This is the time of year when “Best Of” lists are everywhere. Although we at Kidsreads.com don’t have a “Best Of” list of our own, we’ve compiled a number of them for you here. See which of your top picks appear on these lists and which titles you feel should've been included but weren't. Perhaps you’ll even find some books to add to your reading list as we head into the new year!
Our January roundup includes the debut picture book BLOWN AWAY by Rob Biddulph, which follows a brave blue penguin who flies a kite to a tropical paradise and learns the meaning of home; LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson, where CJ questions his grandmother about their lives and community on their bus ride across town; and A FINE DESSERT: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins, illus by Sophie Blackall; which shows how the scrumptious blackberry fool has been made and consumed across time and space, and includes a recipe so young ones can make it with their own families.
In January’s Cool and New roundup, we have STELLA BY STARLIGHT by Sharon M. Draper, about a girl living in the segregated south whose world turns upside down when she witnesses the Ku Klux Klan doing an unimaginable act; TOMBQUEST BOOK 1: Book of the Dead By Michael Northrop, the first of a new series about Ancient Egyptian magic taking over modern times that has an accompanying computer game; and THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE by Kat Yeh, which follows two sisters who move from a trailer park in South Carolina to New York City after winning a million dollars from a cooking contest.
In paperback this month, we have a 40th anniversary edition of Natalie Babbitt’s classic immortality tale TUCK EVERLASTING, which has a new introduction by Gregory Maguire and extra bonus materials; SKY RAIDERS, the first of Brandon Mull’s Five Kingdoms series which follows Cole as he gets stuck in the kingdoms that lie between wakefulness and dreaming; and NIGHTINGALE'S NEST by Nikki Loftin, the highly acclaimed story of a Texan boy who meets a girl with a beautiful voice and has to make a heartbreaking choice.
In 1848, Emily Edmonson, thirteen, along with five siblings and seventy other enslaved people, boarded the Pearl in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., in a bid to reach freedom. Within a day, the schooner was captured, and the six Edmonsons were sent to New Orleans to be sold. Emily and Mary were saved from the even crueler conditions when the threat of yellow fever forced their return to Virginia. They were eventually ransomed with the help of their parents and abolitionists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, who later used them as models for characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Both girls went to Oberlin College, where Mary died of tuberculosis. Emily graduated and became a teacher at the first school in Washington, D.C., dedicated to the education of African American girls and young women--an idea so controversial that even Frederick Douglass advised against it. Emily also worked on behalf of abolition for the rest of her life.
Lady Ada Byron, age 11, is a genius. Isolated, awkward and a bit rude --- but a genius. Mary Godwin, age 14, is a romantic. Adventurous, astute, and kind, Mary is to become Ada’s first true friend. And together, the girls conspire to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency --- a secret constabulary for the apprehension of clever criminals. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects. But it’s no match for the deductive powers and bold hearts of Ada and Mary.
Cat Campbell has had magical powers since the day she was born, but her mother believes magic ruins lives, and even as Cat’s passion for magic grows over the years, no one suspects she has the gift. But she has inherited the magic gene of her famed great-great-grandmother Mabel, a discovery she makes in a most surprising way. And when she finds a book called THE LATE BLOOMER'S GUIDE TO MAGIC, she finds the encouragement and spells she needs. Then her town is threatened by a notoriously feared witch, and Cat has the chance to help --- and to prove herself in the process.
Miles Murphy is not happy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that’s famous for one thing: cows. In his old school, he was the best prankster, but Miles soon discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster. If he is going to take the title from this mystery kid, he is going to have to raise his game. It’s prankster against prankster in an epic war of trickery, until the two finally decide to join forces and pull off the biggest prank ever seen.
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who takes the kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan --- and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
A little hero faces big challenges in the first book of this totally unique fantasy-adventure series.
The first book in the Nnewts series follows the story of Herk, a lovable Nnewt who longs for stronger legs, something his mother and father wish they could give him. When his quaint village is attacked by the reptile Lizzarks, he's forced to flee his home and leave behind the only life he's ever known. Now, all alone and on the run, Herk navigates a dangerous world filled with strange creatures and mysterious wonders, where friends are few and an evil lord is in hot pursuit.
What if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sat down over tea to reminisce about their extraordinary lives? What would they recall of their triumphs and struggles as they fought to achieve civil rights for African Americans and equal rights for women? And what other historical figures played parts in their stories? These questions led Coretta Scott King Award winner Nikki Grimes to create CHASING FREEDOM, an engaging work of historical fiction about two of the nineteenth century's most powerful, and inspiring, American women.
When Albrecht Durer the Much Much Younger's Frog Prints go missing, he knows exactly where to turn for help. Gretel (yes, that Gretel), now 35 and still living with her gluttonous brother Hans, is the country's most famous private investigator, and she leaps at the opportunity to travel to cosmopolitan Nuremberg. But amid the city’s annual sausage festival, Gretel struggles to find any clues. Even with the aid of the mice living under her bed, Gretel is forced to get creative in her search for the truth.
Stella lives in the segregated South --- in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community --- her world --- is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.
An engaging book that encourages young nature enthusiasts to explore the world of birds. This generously illustrated, full-color book teaches kids that birds can be seen almost anywhere: in city parks and streets, zoos, farms, and backyards. Using “Try This,” “Look For,” and “Listen For” prompts, BIRDOLOGY promotes independent observation and analysis, writing and drawing skills, and nature literacy.
To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it's her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway that connects every world in creation. With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere--but they aren't the only ones looking. A sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can't beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear!
From courageous cavalry rides deep into enemy territory to harrowing covert missions undertaken by spies and soldiers, the events of the American Civil War were filled with daring figures and amazing feats. This exhilarating overview covers the biggest battles as well as captivating lesser-known moments to entertain kids with unbelievable (and totally true) tales of one of America's most fascinating conflicts.
When some people kill, they are jailed or even executed. When others do, they are celebrated as heroes. Though this example is extreme, it’s just one of many that author and lawyer Teri Kanefield explores in depth. From an examination of what constitutes a crime, why and how we punish people who commit crimes, how the government determines these rules, to how citizens have reacted when they feel laws aren’t fair, this book will challenge young readers’ thinking about law and order, crime and punishment, while giving them specific legal cases to ponder along the way. For ages 12 and up, this examination of the legal system will also include historical photography to help bring each legal case to life.
This is not the kind of history taught in schools or normally presented on television or in popular movies. This riveting young readers’ edition challenges prevailing orthodoxies to reveal the dark reality about the rise and fall of the American empire for curious, budding historians who are hungry for the truth. Based on the latest archival findings and recently declassified information, this book will come as a surprise to the vast majority of students and their teachers—and that’s precisely why this edition is such a crucial counterpoint to today’s history textbooks.