Latin American rainforests. From a single tree, watch as the number of animals it supports doubles each time you turn the page: from two macaws to four toucans to eight howler monkeys and on to 1,024 leafcutter ants, the abundance of species who all call this tree home will amaze you. Simona Mulazzani’s incredibly vibrant acrylic and pencil illustrations underscore why the almendro is known as the “tree of life.” As Messner notes in the final pages of the book, this is why saving each tree in the rainforest truly matters. Ages 5-8
An outbreak of typhoid was a constant threat in the early 1900s, especially within the teeming population of New York City. Two new books address this dreaded menace: Terrible Typhoid Mary (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99) by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary (Calkins Creek, $16.95) by Gail Jarrow. The former book focuses on the search and subsequent questionable treatment of the source of the 1906 outbreak, a cook who was an asymptomatic carrier of the dangerous disease. The latter volume is a comprehensive narrative of the American experience of the epidemic, and includes intriguing insets and photographs that expand upon the stark reality of the “fatal fever.” With differing approaches, both books tell the fascinating true story of this health threat and its initial manifestation in a single individual. Ages 11-14
Many picture books are for older kids—and The Blue Whale (Enchanted Lion, $17.95) exemplifies this statement. Author and illustrator Jenni Desmond has created a book that brings information about the world’s largest animal into perspective for young minds. Instead of just telling us the size of the blue whale’s mouth, she paints the creature’s mouth with the 50 people who can stand inside it. Rather than simply state that baby blue whales drink 50 gallons of their mother’s milk per day, she paints in 50 gallon milk bottles to demonstrate the fact. Her illustrations are warm and inviting to kids of all ages, from little ones being read to by an adult to older children reading on their own. Ages 5-8
Step into The Wonder Garden (Wide Eyed, $30) to explore five different habitats and the animals that populate them. Jenny Broom’s text includes fascinating facts about the Chihuahuan Desert, the Amazon Rainforest, the Black Forest, the Himalayan Mountains, and the Great Barrier Reef. Lushly illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams, this book is exploding with color and life. Emphasizing the diversity of life and environments on Earth, it examines animals ranging from the everyday to the rare and wonderful. This is a magical way to learn about creatures and places all over the world. Ages 7-11
One of the latest volumes in the World Soccer Legends series, Stars of World Soccer by Illugi Jökulsson (Abbeville, $13.95) is a must-read for young fans of the sport. From celebrity players like Zlatan, Messi, and Ronaldo to up-and-coming names that will be the powerhouses of seasons to come, this book provides a who’s-who introduction to the most notable names in world soccer today. For superfans and casual followers of the sport alike, there is much to be gathered from these brief but comprehensive introductions, full of fun facts, color photos, statistics, and intriguing information. Ages 9-12
Poses such as the eagle and the cobra are familiar to many yoga practitioners. Author Lorena V. Pajalunga makes Yoga for Kids (Albert Whitman, $16.99) even more of a wild ride by taking young enthusiasts on a healthy trip through the zoo, comparing different yoga positions to a regal tiger, a flamboyant flamingo, and even a stoic camel. A boy and his faithful feline companion demonstrate the poses for young readers, each vignette sweetly portrayed by illustrator Anna Forlati. Tips for practicing yoga are included at the end of the narrative to help ensure a safe and healthy experience for all participants, regardless of age or flexibility. Ages 3-8
Match a group of underdogs from humble backgrounds against a sinister, well-funded foe in a world-class athletic event… Sound like a movie script? It may be eventually, but it is actually a true tale almost too implausible to comprehend. In this edition for young readers, author Daniel James Brown tells the remarkable story of The Boys in the Boat (Viking, $17.99), a hardscrabble group of rowers from the University of Washington crew team with aspirations of competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Under the stern gaze of Adolf Hitler, these collegians made an unimaginable run for the gold that continues to inspire oarsmen and armchair athletes in the 21st century. Ages 10-14
During the 2014 World Cup, Tim Howard became an overnight soccer sensation, breaking the record for saves in a World Cup game, and gaining name recognition as a top goalkeeper. What is less common knowledge is Howard’s journey to get to those World Cup games. His memoir, The Keeper (Harper $16.99), tells that story, from his childhood in New Jersey, where he was a hyperactive young kid with Tourette’s syndrome, to the world soccer stage. For fans of Howard’s play, and readers who enjoy unconventional success stories, Howard’s memoir is an entertaining and inspiring read, as well as a peek behind the scenes of top-level World Cup play. Ages 9-13. Courtney Burtraw
Making it to the Big Leagues is a dream for any baseball player. Sharing this thrill with one’s brother is nearly too good to be true. In the Dominican Republic, Growing Up Pedro (Candlewick, $16.99) meant living in the shadow of Pedro Martinez’s bigger, stronger brother, Ramon, who was drafted by the Dodgers. With sheer determination and tenacity, Pedro followed his brother into the major leagues and eventually became a star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Author and illustrator Matt Tavares adds to his hits in baseball literature with this picture book about a recent legendary southpaw, just elected to the hall of fame. Ages 8-12. Renee Bosco
In the fall of 1778, Noah Webster’s father handed him a crisp eight-dollar bill. “I can do no more for you,” said Pa, according to W is for Webster (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99), a fascinating picture book written by Tracey Fern and skillfully illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Pa had sent Noah to school and even university, but Noah didn’t seek one of the conventional professions afforded by that path; instead, Noah collected words. Ages 7-10
Political revolutionaries change society—and so do booksellers. The Book Itch (Carolrhoda, $17.99), the latest collaboration between author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrator R. Gregory Christie (No Crystal Stair), highlights the power of books through the history of the National Memorial African Bookstore. Nelson’s great-uncle, Lewis Michaux, Sr., opened the shop in 1930s Harlem. Narrated in the voice of Lewis Michaux, Jr., the text captures the elder Michaux’s charisma, wit, and vehement belief in the value and possibility of words. Christie’s complex illustrations reveal the emotions of the store’s clientele, from everyday bookworms to Malcolm X, and contrast the intimate joy of reading with the pain and sorrow of Malcom X’s assassination. At once personal and historical, this picture book creates a sense of place and people that will leave readers with a hunger for more. Ages 7-10
Any one of the myriad episodes of Fannie Lou Hamer’s life could support an entire book: her childhood as the youngest of twenty children born to sharecroppers in Jim Crow-era Mississippi; her suffering at the hands of corrupt white plantation bosses; her enduring a forced government sterilization; and, of course, her heroic involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Hamer famously overcame exploitation, degradation, and beatings to become a champion of voting rights, education, political representation, and equality. To capture such an extraordinary life, Voice of Freedom (Candlewick, $17.99) pairs Carole Boston Weatherford’s passionate, free-verse poetry with Ekua Holmes’s collage illustrations. These versatile media offer glimpses into Hamer’s life that are both informative and deeply evocative, sure to inspire readers of all ages to learn more about this remarkable woman. Ages 11-14.
It is remarkably easy in this time and place to forget the value of words. Doreen Rappaport provides a powerful reminder of their cost, and their worth, in this new biography of Frederick Douglass. Born a slave, Douglass hungered for knowledge so much that he would give his meager rations to poor white children in exchange for them writing down new words for him to learn. Rappaport punctuates her account of Frederick’s Journey (Jump at the Sun, $17.99) to literacy and, later, to freedom with Douglass’s own inspiring words. London Ladd’s rich illustrations bring the weight of these priceless words to life. Ages 8-11
The siege of Leningrad was a devastating two and a half years of starvation and despair as the city remained caught between the threat of Hitler’s army and the Soviet government. The death toll was astonishing, the survivors’ stories appalling. Yet, somehow, in the midst of this suffering, Dmitri Shostakovich managed to compose the Leningrad Symphony. This piece of music would both celebrate and eulogize the city and, when smuggled out of the country, help to galvanize and motivate the allied forces. M.T. Anderson’s meticulously researched account of Shostakovich’s life and the siege itself, Symphony for the City of the Dead (Candlewick, $25.99) is a testament to the enduring power of music in the face of human tragedy. Ages 15 and up