Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March Recommendations


AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, by Sabaa Tahir, is a terrific fantasy inspired by ancient Roman culture. Life in the Martial Empire is tough and uncompromising. Laia and her family subsist as they can, until her grandparents are killed and her brother gets arrested for treason. Laia seeks out the Resistance for help in setting him free. In return, she agrees to go undercover as a slave in the Empire’s brutal Military Academy. Told in the alternating points of view of Laia and Elias, an unwilling student at the Academy, this is top-notch, if rather violent, fantasy. (YA)

THE BEAST OF CRETACEA, by Todd Strasser, is an interplanetary adventure based on that classic story of revenge and madness, Moby Dick. Gone are descriptive passages about whale species and shades of white. Instead, Strasser focuses on the action. Ishmael wakes up aboard a rusty old ship called the Pequod, and he’s amazed by the clean, beautiful planet on which he now finds himself. The Earth he has left behind is a filthy, coal-burning, oxygen depleted mess with very little water. His job is to hunt sea creatures to send back to feed Earth, but the real quarry on this ship is the Great Terrafin. Aye, there be pirates, too! (YA)

ALL AMERICAN BOYS, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, is a provocative look at race relations, specifically how one white policeman reacts when a woman trips over a black kid in a convenience store. It’s narrated alternately by the black kid, Rashad, along with a witness, Quinn, who is white, a close friend of the policeman, and a classmate of Rashad. Pair it with Kekla Magoon’s fascinating How it Went Down, and you will have plenty to think about, guaranteed. (YA)

Picture Books:

I love Jessixa Bagley's (Boats for Papa) new book, BEFORE I LEAVE, a tenderhearted look at moving away and leaving a best friend behind. From the opening endpapers to the closing ones, the delicate watercolor illustrations tell at least half of the story. It’s charming.

In THE RED HAT, written by David Teague and illustrated by Antoinette Portis, young Billy Hightower lives on top of the world’s tallest building. It’s only the wind and Billy Hightower, until one day there’s a new building across the way, and living on top is a girl with a red hat. The strong illustrations use only a limited palette of blue and black, white and red, to deliver a strong and unique tale.

And, finally, Laura Vaccaro Seeger tackles some common kid fears in I USED TO BE AFRAID. She cleverly uses dye cuts to make turning the pages fun, as readers see how being afraid of shadows cleverly turns into shadow play against the wall, how being afraid of the dark turns into sitting with a pet looking at the moon, etc. Her illustrations are always bright and engaging, too.


No comments:

Post a Comment