Supporting Early Childhood Learning with Creative Concept Books

Concept books are illustrated children’s books that introduce young children to basic ideas in concrete and engaging ways. Common topics for concept books include shapes, colors, numbers, letters, opposites, size, and more. Concept books are helpful tools for supporting early literacy and learning. It can be easy to forget that concepts as seemingly simple as shapes or numbers need to be explicitly taught in early childhood. When concept books are fun, humorous, or appealingly illustrated in addition to their educational content, children are more likely to be engaged with the books, which in turn develops important early literacy habits. The books below are highly engaging, creative concept books for building young children’s conceptual knowledge. Because the S-Collection has particularly robust holdings of ABC books (enough to be the basis of an entire future blog post), this book list will primarily feature other types of concept books.
For more information about supporting early literacy development, visit Reading Rockets:

Illustrated by: Angela Brooksbank
Baby Goes to Market. 2017 (Picture Book).
Follow Baby and his doting mama at a bustling Nigerian marketplace in this bright, bouncy read-aloud offering a gentle introduction to numbers. When Baby and Mama go to the market, Baby is so adorable that the banana seller gives him six bananas. Baby eats one and puts five in the basket, but Mama doesn’t notice. As Mama and Baby wind their way through the stalls, sneaky Baby collects five oranges, four biscuits, three ears of sweet corn, and two pieces of coconut until Mama notices that her basket is getting very heavy. Rhythmic language, visual humor, colorful illustrations, and a bounty of delectable food make this a tale that is sure to whet little appetites for story time, all while charmingly establishing basic numeric skills in early childhood.
Concepts: numbers, counting.
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Corda, Tullio
Translated by: Taylor Barrett Gaines
Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites. 2021 (Picture Book).
Cat and Dog are not the same. In fact, they are very different and the perfect subjects for a tale of opposites. Cat is red and Dog is blue; Cat is mischievous while Dog is annoyed. Enjoy their adventures as they fight and play, chase and hide, all illustrated by Corda’s high-drama visual storytelling in this surprisingly sophisticated book. Corda has created a concept book that introduces a wide variety of antonyms (from up/down to brave/afraid), while simultaneously bringing readers along for a raucous narrative arc with a clever surprise ending. This is a truly relatable tale in just 32 words!
Concepts: opposites.
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Coulson, Art
Illustrated by: Madelyn Goodnight
Look, Grandma! Ni, Elisi! 2021 (Picture Book).
Bo wants to find the perfect container to show off his homemade traditional marbles for the Cherokee national holiday. It needs to be just the right size: big enough to fit all the marbles, but not too big to fit in his family’s booth at the festival. The container also needs to look appealing, so with his grandmother’s help, Bo tries many containers until he finds one that will work well and look beautiful. Part of the “Storytelling Math” book series to highlight everyday mathematical concepts for young children through culturally diverse storytelling, this picture book is a playful exploration of volume and capacity featuring Native characters and a glossary of Cherokee words.
Concepts: size/volume.
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Cole, Lo
Ten in a Hurry. 2021 (Picture Book).
This exciting picture book counts down a school of fish, color by color. Ten fish of varying bright hues are swimming in a line as a bigger predator fish approaches from behind. The short rhyming text guides readers along as each turn of this book’s differently sized flap pages reveal the big fish gulping down another colorful fish, one by one. “Ten in a hurry, swimming in a line… Watch out, Red! GULP. Now there are nine.” The repetitive plot appears to spell doom for all of the colorful fish, that is, until the littlest fish takes a dramatic stand! This hysterically fun read helps young readers learn colors and counting, and the highly contrasting colors and clever book design will hold the attention of young listeners.
Concepts: numbers, colors.
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Godwin, Jane
Illustrated by: Blanca Gomez
Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse. 2019 (Picture Book).
A little mouse makes her way around the world and invites young readers to come along. On the title page, the little brown mouse packs her suitcase, then travels through many busy, colorful illustrations before returning home. The short, rhyming stanzas offer opportunities for children to count, learn about colors, and study the objects in the pictures. “Red house/ Blue house/ Green house / Tree house! / See the tiny mouse / in her little brown house?” This simple story is packed with concepts for the very young, with a particular focus on colors, and a delightful search-and-find element in every spread: the intrepid mouse herself.
Concepts: colors.
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Higgins, Carter.
Circle Under Berry. 2021 (Picture Book).
With a simple approach, this thought-provoking concept book shows young readers that everything in the world can be seen from infinite perspectives. Each page compares colors, shapes, and objects in relation to each other. A triangle that is over a square is also under a circle. A circle that is pink also might be a flower. The brightly colored objects on a white background have the striking visual simplicity of Eric Carle’s art. Higgins’s playful, rhythmic writing and expert arrangement of objects on the page make this book a perfect read-aloud, capable of entertaining, educating, and challenging readers in equal measure. This book’s focus on color, shapes, objects, and relative words like “over,” “under,” and “next to” make this a good introduction to conceptual and spatial language. Rather than traditional concept books that focus on only one idea, this book combines its teaching approach, helping young readers learn multiple concepts at once by showing how they relate to each other.
Concepts: shapes, colors.
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Kraegel, Kenneth
This Is a Book of Shapes. 2020 (Board Book).
What begins as a concept book about everyone’s favorite geometric shapes soon defies expectations with a sequence of funny and imaginative twists. First comes the circle. Then the square and the triangle. Then the . . . emu pushing a pancake wagon down a hill? Kraegel pairs a deadpan tone with simple wood-grained shapes, interspersed with vibrant illustrations of animals engaged in hilariously absurd pastimes. Each page turn builds on the delicious anticipation to make this a unique and rollicking story time hit. This book provides a sensationally fun introduction to shapes.
Concepts: shapes.
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Scanlon, Liz Garton and Audrey Vernick
Illustrated by: Olivier Tallec
Five Minutes: (That’s a Lot of Time) (No, It’s Not) (Yes, It Is). 2019 (Picture Book).
Families everywhere will encounter a familiar experience in this clever picture book. Five minutes is a lot of time… or is it? Well, it depends on what you’re doing, of course! Follow one little boy and his family on a very busy day, as he discovers that sometimes five minutes feels like forever (like when you’re finishing up at the dentist’s office or waiting in line for the bathroom or in the backseat on a long car ride) and sometimes five minutes feels like no time at all (like when you’re playing your favorite game or at the tippy top of a roller coaster or snuggling up with a book before bedtime). This dynamically illustrated picture book discusses the concept of time in a relatable and philosophical way. Time flies when you’re having fun!
Concepts: time, numbers.
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Tullet, Herve
Translated by: Christopher Franceschelli
Mix It Up! 2014 (Picture Book).
Author and illustrator Tullet invites young readers to “mix it up” for a dazzling color adventure in this interactive picture book. Follow the artist’s simple instructions, turn the pages, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader’s imagination. This book is best for readers who have already learned basic colors, as it exuberantly illustrates the more advanced characteristics of colors, like color mixing and varying shades, but the exciting interactive style will make it an enjoyable read for people of any age.
Concepts: colors.
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Wilson, Karma
Illustrated by Jane Chapman
Big Bear, Small Mouse. 2016 (Picture Book).
Even the smallest readers can have big fun with Bear in this sweet introduction to opposites. Bear is big, big, big, and mouse is small, small, small but these friends stick together through all the highs and lows! Young readers will enjoy helping Bear and mouse as they spot all the opposites in their little glen. The bright colors and cheery tone help readers enjoy the sweet friendships between forest creatures in this delightful rhyming story.
Concepts: size, opposites.
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Delicious: Fiction to Inspire Summertime Culinary Adventures

With warmer weather and longer days, why not spend a little extra time cooking up something tasty and new? The characters in these children’s and young adult books sure do! Food has a notable presence in youth literature, perhaps because of the close relationship between food and culture. Writers of fiction also can rely on the highly sensory nature of food to create stimulating, immersive language. But mostly, food is a fun topic to read about. The stories in this list all focus on delicious meals or sweet treats but do so in a variety of ways. A few stories use food as a creative literary device, incorporating magical realism or science fiction scenarios in the dynamics of the kitchen. Several stories involve high-stakes culinary contests to drive the plot. Other stories simply highlight the power of food to bring people together. Enjoy some delicious summer reading!

Acevedo, Elizabeth
With the Fire on High. 2019 (Young Adult Fiction).
With her daughter to care for and her abuela to support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has a lot of responsibilities. The one place she can feel free is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she feels too pressed for time to join her school’s new culinary arts class and lacks the money for the class’s trip to Spain, all of which would bring her closer to her dream of someday working in a professional kitchen. With a little encouragement and a whole lot of heart, Emoni takes the steps to begin to make her goals a reality. The touches of magical realism in this story will bring readers closer to Emoni’s perspective as she experiences the tribulations of life and the joys of cooking!
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Bingham, Winsome
Illustrated by: C. G. Esperanza
Soul Food Sunday. 2021 (Picture Book).
This vibrant picture book is a celebration of food, traditions, and gathering around a table. At Granny’s, Sunday isn’t Sunday without the whole family feasting on a lovingly prepared Soul Food meal. The book’s young narrator is finally old enough to help cook the dishes for the first time. He joins Granny in grating the cheese, cleaning the greens, and priming the meat for Roscoe Ray’s grill. But just when Granny says they are finished, her grandson makes his own contribution, sweetening this Sunday gathering and many more to come.
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Delaney, Rachelle
Alice Fleck’s Recipes for Disaster. 2021 (Middle Grade Fiction).
Alice Fleck’s father is a culinary historian, and she always helps him recreate meals from the past, something she would rather the other kids her age not know. But when her father’s new girlfriend enters them into a cooking competition at a Victorian festival, Alice finds herself and her secret hobby thrust into the spotlight, as the festival competition turns out to be a new televised cooking competition show hosted by Tom Truffleman, the most famous and fierce judge on TV! Alice begins to suspect that someone is sabotaging the competition behind the scenes, so it’s up to her, with the help of a few new friends, to find the saboteur before the entire competition is ruined, all the while tackling some of the hardest cooking challenges of her life in the public eye.
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Faruqi, Saadia and Laura Shovan
A Place at the Table. 2020 (Middle Grade Fiction).
Sixth-graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl meet when they take a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom. The two girls could not be more different. Sara misses the familiarity of the small Islamic school she used to attend now that she is at a huge new school. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. When they attend the after-school cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher, the girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens. Together they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. This story embraces cultural differences through food and showcases true friendship.
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Iwai, Melissa
Dumplings for Lili. 2021 (Picture Book).
Lili loves to cook little dumplings called baos with her grandmother, but one day they find they don’t have cabbage needed for cooking. Lili asks to borrow some from an elderly neighbor. Along the way, Lili discovers that her other neighbors are also lacking crucial components for their recipes, so she races up and down the stairs of the apartment building to coordinate the exchange of ingredients so every neighbor can make their respective dumpling-like foods, from Jamaican meat patties and Italian ravioli to Lebanese fatayer and more. This picture book is a culinary tour of the world, all in one building!
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LaMotte, Lily
Illustrated by: Ann Xu
Measuring Up. 2020 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Twelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to bring her Taiwanese grandmother A-má to America for a visit, but how would she pay for it? Cici cooks up a plan to buy a plane ticket for A-má by trying to win the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest. However, Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food and the contest will include American food challenges. After a librarian introduces her to Julia Child’s cooking, Cici works hard to improve her culinary skills. Can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite with A-má, a way to fit in with her new friends, and somehow find herself too? The Manga-inspired, full-color art of this graphic novel brings the delicious, heartwarming tale to life.
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LaRocca, Rajani
Illustrated by: Rachel Suggs
Midsummer’s Mayhem. 2019 (Middle Grade Fiction).
Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream? For eleven-year-old Mimi it’s easy to feel invisible in such a big, accomplished American Indian family, but when she discovers a contest at the mysterious new bakery in town, there’s a chance for her to prove she’s not the least-talented member of her family. Plus, it’ll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay. Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she’s never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats. But as her dad begins to act strange and her siblings’ romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. Amidst the mayhem, Mimi learns that in life, as in baking, not everything is sweet. This delicious middle grade novel explores themes of family, friendship, and self-confidence.
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Mannaert, Wauter
Translated by: Montana Kane
Chef Yasmina and the Potato Panic. 2021 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Young chef Yasmina is the only one who can protect her town from an onslaught of scientifically enhanced, highly addictive potatoes. Yasmina isn’t like the other kids in her city, but no one can deny that she has a flair for food. All she needs to whip up a gourmet meal is a recipe from her cookbook and fresh vegetables from the community garden. But everything gets turned upside down when the garden is bulldozed and replaced with a strange new crop of potatoes. Her neighbors can’t get enough of these spuds! After just a nibble of one of the potatoes, their behavior changes: they slobber, chase cats, and howl at the moon. What’s the secret ingredient in these potatoes that has everyone acting like a bunch of crazed canines? It’s up to Yasmina to find a cure, and fast! With delicately sketched art spreads and sparse text, this action-packed graphic novel explores an entertaining science fiction premise.
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Reck, Jared
Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love. 2021 (Young Adult Fiction)
While his friends prepare for college, high school senior Oscar decides his future is working with his Swedish grandfather Farfar on their food truck “Hej Hej!,” but when Oscar unexpectedly gets his first taste of adulthood, he realizes his plans may be half-baked. Lou Messinger is the opposite of Oscar: AP everything, valedictorian in her sights, and Ivy league college aspirations. When Lou hijacks Oscar’s carefully crafted schedule of independent studies and blocks of time in the Culinary Lab, Oscar is roped into helping Lou complete her resume-building service project: reducing food waste in Central Adams High School. As festival season begins, Oscar and Lou begin to see past their differences and grow closer. This sweet young adult novel covers more than just romance. Social justice issues like food insecurity, drug addiction, and white supremacy are woven throughout the plot. Readers will fall in love with Oscar and Farfar’s close relationship as well as their delectable food truck treats.
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Tamaki, Jillian
Our Little Kitchen. 2020 (Picture Book).
In this lively, rousing picture book from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki, a crew of resourceful neighbors comes together to prepare a meal for their community. With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen, and a friendly meal shared at the table, this story is a celebration of full bellies and looking out for one another. Tamaki’s illustrations use many graphic novel conventions, with speech bubbles, dynamic spreads, and bold lines. Additional back matter includes recipes and an author’s note about the volunteering experience that inspired the book.
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Taking to the Skies: Exploring Early Aviation for Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s Birthday

Pop quiz: What non-religious book has been translated into the most languages?

Answer: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry (originally composed in French, titled Le Petit Prince). Published in 1943, this novella has been translated into more than 382 different languages since its publication.* Although The Little Prince is a philosophical and fantastical story, it has foundations in the author’s life experiences. Born in 1900, Saint Exupéry was an early pioneer of global airmail routes and served as a French Air Force Pilot in World War II. He was inspired by flight at an early age and survived several plane crashes throughout his life, including a 1935 crash in the Libyan desert where he experienced severe dehydration and hallucinations for several days before being rescued. The story of The Little Prince follows a similar premise, in which the narrator is an airline pilot who crashes in the desert and meets an inquisitive golden-haired boy nicknamed “the little prince.”

Antoine de Saint Exupéry was an extraordinary figure who traversed the realms of aviation and authorship. In honor of his birthday on June 29th, the books below highlight the real stories of many other notable figures in the history of aviation, including Amelia Earhart, James Herman Banning, Hazel Ying Lee, Bessie Coleman, and more.

Fleming, Candace
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. 2011 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
This Art-Deco styled biography of one of the most famous female pilots of all time alternates chapters between Amelia’s youth and the endeavor for which she is best known — her attempt in 1937 to fly around the circumference of the globe. Part way through the journey, Amelia’s plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean and the remains have never been found. Fleming sheds light on Amelia”s personality, uncovering what was behind her mythologized figure, by describing her other pursuits (writing, medicine, and fashion) and her impressive aptitude for business. Interspersed black and white photographs and quotes from primary sources will transport young readers back in time to better understand the legendary Amelia Earhart.
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Fleming, Candace
The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh. 2020 (Young Adult Nonfiction).
This biography of Charles Lindbergh, written for young adults, chronicles the unruly early years of aviation and Lindbergh’s landmark accomplishment of becoming the first person to fly nonstop from New York to Paris in 1927. This astonishing feat in aviation paved the way for the future of commercial flights, but also catapulted Charles Lindbergh into blockbuster fame. Lindbergh became a prominent public figure, which meant constant invasive coverage of his life by the press, including the traumatic kidnapping and murder of his firstborn child. Fleming creates an honest portrait of Lindbergh, who was a Nazi sympathizer, proponent of eugenics, medical device inventor, and a leader of the America First Committee. Told in short chapters with an incredible amount of supporting background research, this is an engrossing read for young people who want a glimpse into the early evolution of aviation and an understanding of the historical parallels of the extreme political ideologies resurfacing in contemporary America.
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Jaggar, Louisa and Shari Becker
Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper
Sprouting Wings: The True Story of James Herman Banning, the First African American Pilot to Fly Across the United States. 2021 (Picture Book Biography).
Born on a farm at the turn of the century, young James Herman Banning dreamed of one day piloting a “flying machine” like he read about in newspapers and library books. After leaving college early due to lack of funds, Banning opened his own auto shop in Iowa, fixing up vehicles on the ground with continued hopes of someday taking to the sky. All the flight schools in the area refused to admit Banning because he was a Black man. One day a military pilot visited the auto shop and agreed to teach Banning how to fly, but the Lieutenant died in a crash before they could complete their training. Determined to become a pilot, but lacking a plane, Banning decided to build his own airplane piece by piece before setting his sights on a new goal — becoming the first African American man to fly across the United States. What follows is a riveting tale of the trials and hurdles, as well as the dozens of small-town folks along the way who supported Banning’s 1932 journey. Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Cooper’s art is warm and emotive, complementing the significance of this lesser-known story in aviation history.
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Larson, Kirsten W.
Illustrated by: Tracy Subisak
Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane. 2020 (Picture Book Biography).
Although the Wright brothers constructed the very first airplane capable of sustaining flight, determined inventor Emma Lilian Todd engineered a more practical aircraft shortly thereafter. This picture book biography focuses on Todd’s youth, chronicling her curiosity and propensity for problem solving, as she regularly disassembled everyday objects to figure out how they worked. With hardly any opportunities for women to be employed as engineers in the late nineteenth century, Todd strategically found a typing job at the U.S. Patents Office. Still determined to invent, Todd tinkered with her ideas and built many airplane prototypes. Although she was never a pilot herself, Todd’s contributions to aircraft design changed the course of early aviation.
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Leung, Julie
Illustrated by: Julie Kwon
The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee. 2021 (Picture Book Biography).
As a child, Hazel Ying Lee was fearless. She was always the first to jump into the swimming pool, and never hesitated to race all the boys in the neighborhood. From the first time Lee rode in a plane at the age of nineteen, it was clear she was destined for the sky. Even though very few women were pilots in 1932, Lee was ready to do what no other Chinese American woman had done and learn to fly an airplane. When World War II began, Lee joined a new US military program training women pilots on the home front, called the Women Airforce Service Pilots (or WASPs). The work was dangerous, as the women were flying new planes directly off the assembly line and often discovered manufacturing defects. Hazel Ying Lee faced sexism and racist discrimination both during her lifetime and in the aftermath of her sudden death, as her family had to advocate for her burial in a whites-only cemetery. With colorful painterly illustrations, this picture book boldly conveys Lee’s fearless nature and celebrates her invaluable contributions to the war effort.
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O’Brien, Keith
Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History (Young Readers’ Edition). 2019 (Young Adult Nonfiction).
In the 1920s and 1930s, airplane racing was the most popular spectator sport in America. While the male pilots were hailed as heroes, women who flew were often criticized by the press or excluded from the races altogether. This is the young adult adaptation of O’Brien’s Fly Girls, which follows five remarkable women who took to the skies: Florence Klingensmith, Ruth Elder, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nichols, and Louise Thaden. The women often competed against one another in contests for flight speed, distance, or height, but together they fought for the chance to race against the men — and in 1936 one of them would win the toughest race of them all. Each chapter focuses on one woman at a time as the overall story moves forward in time. Plenty of photographs, source notes, a glossary, and an index will make this a helpful informational resource for young readers interested in studying women in aviation.
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Parsons, Karyn
Illustrated by: R. Gregory Christie
Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight. 2020 (Picture Book Biography).
This picture book biography details the life and flights of Bessie Coleman (1892-1926), the first Black woman and the first Native American woman to earn a pilot’s license. As a child, Bessie loved to learn, but her family worked as sharecroppers in the cotton fields and her education was regularly put on hold during harvest time. Inspired by the story of Harriet Quimby, the first woman to fly across the English Channel, Bessie set her sights on learning to fly. She became a pioneer in aviation, often performing death-defying stunts that inspired her nickname, “Queen Bess.” Written in short, rhyming stanzas with an empowering refrain, this would make an excellent read aloud for younger children who want to learn about a remarkable trailblazer in aviation.
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Pimm, Nancy Roe
The Jerrie Mock Story: The First Woman to Fly Solo around the World. 2016 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
Despite the prominence of Amelia Earhart’s aviation legacy, few people know the name of the first woman to complete the task that Earhart died trying to achieve. In 1964, aboard her tiny single-engine Cessna plane named The Spirit of Columbus, thirty-eight-year-old mother of three Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock overcame hazardous weather, mechanical malfunctions, metal exhaustion, and possibly sabotage to become the first woman to fly around the world solo. Pimm provides plenty of details about Mock’s lifelong interest in aviation and her month-long, 23,000-mile journey. The book includes black-and-white photos, maps of important locations, and “Did You Know?” sections of aviation facts at the end of every chapter. Overshadowed by news of the Vietnam War at the time of the completion of the aircraft journey, Pimm’s account of this impressive accomplishment gives Jerrie Mock due attention.
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Sís, Peter
The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. 2014 (Picture Book Biography).
This multilayered picture book biography is a beautiful introduction to the life of Antoine de Saint Exupéry for younger readers. Larger font text along the bottom of the pages tells the basic narrative, while other details of Saint Exupéry’s story and of aviation history appear as curved sentences in smaller typeface wrapped around circular vignette drawings within the illustrations’ spreads. Readers will learn about Saint Exupéry’s family life, his first ride on an airplane at the age of twelve, the danger of his commercial flights, and the writing of The Little Prince. Sís’ illustrations are atmospheric and reflect the emotional shifts of Saint Exupéry’s experiences, like the red-splashed scenes of the outbreak of World War II and the bleak grey of his loneliness while writing in New York City. The book ends abruptly, like Saint Exupéry’s life, but with the beautiful tribute, “Maybe Antoine found his own glittering planet next to the stars.”
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Sorell, Traci
Illustrated by: Weshoyot Alvitre
At the Mountain’s Base. 2019 (Picture Book).
At the mountain’s base there is an old cabin under a hickory tree. Inside, family members spend their time weaving, cooking, and singing, waiting for their loved one, a female pilot, to return from war. This brief, fictional poem about a Cherokee family honors the legacies of the Native American women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. This picture book’s illustrations are magical, showing the threads of connection between the family’s home life and the brave flights of the woman whose return they await. An author’s note pays tribute to Native American women who serve as U.S. service members at proportionally higher rates than any other demographic. This story was inspired by an Oglala Lakota woman and member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) in World War II, Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat.
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*Source note for the number of translations of The Little Prince:

Filling the Gaps: Improving Representation with a Reverse Diversity Audit

With close to 200,000 books on its shelves, the S-Collection proudly reflects a wide variety of identities, experiences, and points of view. Not content to rest on their laurels, though, the S-Collection’s librarians are always seeking to improve its inclusiveness and representation. That’s why this past semester, iSchool graduate student Anthony Martinez and SSHEL’s head librarian Nancy O’Brien undertook a “reverse diversity audit” which is when you take a list of books about a selected type of diversity and determine how many of those books are on your shelves. Guided by a variety of authoritative book lists, bibliographies, and awards lists, Anthony scoured the stacks to compare what the S-Collection already has to what’s recommended it have. To date, the audit has checked for hundreds of books, specifically those featuring children of military families, children who are Indigenous, and children who are transgender or gender nonconforming. The results were that a number of wonderful titles in each category were added to the collection. The library is very excited to welcome each one to the S-Collection shelves. To give readers a taste of those titles, the following list includes some of Anthony’s favorite finds from the transgender/gender nonconforming audit.

Estrela, Joana
My Own Way: Celebrating Gender Freedom for Kids. 2022 (Picture book)
“Small children are often asked to choose between a gendered binary – “boy” or “girl,” “pink” or “blue.” This colorful picture book smashes these stereotypes and encourages the reader to follow their own way. With vibrant illustrations and concise, poetic text, this powerful book teaches young children that there are no limits in what you can do and who you can be. Translated from the original Portuguese by award-winning transgender poet Jay Hulme.” — Provided by publisher.
(On order)

Ford, JR and Vanessa Ford
Illustrated by: Kayla Harren
Calvin. 2021 (Picture book)
“A transgender boy prepares for the first day of school and introduces himself to his family and friends for the first time. Inspired by the authors’ own transgender child and accompanied by warm and triumphant illustrations, this authentic and personal text promotes kindness and empathy, offering a poignant and inclusive back-to-school message: all should feel safe, respected, and welcomed.” — Provided by publisher.
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Hirst, Jo
Illustrated by: Naomi Bardoff
A House for Everyone: A Story to Help Children Learn about Gender Identity and Gender Expression. 2018 (Picture book)
“At lunchtime, all of Tom’s friends gather at school to work together building their house. Each one of them has a special job to do, and each one of them has a different way of expressing their gender identity. Jackson is a boy who likes to wear dresses. Ivy is a girl who likes her hair cut really short. Alex doesn’t feel like ‘just’ a boy, or ‘just’ a girl. They are all the same, they are all different – but they are all friends.” — Provided by publisher.
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Lukoff, Kyle
Illustrated by: Luciano Lozano
Call Me Max. 2019 (Picture book)
“When Max starts school, the teacher hesitates to call out the name on the attendance sheet. Something doesn’t seem to fit. Max lets her know the name he wants to be called by — a boy’s name. This begins Max’s journey as he makes new friends and reveals his feelings about his identity to his parents. Written with warmth and sensitivity by trans writer Kyle Lukoff, this book is a sweet and age-appropriate introduction to what it means to be transgender.” — Provided by publisher.
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Mayeno, Laurin
Illustrated by: Robert Liu-Trujillo
One of a Kind, Like Me / Unico Como Yo. 2016 (Picture book)
“Tomorrow is the school parade, and Danny knows exactly what he will be: a princess. Mommy supports him 100%, and they race to the thrift store to find his costume. It’s almost closing time – will Danny find the costume of his dreams in time? One of A Kind, Like Me / Único Como Yo is a sweet story about unconditional love and the beauty of individuality. It’s a unique book that lifts up children who don’t fit gender stereotypes, and reflects the power of a loving and supportive community.” — Provided by publisher.
(On order)

Neal, Trinity and DeShanna Neal
Illustrated by: Art Twink
My Rainbow. 2020 (Picture book)
“A dedicated mom puts love into action as she creates the perfect rainbow-colored wig for her transgender daughter, based on the real-life experience of mother-daughter advocate duo Trinity and DeShanna Neal.” — Provided by publisher.
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Pessin-Whedbee, Brook
Illustrated by: Naomi Bardoff, Naomi
Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity. 2017 (Picture book).
“What do you like? How do you feel? Who are you? This brightly illustrated children’s book provides a straightforward introduction to gender for anyone aged 5+. It presents clear and direct language for understanding and talking about how we experience gender: our bodies, our expression and our identity. An interactive three-layered wheel included in the book is a simple, yet powerful, tool to clearly demonstrate the difference between our body, how we express ourselves through our clothes and hobbies, and our gender identity. Ideal for use in the classroom or at home, a short page-by-page guide for adults at the back of the book further explains the key concepts and identifies useful discussion points.” — Provided by publisher.
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Rhodes-Courter, Ashley
Illustrated by: Haley MacKenzie
Sam is My Sister. 2021 (Picture book)
“Evan loves being a big brother to Sam and Finn. They do everything together ― go fishing, climb trees, and play astronauts. But lately, Evan notices that he and Sam don’t look like brothers anymore. Sam wants to have long hair, and even asks to wear a dress on the first day of school. As time goes by, Evan comes to understand why Sam wants to look like a girl ― because Sam is a girl. Sam is transgender. And just like always, Sam loves to dream with Evan and Finn about going to the moon together. Based on one family’s real-life experiences…” — Provided by publisher.
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Shraya, Vivek
Illustrated by: Rajni Perera
The Boy & the Bindi. 2016 (Picture book)
A young boy becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi, and asks her to explain what it is and why she wears it. She tells him that the red dot is commonly worn by Hindu women to indicate the point at which creation begins. When he wishes to have one of his own, she agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself.
PZ7.S5591473 Bo 2016

Silverman, Erica
Illustrated by: Holly Hatam
Jack (Not Jackie). 2018 (Picture book)
“Susan thinks her little sister Jackie has the best giggle! She can’t wait for Jackie to get older so they can do all sorts of things like play forest fairies and be explorers together. But as Jackie grows, she doesn’t want to play those games. She wants to play with mud and be a super bug! Jackie also doesn’t like dresses or her long hair, and she would rather be called Jack. Readers will love this sweet story about change and acceptance. This book is published in partnership with Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance.” — Provided by publisher.
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 Anthony Martinez

Symbols and Traditions: Books to Celebrate Ramadan and Understand Islamic Culture

The holy month of Ramadan begins at sundown Saturday, April 2, lasting until the evening of Monday, May 2 or Tuesday, May 3, depending on the sighting of the moon over Mecca. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until after dark. Ramadan has great spiritual significance in Islam and is a time for prayer, contemplating one’s blessings, and doing good deeds for others. The month culminates in Eid al-Fitr, a joyous feast to break the fast. The fiction and nonfiction books below will educate all young readers about the diversity of ways that Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan and broaden their understandings of the culture and traditions of Islam.

Ali, S. K. (ed.) and Aisha Saeed (ed.)
Illustrated by: Sara Alfageeh
Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices. 2020 (Middle Grade Fiction Anthology).
This collection of short stories showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid! Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas and simmering pistachio kheer, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. This anthology also includes a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.
S.808.83 On18

Faruqi, Reem
Illustrated by: Lea Lyon
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story. 2015 (Picture Book).
Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom. Lailah solves her problem with help from the school librarian and her teacher and in doing so learns that she can make new friends who respect her beliefs. This gentle, moving story from Reem Faruqi comes to life in Lea Lyon’s vibrant illustrations. Lyon uses decorative arabesque borders on intermittent spreads to contrast the ordered patterns of Islamic observances with the unbounded rhythms of American school days.
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Jalali, Reza
Illustrated by: Anne Sibley O’Brien
Moon Watchers: Shirin’s Ramadan Miracle. 2010 (Picture Book).
Shirin and her dad, looking through the tall trees in their backyard in Maine, search for a glimpse of the new moon, the sign that the month of Ramadan has begun. Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world pray, fast, and pay special attention to doing good deeds. Shirin is nine and thinks she should be able to fast like her older brother Ali, but her parents feel she is still too young to go without food and water all day. When Shirin catches Ali sneaking food after school, she wonders: Should she tattle or is this an opportunity for a good deed? Shirin feels left out when the others break their fasts to have their own meals after dark and in the early morning, before it is light again. But then her grandmother tells a story that shows her a way she can feel more a part of Ramadan and the traditions and closeness her family enjoys during this special month of the year. Her good deeds lead to a surprise for everyone!
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Khan, Ausma Zehanat
Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting. 2018 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
Throughout the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day and break the fast together as a family each night. Ramadan provides the opportunity to focus on positive thoughts and actions. It is a time to become more grateful for the blessings people often take for granted and be reminded of the importance of helping others. Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting explores the richness and diversity of the Islamic tradition by focusing on an event of great spiritual significance and beauty in the lives of Muslims. Rich with personal stories and stunning photographs, Ramadan demystifies the traditions and emphasizes the importance of diversity in a world where Islamophobia is on the rise. This is part of the nonfiction Orca Origins series for middle grade readers.
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Khan, Hena
Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini
Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes. 2018 (Picture Book).
From a crescent moon to a square garden to an octagonal fountain, this breathtaking picture book celebrates the shapes and traditions of the Muslim world. Sure to inspire questions and observations about world religions and cultures, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets is a simple and delightful book to read aloud in a classroom or at story hour.
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Khan, Hena
Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors. 2012 (Picture Book).
Magnificently capturing the colorful world of Islam for the youngest readers, this vivid and informative picture book celebrates Islam’s beauty and traditions. From a red prayer rug to a blue hijab, everyday colors are given special meaning as young readers learn about clothing, food, and other important elements of Islamic culture, with a young Muslim girl as a guide.
Q. SE. K5272g and available online

Khan, Hena
Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel
Under My Hijab. 2019 (Picture Book).
Grandma’s hijab clasps under her chin. Auntie pins hers up with a whimsical brooch. Jenna puts a sun hat over hers when she hikes. Iman wears a sports hijab for tae kwon do. As a young girl observes the women in her life and how each covers her hair a different way, she dreams of the possibilities in her own future and how she might express her personality through her hijab. Under My Hijab provides a friendly introduction to hijabs for all readers and celebrates the many Muslim women and girls who choose to wear them.
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Manglik, Gauri and Sadaf Siddique
Muslims in Story: Expanding Multicultural Understanding through Children’s and Young Adult Literature. 2018 (Professional Development Book).
Islamophobia is a long-standing, deeply entrenched global issue. One of the key causes of Islamophobia is ignorance, often fueled by negative portrayals of Muslims in media and popular culture. Countering Islamophobia through stories is a timely and proactive approach to facilitating systemic change, by fostering friendships and empathy through literature about the diversity of Muslim experiences. Exposing children in their formative years to positive stories about Muslims can go a long way to creating a multicultural understanding and cementing ideas of respect and acceptance. Several chapters centering on themed book lists relating to Muslims or Islamic culture, complete with discussion starters and ideas for further topic engagement, are a helpful programming and collection development tool. This book will equip librarians or educators to share Muslim children’s books about various themes with all young patrons.
BP67.U6 M36 2018 [SSHEL Stacks]

Mir, Saira
Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel
Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time. 2019 (Biography Anthology).
Discover the true stories of nineteen unstoppable Muslim women of the twenty-first century who have risen above challenges, doubts, and sometimes outright hostility to blaze trails in a wide range of fields. Whether it was the culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, or activism, these women never took “no” for an answer or allowed themselves to be silenced. Instead, they worked to rise above and not only achieve their dreams, but become influential leaders. Through short, information-rich biographies and vibrant illustrations, Muslim Girls Rise introduces young readers to the diverse and important contributions Muslim women have made.
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Saeed, Aisha and Becky Albertalli
Yes, No, Maybe So. 2020 (Young Adult Fiction).
This young adult novel is told in alternating chapters between characters Jamie Goldberg and Maya Rehman, both seventeen years old. Jamie is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate, but only behind the scenes. He would never choose to knock on doors to canvas for votes… until he meets Maya. Maya Rehman is having the worst Ramadan ever. Her friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip was canceled, and she just learned her parents are separating. Her mom keeps pushing her to spend her time political canvassing with an awkward guy she barely knows. Passionate about both local activism and one another, Jamie and Maya are a charming and driven team. Yes, No, Maybe So beautifully captures interfaith love in contemporary America.
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Painters & Pop-Art & Poets… Oh My! Picture Book Biographies of Women Artists

We all learned about art and artists in school: prehistoric cave paintings, the immortal works of Shakespeare, those famous Impressionist painters. Maybe some of us were lucky enough to also study contemporary art, to get a sense of the people who made a splash artistically in recent decades. Yet, how many of the artist names that readily come to mind are women? There are popular and prolific artists like Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, or Dorothea Lange. Still, many lesser-known women artists have created artworks just as stunning. The books below highlight women artists: sculptors, painters, an architect, a poet, a performer, and even an illustrator of children’s books! This list consists entirely of picture book biographies—some short, some long, all beautifully illustrated. Get ready to be inspired to create something new during Women’s History Month.

Burgess, Matthew
Illustrated by: Kara Kramer
Make Meatballs Sing: The Life & Art of Corita Kent. 2021.
Deeply influenced by her religious beliefs and fired up by the social justice causes of her day, Corita Kent lived a remarkable life as a nun, educator, designer, artist, and activist. This story from well-known author Matthew Burgess, vibrantly illustrated by artist Kara Kramer, draws readers into the life of a singular woman whose work and commitment invite us all to seek joy in the everyday, to observe the world with open eyes, and to question and see beyond the existing framework of society. This beautiful biography, made in close collaboration with the Corita Art Center, includes reproductions of Corita’s works, a chronology, and author and illustrator notes.
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Churnin, Nancy
Illustrated by: Felicia Marshall
Beautiful Shades of Brown: The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring. 2020.
Growing up in the late 19th century, Laura Wheeler Waring didn’t see any artists who looked like her. She didn’t see any paintings of people who looked like her, either. So when she was offered a commission to paint portraits of accomplished African Americans, she jumped at the chance. Writers, singers, political activists, and thinkers all posed for her. Now her portraits hang in Washington, D.C.’s National Portrait Gallery, where children of all races can admire the beautiful shades of brown she captured.
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D’Aquino, Andrea
A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa. 2019.
Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D’Aquino brings Asawa’s creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page of teaching tools for parents and educators.
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Harvey, Jeanne Walker
Illustrated by: Dow Phumiruk
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines. 2017.
As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her. She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps. The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind. From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is the story of an inspiring American artist: the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
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Maclear, Kyo
It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way. 2019.
Gyo Fujikawa’s iconic children’s books are beloved all over the world. Now it’s time for Gyo’s story to be told—a story of artistic talent that refused to be constrained by rules or expectations. Growing up quiet and lonely at the beginning of the twentieth century, Gyo learned from her relatives the ways in which both women and Japanese people lacked opportunity. Her teachers and family believed in her and sent her to art school and later Japan, where her talent flourished. But while Gyo’s career grew and led her to work for Walt Disney Studios, World War II began, and with it, her family’s internment. But Gyo never stopped fighting—for herself, her vision, her family, and her readers—and later wrote and illustrated an early children’s book to feature children of different races interacting together.
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Markel, Michelle
Illustrated by: Amanda Hall
Out of This World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington. 2019.
Ever since she was a little girl, Leonora Carrington loved to draw on walls, in books, on paper—and she loved the fantastic tales her grandmother told that took her to worlds that shimmered beyond this one, where legends became real. Leonora’s parents wanted her to become a proper English lady, but there was only one thing she wanted, even if it was unsuitable: to become an artist. In London, she discovered a group of artists called surrealists, who were stunning the world with their mysterious creations. This was the kind of art she had to make. From life in Paris creating art alongside Max Ernst to Mexico, where she met Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Leonora’s life became intertwined with the powerful events and people that shaped the twentieth century. Out of This World is the fascinating and stunningly illustrated story of Leonora Carrington, a girl who made art out of her imagination and created some of the most enigmatic and startling works of the last eighty years.
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Powell, Patricia Hruby
Illustrated by: Christian Robinson
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker. 2014.
In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.
SB. B1672p and available online

Scott, Joyce and Brie Spangler
Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet
Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott. 2021.
An introduction to the life and art of Judith Scott, a renowned sculpture artist. Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist. Judith was institutionalized until her sister Joyce reunited with her and enrolled her in an art class. Judith went on to become an artist of renown with her work displayed in museums and galleries around the world. Poignantly told by Joyce Scott in collaboration with Brie Spangler and beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet, Unbound is inspiring and warm, showing us that we can soar beyond our perceived limitations and accomplish something extraordinary.
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Sikander, Shahzia and Amy Novesky
Illustrated by: Hanna Barczyk
Roots and Wings: How Shahzia Sikander Became an Artist. 2021.
Growing up in Lahore, Pakistan, Shahzia flew kites, ate fruit from jamun trees, and devoured Russian fairy tales, American Westerns, and Bollywood films. She also read poetry in Urdu, her own language, and learned the slow and detailed painting technique of Indo-Persian miniatures. And when she moved far from home to study art, she brought her roots with her. Roots and Wings is a deeply personal story about how an artist grows. It is based on the childhood of Shahzia Sikander, one of the most exciting and celebrated mixed-media artists working today.
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Slade, Suzanne
Illustrated by: Cozbi A. Cabrera
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. 2020.
Before Gwendolyn Brooks became the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, she was a little girl who dared to dream. Gwendolyn grew up surrounded by fine poetry. From an early age, she memorized the poems her father read to her and soon began to pen her own. Gwendolyn found inspiration all around her: in the colorful clouds overhead; in the people in her neighborhood; in loss, loneliness, and love. This picture book biography shares Gwendolyn’s journey as she creates a beloved body of work and shows readers how her dream became her exquisite future.
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Legacies: Honoring the Lives of Legendary Children’s Book Creators

If you were a reader as a child, this post will be intensely nostalgic. The children’s literature community tragically lost numerous beloved authors and illustrators in the past year. It is difficult to fathom the full impact these artists had on the development of literature for young people. These creators managed to accomplish both widespread popularity and critical acclaim in the sphere of children’s literature. Some we lost way too soon, like Floyd Cooper at 65 and Steve Jenkins at 69. Beverly Cleary, the cherished author of the Ramona Quimby series, was with us until the impressive age of 104.

Eloise Greenfield, Jerry Pinkney, and Floyd Cooper will be remembered for their exceptional contributions to children’s literature representing African American experiences. Among their bodies of work, they garnered an astonishing 18 individual recognitions from the Coretta Scott King Award committees. Just last week, Floyd Cooper’s illustrations in Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre posthumously earned him his first Caldecott Honor from the 2022 American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards.

The featured books below are a wide range of works, from hilarious read-alouds to unflinching historical nonfiction, by these children’s literature virtuosos. All that is left to say is thank you.

Norton Juster, June 2, 1929 — March 8, 2021
Beverly Cleary, April 12, 1916 — March 25, 2021
Eric Carle, June 25, 1929 — May 23, 2021
Lois Ehlert, November 9, 1934 — May 25, 2021
Floyd Cooper, January 8, 1956 — July 15, 2021
Eloise Greenfield, May 17, 1929 —August 5, 2021
Gary Paulsen, May 17, 1939 — October 13, 2021
Jerry Pinkney, December 22, 1939 — October 20, 2021
Mitsumasa Anno, March 20, 1926 — December 24, 2021
Steve Jenkins, March 31, 1952 — January 11, 2022

Paulsen, Gary
Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood. 2021 (Middle Grade).
This middle grade memoir gives readers a new perspective on the origins of Gary Paulsen’s popular books. His name is synonymous with high-stakes wilderness survival stories. Now, Paulsen portrays a series of life-altering moments from his turbulent childhood as his own original survival story. If not for his summer escape from a shockingly neglectful Chicago upbringing to a North Woods homestead at age five, there never would have been a Hatchet. Without the encouragement of the librarian who handed him his first book at age thirteen, he may never have become a reader. And without his desperate teenage enlistment in the Army, he would not have discovered his true calling as a storyteller.
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Pinkney, Jerry
The Little Mermaid. 2020 (Picture Book).
In this captivating reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic, Caldecott medalist and bestselling artist Jerry Pinkney conjures a poignant friendship story and an epic tale of redemption. Melody, the littlest sea princess, is not content just to sing in the choir of mermaids like her sisters. She is an explorer who wonders about what lies above the water’s surface . . . especially the young girl she has spied from a distance. To meet her requires a terrible sacrifice: she trades her beautiful voice for a potion that gives her legs, so that she may live on land instead. It seems like a dream come true at first. But when trouble stirs beneath the ocean, Melody faces another impossible choice — stay with her friend or reclaim her true identity and save her family. Legendary artist Jerry Pinkney’s singular reinvention of this tale about love and sacrifice empowers young, twenty-first century girls with the strong message that “you should never give up your voice . . . for anyone.”
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Weatherford, Carole Boston
Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre. 2021 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
On May 31 and June 1, 1921, an armed mob looted homes and businesses as Black families fled the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The police did nothing to protect Greenwood, and as many as three hundred African Americans were killed, most buried in unmarked graves. Thousands were left homeless. No official investigation occurred until seventy-five years later. Unspeakable helps young readers understand the events of the Tulsa race massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation’s history. An illustrator’s note reveals that Floyd’s own grandfather was a survivor of the 1921 massacre. Floyd drew upon memories of his grandfather’s account in his artwork.
*Available online

Greenfield, Eloise
Illustrated by: Daniel Minter
The Women Who Caught the Babies: A Story of African American Midwives. 2019 (Illustrated Poetry Book).
This story highlights important aspects of the training and work of African American midwives and the ways in which they have helped, and continue to help, so many families by “catching” their babies at birth. The blend of Eloise Greenfield’s poetry and Daniel Minter’s art evokes heartfelt appreciation of the abilities of African American midwives over the course of time. The poem “Africa to America” begins the poetic journey. The poem “The Women” both heralds the poetry/art pairing and concludes it with a note of gratitude. Also included is a piece titled “Miss Rovenia Mayo,” which pays tribute to the midwife who caught newborn Eloise.
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Jenkins, Steve
The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest – and Most Surprising – Animals on Earth. 2013 (Illustrated Informational Book).
Animals smooth and spiky, fast and slow, hop and waddle through the two hundred plus pages of the Caldecott Honor artist Steve Jenkins’s impressive nonfiction offering. Sections such as “Animal Senses,” “Animal Extremes,” and “The Story of Life” burst with fascinating facts and infographics that will have trivia buffs breathlessly asking, “Do you know a termite queen can produce up to 30,000 eggs a day?” Jenkins’s color-rich cut- and torn-paper artwork is as strikingly vivid as ever. The book highlights facts about over three hundred animals and offers a brief overview of the history of life on Earth. Dance with a blue-footed booby or stare down an eyelash viper. But mind your step — in the animal world, the name of the game is survival.
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Anno, Mitsumasa
Anno’s Counting Book. 1975 (Picture Book).
Every child is a natural mathematician, according to Mitsumasa Anno. Children are constantly comparing and classifying things and events they observe around them. As they try to bring sense and order into what they observe, they are actually performing basic mathematical feats. Gentle watercolor pictures show a landscape changing through the various times of day and the turning seasons, months and years, and the activities of the people and animals who come to live there. But the seemingly simple plan of the book is deceptive: look more carefully and you will see one-to-one correspondences; groups and sets; scales and tabulations; changes over time periods; and many other mathematical relationships as they occur in natural, everyday living. The reader is subtly led to see and understand the real meaning of numbers. Look at this book and look again. Each time you do so, you will find another application of a natural mathematical concept that you had not noticed before.
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Ehlert, Lois
Planting a Rainbow. 1988 (Picture Book).
In this perennial classic by Caldecott Honor–winning author Lois Ehlert, little ones learn the colors of the rainbow as they watch plants grow in a beautifully vibrant garden. Through brilliant, textured cut paper collages, the story follows the progress of a mother and daughter in their backyard as they plant bulbs, seeds, and seedlings and nurture their growth into flowers. Bold, spare text and dazzling illustrations will inspire readers to take a closer look at the natural world and maybe even start a garden of their own.
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Carle, Eric
The Nonsense Show. 2015 (Picture Book).
Ducks growing out of bananas? A mouse catching a cat? What’s wrong with this book? Yes, there’s something strange, something funny and even downright preposterous on every page of this book. But it’s not a mistake – it’s nonsense! And it’s also surrealism. Nonsense lies at the heart of many beloved nursery rhymes. Children readily accept odd statements like “the cow jumped over the moon” and “the dish ran away with the spoon.” This fanciful bending of reality is also basic to surrealism. In this book, nonsense and surrealism combine to spark creativity and imagination. What’s true? What’s impossible? What’s absolutely absurd? The Nonsense Show will make children laugh and think, preparing them for a lifetime of loving both words and art.
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Juster, Norton
The Phantom Tollbooth. 1961 (Middle Grade).
This beloved story – first published more than fifty years ago – introduces readers to Milo and his adventures in the Lands Beyond. For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . . .
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Cleary, Beverly
Beezus and Ramona. 1955 (Middle Grade).
Nine-year-old Beezus Quimby has her hands full with her little sister, Ramona. Sure, other people have little sisters that bother them sometimes, but is there anyone in the world like Ramona? Whether she’s taking one bite out of every apple in a box or secretly inviting 15 other 4-year-olds to the house for a party, Ramona is always making trouble – and getting all the attention. Every big sister can relate to the trials and tribulations Beezus must endure. Old enough to be expected to take responsibility for her little sister, yet young enough to be mortified by every embarrassing plight the precocious preschooler gets them into, Beezus is constantly struggling with her mixed-up feelings about the exasperating Ramona. This is the first in the Ramona series and the only book written from the perspective of Ramona’s big sister, Beezus.
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New Year, New Series

What better way to start the new year than with a new (to you) series to tackle? There’s no better goal for a new year that starting and finishing a series. We’ve put together a list of completed series that you can start and possibly finish this new year! You’ll find duologies and trilogies and quartets and sagas and oct…ologies? Octets? Really long series, let’s just say that.

Deutsch, Stacia
The Friendship Code. 2017 (Middle Grade).
Loops, variables, input/output — Lucy can’t wait to get started with the new coding club at school. Finally, an after-school activity that she’s really interested in! But Lucy’s excitement turns to disappointment when she’s put into a work group with girls she barely knows. All she wanted to do was make an app that she believes will help someone very special to her. Suddenly, Lucy begins to get cryptic coding messages and needs some help translating them. She soon discovers that coding — and friendship — takes time, dedication, and some laughs. The Friendship Code is the first in a four book series, with the others (in order) being: Team BFF: Race to Finish!; Lights, Music, Code!; and Spotlight on Coding Club!
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Hale, Shannon
Real Friends. 2017 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel Memoir).
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top…even if it means bullying others. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group — or out? Real Friends is the first in a three book series, with the others (in order) being: Best Friends and Friends Forever.
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Ifueko, Jordan
Raybearer. 2020 (Teen).
Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn — but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? Raybearer is the first in a two book series, with the second being Redemptor.
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Maas, Sarah J.
Throne of Glass. 2012 (Teen).
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. But then, one of the other contestants turns up dead…quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. Throne of Glass is the first book in a series of seven books and one collection of novellas. In order after Throne of Glass: Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn, and Kingdom of Ash. The collection of novellas, The Assassin’s Blade, can be read any time before Queen of Shadows.
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Mbalia, Kwame
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. 2019 (Middle Grade).
Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it, and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has Black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is the first in a trilogy, with the others (in order) being: Tristan Strong Destroys the World and Tristan Strong Keeps Punching.
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Rothman, Scott
Attack of the Underwear Dragon. 2020 (Picture Book).
Cole’s wish comes true when he becomes an Assistant Knight to Sir Percival, his favorite Knight of King Arthur’s Round Table. Cole learns how to ride a horse, swing a sword, cheer for Sir Percival when he goes to battle, and bandage his boo-boos when the battle is over. Cole loves practicing every skill a Knight-in-Training must master, and he is determined to be granted knighthood. And Sir Percival is a great knight in every way — the perfect to train Cole — except for one thing: he is terrified that an Underwear Dragon will come and destroy the kingdom. And when the unthinkable happens, Cole is the only knight left standing (and just an assistant knight at that!). Cole must use all of his newly acquired skills to battle the fearsome dragon and avoid a catastrophe. Attack of the Underwear Dragon is the first in a two book series, with the second being Return of the Underwear Dragon.
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Rubin, Adam
Dragons Love Tacos. 2012 (Picture Book).
Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teen tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa…oh, boy. You’re in red-hot trouble. Dragons Love Tacos is the first in a two book series, with the second being Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel.
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Schwab, Victoria
This Savage Song. 2016 (Teen)
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city — a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent — but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt, the pair must flee for their lives. This Savage Song is the first in a two book series, with the second being Our Dark Duet.
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West, Kasie
Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss. 2019 (Teen).
Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part. But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donovan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her. As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on is Donovan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction. Fame, Fate and the First Kiss is the second book in a three book series, with the first being Love, Life and the List and the third being Moment of Truth.
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Yang, Kelly
Front Desk. 2018 (Middle Grade).
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in empty rooms for free, The Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams? Front Desk is the first book in a three books series, with the others (in order) being: Three Keys and Room to Dream.
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Dark Academia: Where School Isn’t Exactly What It Seems

A current popular trend in literature is the sub-genre of “dark academia.” The definition itself is a little vague — some describe it as an aesthetic, with images of students wearing tweed blazers during fall, walking around an old academic institution; others suggest that dark academia books are ones that feature an academic setting (often high school, boarding school, or college) and some kind of dark twist; and others say it focuses on the pursuit of knowledge and the exploration of mortality and death. Some say it’s all three of those things! It’s a sub-genre that is not limited to a specific genre; it’s been included in realistic fiction, fantasy, horror, dystopian, and much more.

For this month, we’ve put together a list of books that fall in many genres, all with a dark academia twist. You’ll find realistic fiction, fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, dystopian, and even a picture book!

Àbíké-Íyímídé, Faridah
Ace of Spades. 2021 (Teen).
Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Ace, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high school game…
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Chainani, Soman
The School for Good and Evil. 2013 (Middle Grade).
The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before and have happened every year since. At first, it seemed random, but a pattern was soon clear: one was always good, and one was always a bit of an outcast. This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life; with her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Agatha, meanwhile, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil. But their fortunes are reversed when Sophie ends up in the School for Evil and Agatha in the School for Good. It seems wrong to both — unnatural — but what if this mistake is the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are?
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Deonn, Tracy
Legendborn. 2020 (Teen).
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC-Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape — until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus. She then learns about a secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt creatures down. When a teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” fails to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw and learned, Bree’s own unique magic is unlocked — and so is a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. To find out the truth, Bree recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn, and the two search for the society’s secrets. But they find out a magical war is coming, and Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether or not she should use her magic to take the society down or join the fight.
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Douglass, Ryan
The Taking of Jake Livingston. 2021 (Teen).
Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse (and definitely more complicated), Jake can see the dead. In fact, he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again. But then Jake meets Sawyer: a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, Sawyer has plans for his afterlife — plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game — one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.
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James, Riley
Story Thieves. 2015 (Middle Grade).
Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores. But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen: his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character. Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makers her a deal — all she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father. Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomentfoot’s final (very final) adventure.
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Johnson, Maureen
The Hand on the Wall. 2020 (Teen).
Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph…She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century. At least, she thinks she has. The three deaths in the present; the deaths in the past; the missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers. Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm — and a murderer.
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Lee, Victoria
A Lesson in Vengeance. 2021 (Teen).
Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School. Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students — girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds. Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. Before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.
[On order as of November 2021]

Power, Rory
Wilder Girls. 2019 (Teen).
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her. It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the school’s fence.
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Talley, Robin
As I Descended. 2016 (Teen).
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple — even if no one knows it but them. Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Archeron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word. But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock her attendance at Stanford — and four more years in a shared dorm with Lily. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
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Yolen, Jane
Monster Academy. 2018 (Picture Book).
Where do monsters go to school? Monster Academy! And anything can happen when your teacher is Miss Mummy. Come along with Principal Frank N. Stein into a bright, energetic classroom where the class pet is a big purple boa constrictor, recess is in a swamp, and class bats help build a Creepy Castle in the Monster Maker’s Lab. When Tornado Jo, a new student, roars into class, a storm is brewing. Who could ever guess that her new best friend will be a vampire, and she’ll help him find his missing fang?
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National Native American Heritage Month

Every year in November the nation celebrates Native American Heritage Month — also commonly referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. It’s a month to celebrate and understand the great contributions of Native Americans, as well as to rejoice in the diverse and rich cultures, histories, and traditions of Native American people. Celebrations spread awareness by educating the nation on the various challenges Native Americans face — in the past and today’s present. Many communities will put together events and exhibits to celebrate Native American Heritage Month; check local community centers, libraries, and museums to see if they have any fun activities to participate in and learn more about Native American Heritage.

We’ve put together a list of books that celebrate the past and present of Native American and Indigenous peoples. This is by no means a list that encompasses the entirety of Native American experiences, cultures, and traditions, but rather a small sampling of what the S-Collection has to offer. We’ve made sure that each book represented includes main characters who are Native American and Indigenous and that each book is by a Native American and Indigenous individual.

Boulley, Angeline
Firekeeper’s Daughter. 2021 (Teen).
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother. Her only bright spot is meeting Jamie — but Daunis feels he’s hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation. Daunis agrees to go undercover, secretly pushing her own investigation. But the deceptions and death keep piling up, and Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community.
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Bruchac, Joseph
Two Roads. 2018 (Middle Grade).
It’s 1932, and twelve-year-old Cal Black and his pop have been riding the rails for years after losing their farm in the Great Depression. Cal likes being a knight of the road with Pop, even if they’re broke. But then Pop has to go to Washington, D.C. and Cal can’t go with him. So Pop tells Cal something he never knew before: Pop is actually a Creek Indian, which means Cal is too. And Pop has decided to send Cal to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Oklahoma called the Challagi School. At school, the other Creek boys quickly take Cal under their wings. Even in the harsh, miserable conditions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, he begins to learn about his people’s history, heritage, language, and customs. And most of all, he learns how to find strength in a group of friends who have nothing beyond each other.
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Dupuis, Jenny Kay and Kathy Kacer
Illustrated by: Gillian Newland
I Am Not a Number. 2016 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she’s confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school — who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene’s parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother.
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Kalluk, Celina
Sweetest Kulu. 2016 (Picture Book).
This bedtime poem written by an internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer describes the gifts bestowed upon a newborn baby by all the animals of the arctic. As they visit, the animals and the land itself endow little Kulu with a set of qualities: from Arctic Char who gives tenderness, to the Caribou who gives patience and a sense of direction, to the Snow Bunting who gives Arctic cotton seeds and flowers. Together, all the gifts show that the Earth is made up of all living things, and those living things are connected in many ways.
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Leatherdale, Mary Beth and Lisa Charleyboy
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women. 2017 (Nonfiction Teen).
This collection presents an eclectic combination of poems, essays, interviews and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.
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Little Badger, Darcie
Elatsoe. 2020 (Teen).
Elatsoe lives in a slightly strange America — one that’s been shaped dramatically by magic, monsters, knowledge, and the Indigenous legends of its people. Elatsoe can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Now her beloved cousin has just been murdered in a town that wants no prying eyes, but Elatsoe is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect façade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and Elatsoe will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.
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Maillard, Kevin Noble
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. 2019 (Picture Book).
An ode to fry bread and Native American culture, this picture book expresses the deep meaningfulness and cultural importance of traditional foods and the way such foods are not just a thing, but rather continue to grow and have a life of their own as traditions are carried on. Fry bread brings families together, is shared by many, and is a celebration of old and new.
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Quigley, Dawn
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend. 2021 (Chapter Book).
Hello/Boozhoo — meet Jo Jo Makoons: a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn — about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly. Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she’s worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, Jo Jo’s best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore…
[This book is on order as of November 2021 and should be available to check out soon!]

Sorrell, Traci
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. 2018 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
The word otsaliheliga (oh-ja-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. This picture book is a look at modern Native American life, as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
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Young, Brian
Healer of the Water Monster. 2021 (Middle Grade).
When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he’s in for a pretty uneventful summer. Still, he loves spending time with Nali and his uncle Jet — though it’s clear when Jet arrives that he brings his problems with him. One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds something extraordinary: a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story — a Water Monster — in need of help. Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to help Uncle Jet heal from his own pain.
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