13 New Chapter Books, March and April 2020

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I’m excited to share with you 13 new, amazing books for kids that I’ve read this past month including two YA books for ages 13 and older.

 

Notice the purple star showing books that are making my top books for 2020 list!

Middle Grade

Park writes a wonderfully touching multilayered story about a young half-Asian girl’s life during western expansion, frontier times. After Hana’s mother dies, her father moves the two of them to a small midwestern town. Park sets the scene with care and you’ll see a realistic portrayal of life in the 1880s from the point of view from someone who is experiencing racism. Despite many unfair things, Hana stays resilient and determined to graduate from school and help her father in his shop.

 


Coo
by Kaela Noel
REALISTIC (ish)
Coo, rescued as a baby by the pigeons, only speaks Pigeon and has never ventured down from the bird’s dovecote but when her best friend bird Burr gets a broken wing from a hawk encounter, Coo must venture down to a healer woman for help. Coo wears plastic bags and is half starved from surviving on garbage the pigeons bring her. When a snowstorm hits, the healer returns for Coo and brings Coo to her apartment, teaching her about the basics of being human including human language. Then, her beloved pigeons are poisoned and Coo knows she must leave Tully to save them. What happens next will change everything for them both. You will love the tender, perfect ending.

 

This story that explores what happens after Chernobyl explodes in 1986; it’s about Russia, friendship, family, and prejudice. When Jewish Valentina and her enemy Oksana are forced to leave town together after the meltdown, we learn why Oksana acts the way she does, because of fear and abuse from her father. Once she gets away, she starts to think for herself and finds that Jews are not bad but actually very kind. The girls end up in Leningrad with Valentina’s grandmother and the months there are a healing time with unconditional love. Interspersed with this story is another story of a Jewish girl named Rifka who flees her home when the German army arrives in 1941. Heartwarming, insightful, and beautiful, this book is impossible to put down with wise life lessons.

 


Escape This Book Tombs of Egypt
by Bill Doyle, illustrated by Sarah Sax & You
HISTORY / ILLUSTRATED / INTERACTIVE
Interactive, educational, and fun! This book is an enticing doodle, activity, first-person choose-your-own adventure book that will make you an expert on ancient Egypt.

 


Wild & Chance
by Alan Zadoff
ADVENTURE
Creative and well-written, you are going to love this action-packed sci-fi adventure. This female dog can can’t remember her past but she knows that she’s intelligent, more than other dogs. When she meets boy named Chance in a group home, strange events start to happen — she is chased by military-like Animal Control soldiers. Then, she and Chance discover a collar that allows her talk to Chance. With more questions than answers, the action and mystery zip along hooking you on every word. Then, Chance and Wild meet a mysterious hacker girl who helps them escape from Animal Control. They learn that Wild was originally owned by an evil group who weaponized dogs. This is great for kids who love fast-paced, science fiction, animal books.

 



Can You See Me
by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
REALISTIC / #OWNVOICES / AUTISM
Co-written by Libby Scott who is a girl on the autism spectrum (#ownvoices) and based on her journals, this poignant, exceptional story shows what it’s like to be autistic...But it also shows how difficult it really is for family and friends to understand, too. Tally’s behavior reflects her brain trying to navigate the world and it is challenging for others, even when they try hard to understand. Tally relates to 3 legged dog who doesn’t like new people. She takes everything literally, has trouble (big trouble!!) with mandates, feelings, and friendships. Eventually, Tally learns to find her own version of “normal”, a word that comes up a lot in this book. Please read this #ownvoices story that so deftly shows what autism can be like. It’s a story that will help those of us who aren’t on the spectrum, have more empathy and compassion.

 

This story is a beautifully written slice-of-life, growing-up story that with authentic characters and relatable themes of family and big life changes. When Bea’s parents get divorced, her dad helps her focus on the things that won’t change — like her parents love for her — even though many other things will and do change. To help her feel safe, Bea keeps a list of things that WON’T change in a special journal. (Which, by the way, is a great idea!) When she learns that her dad and his boyfriend are getting married and that she’ll get a new sister, she’s excited. But her new stepsister isn’t excited to be sisters, not at all, at least not right away. It’s a bumpy journey that shows the ups and downs of divorce and changes as well as how much easier it is when you have loving parents.

 


Black Brother Black Brother
by Jewell Parker Rhodes
PREJUDICE / COMING OF AGE / FENCING
Twins with very different skin colors, one whiter and one darker, are treated differently, most noticeable at  their school. Donte is unfairly accused of something and when he tries to defend himself, the police are called and he’s suspended from school. Not to mention, a popular guy at his school calls Donte “black brother” because he’s darker than his twin, Trey. Donte starts fencing to get revenge but as he trains, he finds that he’s smart, good at fencing, and courageous. If you think the world still isn’t racist and colorist, read this compelling story and you’ll see that we still have a long way to go.

 


Beast
by Watt Key
ADVENTURE / SURVIVAL
Adam lost his parents in car accident when they saw a “beast” on the road. To find out what he saw, Adam leaves his uncle’s house for the swamplands of Florida. He lives in the swamp for two months, only barely surviving due to the kindness of a family of hidden Bigfoot creatures. It’s a fast-paced read that takes readers on an imaginative, seemingly realistic survival story.

 

A story about the long process of saying goodbye. Cassie’s mom suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s. In a survival response, Cassie pushes away her best friend Bailey and isolates herself, not even doing her art. As her Mom becomes more unpredictable like smashing things in anger, forgetting names, or refusing to budge from places, Cassie feels more sad and lonely. Then she has an idea…her mom loves dolphins so what if Cassie could take her to swim with the dolphins before her mom is completely lost to the disease? Beautiful, heartbreaking, and filled with emotion, this is a story worth reading.

 


What Lane?
by Torrey Maldonado
REALISTIC / RACISM
Short and fast-paced, this is the story of a boy who learns to think for himself instead of being influenced by friends and how Stephen notices he’s living in a world that treats him differently than his white friends. Stephen concludes that he gets to decide what lane he’s in– not the world or his peers.

 

Young Adult


Woven In Moonlight
by Isabel Ibanez (YA, ages 13+)
MAGICAL REALISM
If you love magical realism and Latin American culture, you won’t want to miss this intriguing, spellbinding story set in a Bolivian-like country. Ximena is the decoy leader of her exiled, hidden community, safely hidden from their country’s new cruel ruler Atoc after a bloody revolution. But when he kidnaps two people, he demands her hand in marriage, thinking she’s the real Condesa. Ximena moves to the palace where the evil, drug-pushing Atoc kills the prisoners anyway. There she learns how much all the people in the country suffer when entitled rulers fight and destroy things for power; rulers like the real Condesa’s predecessors as well as the current ruler, Atoc. Filled with magic, a hint of romance, mystery, and honor, this is a wonderfully rich tapestry that ends with the lesson of choosing what is right over tradition and loyalty.
Added to Good Books for Teens.

 


The Loop
by Ben Oliver
DYSTOPIAN
The world is one government under the control of an AI called Happy. Luka’s a prisoner in The Loop, a barbaric prison for death row inmates who escape death if they’ll allow experimental surgeries. After Group A’s experiments turn the prisoners into smiley killers, Luka escapes when his prison warden tries to kill him. It’s a crazy, fast-paced adventure of life and death that is impossible to put down.
Added to Good Books for Teens.

 

13 New Chapter Books, March and April 2020
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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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