Welcome to 57th Street Books' monthly newsletter for children, teens, and admirers of all things Young People's Literature. Should the splendor and wonder of books for young readers not be your thing, you can update your preferences below to choose what sorts of communications (all bookish, of course) you receive from the Seminary Co-op Bookstores. But we have a feeling a curious reader like you cares to know about this year's ALA award winners, including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards; reviews from our own Young Readers Advisory Board; upcoming events and more. After all, there's something childlike in each of us when opened to a book. Thank you for reading and sharing the ongoing joy of discovery with young readers at a time when expanding views is as important and possible as ever, and — in the words of four-time Newbery Honor Book winner Jacqueline Woodson —"independent bookstores [are] expanding." Come on in. There's plenty of room. Five, in fact.
Two-time Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry's Anastasia Series all began in 1979 with the arrival of 10-year-old Anastasia Krupnik, a perfectly imperfect model of provision and compassion, who herself is contending with the arrival of a new sibling, the loss of a grandparent, the dawn (and demise) of first love, a pink wart on her left thumb, and more "private information" about the most important things that have or will happen to her the year she is 10. Kept in check by a capricious, interchanging list of "Things I Love!" and "Things I Hate!" at every chapter's end, Lowry's one of a kind heroine, if following the footsteps of Ramona Quimby and Harriet the Spy, is as real and lovable as writing gets, warts and all.
Like Anastasia, we're unabashed with admiration for this month's selection of new books and events for young readers, and we're not alone. Check out the American Library Association's just announced youth media award winners, including past and upcoming guest authors Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (American Indian Youth Literature Award) and Nikki Grimes (Printz Honor Book), who visits us on Friday, April 24 at 4pm in presentation of her "rhythmic, playful" nighttime "romp" (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review), Bedtime for Sweet Creatures. Celebrate Black History Month with a spirited assortment of new picture book biographies. And get to know more award winning and bestselling authors in our midst, Samira Ahmed and Rachel DeWoskin, winner of the 2019 National Jewish Book Award in Young Adult Literature. There's so much to love (and read) this month at 57th Street Books, you might start making a list of your own.
2. Think long and hard about the things (and people, and even goldfish) you love. But not too hard.
3. Write it down.
4. Keep thinking.
5. Keep going.
"Whether beneath the sunlit dome of Mansueto Library or among the bustling clatter near the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, the novelist often can be found working on the South Side campus that first inspired her to be an author.
After years teaching high school English and working in education nonprofits, Ahmed turned her career to writing Young Adult novels—a type of fiction aimed at teens and adults. In the past two years she has published two New York Times best-sellers: Love, Hate & Other Filters and Internment, and this spring, she will publish her third novel: An inspirational story that draws upon her UChicago bachelor’s thesis in English." Learn more about Hyde Park's own bestselling author of YA fiction Samira Ahmed in UChicago News, and save the date for her book launch event for Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, Saturday, April 11 3pm at 57th Street Books. Keep browsing. More events for young readers below!
57th Street Books' Young Readers Advisory Board is comprised of bright, bold, and adventurous young readers on Chicago's South Side, proudly presenting recommendations and reviews of new books each month in Middle Grade and YA literature.
"If you think middle school bites, try being a vam-wolf-zom!" writes Charlie (age 9). "Tom is a boy who was bitten three times by a vampire, werewolf, and zombie. What will he do when everyone finds out he's a vam-wolf-zom? From being invisible in his school picture to dealing with bullies, Tom faces many challenges in Middle School Bites, an action-packed book by Steven Banks," the Emmy-nominated writer for SpongeBob, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, and CatDog. As if that weren't "out of this world" enough...
"The Between by David Hofmeyr is a clash between sci-fi and fantasy, so it's good for people who love both," says Julia (age 9). "Also, the story line," in which 17-year-old Ana Moon will stop at nothing to bring home her best friend from across the grand multiverse, "with all its twists and turns is fantastic! Also, you might need a couple of hours to calm down after reading."
And on the Nonfiction front, Elsie (age 11) recommends We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransportby Sibert Honor author Deborah Hopkinson. Writes Elsie, "This story about the Kindertransport at the beginning of World War 2 is very descriptive, and opening. It also captures vividly all the years leading up to the war that changed millions of peoples' lives." 8 and up and interested in becoming a member of the Young Readers Advisory Board? Write to email@example.com for more details.
Andrea J. Loney illus. Rudy Gutierrez Caldecott Honor Book
Nic is an aspiring musician who makes his way home from a busy day at school with a double bass on his back, the symphony of his surroundings in his heart, and a sweet surprise for the reader at the end of his journey.
Down home is Granny's house. Down home is where Lil' Alan will hear stories of the ancestors and visit the land that has meant so much to all of them. And down home is where all of the children will find their special way to pay tribute to family history. All the kids have to decide on what tribute to share, but what will Lil' Alan do?
Bear Came Along (Little, Brown and Company)
Richard T. Morris illus. LeUyen Pham Caldecott Honor Book
Once there was a river flowing through a forest. The river didn't know it was capable of adventures until a big bear came along. But adventures aren't any fun by yourself, and so enters Froggy, Turtles, Beaver, Racoons, and Duck. These very different animals take off downstream, but they didn't know they needed one another until thankfully, the river came along.
Christian McKay Heidicker, illus. Junyi Wu Newbery Honor Book
When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.
Now that eleven-year-old Isabella's parents are divorced, it seems their fights are always about HER. Isabella feels completely divided between them. And she is beginning to realize that being split between a White mom and a Black dad involves more than switching houses and nicknames and backpacks: it's also about switching identities. It seems like nothing can bring Isabella's family together again—until the worst thing happens. Isabella is stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.
Twelve-year-old Ben is a shy, quiet kid. His life isn't perfect, but he feels at home in his New York City apartment. Then his parents separate, and Ben's mom moves them back to her hometown of Austin, Texas. Ben misses everything about his old life. And when his mom starts working at his new school and making friends with his teacher, Ben finds himself at the center of all the problems the adults around him can't resolve—and even some of his own. After being pushed around, looking for his place, Ben will have to learn how to stand his ground.
Genesis is determined to fix her family, and she's willing to try anything to do so...even if it means harming herself in the process. But when Genesis starts to find a thing or two she actually likes about herself, she discovers that changing her own attitude is the first step in helping change others.
Putnam, the future king of Raftworld, wants more than anything to prove himself. When the water in the Second World starts to become salty and his father won't do anything about it, Putnam sees his chance. He steals a boat and sneaks off toward the source of the salty water, not knowing he has a stowaway onboard, an island girl named Artie. As the two face uncertainty and danger in their shared adventure, an extraordinary friendship forms.
Jude never thought she'd be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.
After a brutal fire takes her parents' lives, the pharaoh tasks Sesha with finding a rare medical document her father was transcribing before his death. Sesha navigates palace intrigue and temple treachery while urgently seeking the valuable papyrus. For the scroll doesn't just have the power to keep the pharaoh's army alive—it may be the only thing that can save her brother's life.
Amelia Albright dreams about going to Florida for spring break like everyone else in her class, but her father has decided Florida is too much adventure. Now Amelia is stuck at home. The week ahead promises to be boring, until Amelia meets Casey at her neighborhood art studio. When Casey claims to see the spirit of Amelia's mother (who died ten years before), the pair embarks on an altogether different journey in their attempt to find her.
Jerry Craft Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award
John Newbery Medal
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade, and Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he's behind the scenes. There's no way he'd ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes...until he meets Maya. Why Maya Rehman's mother thinks the solution to her social problems is political canvassing is beyond her. But the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.
Cal wants to be a journalist, and he's already well underway with an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels.
David Espinoza is tired of being messed with. When a video of him getting knocked down by a bully's slap goes viral at the end of junior year, David vows to use the summer to bulk up and wow everyone when school starts again the fall. Soon David is spending all his time and money at Iron Life, a nearby gym that's full of bodybuilders. As David falls into the dark side of the bodybuilding world, pursuing his ideal body at all costs, he'll have to grapple with the fact that it could actually cost him everything.
Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends on a mission—they're sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women's Rights Club. They post their work online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine's response to the racial microaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. When things escalate in real life, the principal shuts the club down. Not willing to be silenced, Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices to be heard.
Japan 1945. Taro is a talented violinist and a kamikaze pilot in the days before his first and only mission. He believes he is ready to die for his country . . . until he meets Hana. Hana hasn't been the same since the day she was buried alive in a collapsed trench during a bomb raid. She wonders if it would have been better to have died that day . . . until she meets Taro. A song will bring them together. The war will tear them apart. Is it possible to live an entire lifetime in eight short days?
Looking at places like The Skeleton Coast in Namibia, Wizard Island in the United States, and The Fairy Tale Route in Germany, Dark Hedges, Wizard Island, and Other Magical Places that Really Exist takes young readers on a journey around the world to real places that sound straight out of fantasy. Featuring both natural and man-made wonders, this travel book combines history and storytelling to explore the far reaches of the earth.
Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out. With Theodore Taylor's bright, emotional art, and writing from Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood, kids will be inspired to create their own art and poems to express how they see justice and injustice.
Even young children are familiar with recipes—a series of steps to help them make something—and this poetry collection begins with simple dishes and ideas, such as a recipe for reading a recipe and a recipe for measuring, and then adds more ideas and grows in sophistication until the last recipes broach lofty concepts, such as a recipe for understanding and a recipe for peace. A treasure of words and images and ideas.
Kwame Alexander, illus. Kadir Nelson Randolph Caldecott Medal
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award
Newbery Honor Book
Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes.
Celebrate Black HistoryRenowned author Lesa Cline-Ransome and celebrated illustrator John Parra unite to tell the inspiring story of Ethel Payne, a groundbreaking African American journalist known as the First Lady of the Black Press in The Power of Her Pen (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books). From the acclaimed author and illustrator pairing of Katheryn Russell-Brown and Laura Freeman comes a beautiful picture book biography about the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and how she fought for respect throughout her life in A Voice Named Aretha (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC). By and By (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) is a stirring picture book biography from award-winning duo Carole Boston Weatherford and Bryan Collier, about gospel composer and preacher Charles Albert Tindley, best known for the gospel hymn, "We'll Understand It Better By and By."Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis' Fleet-of-Foot Girl (Balzer & Bray/HarperTeen) is a spirited picture book biography about Althea Gibson, the first black Wimbledon, French, and U.S. Open tennis champion, from debut author Megan Reid and Coretta Scott King Honor-winning illustrator Laura Freeman.
John Sandford presents Oak LeafSaturday, February 15 10:30am at 57th Street BooksWriter and illustrator John Sandford shares his 65th book, Oak Leaf, following the life of an oak leaf as it goes spinning, spiraling, tumbling over fields and farms, the water, and the city. Learn more and RSVP here!
Storytime with Sara ShacterSaturday, February 29 10:30am at 57th Street Books A very special storytime with Sara Shacter, author of Just So Willow, about a polar bear who likes things just so. She even irons her underwear and straightens her spaghetti! Save the date!