Category Archives: juvenile books

Award-Winning JFIC Books

Hello, jFIC fans,

The 2019 Youth Media Awards have been announced (https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/2019-youth-media-award-winners/), and I’ve listed all the jFIC winners:

Newbery Medal (most outstanding contribution to children’s literature):

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Honors:

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock


Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award (African-American author of outstanding books for children):

Honors:

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon


Schneider Family Book Award (children’s books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience):

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

Honor:

The Collectors by Jacqueline West


Mildred L. Batchelder Award (outstanding international translated books):

Honor:

Edison: The Mystery of the Missing Mouse Treasure, written and illustrated by Torben Kuhlmann and translated from the German by David Henry Wilson


Pura Belpré Awards (books by Latinx writers and illustrators that best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience):

Honor:

They Call Me Güero : a Border Kid’s Poems by David Bowles


Stonewall Book Award (children’s books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience):

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Honor:

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake


Asian/Pacific American Award (books that promote Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage):

Front Desk written by Kelly Yang

Honor:

The House that Lou Built by Mae Respicio

The Sydney Taylor Book Award (books that authentically portray the Jewish experience):

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier


American Indian Youth Literature Award (best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians)

This award is announced in even years. The next announcement will be in 2020. Meanwhile, I recommend you read Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac.

Also, let’s not forget the 2018 National Book Award Finalists:

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson / Eugene Yelchin


The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis


Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka




Congratulations to all the winners, and happy reading to us!

“Coffee is a hug in a mug.” –Anonymous

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Welcome the New Year

The Reading Café is changing a little bit. Instead of only addressing middle school students, I’ll be addressing jFIC (a.k.a. juvenile or middle grade fiction) fans of all ages. I’ll continue to share book lists, personal recommendations, and useful online resources, but all posts will have a jFIC focus and will be intended for a wider audience. I’ll also continue to include tea and coffee quotes.

So let’s begin:

Hello, jFIC fans,

Happy 2019! I’ve read approximately 45 jFIC titles published in 2018. Most were good and some were great. Here are my favorites:

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Twelve-year-old Charlie is forced to pay off a family debt by working for a terrible man who is tracking down fugitives. When Charlie discovers what’s really happening and who the fugitives are, he has to choose between conscience and survival.

Christopher Paul Curtis brilliantly combines humor and heartbreak in his historical fiction stories. He does it again with this outstanding novel.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Sixth grader Merci Suárez deals with difficult middle school and family issues in this highly entertaining novel full of humor and insight. The writing is delightfully peppered with Hispanic American sayings and idiosyncrasies.

The Assasination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson

Elfin historian Brangwain Spurge’s mission is to deliver a peace offering to the goblin kingdom, but also to spy on them in the process. Goblin archivist Werfel’s mission is to serve as Brangwain’s host and enthusiastic tourist guide. But their ridiculously different cultures and conflicting historical perceptions result in dangerous consequences for the two of them and their kingdoms.

The novel alternates between illustrations showing Brangwain’s secret messages to the elfin kingdom and Werfel’s differing narrative, and delivers a funny, clever, and timely social commentary plus the story of a unique friendship.

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Boy is a fearful outcast with a large hump on his back, a gift of talking to animals, and no recollection of his past. A mysterious pilgrim named Secondus notices his climbing abilities and takes him on as his servant on a journey to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter. Boy reluctantly agrees in the hope that Saint Peter will answer his prayer and take his hump away. Extraordinary adventures follow, and the reader soon realizes that neither Boy nor Secondus are what they seem.

The Book of Boy is a unique and surprising story about discovering and valuing your identity and gifts.

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Alex loves to watch, read, and write scary stories. When he is trapped by witch Natasha in her magical apartment, he discovers that his hair-raising tales can keep the witch and her home happy, which can buy him time to figure out how to escape. But he soon realizes that escaping—even with the help of two other captives—may be impossible. As he well knows, terrifying stories like the one he’s now a part of, hardly ever have happy endings.

Nightbook is sure to delight young writers and readers of dark and creepy tales.

Granted by John David Anderson

Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is a Granter-in-training fairy. A Granter’s job is to leave their magical land called the Haven, fly out into the dangerous human world, and grant a previously selected human wish. Wish-granting is crucial to the fairies because it releases the magic that protects the Haven, so being a Granter is a huge responsibility. Ophelia is given her first assignment, and she enthusiastically sets out to complete her mission, but wish-granting turns out to be far more complicated and difficult than she expected.

Dangerous adventures and a heroine with a noble heart are what make this fantasy novel truly special.

Wicked Nix by Lena Coakley

The fairy queen and her court have gone away and left Nix behind. He concludes that it’s because he was given the important job of protecting the forest from humans until the queen and the rest of the fairies return. So when a trespasser arrives, Nix tries to scare him away with fairy tricks, but to no avail. Who is this trespasser, and what’s the real reason for the fairies to have left Nix behind?

Themes of home, family, identity, and belonging make Wicked Nix a unique and unforgettable fairy tale.       

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

Chimney sweep Nan Sparrow’s protector has disappeared, but has left a creature made from soot and ash–a golem–in his place. Nan and the golem form a unique friendship and together find ways to survive and protect each other and other chimney sweeps.

Sweep is a fascinating historical/fantasy story full of wonder, friendship, heartbreak, and hope.

The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond

A tiny angel appears in the pocket of Bert, a bus driver. He takes “Angelino” home to his wife, Betty, and they both become his doting parents. Tiny Angelino charms and cheers up everyone he meets, or rather, almost everyone, for in any happy story, there’s always a meanie who wants to spoil things. But Angelino is not going to let anyone foil his mission of spreading goodness and gladness and of being a special blessing to Bert and Betty.

Angelino Brown is a delightful little story that will bring joy and hope to all who read it.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night with the cry “The day of reckoning has arrived!” and whisks her off on a road trip to wherever the gasoline left in their old car will take them. Their destination turns out to be a small Georgia town where Louisiana makes some unexpected friends while Granny stays in bed recovering from an emergency dental procedure. Louisiana’s difficult situation worsens when Granny unexpectedly takes off, leaving her with nothing but a shocking good-bye letter. What will happen to Louisiana now? Will she find a way back to her best friends, Raymie and Beverly? Most importantly, will she ever find a place to call home?

Great writing, humor and surprise, unique characters, and themes of kindness, friendship, resiliency, belonging, and forgiveness make Louisiana’s Way Home an oustanding story.

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech

Louie is determined to save the sickly newborn donkey that his father has brought home. No one expects the donkey, whom Louie names Winslow, to survive, including his prickly new friend, Nora. But Winslow surprises everyone. He not only survives and grows, but also proves to be a valuable companion to the children and even a hero of sorts.

Saving Winslow is a sweet story full of tenderness, friendship, love, and the hopeful message of finding your place and purpose in the world.

Love to Everyone by Hilary McKay

Love to Everyone is the story from birth to adulthood of smart, kind, and loving Clarry Penrose. Clarry wants to get an education and discover her place and purpose in the world, but it’s not easy with a distant father who doesn’t believe that girls need to be educated and it being the early twentieth century. Fortunately, Clarry has the support of her brother Peter, her cousin Rupert, her grandparents, and her friends. But then World War I happens and everything changes for everyone.

Love to Everyone is both a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of resiliency, perseverance, and steadfast love. (My absolute favorite 2018 jFIC read!)

More 2018 jFIC novels you may like:

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson ****

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden****

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown****

Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac****

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender****

The Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins****

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome*****

The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor*****

The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter****

Winterhouse by Ben Guterson****

Otherwood by Pete Hautman****

Very Rich by Polly Horvath****

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson****

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras****

Bob by Wendy Mass*****

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty*****

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel****

Miraculous Miranda by Siobhan Parkinson ****

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr*****

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed****

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab****

The Collectors by Jacqueline West*****

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr *****

Front Desk by Kelly Yang ****

Happy reading, and love to everyone!

“Home is where the tea is.” —Js Devivre

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Holiday Books

Hi, Sweeteas,

Here’s a revised list (new titles!) of last year’s recommended JFIC holiday books. Ask Santa for some of these, or borrow them from your local library.

All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown by Sydney Taylor

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories by L.M. Montgomery

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse by Nicholas Gannon

Dreidels on the Brain by Joel ben Izzy

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford

The Golden Dreydl by Ellen Kushner

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman

Kringle by Tony Abbott

The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

A Little House Christmas Treasury by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Lotterys More or Less by Emma Donoghue


The Naughty List by Michael Fry

The No-Good Nine by John Bemelmans Marciano

Nutcracked by Susan Adrian

The Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup and Brett Helquist

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Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

The Power of Light by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Santa’s Kwanzaa by Garen Eileen Thomas and Guy Francis

A Shiloh Christmas by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Top Elf by Caleb Zane Huett

Tru and Nelle: A Christmas Tale by G. Neri

The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan

The Vanderbeekers of 141st St. by Karina Yan Glaser

When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke

Winterfrost by Michelle Houts

Young Scrooge by R.L.Stine

Happy holidays and happy reading!

“Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?” ~from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

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Outdoor Adventures

Hello, Sweeteas,

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Happy first day of summer vacation!

I’ve put together a great list of juvenile books about outdoor adventures. Check them out!

Bears of Blue River (The) by Charles Major
Bearwalker by Joseph Bruchac
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
Call of the Wild & others by Jack London
Cay (The) by Theodore Taylor
Chasing at the Surface by Sharon Mentyka
Downriver & others by Will Hobbs
End of the Wild (The) by Nicole Helget
Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (The) by Jacqueline Kelly
Explorer (The) by Catherine Rundell
Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
Girl Named Disaster (A) by Nancy Farmer
Gone-Away Lake & sequel by Elizabeth Enright
Hatchet & others by Gary Paulsen
Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley (The) by April Stevens
Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green by Helen Phillips
Hoot & others by Carl Hiaasen
Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson
Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert
Island of the Blue Dolphins & others by Scott O’Dell
Island Series by Gordon Korman
Julie of the Wolves & sequels by Jean Craighead George
Jungle of Bones & others by Ben Mikaelsen
Keeper by Kathi Appelt
Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson
Lemons by Melissa Savage
Little Savages (The) by Ernest Thompson Seton
Lost in the Barrens and others by Farley Mowat
Lumberjanes Series by Mariko Tamaki
Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGee
My Side of the Mountain & others by Jean Craighead George
Nature Girl by Jane Kelley
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury
Operation Redwood by S Terrell French
Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C.Holling
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Quicksand Pond by Janet Taylor Lisle
Rascal by Sterling North
Sign of the Beaver (The) by Elizabeth George Speare
Skeleton Tree (The) by Iain Lawrence
Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Someday Birds (The) by Sally Pla
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
Stranded Series by Jeff Probst
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
Swiss Family Robinson (The) by Johann D. Wyss
Treasure at Lure Lake by Shari L.Schwartz
True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (The) by Kathi Appelt
Walkabout by J.V. Marshall
Week in the Woods (A) by Andrew Clements
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice
Wild Robot (The) by Peter Brown
Wilder Boys Series by Brandon Wallace
Wilderness by Roddy Doyle
Winter Camp by Kirkpatrick Hill
Wonder at the Edge of the World by Nicole Helget

My favorite from the list? The Wild Robot by Peter Brown:

A stranded robot learns about life by caring for an orphaned gosling and becoming an integral part of an island’s community of wild animals. An unusual and tender story about family and community values. The sequel, The Wild Robot Escapes, is now available.

Have a wonderful summer full of awesome books and adventures!

“Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?” ~from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

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Asian / Asian American Characters

Hello, Sweeteas,

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Here’s a website with some great middle school books that feature Asian or Asian American characters.

Middle School books featuring Asian or Asian American characters

And here are two of my favorites books by Grace Lin (both inspired by Chinese folklore):

Happy reading!

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” –Lin Yutang

 

 

 

 

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For Women’s History Month

Hello, Sweeteas,

I don’t want Women’s History Month to end without a few book recommendations. Here are some of my favorite classics/modern classics written by female authors and featuring strong female protagonists.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson

Happy reading!

P. S. Happy Easter too!

“Every clever bunny knows that tea refreshes – top to toes. So put the kettle on and brew, a lovely cup for me and you.”  -Found on Pinterest

 

 

 

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Five 2017 Gems

Hello, Sweeteas,

Here are five delightful 2017 books I recently enjoyed:

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell (2017) *****

Fred, Con, Lila, and Max are flying back to England from Manaus, Brazil. The small plane they’re on crashes in the Amazon, and the pilot dies. They must learn to get along, figure out how to survive in the jungle, and try to find their way back to civilization. Just as they’re running out of luck, Fred finds a map that leads them to an abandoned ancient city and its one mysterious inhabitant. Explorer is a thrilling survival story with interesting characters!

The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange (2017) *****

It’s 1919, Henrietta’s brother has died in a fire, her mother is severely depressed, and her father has taken a job abroad. She, her mother, nanny, and baby sister are now living in a new house full of strange secrets. Things start to get difficult when a doctor wants to place her mother in a mental hospital and his wife wants to take away her sister. How can Henrietta—who’s just a child— save her mother and baby sister and restore her family? Help comes from her brother’s lingering presence and the mysterious woman living in Nightingale Wood. This is a wonderful story of courage and perseverance in the face of overwhelmingly negative circumstances.

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars by Martine Murray (2017) ****

Molly thinks her mother, a potion maker, and her unusual family life are too different from her classmates’. She longs to be “normal” like her best friend Ellen. Molly’s grumpy neighbors are angry because of her mother’s noisy rooster, so her mother decides to make a potion that will quickly grow a tree between their houses. Unfortunately, she accidentally drinks the potion and turns into the tree. Now Molly must figure out how to save her mother before the neighbors start cutting down the tree branches that are reaching onto their property.  With the help of her inquisitive classmate Pim, she starts to appreciate the value of both the normal and the wondrous.

The Doorman’s Repose by Chris Raschka (2017) *****

Have you ever wondered what the lives of people living in a New York City’s posh apartment building are like? Here are ten fascinating stories about the inhabitants (including the mice) of one of those old buildings. The book gives young people a glimpse of adult life and an awareness of how people (and mice) living in close proximity affect each other. And did I mention that the elevator has feelings? A fun and poignant read!

The Murderer’s Ape by Jacob Wegelius (2017 English Translation) *****

Sally Jones, an extraordinary and super-talented gorilla, and the Chief are friends and partners. They operate a cargo boat business and live a pleasant and carefree life traveling from port to port. Unfortunately, their way of life is upended when one of their jobs turns out to be a dangerous con that ends badly, their boat sinks to the bottom of a river, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder. Sally Jones escapes and embarks on a quest to prove the Chief’s innocence. Her talents and good heart win her some good friends, but there are many–especially the ones behind the botched job–who seek to destroy her. This fabulous story is told from the gorilla’s point of view and contains wonderful characters, exotic settings, and exciting adventures.

Happy reading!

“If I were a wizard, I’m pretty sure my Patronus would be a steaming cup of coffee.” –Anonymous

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