Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CCBC Choices 2017: The Final List!

So many great books.

We think that every year. It's why the question, "What's your favorite book this year?" is always a stumper. My personal answer, always, is "I don't have one." I'm not being coy, I'm being truthful. I don't have a single favorite. I have many books I appreciate for many different reasons.

Thinking that way takes informs how we create our annual best-of-the-year list, CCBC Choices. We aren't looking for a single, best book. We're looking to create a list that is broad and deep, reflective of the many dimensions of excellence to be found in literature for children and teens, many dimensions of identity in the lives of young people, and many dimensions of diversity in the world in which they--and we--live. Is it a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

The books in CCBC Choices are titles we return to again and again in our work with preservice and practicing teachers and school and public librarians in Wisconsin.  They are books we are eager to share for many reasons: because they can engage, because they can inform, because they can entertain, because they can foster understanding and forge connections, and much more.

The Friends of the CCBC underwrite the significant cost of publishing the annual CCBC Choices booklet, which is fully annotated with age recommendations, and indexed.  The CCBC Choices 2017 booklet will be available after March 4.  If you aren't a Friends member, please consider  joining to support their work. You'll receive a copy of Choices by mail after it is published.

In the meantime, the list of titles we've chosen for inclusion in CCBC Choices 2017 is now final.

What's our favorite book this year? We don't have one. We have 246 of them. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Book of the Week: When the Moon Was Ours

When the Moon Was Ours

by Anna-Marie McLemore

Published by Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Griffin, 2016

273 pages pages

ISBN: 978-1-250-05866-9

Age 14 and older

Miel and Sam have been friends since the day Miel, drenched and scared, appeared in a field where a water tower had just been drained in Sam’s town. Miel is haunted by snippets of memory that include a curandero father long gone, and a mother and older brother who drowned--in the wind she sometimes hears her mother’s cries. But Miel has Aracely, the young woman who raised her, curer of lovesick, broken hearts, and Sam, who hangs the moon for her. Miel is one of the few who knows Sam is really Samira. He and his mother moved to town when Sam was small so he could live as a boy. The practice, from his mother’s Pakistani heritage, is called bacha posh and typically ends in adolescence. But Miel understands that it expresses who Sam is, now and forever. The Bonner Girls, las gringas bonitas, are four sisters who once could make any boy fall in love with them, but not anymore. Ivy Bonner believes the roses that grow from Miel’s wrist, the roses Miel see as her curse, can restore the sisters’ power. When Ivy learns Sam’s secret, Miel knows she’ll do what Ivy wants to protect the boy she loves. Latin American magical realism is foundational to this lush, sensual, astounding work graced by characters that are exquisitely, exceptionally human. Thick with secrets, this is a story of love and family and the power of speaking one's truth. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

book cover
Book of the Week

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book of the Week: Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel!

Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel!

by Paul Meisel
Published by Boyds Mills Press / Highlights, 2016
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62979-495-2
Ages 3-6

When Bat loses his home, he has a hard time finding a new one. One animal after another turns him away, but he finally finds the perfect spot inside a leafy nest up a tree. Squirrel’s already there, but she’s dozing and so Bat deposits the bugs he’s gathered on the bed and happily finds a twig to hang from and goes to sleep. Squirrel is startled and annoyed when she discovers the uninvited guest in the morning and writes an emphatic note telling Bat to leave. (“Dear Bat, Bug off! Sincerely, Squirrel”). When Bat finds the note he understands it to mean that Squirrel didn’t like the insects on her bed, so he politely moves them to a corner of the nest. That begins a series of misunderstandings, all conveyed through correspondence, with Squirrel telling Bat to leave, and Bat, ever the optimist, consistently misinterpreting her messages. Eventually Squirrel realizes that she’s come to appreciate the ever-cheery Bat, while Bat knows he’d be lonely without Squirrel, and so the duo agrees to be roommates. Appealing illustrations sweeten this charming comedy of errors featuring an odd couple of the animal world. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book of the Week: On the Edge of Gone

On the Edge of Gone

by Corinne Duyvis
Published by Amulet Books/Abrams, 2016
456 pages
ISBN: 979-1-4197-1903-5
Age 14 and older

It’s 2035 and a comet is headed toward Earth. Preparations for the inevitable destruction have fallen along class lines – those who can afford it, or who have critical skills, are set to escape on self-sustaining generation ships. Those who can’t are staying in underground shelters with little hope of long-term survival. Biracial Denise, her drug-addicted mother, and her trans sister don’t come close to qualifying for safe passage on a generation ship but Denise is determined to get the three of them on board, even it means lying or sneaking on. Denise has autism – sometimes that hinders her, sometimes it helps, but always it is just part of who she is and how she views the world. Set in a futuristic Amsterdam, this compelling novel is tense, visceral, and extremely well crafted. It also offers a thoughtful exploration of ethical dilemmas: What would you be willing to do to survive? Whom would you save? And, in the face of pending doom, who deserves to live and who is expendable? (KTH) ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 26, 2016

Book of the Week: Before Morning

Before Morning

by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Beth Krommes
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
44 pages
ISBN: 978-0-547-97917-5
Ages 3-7

Four wordless page spreads showing a mother and child making their way home in the winter dark start this cozy offering. Once they arrive, it’s time for the mom to get ready for her job as a pilot. The thought of her leaving, it is clear, leaves the child bereft. “In the deep, woolen dark, / ” begins the narrative, “as we slumber unknowing, / let the sky fill with flurry and flight.” Snow has started falling. As the child sleeps and the mother heads to work, it continues to fall, lighting the dark, swaddling everything it touches. Across the city, including at the airport, it piles high. “Let urgent plans founder, …” With the flight canceled, the mother hitches a ride on a snowplow, arriving home to share breakfast with her family. An author’s note explains the poem that comprises this text is an invocation—a wish. Brief yet bountiful lines of possibility are set against the exquisite warmth of scratchboard and watercolor illustrations that render a world at once magical and real, and in which the gender of the second parent and the child are open to interpretation.  ©2016 Cooperative Children's Book Center

Monday, December 19, 2016

Book of the Week: The Journey

The Journey

by Francesca Sanna
Published by Flying Eye Books, 2016
44 pages
ISBN: 978-1-909263-99-4
Ages 5-9

“…one day the war took my father.” A young child describes a family’s journey to escape the war zone that is their home. The potent, matter-of-fact narrative becomes even more powerful set against striking illustrations that are stylized, beautiful, and harrowing. The mother does everything possible to reassure and protect her children as they travel, much of this conveyed through small yet critical details in the art. “In the darkness the noises of the forest scare me. But mother is with us and she is never scared. We close our eyes and finally fall asleep.” These words are set against a scene in which the children sleep in their mother’s arms while she lies wide awake, and in tears. Over and over the emotional weight of the story is conveyed through affecting, sometimes heart-rending images juxtaposed with the voice of innocence. “I hope one day … we will find a new home. A home where we can be safe and begin our story again.” There is no geographic specificity stated, but the journey from western Asia to Europe is implied in an account that includes many means of travel, tense moments of hiding, a secret border crossing, a crowded ferry, and travel by train beneath free-flying birds across many more borders in search of safety--a need that all children can understand. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 12, 2016

Book of the Week: Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: 
The First Computer Programmer

by Diane Stanley
Illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Published by Simon & Schuster, 2016
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-5249-6
Ages 6-10

Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace was the daughter of a poet father (Lord Byron) and a mother (Lady Byron) who nurtured her curiosity in math, science and technology. Ada loved both the arts and sciences. When her friend Charles Babbage asked for Ada’s help in explaining what the “Analytical Engine” he designed could do if it were built, Ada “had the vision to see, better even than Babbage himself, how much more a computer could do besides just processing numbers.” Ada took on the task of explaining how the machine’s ability to function required mathematical operations be converted into digital format, or code, that it could understand. In other words, she pioneered programming. This engaging, whimsical look at Ada’s brief life (she died at 36) and her extraordinary accomplishment in writing what is considered the first computer program shows that both knowledge and imagination are necessary for advances in technology and science, and that Ada embodied both. An author’s note tells more about Ada’s Notes and their impact, and acknowledges some have challenged Ada’s authorship (an idea Stanley refutes). A timeline, selected bibliography and glossary are also included in a volume set against illustrations that are blithe but never make light of Ada or her work. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center