‘Tis the time of year when advance copies of our new fall books begin trickling into the office, and I wish I could bring every one of you here in person to leaf through them and chat over delicious baked goods and lemonade. However, since apparating is not yet possible outside of Harry Potter, a virtual preview will have to do.
SEASIDE DREAM, by Janet Costa Bates and illustrated by Lambert Davis, September, Ages 6-10
This lovely picture book about a girl and her grandmother won a New Voices Award Honor from Lee & Low when it was first submitted, so it’s exciting to see it as a real book. It’s about a young girl, Cora, who struggles to find the perfect gift for her grandmother, just in time for a birthday beach party.
Cora’s grandmother is from Cape Verde, a country off the coast of Africa that I knew little about before this book. It’s a lovely and unique culture. But what I like most about Seaside Dream is that it reflects an experience common to all immigrants, no matter where they come from originally: a loneliness for the people and places they left behind. At the end of the story, Cora finds a perfect way to ease this loneliness for her grandmother.
My other favorite part of this book are the GORGEOUS illustrations. Take a look:
I like that one so much, in fact, that we made it into a poster. If you happened to be at ALA this year, perhaps you grabbed one.
Master photographer George Ancona is back this fall with ¡Olé! Flamenco, about the centuries-old art form of flamenco. I lived for a short time in Southern Spain, so flamenco has a special place in my heart—it’s so amazingly fun to watch, and just as much fun to do if you’ve got the coordination and grace for it. Ancona captures the look, sound, and feel of it perfectly.
Game, Set, Match, Champion Arthur Ashe, by Crystal Hubbard, illustrated by Kevin Belford, October, Ages 7-11
This action-packed biography of Arthur Ashe follows the tennis champion from the segregated courts of Virginia to his amazing victory at Wimbledon. There have been many gifted athletes over the years, but Ashe stands out for his dedication to social justice issues: he protested segregation in the US and apartheid abroad, set up a foundation to encourage inner-city youth to learn tennis, and helped raise funds and awareness to fight HIV/AIDS.
In her author’s note, Crystal Hubbard talks about the first time she met Arthur Ashe in person at an exhibition and clinic he was conducting in St. Louis: “He was dressed like a tennis player, and I’d just seen him play, but I couldn’t stop thinking of him as a teacher.” It’s exciting to bring Ashe’s achievements on and off the court to a whole new generation of young readers.
This now brings us into Young Adult Territory, with two (count ’em, TWO!) YA books out this season as we expand our list upwards. Frankly, why should picture books have all the fun?
Under the Mesquite, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, October, Ages 12-up
• It is in verse, which means it’s great for discussion and especially good for reluctant readers
• It is a really beautiful portrait of a loving and tight-knit Mexican-American family
• It addresses cancer in a gentle but honest way
• It’s by a debut author from whom we can expect many more great things!
Trust me, you all are going to love it too (especially if you’ve been looking for more YA books with POC protagonists and coming up short).
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke, August, Ages 11-up
Last but certainly not least, we’ve got our first ever graphic novel! Yummy is the story of an 11-year-old gang member from Chicago’s Southside. This is such a powerful and heartbreaking book. I wish it weren’t based on a true story, but it is, and not much has changed since Robert “Yummy” Sandifer’s story made headlines back in 1994.
This is one of those books we’ve all been excited about for a while now, because it just feels… important. Reviewers have been enthusiastic too, with (not to brag or anything) starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. And this amazingly detailed review from Betsy Bird over at A Fuse #8. So we’re thinking this one’s going to be big. The real thing will be out in just a few short weeks, but until then, one of my favorite panels to hold you over:
And that’s all, folks! Looking forward, as always, to sharing our new books with you – let us know what you think!