Table of Contents

Up There... Old Books for Young Readers

Was Louisa May Alcott's Little Women the original YA novel? Or simply (still) a revolutionary turn towards women's lives inside and out at front and center? What's clear is there are countless ways to write and read our "little" lives and others' well beyond the status quo. As Ibi Zoboi, author of another "remixed" 19th-century classic, Pride, reminds us in her new edited collection, Black Enough, "there are countless ways to be black." And in 2020, there are countless ways to see our stories represented, reimagined, and shared. We're happy to share this month's lively selection of books and events for young readers, and wish you a happy New Year filled with stories retold. 

Little Women (Vintage Books)
Louisa May Alcott
Learn more about Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, featuring Jason Reynolds, Renée Watson, Nic Stone and many more of today's most talked about writers, now available in paperback. 

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.

Readers of Renée Watson's Piecing Me Together and Ibi Zoboi's American Street will be dazzled by Echo Brown's autobiographical Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard. "Set on the East Side of Cleveland, Echo is determined to help her family as she transfers to the rich, white school on the West Side," writes Mary-Elise (age 12). "This coming of age story explores poverty, depression, and racism," suffused with magical realism. 

Names may be deceiving in Cecil Catellucci and Jim Rugg's graphic novel, The Plain Janes. "This story is the perfect mix of humor and personality," says Maysa (age 14), "following the journey of the 'Janes' as their art collective P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods) gains popularity. Jim Rugg’s illustrations add a special piece to the story, as well as a beneficial distinction between the 'Janes' that makes their friendship even more special. They are all completely different people with the same name that become the best of friends." 

And find more magic in store in Amy Rose Capetta's
The Storm of Life, the thrilling second half to The Brilliant Death. Catherine (age 11) writes, "The weaknesses and strengths of each character made me want to laugh, cry, and sometimes just filled me with joy." 

8 and up and interested in becoming a member of the Young Readers Advisory Board? Write to for more details.

Books for Young Readers

Read Aloud (3-8 years)
Bedtime for Sweet Creatures
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)
Nikki Grimes, illus. Elizabeth Zunon

It's bedtime. But Mommy's little girl is not sleepy. She growls like a bear, she questions like an owl, she tosses her mane like a lion. How can Mommy tuck her in now? Mommy needs to wrangle her sweet creature in this endearing and imagination-fueled journey to bedtime.
Magnificent Homespun Brown
(Tilbury House Publishers)
Samara Cole Doyon

Magnificent Homespun Brown is an exploration of the natural world and family bonds through the eyes of a young, mixed-race narrator, firmly grounded in her sense of self-worth and belonging. This is a story―a poem, a song, a celebration―about feeling at home in your own beloved skin.
The Heart of a Whale
(Philomel Books)
Anna Pignataro

Whale's beautiful song winds its way through the ocean, reaching the farthest of faraways. But though Whale sings his tender song day after day, night after night, Whale wonders why he has no song to fill his empty heart. So when he lets out a mournful sigh, the ocean carries it like a wish through its fathoms, bringing it to just the right place.
Read Alone (8 and up)
That’s What Friends Do
Cathleen Barnhart

Samantha Goldstein and David Fisher have been friends ever since they met on their town's Little League baseball team. New kid Luke's comments make Sammie feel uncomfortable—but all David sees is how easily Luke flirts with Sammie, and so David decides to finally make a move on his friend. Soon, things go all wrong and too far. As rumors start flying around the school, David must try to make things right (if he can) and Sammie must learn to speak up about what's been done to her.
The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA
(Nancy Paulsen Books)
Brenda Woods

On Gabriel's twelfth birthday, a man named Meriwether saves him from riding his new bike into traffic and repairs the bike's damage. As a thank you, Gabriel gets him a job at his dad's auto shop. Gabriel's dad, however, anticipates trouble with the other, White mechanic, who makes no secret of his racist opinions. Sadly, danger finds Meriwether when his family receives a frightening threat. The South being the way it is, there's no guarantee that the police will help—and Gabriel doesn't know what will happen if Meriwether is forced to take the law into his own hands.
Glenda Millard

A follow-up to the award-winning The Naming of Tishkin Silk, this is a gentle, moving novel about friendship, old age, loss, and the power of love. When Senior Citizen's Day is announced at school, Griffin's friend Layla wishes for someone special to take. It is then that the intriguing Miss Amelie comes into their life. Through their new friendship, Layla and Griffin learn the importance of memories, generosity of spirit, and of small miracles that warm the heart.
Missing Mike
(Pajama Press)
Shari Green

He's a rescue, a mutt. He's not exactly pretty. But Mike is eleven-year-old Cara Donovan's dog, and they love each other absolutely. Usually Mike follows Cara everywhere, but when Cara's family is ordered to evacuate Pine Grove to escape the path of a wildfire, Mike runs off. With no time left to search for Mike, they are forced to leave him behind. Once in a city far from the burn zone, Cara can only think about what she may have lost. Cara knows only one thing: she is not going to lose Mike. She will do what it takes to find him, even if it means going back to Pine Grove on her own.
Catherine's War
Julia Billet

At the Sèvres Children's Home outside Paris, Rachel Cohen has discovered her passion—photography. But as France buckles under the Nazi regime, Rachel must change her name to Catherine Colin and go into hiding. For the rest of the war, she bears witness to her own journey with her beautiful camera. Based on the author's mother's own experiences as a hidden child in France during World War II, Catherine's War is an accessible historical graphic novel featuring a map and photographs of the real "Catherine" and her wartime experiences.
Leaving Lymon
(Holiday House)
Lesa Cline-Ransome

Together, Lymon and his grandpops share a love of music, spending late summer nights playing the guitar. But Lymon's world as he knows it is about to dissolve. He will be sent on a journey far from the country life he loves—and the version of himself he knows. In this companion novel to the Coretta Scott King Honor-winning Finding Langston, readers will see a new side of the bully Lymon in this story of an angry boy whose raw talent, resilience, and devotion to music help point him in a new direction.
Young Adult
Someday We Will Fly
(Penguin Books)
Rachel DeWoskin

Now in paperback! 

The year is 1940 and Lillia is fifteen when her mother, Alenka, disappears and her father flees Warsaw with Lillia and her younger sister, Naomi, to Shanghai, one of the few places that will welcome them. They struggle to make a life; they have no money, there is little work, no decent place to live, a culture that doesn't understand them. As the conflict grows more intense there is only more bombing, more death. Can Lillia and her family survive, caught in the crossfire?
All the Days Past, All the Days to Come
(Viking Books for Young Readers)
Mildred D. Taylor

In her tenth book, Mildred Taylor completes her sweeping saga about the Logan family of Mississippi, which is also the story of the civil rights movement in America of the 20th century. Cassie Logan, first met in Song of the Trees and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, is a young woman now, searching for her place in the world. Rich, compelling storytelling is Ms. Taylor's hallmark, and she fulfills expectations as she brings to a close the stirring family story that has absorbed her for over forty years. It is a story she was born to tell.
Black Enough
(Balzer + Bray)
Ed. Ibi Zoboi

Now in paperback! 

Black is... sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson. Black is... three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds. Black is... Nic Stone's high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of. Black is... two girls kissing in Justina Ireland's story set in Maryland. Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.
Almost American Girl
(Balzer + Bray)
Robin Ha

For as long as she can remember, it's been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn't always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a visit to Alabama unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation, Robin is devastated. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn't understand the language, she is cut off from her friends, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother. Then one day she enrolls in a local comic drawing class, opening a window to a future Robin could never have imagined.
Cecile Richards

From former Planned Parenthood president and activist Cecile Richards comes the young readers edition of her New York Times-bestselling memoir. From the time Richards was a girl, she had a front row seat to observe the rise of women in American politics. And by sharing her story with young readers, she encourages her audience to take risks, make mistakes, and make trouble along the way.
Bethany Hegedus

Growing up on his family's peanut farm, Jimmy Carter saw how hard work yielded strong results. But growing up in the segregated South, Jimmy also saw firsthand how white people and black people were not treated equally. So Jimmy created a list of Good Mental Habits to help him fight for change. From the statehouse to the White House and beyond, Jimmy has worked to make change for all people, devoting decades to public service and becoming one of the most respected humanitarians of our time. It's hard work, but it's worth it.
Under the Milky Way
(Candlewick Press)
Frané Lessac

Beneath a blanket of stars, crowds cheer at Little League games, campers share fireside stories, bull-riders hold on tight, and sled dogs race through falling snow—all under the Milky Way. Vivid artwork, engaging verses, and facts about the United States and Canada will captivate readers of all ages in a joyful offering from Frané Lessac.

Events for Young Readers

Events for Young Readers at 57th Street Books
Ibi Zoboi (top center) leads a discussion of YA literature at 57th Street Books, September 26, 2018. Want more YA? Tune in to Open Stacks, with bestselling author and social justice advocate Julissa Arce in conversation with José Olivarez on Someone Like Me, the story of Arce's journey to belong in America while growing up an undocumented immigrant. And stop in for this month's events for young readers! 
Storytime with Susan Salidor
Saturday, January 18 10:30am at 57th Street Books
Singer, songwriter and music specialist Susan Salidor has published her first picture book for young children based on her song, I’ve Got Peace In My Fingers. Even the youngest among should know they have the power to be peaceful. The beautiful illustrations by Natalka Soiko will encourage conversations about how all of us can help our communities and our world become gentler places to live and grow. Learn more and RSVP here!
Mama Fresh Presents: New Year's Story Time
Saturday, January 25 10:30am at 57th Street Books
Celebrate the New Year with Mama Fresh, complete with lights and wintery delights. Save the date!
Storytime with Cree and Amanda Jones
Saturday February 1 10:30am at 57th Street Books
A very special story time with Amanda Jane and Cree Lane Jones, authors of Yum Yummy Yuck, a book for the kid who likes to eat boogers. The event will include (i) 20 special edition newsprint promos—complete with games, art prints from the book and a food chart—for the first 20 attendees, and (ii) an interactive game with the kids deciphering yummy and yucky foods. RSVP here!
All Events

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."

––Louisa May Alcott 

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