Moo by Sharon CreechNovel in Verse. Moving from New York City to a tiny seaside town in Maine takes some getting used to, but 12-year-old Reena is looking forward to having more freedom. However, instead of riding her bike wherever she wants, Reena and her brother are forced into helping their cranky old neighbor take care of Zora, her huge and equally cranky cow. Though looking after Zora seems like Reena's biggest challenge (shoveling manure, ugh), girl and cow start to form a surprising bond. Fans of author Sharon Creech's page-turning poetry won't want to miss this sincere, realistic read.
Makoons by Louise ErdrichHistorical Fiction. Arriving with his lively, loving family in the Great Plains of the Dakota Territory, eight-year-old Ojibwe boy Makoons has a vision. He sees himself and his twin brother Chickadee as skillful hunters, but still unable to protect their loved ones. Though the vision makes him uneasy about their new home, Makoons is still eager to learn how to ride a pony and join the buffalo hunt. From pranks to chores to tragedy, this 5th book in the Birchbark House series offers an absorbing, detailed look at Plains life in 1866. You can read Makoons on its own, or you start can start from the beginning with The Birchbark House.
Full of Beans by Jennifer L HolmHistorical Fiction. How much do you think a wagon full of empty cans was worth in 1934? Whatever your answer, it's not enough for ten-year-old Beans Curry, who just wants to help his family survive the Great Depression (and maybe see the new Shirley Temple movie). When can-collecting isn't enough, Beans turns to other money-making schemes…some less legal than others. Set in Key West, Florida, as the town transforms from ramshackle island to tourist trap, this prequel to the Newbery Honor-winning Turtle in Paradise offers short chapters, one-of-a-kind characters, and a quirky angle on American history.
Furthermore by Tahereh MafiFantasy. In Ferenwood, where most people are brilliantly colored and magically brilliant, Alice Queensmeadow is an embarrassment. Magically untalented and a washed-out white color all over, Alice aches for change as much as she longs for her missing father, the only person who really loves her. When a boy named Oliver offers to help her find her father in the topsy-turvy land known as Furthermore, Alice agrees, despite Oliver's untrustworthy magical power. Described in splashy detail by an interrupting narrator, their journey through the wonders of Furthermore (which include sugary air, eggshell houses, and a living origami fox) will captivate readers who love clever, imaginative fantasy.
Dog Man by Dav PilkeyGraphic Novel. George and Harold, the heroes of the Captain Underpants series, are back with a new book about one of their creations: Dog Man! Half dog and half man, Dog Man is a canine cop with a dramatic origin story, a fiendish feline nemesis, and a hunger for justice. Scribbly artwork and misspelled words capture Dog Man in all of his slobbery glory as he battles baddies (such as power-hungry robots and rebellious hot dogs) and saves the day. If you're hooked by this uproarious series-starter and need another silly spoof while you wait for the next book, try Jarrett Krosoczka's Playtpus Police Squad series.
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jennifer Bryant; illustrated by Melissa SweetBiography. As a child in the 1880s, Horace Pippin loved to draw and paint. Despite plenty of challenges, he kept making art as he grew up, painting vivid, folksy scenes. Not even injuring his right arm in World World I could stop Horace -- he learned how to guide his right arm with his left. Illustrated in eye-popping colors and a "refreshing, down-home style" (Booklist), A Splash of Red both echoes Horace's art and describes his life, including his long-awaited success. If you're intrigued by Horace's story, you might also like Kathleen Benson's Draw What You See.
Under the Egg by Laura Marx FitzgeraldMystery. Thirteen-year-old New Yorker Theo will never forget her grandfather Jack's dying words: "Look under the egg." Theo does her best to follow this cryptic clue, and after discovering that Jack's painting of an egg conceals another, possibly priceless, painting beneath it, she launches a citywide search for the painting's origin, which leads her to new friends -- like celebrity daughter Bodhi and punk librarian Adam -- and surprising truths. This engaging mystery offers art history and urban adventure similar to E.L. Konigsburg's classic From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, but with a modern flair all its own.
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley PearsallHistorical Fiction. After he sees the local "Junk Man" wearing his dead father's hat, 13-year-old Arthur makes a split-second decision that earns him 120 hours of community service...with the Junk Man. It's better than going to juvie, and as Arthur reluctantly forms a friendship with the Junk Man (whose real name is James Hampton), he discovers the creative reason behind his trash-scavenging habits. Similar to Wendy Mass' Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, this book reveals the inner life of a grieving boy through an unusual search. Though this story is made up, the artist James Hampton was real – try Googling him to see photos of his amazing creations.
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Mary GrandPréBiography. When they first saw Vasya's art, people asked "What's it supposed to be?" But Vasily "Vasya" Kandinsky was more interested in how his art made people feel. Ever since he opened his first paint box as a child, Vasya could hear the colors: crunching crimson, powerful blue, whispering gray. He could also see music, painting it in jangly swirls and sharp lines that confused people used to ordinary art. Adding to this biography of a pioneering artist are Mary GrandPré's illustrations (maybe you recognize her art from the Harry Potter books?), which are packed with vivid colors and sweeping energy, just like Vasya's paintings.
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan TonatiuhBiography. You might not know his name, but you may have seen José Guadalupe Posada's bones. Known as Don Lupe, he transformed calaveras -- those smiling, dancing skulls and skeletons you see during Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead -- into an art form that's still used today. In Funny Bones, you'll not only get a peek into Don Lupe's life during a turbulent time in Mexican history, but also find some practical details on the printing methods he used. Best of all, the book's chunky, Mixtec-style illustrations have examples of Don Lupe's own art sprinkled throughout, so that you can see it for yourself.
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