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Some Of Our Favorite Books Of The Year PDF Print E-mail
Written by Flannery Fitch   

Thunder Boy Jr.

Written by Sherman Alexie, Illustrated by Yuyi Morales

A young boy feels overwhelmed by his unusual name, which he shares with his boisterous, strong, and loving father. Thunder Boy Jr. is eager to find a name that’s truly his own, and it is eventually granted to him by his thoughtful father: Now he’s “Lightning.” “Together my dad and I will become amazing weather.” Written by the brilliant Sherman Alexie (in his first foray into picture books), this story is illustrated by the multi-award–winning artist Yuyi Morales. Her art sparkles and crashes and bursts with emotion, while the textures of her bold, multimedia collages are taken from the clay bricks and wood of a crumbling, antique house in Mexico, near where she has her studio. Ages 4 & up. —Tera

 

Real Cowboys

Written by Kate Hoefler, Illustrated by Jonathan Bean

Probably the most heartfelt book about cowboys that will ever exist, this lovely paean to life on the range celebrates loyalty, endurance, diversity, and the occasional good cry. I fell in love with the ephemeral, soulful art of Jonathan Bean, and with the unexpected sincerity of Kate Hoefler’s mesmerizing, poetic text. This is fast becoming my favorite book of the year. Each time I read it, I fall harder. Ages 5–8. —Tera

 

Frank and Lucy Get Schooled

by Lynne Perkins

The sheer joy and exuberance of learning is revealed when Frank, a young boy, and Lucky, a black Lab pup from a shelter, are brought together. “Both had a lot to learn.” They learn about science—“Science is when you wonder about something, so you observe it and ask questions about it”—and specifically about botany, entomology, and chemistry because Lucky had “wondered about skunks.” They learn about math—“Let’s say a dog comes in from outside and gets one biscuit, but there are three people in the living room. How many more biscuits should the dog receive?”—and specifically about fractions. At night, how much of the bed belongs to Lucky or to Frank? The answer, as shown in multiple panels, changes during the course of the night. They learn about history and perspective when a cake vanishes—“Sometimes in history there are different versions of what really happened, depending on who is telling the story.” They learn about geography and languages—Frank learns Spanish; Lucky tries to learn Duck. Learning is all around us, and the love of it is celebrated in Perkins’ deadpan but exceedingly funny text and delightful pen-and-ink and watercolor paintings. This is my favorite picture book of the year. Grades 1 & up. —Ga

 

Booked

by Kwame Alexander

Booked is a riveting sports story about a smart, reading-averse, soccer-obsessed, 12-year-old boy. Like his Newbery Award–winning Crossover, the novel is told in verse and Kwame Alexander is just the writer to pull this off and make it absolutely appealing to a reluctant reader like his protagonist Nick (or to a seasoned reader like me). Grades 5–8. —Ga

 

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

by Megan Shepherd

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a shivery, magical treat that has one foot in the real world and one in moonlight and dreams. Emmaline has been a resident at Briar Hill Hospital for Tubercular Children for as long as she can remember. But only recently has she started hearing hooves on the ceiling and caught glimpses of a winged horse in the mirror. When she finds the horse staring at her pleadingly, Emmaline knows she has a choice to make. An utterly lovely masterpiece along the lines of The Secret Garden and Narnia. Grades 4–8. —Tera

 

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

by Leslie Connor

This big-hearted novel will send your empathy off the charts. Perry has lived at the Blue River Coed Correctional Facility with his mom for all of his 11 years. But what’s normal to Perry—a morning run, school, dinner with his mom, and an extended family of other prisoners—looks wrong to others, who can’t imagine a life on the “inside.” It’s up to Perry to convince everyone that only by listening to each other’s stories can we find the truth. Prepare for some heart-exploding, belly-laughing fun from Newbery Award winner Leslie Connor. Ages 9–12.  —Tera

 

Lucy and Linh

by Alice Pung

Funny, sarcastic, and real, Lucy is a heroine who is just trying to make it out of adolescence with her self-respect intact. This gem from an Asian-Australian writer penetrates deeply into how we try to leave our old selves behind for something shiny and new—and how that never works out. A standout like Eleanor & Park and I’ll Give You the Sun, this is by far my favorite young adult book of the year. Read this book! Ages 13 & up.   —Tera

  

These are just a sampling of this year’s many wonderful new books. Visit Bookshop Santa Cruz’s children’s and young adults’ sections and we will help you choose just the right book.

 
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