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Young Adult Read-Alike Recommendations

For readers looking for... ESCAPE!

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An essay from Gennifer Choldenko

Orphan Eleven

Dear Teachers and Librarians,

Thank you for doing your best to convert a thousand hours of teaching plans into remote lessons overnight.  Thank you for attempting to engage scared stir-crazy kids in your online lessons, while also making sure your own family was safe, fed, and entertained.  Even in the best of times, teachers and librarians are underappreciated.  And now that dearth of appreciation is all the more striking.

And thank you for keeping your enthusiasm for new books alive even after all that we’ve been through in the last few months.

The best I can offer you in exchange is a diversion – a gift from the eleven-year-old in me to the eleven-year-old in you.  And that is my newest novel: Orphan Eleven.

 

Where did I get the idea?

Sometimes characters pop into my head and demand I write about them.  Other times they appear at the periphery of my consciousness waiting to be invited in.  In the case of Orphan Eleven, the main character Lucy Simone Sauvé, let me know that she was to be the protagonist in my book, but then refused to tell me why she wouldn’t speak. I loved her from the start, but soon grew frustrated with how closely she held the mystery of her selective mutism.  Why wouldn’t she talk?  It really bugged me.  Then one day, I was in a bookstore poking around the stacks and I discovered a nonfiction book which explained exactly why Lucy refused to open her mouth.  That was the day Orphan Eleven was born.

 

How did I research the book?

As I began to develop that novel it soon became clear just how much research the story required.

What I like to do when researching is get up close and personal with the experiences I’m writing about.  That meant I needed to go to Chiang Mai, Thailand where I visited four elephant sanctuaries, to Baraboo, Wisconsin where I attended the Circus Historical Society Conference and to Davenport, Iowa where I walked the grounds of the original Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home – the model for the Home for Friendless Children in Orphan Eleven.

Of course, I read everything I could get my hands on.  But there is simply nothing like first-hand experience. So in Chiang Mai, I met an elephant who stored his sugar cane in the space between his trunk and his tusks.  Why?  In case he got the munchies later in the day.  In the stacks of the circus history archives I discovered an elephant act where a baby elephant pretended to be a hair stylist.  Just feet from the Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home grounds I found a cemetery with unmarked orphan graves.

All of this, found its way into Orphan Eleven.

 

Why does it matter to me?

There was something about Lucy’s passion for elephants, her big sister, Dilly’s tenacious desire to find her little sister, and the highly creative world of the traveling circuses of the 1930’s that resonated with me.  But more than that, Lucy’s struggle to find her voice was similar to my own.  I did not have selective mutism, but I said very little and I’ve struggled for most of my adult life to find the voice I lost when I was eleven. So yes, I loved writing Orphan Eleven. I hope you love it as much as I do.

 

All best,

Gennifer Choldenko

Gennifer Choldenko

Gennifer Choldenko was the youngest in a family of four kids, where her nickname was “Snot-Nose.” Her quirky sense of humor made its debut at the dinner table when Gennifer was a very little kid. She is the author of seven children’s books, including Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year; If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period; and Al Capone Shines My Shoes.

100 Years of Voting Rights for Women

Bold & Brave

Bold & Brave By Kirsten Gillibrand; illustrated by Maira Kalman

From United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand comes an inspiring picture book about ten suffragists who fought for women's right to vote.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was inspired by her own great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother to be bold and brave--to stand up and fight for what she believes in. But who inspired them? The long chain of women before them who spoke out for what's right--women who taught each generation that followed how to be bold and brave.

Here are the stories of ten leaders who strove to win the right to vote for American women--a journey that took more than seventy years of passionate commitment. From well-known figures, such as Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth to lesser known women such as Alice Paul and Mary Church Terrell, these are heroes who dreamed big and never gave up. Senator Gillibrand highlights an important and pithy lesson from each woman's life--from "dare to be different" to "fight together."

On the eve of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women suffrage, Bold & Brave looks both backward and forward. It introduces children to strong women who have raised their voices on behalf of justice--and inspires them to raise their own voices to build our future.

With gorgeous illustrations by renowned artist Maira Kalman, this is a book that will inspire and uplift, a book to be cherished and shared.

The suffragists included are: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Jovita Idár, Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, Ida B. Wells, Lucy Burns, and Mary Church Terrell.

Dr. Seuss's Every Voice Counts!

Dr. Seuss's Every Voice Counts! By Dr. Seuss

Encourage someone to speak up for their beliefs with this small, hardcover giftbook featuring art by Dr. Seuss! An ideal choice instead of a greeting card, it includes unrhymed lines about using your voice to advocate for change!

Just as Horton the Elephant urged the Whos to raise their voices and save their world, this humorous giftbook urges readers to speak up and make the world a better place. Illustrated throughout with classic artwork from the books The Lorax, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and many others, the unrhymed text gently reminds readers of all ages that every voice counts, and that many voices combined together have the power to create change. It's the perfect small gift for encouraging an interest in advocacy, government, teaching, environmentalism, or just standing up for what you think is right.

If I Had Your Vote--by the Cat in the Hat

If I Had Your Vote--by the Cat in the Hat By Random House; illustrated by Tom Brannon

Just in time for Election Day, this hilarious new Beginner Book featuring Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat--and the changes he'd make if elected president of the United States--is perfect for introducing young readers to the White House!

Think politics is boring for kids? Think again! If the Cat in the Hat is elected president, life in the White House is about to get a lot more interesting--and funny! The Cat plans to shake things up. On his agenda: To change the shape of the Oval Office (to make it far more OVAL-ER-ER); to replant the Rose Garden with Seussian shrubbery; to paint smiles on portraits of frowning world leaders; and (among other things) to shoot a SOCK-IT rocket into space to shower the United States with an explosion of socks! Written in rhyme and featuring a cast of characters from The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, this is the perfect, kid-friendly way to introduce beginning readers to life in the White House AND to the Cat in the Hat.

Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning.

Susan B. Anthony: Her Fight for Equal Rights

Susan B. Anthony: Her Fight for Equal Rights By Monica Kulling; illustrated by Maike Plenzke

This Step 2 BIOGRAPHY READER marks the 200th birthday of this bold suffragette and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote.

"It's not fair." Susan B. Anthony was very concerned about fairness and equality for women and girls in America. She knew it wasn't fair to pay a woman less than a man for the same job. She knew it wasn't fair not to allow women to vote in elections. In fact, it was illegal for women to vote. But she felt so strongly, she voted in an election--and was arrested--anyway. Young readers will learn about young Susan B. Anthony and how she grew up to become a suffragette--a fighter for women's equality. She joined forces with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others and gave speeches around the country to gain support for women's right to vote. She fought her whole life, and believed that "failure is impossible." She was right; her work made the 19th Amendment to the Constitution possible!

Step 3 Readers feature engaging characters in easy-to-follow plots about popular topics--for children who are ready to read on their own.

Vote for Our Future!

Vote for Our Future! By Margaret McNamara; illustrated by Micah Player

In this charming and powerful picture book about voting and elections, the students of Stanton Elementary School learn how we can find--and use--our voices for change.

Every two years, on the first Tuesday of November, Stanton Elementary School closes for the day. For vacation? Nope! For repairs? No way! Stanton Elementary School closes so that it can transform itself into a polling station. People can come from all over to vote for the people who will make laws for the country. Sure, the Stanton Elementary School students might be too young to vote themselves, but that doesn't mean they can't encourage their parents, friends, and family to vote! After all, voting is how this country sees change--and by voting today, we can inspire tomorrow's voters to change the future.

History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote

History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote By Kate Messner; illustrated by Dylan Meconis

Myths! Lies! Secrets! Smash the stories behind famous moments in history and expose the hidden truth. Perfect for fans of I Survived and Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales.

In 1920, Susan B. Anthony passed a law that gave voting rights to women in the United States. RIGHT?

WRONG! Susan B. Anthony wasn't even alive when the Nineteeth Amendment was ratified. Plus, it takes a lot more than one person to amend the constitution.

Did you know that when women's rights activists picketed President Wilson to get his support for voting rights, some men beat them up, tore down their banners, and stole from them? And then it was the women who got arrested! No joke.

Through illustrations, graphic panels, photographs, sidebars, and more, acclaimed author Kate Messner smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the fight for women's suffrage.

Don't miss History Smashers: The Mayflower!

The Hope Chest

The Hope Chest By Karen Schwabach

A perfect Common Core tie-in, The Hope Chest includes back matter with period photographs, historical notes about the suffrage movement, and a "Voting in America" timeline. It's also a New York State curriculum title for fourth grade.

Eleven-year-old Violet has one goal in mind when she runs away from home: to find her sister, Chloe. Violet’s parents say Chloe has turned into the "wrong sort of person," but Violet knows better. The only problem is that Chloe’s not in New York anymore. She's moved on to Tennessee, where she's fighting for women's right to vote. As Violet's journey grows longer, her single-minded pursuit of reuniting with her sister changes. Before long she is standing side-by-side with her new friends—suffragists, socialists, and colored people—the type of people her parents would not approve of. But if Violet’s becoming the "wrong sort of person," why does it feel just right? This stirring depiction of the very end of the women's suffrage battle in America is sure to please readers who like their historical fiction fast-paced and action-packed. American Girls fans will fall hard for Violet and her less-than-proper friends.

Starting from Seneca Falls

Starting from Seneca Falls By Karen Schwabach

Celebrate the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment with another historical novel about women's suffrage from the author of The Hope Chest!

Bridie's life has been a series of wrongs. The potato famine in Ireland. Being sent to the poorhouse when her mother's new job in America didn't turn out the way they'd hoped. Becoming an orphan.

And then there's the latest wrong--having to work for a family so abusive that Bridie is afraid she won't survive. So she runs away to Seneca Falls, New York, which in 1848 is a bustling town full of possibility. There, she makes friends with Rose, a girl with her own list of wrongs, but with big dreams, too.

Rose helps Bridie get a job with the strangest lady she's ever met, Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Mrs. Stanton is planning a convention to talk about the rights of women. For Bridie and Rose, it's a new idea, that women and girls could have a voice. But they sure are sick of all the wrongs. Maybe it's time to fight for their rights!

The Woman's Hour (Adapted for Young Readers)

The Woman's Hour (Adapted for Young Readers) By Elaine Weiss

This adaptation of the book Hillary Clinton calls "a page-turning drama and an inspiration" will spark the attention of young readers and teach them about activism, civil rights, and the fight for women's suffrage--just in time for the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Includes an eight-page photo insert!

American women are so close to winning the right to vote. They've been fighting for more than seventy years and need approval from just one more state.

But suffragists face opposition from every side, including the "Antis"--women who don't want women to have the right to vote. It's more than a fight over politics; it's a debate over the role of women and girls in society, and whether they should be considered equal to men and boys.

Over the course of one boiling-hot summer, Nashville becomes a bitter battleground. Both sides are willing to do anything it takes to win, and the suffragists--led by brave activists Carrie Catt, Sue White, and Alice Paul--will face dirty tricks, blackmail, and betrayal. But they vow to fight for what they believe in, no matter the cost.

Family Read-Aloud Picture Books

All Aboard the Moonlight Train

All Aboard the Moonlight Train By Kristyn Crow; illustrated by Annie Won

Fans of The Polar Express and Steam Train, Dream Train will be eager to climb aboard this enchanting, rhyming bedtime story that whisks young readers along on a dream-like adventure through a magical world filled with majestic, colorful animals.

Can't sleep? Then hop aboard the Moonlight Train and get ready for a dreamy, nighttime adventure! A toucan will take your ticket, an elephant is your engineer, you can climb the giraffe's long neck for a look-out, and a lion will tuck you into your sleeping car with a bedtime story. Ready to join us? All aboard!

Children and parents will love the clickety-clack rhythm of this enchanting, rhyming bedtime tale that whisks little readers through a magical forest on the most unusual and wondrous train ever. Annie Won's luminous, captivating art creates a joyous world of beautiful animals that will delight the youngest reader. It's your ticket to a perfect bedtime read-aloud.

Bedtime Bonnet

Bedtime Bonnet By Nancy Redd; illustrated by Nneka Myers

This joyous and loving celebration of family is the first-ever picture book to highlight Black nighttime hair traditions--and is perfect for every little girl who knows what it's like to lose her bonnet just before bedtime.

In my family, when the sun goes down, our hair goes up!
My brother slips a durag over his locs.
Sis swirls her hair in a wrap around her head.
Daddy covers his black waves with a cap.
Mama gathers her corkscrew curls in a scarf.
I always wear a bonnet over my braids, but tonight I can't find it anywhere!

Bedtime Bonnet gives readers a heartwarming peek into quintessential Black nighttime hair traditions and celebrates the love between all the members of this close-knit, multi-generational family.

Perfect for readers of Hair Love and Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut!

Child of the Universe

Child of the Universe By Ray Jayawardhana; illustrated by Raul Colón

Perfect for fans of The Wonderful Things You Will Be and That's Me Loving You, this picture book by a renowned astrophysicist is a lyrical meditation on the preciousness of one child and the vastness of the universe.

Just like the sun gives shine to the moon,
you light up the world beyond this room . . .
You are grand and marvelous, strong and mysterious.
The history of the world is in your fingertips.

A lyrical meditation on the preciousness of one child and the vastness of the universe, this gorgeously illustrated picture book shares the immensity of a parent's love along with the message that we are all connected to the broader cosmos in important and intimate ways. A perfect bedtime read-aloud, Child of the Universe is a book to cherish forever.

The author is an astrophysicist who has been fascinated by the universe since he was a child. As a parent, he has developed a new appreciation for the deep connections between billions of years of cosmic evolution and this one tiny human.

A Lullaby of Summer Things

A Lullaby of Summer Things By Natalie Ziarnik; illustrated by Madeline Valentine

In the spirit of such bedtime favorites as Emily Winfield Martin's Day Dreamers, here is a quintessential end-of-day by the beach lovingly captured and perfect for reading aloud.

This simple, lyrical picture book is as warm, reassuring, and filled with joy as a vacation at the beach. Readers will join a little girl and her siblings as they wind down from a perfect day--hanging up towels, eating dinner, and getting ready for bed--each activity sparking a memory of their day--playing catch with the dog, chasing waves, and looking at sailboats along the shore. And when the lights of the family beach house go off--"In the dusky evening light, a sleepy house says goodnight"--young listeners will be lulled to sleep themselves.

To the Moon and Back for You

To the Moon and Back for You By Emilia Bechrakis Serhant; illustrated by EG Keller

A perfect gift for Mother's Day for any parent who has struggled on their journey to have a baby, Million Dollar Listing star Emilia Bechrakis Serhant's debut picture book poignantly explores her own difficulty conceiving and her life-changing experiences with IVF.

I swam through the deepest ocean.
I climbed the tallest mountain.
Finding you was a journey.
And meeting you was my greatest joy.

In this picture book, illustrated by the #1 New York Times bestselling artist of A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, families of different shapes, colors, and sizes must cross deserts, navigate rough seasons, and climb mountains--all to find their miracle babies. Emilia's story reminds us that, despite the challenges and complications often thrown our way, hope will always prevail. To the Moon and Back for You combines a timeless feel with a timely subject, and is poised to become a modern classic for years to come.

Who Will You Be?

Who Will You Be? By Andrea Pippins

For fans of I Am Enough, The Day You Begin, and The Wonderful Things You Will Be, here is a poignant picture book about how family and community help shape the wonderful people our children become.

My child, my little one,
Who will you be when you are grown?
There's loving kindness in your eyes, like your daddy's
and boldness in your heart, like your grandma's.
Will you be like them?

So begins this loving picture book about a mama who wonders who her child will grow up to be. Will her little one be curious like Grandpa and adventurous like Auntie Amina? Compassionate like Amy and joyful like cousin Curlena? Moving from family members to the wider community, she muses about which attributes her child will possess. A perfect gift for a baby shower, birthday, or graduation. Who Will You Be? features gorgeous artwork and gentle words that celebrate childhood and is an ode to the power of our village--and a reminder that every child is uniquely wonderful.

Graphic Novels Summer 2020

Crabapple Trouble

Crabapple Trouble By Kaeti Vandorn

Callaway just wants to do a good job--but her worries are getting in the way! A fun adventure filled with an adorable cast of fruits and vegetables, this young chapter-book graphic novel is perfect for fans of Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea.

Callaway, with her apple head and huge heart, likes to help others, grow special crabapples, and spend time with her friends--but things suddenly go sideways when the town decides to hold a festival and all her friends want to enter the harvest contest! Afraid that nothing she has will be good enough, Callaway nearly loses her head and ends up finding a fairy named Thistle.

Join Callaway and Thistle as they prepare for the festival and help their friends--and each other--along the way. A delightfully genuine story about problem-solving, having confidence in yourself, and learning that it's okay to ask for help when you need it.

Doodleville

Doodleville By Chad Sell

For fans of Svetlana Chmakova's Awkward and Raina Telgemeier's Smile comes an inventive new story from Cardboard Kingdom creator Chad Sell about a group of young artists who must work together when one of their own creations becomes a monster.

Drew is just a regular artist. But there's nothing ordinary about her art. Her doodles are mischievous . . . and rarely do they stay in Doodleville, the world she's created in her sketchbook. Instead, Drew's doodles prefer to explore the world outside. But after an inspiring class trip to the Art Institute of Chicago--where the doodles cause a bit too much trouble--Drew decides it's time to take her artistic talents to the next level.
     Enter the Leviathan--Levi, for short. He's bigger and better than anything Drew has ever created before. He's a monster, but a friendly one. That is, until Levi begins to wreak havoc on Drew's other doodles--and on the heroes her classmates have dreamt up.
     Levi won't be easily tamed, and it seems there is a link between the monster's bad behavior and Drew's feelings. With the help of her loyal art club friends, will she be able to save Doodleville--and Levi--before it's too late?

Once Upon a Space-Time!

Once Upon a Space-Time! By Jeffrey Brown

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Jedi Academy books comes the first in a hilarious space-themed graphic novel series.

Jide and Petra are just two normal kids until they are selected to leave Earth and join their new alien classmates on an intergalactic research mission to Mars. Too bad Petra has no idea how she ended up in the program, seeing as the closest she wants to get to space is being a sci-fi writer. Jide, on the other hand, is the brains of the mission, but his helicopter parents make it clear he hasn't left their gravitational pull behind quite yet.

What is meant to be an intra-species bonding experience soon turns to hijinx as the kids discover The Potato orbiting around their new space classroom and accidentally launch a mission of their own without any adult commanders around to supervise--or help!

From New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Brown comes an out-of-this-world adventure perfect for the astronaut-in-training in your life.

Pacey Packer: Unicorn Tracker Book 1

Pacey Packer: Unicorn Tracker Book 1 By J.C. Phillipps

Introducing a brand-new middle-grade graphic novel series with attitude that's just right for fans of Babymouse and Real Friends, and for anyone who loves--or hates!--unicorns!

Pacey's little sister, Mina, has always said her stuffed unicorn, Slasher, is real--but seriously? He's a stuffed toy! Then again, he does seem to be leading Mina outside her room and to . . . some kind of weird magical unicorn land? Pacey may not believe in unicorns, but she's not about to let her little sister be kidnapped, so she does the only thing she can: follows them to unicorn land (that she totally does NOT believe in). And for the record, it's NOTHING like the stories. First off, what's up with Slasher's attitude? It's not Pacey's fault he's trapped in a ridiculous stuffed body. And that Alpha Unicorn guy? NOT. Nice. Pacey will just be grabbing Mina and taking her home, thankyouverymuch . . . that is, if she can work with the grumpiest unicorn stuffy ever to outsmart the Evil Alpha Unicorn and find the way out--preferably without stepping on any poisonous killer flowers. (WHAT IS WITH THIS PLACE ANYWAY?!)

Pizza and Taco: Who's the Best?

Pizza and Taco: Who's the Best? By Stephen Shaskan

The first in a hilarious young graphic novel series about Pizza and Taco. Two best friends, lots of toppings...but only one of them can be the BEST, right? Fans of Narwhal and Jelly will eat this book up...and be hungry for more!

Best friends are the BEST! But WHO is the BEST? Is it Pizza or Taco? The question is debatable! They both love water slides. They both are friends with Hot Dog and Hamburger. In fact, maybe they should have a debate and get their friends to VOTE for who's the best! Can their friendship survive the race for top spot on the popularity food chain? Cast your VOTE!

This graphic chapter book will tickle the funny bones of kids ages 4-7 and bolster their reading confidence. Readers will be eager to devour the next book in the series, Pizza and Taco Throw a Party, coming in 2021! Young graphic chapter books are also a great step on the way to longer chapter books and graphic novels.

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones By Lucy Knisley

This contemporary middle-grade graphic novel about family and belonging from New York Times bestselling author Lucy Knisley is a perfect read for fans of Awkward and Be Prepared.

Jen is used to not getting what she wants. So suddenly moving the country and getting new stepsisters shouldn't be too much of a surprise.


Jen did not want to leave the city. She did not want to move to a farm with her mom and her mom's new boyfriend, Walter. She did not want to leave her friends and her dad.

Most of all, Jen did not want to get new "sisters," Andy and Reese.

As if learning new chores on Peapod Farm wasn't hard enough, having to deal with perfect-at-everything Andy might be the last straw for Jen. Besides cleaning the chicken coop, trying to keep up with the customers at the local farmers' market, and missing her old life, Jen has to deal with her own insecurities about this new family . . . and where she fits in.

New York Times bestselling author Lucy Knisley brings to life a story inspired from her own childhood in an amazing journey of unlikely friends, sisters, and home.

"Funny, sweet, and real." -Jennifer & Matthew Holm, co-creators of the bestselling Babymouse series

"This book is gorgeous. Highly recommended." -Kristen Gudsnuk, creator of Making Friends