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Richie's Picks


great new and upcoming books for children and young adults



All reviews (alphabetically by title):











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EMILY WRITES: EMILY DICKINSON AND HER POETIC BEGINNINGS by Jane Yolen and Christine Davenier, ill., Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano, February 2020, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-250-12808-0
ME AND MY SISTER by Rose Robbins, Eerdmans, April 2020, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-8028-5542-8
SEAGULLS SOAR by April Pulley Sayre and Kasia Bogdańska, ill, Boyds Mills, April 2020, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-68437-197-6
ASTRONAUTS: WOMEN ON THE FINAL FRONTIER by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks, First Second, February 2020, 176p., ISBN: 978-1-62672-677-6
JANE AGAINST THE WORLD: ROE V. WADE AND THE FIGHT FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS by Karen Blumenthal, Roaring Brook, February 2020, 371p., ISBN: 978-1-62672-165-4
THIS IS MY AMERICA by Kim Johnson, Random House, July 2020, 416 p., 978-0-593-11876-4
LIZZIE DEMANDS A SEAT! ELIZABETH JENNINGS FIGHTS FOR STREETCAR RIGHTS by Beth Anderson and E.B. Lewis, ill., Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek, January 2020, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-62979-939-1
HIKE by Pete Oswald, Candlewick, March 2020, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-5362-0157-4
DOWN UNDER THE PIER by Nell Cross Beckerman and Rachell Sumpter, ill., Cameron Kids, April 2020, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-944903-86-2
THE RISE AND FALL OF CHARLES LINDBERGH by Candace Fleming, Random House/Schwartz & Wade, February 2020, 384p., ISBN: 978-0-525-64654-9
A HATFUL OF DRAGONS: AND MORE THAN 13.8 BILLION OTHER FUNNY POEMS by Vikram Madan, Wordsong, April 2020, 64p., ISBN: 978-1-68437-999-6
UNSTOPPABLE by Adam Rex and Laura Park, ill., Chronicle, May 2020, 56p., ISBN: 978-1-4521-6504-2
SANTIAGO’S ROAD HOME by Alexandra Diaz, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman, May 2020, 336p., ISBN: 978-1-5344-4623-6
WHAT SOUND IS MORNING? by Grant Snider, Chronicle, May 2020, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-4521-7993-3
HARD WORK, BUT IT’S WORTH IT: THE LIFE OF JIMMY CARTER by Bethany Hegedus and Kyung Eun Han, ill., Harper Collins/Balzer + Bray, January 2020, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-06-264378-0
KING AND THE DRAGONFLIES by Kacen Callender, Scholastic Press, February 2020, 272p., ISBN: 978-1-338-12933-5
FIGHTING WORDS by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Dial Books for Young Readers, August 2020, 256p., ISBN: 978-1-9848-1568-2
DREAMLAND: THE TRUE TALE OF AMERICA’S OPIATE EPIDEMIC, A YOUNG ADULT ADAPTATION by Sam Quinones, Bloomsbury, July 2019, 224p., ISBN: 978-1-5476-0131-8
JUST BREATHE by Cammie McGovern, Harper Teen, January 2020, 352p., ISBN: 978-0-06-246335-7
THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS DO by Cathleen Barnhart, HarperCollins, January 2020, 352p., ISBN: 978-0-06-288893-8
TREES by Verlie Hutchens and Jing Jing Tsong, ill. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, March 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-4814-4707-2
ALMOST AMERICAN GIRL: AN ILLUSTRATED MEMOIR by Robin Ha, Harper/Balzer + Bray, January 2020, 240p., ISBN: 978-0-06-268510-0
GO WITH THE FLOW by Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann, First Second, January 2020, 336p., ISBN: 978-1-250-14317-4
THE OLD TRUCK by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey, Norton, January 2020, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-324-00519-3
THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF COYOTE SUNRISE by Dan Gemeinhart, Henry Holt, January 2019, 352p., ISBN: 978-1-250-19670-5
THE HEART OF A WHALE by Anna Pignataro, Philomel, January 2020, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-984-83627-4
FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON by Janae Marks, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, January 2020, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-06-287585-3
WE DREAM OF SPACE by Erin Entrada Kelly, Greenwillow, May 2020, 400p., ISBN: 978-0-06-27430-3

ANIMALS ARE PEOPLE TOO: AN ADORABLE ANIMAL EMOTION THESAURUS by Odd Dot, October 2019, 240p., ISBN: 978-1-250-31863-3  

ALL THE DAYS PAST, ALL THE DAYS TO COME by Mildred D. Taylor, Viking, January 2020, 496p., ISBN: 978-0-399-25730-8

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo, HarperTeen, May 2019, 400p., ISBN: 978-0-06-266283-5 

BIRDSONG by Julie Flett, Greystone Kids, October 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-77164-473-1

CHICK AND BRAIN: SMELL MY FOOT! by Cece Bell, Candlewick, September 2019, 72p., ISBN: 978-0-7636-7936-1

KENT STATE by Deborah Wiles, Scholastic Press, April 2020, 144p., ISBN: 978-1-338-35628-1

THE HUNDRED-YEAR BARN by Patricia MacLachlan and Kenard Pak, ill., HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, September 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-0-06-268773-9
UNDER THE BROKEN SKY by Mariko Nagai, Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books, October 2019, 304p., ISBN: 978-1-250-15921-2

NINE MONTHS: BEFORE A BABY IS BORN by Miranda Paul and Jason Chin, ill., Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, April 2019, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-8234-4161-7

STRANGE BIRDS: A FIELD GUIDE TO RUFFLING FEATHERS by Celia C. Pérez, Kokila, September 2019, 384p., ISBN: 978-0-425-29043-9 

FIX THAT CLOCK by Kurt Cyrus, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-328-90408-9

SMALL IN THE CITY by Sydney Smith, Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, September 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-8234-4261-4 

BORN TO FLY: THE FIRST WOMEN’S AIR RACE ACROSS AMERICA by Steve Sheinkin, Roaring Brook, September 2019, 288p., ISBN: 978-1-62672-130-2

HOME IN THE WOODS by Eliza Wheeler, Nancy Paulsen Books, October 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-399-16290-9 

FINDING KINDNESS by Deborah Underwood and Irene Chan, ill., Henry Holt/Godwin Books, October 2019, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-250-23789-7 
BEVERLY, RIGHT HERE by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick, September 2019, 256p., ISBN: 978-0-7636-944-7
BETWEEN US AND ABUELA: A FAMILY STORY FROM THE BORDER by Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios, Farrar Straus Giroux, September 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-374-30373-0
HOW MANY? A DIFFERENT KIND OF COUNTING BOOK by Christopher Danielson, Charlesbridge, September 2019, 36p., ISBN: 978-1-58089-943-7
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (THE MAKING OF AMERICA) by Teri Kanefield, Abrams, October 2019, 256p., ISBN: 978-1-4197-3402-1

MANHATTAN: MAPPING THE STORY OF AN ISLAND by Jennifer Thermes, Abrams Books for Young Readers, August 2019, 64p., ISBN: 978-1-4197-3655-1
THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL by Stacey Lee, Putnam, August 2019, 384p., ISBN: 978-1-5247-4095-5

SNACK ATTACK by Terry Border, Philomel, September 2019, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-524-74011-5 

THE SEVENTH VOYAGE by Stanislaw Lem and Jon J. Muth, ill., Scholastic Graphix, October 2019, 80p., ISBN: 978-0-545-00462-6

ONE DARK BIRD by Liz Garton Scanlon and Frann Preston-Gannon, ill., Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, July 2019, 978-1-5344-0443-4 

ORANGE FOR THE SUNSETS by Tina Athaide, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, April 2019, 336p., ISBN: 978-0-06-279529-8
VIRAL: THE FIGHT AGAINST AIDS IN AMERICA by Ann Bausum, Viking, June 2019, 176p., ISBN: 978-0-425-28729-0
THE MOON WITHIN by Aida Salazar, Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, March 2019, 240p., ISBN: 978-1-338-28337-2
INTERNMENT by Samira Ahmed, Little Brown, March 2019, 400p., ISBN: 978-0-316-52269-4
THE RUNAWAYS by Ulf Stark, Kitty Crowther ill., Julia Marshall, translator, Gecko Press, April 2019, 144p., ISBN: 978-1-776572-33-5

HOW TO TWO by David Soman, Dial, March 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-525-42784-1 

THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN by Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby, ill., HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, May 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-0-06-239344-9

OTHER WORDS FOR HOME by Jasmine Warga, HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, May 2019, 352p., ISBN: 978-0-06-274780-8 

SONG FOR A WHALE by Lynne Kelly, Delacorte, February 2019, 320p., ISBN: 978-1-5247-7023-5

HEY, WATER! by Antoinette Portis, Holiday House/Neal Porter, March 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-0-8234-4155-6

FOCUSED by Alyson Gerber, Scholastic Press, March 2019, 304p., ISBN: 978-1-338-18597-3 

BUTTERFLY YELLOW by Thanhhà Lai, HarperCollins, September 2019, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-06-222921-2 

LUBNA AND PEBBLE by Wendy Meddour and Daniel Egnéus, ill., Dial, March 2019, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-525-55416-5

GIRLS ON THE VERGE by Sharon Biggs Waller, Henry Holt, April 2019, 240p., ISBN: 978-1-250-15169-8 

THE TRUE HISTORY OF LYNDIE B. HAWKINS by Gail Shepherd, Penguin Random House/Kathy Dawson Books, March 2019, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-525-42845-9
THE DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS by Jane Solomon and Louise Lockhart, ill., Frances Lincoln, April 2019, 112p., ISBN: 978-1-78603-811-1
HOME IS A WINDOW by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard and Chris Sasaki, ill., Holiday House/Neal Porter, April 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-8234-4156-3

BUSING BREWSTER by Richard Michelson and R.G. Roth, ill., David R. Godine reprint edition, May 2019, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-56792-649-5 

A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE by Lisa Moore Ramée, HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, March 2019, 368p., ISBN: 978-0-06-283668-7
SIGN OFF by Stephen Savage, Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, May 2019, 56p., ISBN: 978-1-5344-1210-1
WHO HAS WIGGLE-WAGGLE TOES? by Vicky Shiefman and Francesca Chessa, ill., Holiday House, January 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-8234-3864-8
THE LINE TENDER by Kate Allen, Dutton, April 2019, 384p., ISBN: 978-0-7352-3160-3

POPCORN COUNTRY: THE STORY OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE SNACK by Cris Peterson and David R. Lundquist, photographer, Boyds Mills Press, April 2019, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-62979-882-9 

WHAT IS GIVEN FROM THE HEART by Patricia C. McKissack and April Harrison, ill., Schwartz & Wade, January 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-375-83615-2
THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE: ONE GIRL’S STORY IN THE FIGHT FOR SCHOOL EQUALITY by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy, Bloomsbury, January 2019, 320p., ISBN: 978-1-68119-852-1
PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING by Randy Ribay, Penguin Random House/Kokila, June 2019, 336p., ISBN: 978-0-525-55491-2

WE’RE NOT FROM HERE by Geoff Rodkey, Random House/Crown Books for Young Readers, March 2019, 256p., ISBN: 978-1-5247-7304-5 

THE BRIDGE HOME by Padma Venkatraman, Penguin Random House/Nancy Paulsen, February 2019, 208p., ISBN: 978-1-5247-3811-2
SAY SOMETHING by Peter H. Reynolds, Scholastic/Orchard Books, February 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-545-86503-6
DIG by A.S. King, Dutton, March 2019, 400p., ISBN: 978-1-101-99491-7
SIDE BY SIDE: A CELEBRATION OF DADS by Chris Raschka, Phaidon, March 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-0-7148-7866-9
IT’S A GIRL THING!: SMART, FIERCE, AND LEADING THE WAY by Pri Ferrari, Kane Press/StarBerry Books, March 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-63592-124-3
EVENTOWN by Corey Ann Haydu, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, February 2019, 336p., ISBN: 978-0-06-268980-1
THE UNDEFEATED by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, ill., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Versify, April 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6
A DROP OF HOPE by Keith Calabrese, Scholastic Press, February 2019, 320p., ISBN: 978-1-338-23320-9
SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson, Viking, March 2019, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-670-01210-7


But the other stuff is incredibly interesting. And sometimes bizarre. Like how, when she was little, Margaret had a population explosion of pet rabbits, and when one of them died, she skinned it and wore its pelt. Like how librarian Anne Carroll Moore (a deity to library science students) totally blew it and dismissed GOODNIGHT MOON and other Margaret Wise Brown titles.Or how Ms. Brown and her editor, the legendary Ursula Nordstrom, after being excluded from a tea party for authors and illustrators at the NY Public Library, held their own tea party outside on the steps. 

Mr. Barnett concludes his story with useful advice for  reading any biography:

“Lives don’t work the way most books do. 

They can end suddenly,

as fast as you kick your leg in the air.

Lives are funny and sad,

scary and comforting,

beautiful and ugly, but not when they’re supposed to be,

and sometimes all at the same time. 

There are patterns in a life,

and patterns in a story,

but in real lives and good stories

the patterns are hard to see,

because the truth is never made of straight lines.

Lives are strange.

And there are people who do not like strange stories,

especially in books for children.

But sometimes you find a book that feels as strange as life does.

These books feel true.

These books are important.”

Many picture book biographies are ultimately forgettable. You may gain snippets of information, but there’s no real story to enjoy and share. Some picture book bios are written by gifted storytellers, such as a recent favorite of mine, SO TALL WITHIN: SOJOURNER TRUTH’S LONG WALK TO FREEDOM by Gary D. Schmidt. That can make all the difference in the world. 

THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN stands on a whole different level. You have the storytelling talents of Mac Barnett, who is both a wiseguy and a wise guy. You have top-notch illustrating by Sarah Jacoby. You have a subject whose name is universally recognized yet whose life included some aspects that one would never expect. The result is an off-the-chart picture book biography that I’ll not soon forget.

Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks  http://richiespicks.pbworks.com



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