Fourth Friday – February 2020

monthly book listWhen a reader discovers a book they love and want other people to read, we want to get the word out. Fourth Fridays is our way of showcasing some of our new favorites.

They may not be new books by publication date, but they are new to the reader. If a reader discovers a book they love, then it doesn’t matter if it was published 3 years ago – or even 9 years ago! Case in point:

A teen reviewer just discovered Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson. Publication date: 2009. Changed their opinion of nonfiction: 2020!

Books that make the Fourth Friday Roundup are only titles our reviewers would buy for themselves or give as a gift. Each post maxes out at 10 titles.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Book covers link to Amazon.

diverse characters colorAre Your Stars Like My Stars?
by Leslie Helakoski, illustrated by  Heidi Woodward Sheffield
Sterling Children’s Books, 2020

concepts (colors), poetry & rhyme, stories in verse
diversity and inclusion: global representation of peoples

Picture Book
Listener Age: 3 to 8 | Ready-to-Read Age: 8 to 10

Review Tagline: Celebrating How We are More Alike than Different

Spot-on rhyme and a call-and-answer poetry style illustrate people (mostly children) from around the world and how color presents itself where they live.

Review Excerpt: Every child can see themselves in this book. Lovely, expressive illustrations implore readers to explore the book and connect with the kids they see on the page. This is one of those books that after you read (and maybe even before) your child will want to just sit and explore the images.

Buy @ Read the review. Buy @ Borrow @your library.

sikh picture bookThe Many Colors of Harpreet Singh
by Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Alea Marley
Sterling Children’s Books, 2019

#ownvoices, concepts (color), emotions and feelings, life changes
diversity and inclusion: Asian family, Sikh religion

Picture Book
Listener Age: 2 to 8 | Ready-to-Read Age: 8 to 10

Review Tagline: Emotions Come in a Rainbow of Colors

Harpreet Singh chooses his patka (cap) based on what is happening and how he feels about it. When there is something to celebrate, he dons a pink patka; if he needs courage, he wears red. Ever since his family moved for his mom’s new job, he has been wearing his white cap because he want to feel invisible. One day walking to school, he finds the hat partly covered in snow. He knows that it belongs to a girl in his class, and he returns it to her. Could he be making a new friend? What color will he wear?

Worth noting: the family moves because mom gets a new job.

Review Excerpt: On one hand this is a very simple story: a young boy uses color to express his emotions. Yet it also as many layers. Harpreet’s move to a new town opens opportunities not only to discuss other feelings, but how life changes and that change isn’t always bad. Sikhs are not something often seen in children’s books and this is a wonderfully accessible story for introducing children to other cultures and religions.

Buy @ Read the review. Buy @ Borrow @your library.

diverse easy reader seriesYasmin the Superhero (Yasmin, Book 6)
by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Capstone Publishing, 2019

#ownvoices, family, helping others, book series
diversity and inclusion: Pakistani family

Easy Reader
Listener Age: 5 to 9 | Ready-to-Read Age: 7 to 9

Review Tagline: Yasmin is SUPER on many levels.

Yasmin loves superheroes. Yasmin decides she is going save people just like the superheroes in the books her dad reads with her. Wearing her grandmother’s dupatta (shawl), Super Yasmin goes out in search of evil villains. She didn’t find bad guys, but she helped Emma’s mom with groceries and Ali solve a math problem. Then she got a ball stuck on the roof for a little girl.  At first, Yasmin was disappointed that she didn’t find villains, but then her dad said that real superheroes are kind and help others! Hurray for Super Yasmin!

Review Excerpt: Yasmin is an every-kid with dreams of being a superhero. Although the story isn’t a first-of-its-kind, what makes it fresh and fun is the family dynamics. Yasmin’s relationships with her parents and grandparents are realistic and positively represented.

Buy @ Read the review. Buy @ Borrow @your library.

diverse trickster folk taleMangoes, Mischief, and Tales of Friendship: Stories from India
by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy
Candlewick Press, 2019

fables, friendship, humor, problem solving
diversity and inclusion: Asian/Indian culture

Illustrated Chapter Book
Listener Age: 6 to 10; Ready-to-Read Age: 9 to 11

Review tagline: Classic, Timeless Fables for Clever, Curious Readers

In King Bheema’s kingdom, his subjects can bring their troubles to court and ask the king for help. Whatever the need – poverty, theft, greed, misunderstanding – the king would hear each case and render a decision. When Prince Veera learned that his father had to travel, he offered to hold court. He and Suku regularly listened to the proceedings and believed they were capable! King Bheema agreed, allowing the boys only to handle “simple cases.” Prince Veena and Suku quickly learned that simple was not the same as easy!

Review Excerpt: Delightful, classic trickster tales are expertly woven into the adventures of two boys who, despite their different backgrounds, are best of friends. Each story stands as its own chapter. Readers have the option of picking any story (based on title or illustrations that catch their eye) or starting at the beginning. Highly recommended for reading aloud with young children at bedtime or partner reading with children not quite ready for full-length chapter books.

Buy @ Read the review. Buy @ Borrow @your library.

lgbtq middle gradeMartin McLean, Middle School Queen
by Alyssa Zaczek
Sterling Children’s Books, 2020

coming of age, family, friendship, performing arts
diversity and inclusion: Afro-Cuban family, Latino culture, LGBTQ+, specially-abled

Ages 10 to 15

Review tagline: Diverse, realistic, relatable with just the right touch of humor.

Seventh grader Martin McLean is confident about one thing: his math skills. He is most comfortable when he is working word problems and helping his fellow Mathletes. When bully Nelson Turlington teases Martin about being gay, he has an anxiety attack and leaves math class. He’s never thought about his sexuality … and no matter how many times his mom asks “what’s wrong,” he isn’t going to tell her.

Enter Martin’s uncle. When Tio Billy takes Martin to Hoosier Mama? Coffee House Martin didn’t know he was there to see a drag show, but by night’s end he knew he wanted to be a drag queen. With Tio Billy’s help, Martin creates Lottie Leon, his drag queen alter ego. Lottie gives Martin confidence, but he still is worried about what other people will think. When the amateur drag queen and Mathletes Regional competitions are scheduled for the same night, Martin has to decide – is he going to be Lottie or Martin? And is he ready to tell his friends?

Review Excerpt: The story balances realism with humor, offering readers a way through moments that may be uncomfortable for them. Martin’s struggle to understand who he is the heart of the story, and every tween can relate to that. The cast is diverse and inclusive, and both family and friendship dynamics felt real: Martin being uncomfortable sharing his emotions with his Mom; his wanting to know more about his father and why he left; frustrated friends Pickle and Carmen who couldn’t understand his sudden, unexplained distance.

Buy @ Read the review. Buy @ Borrow @your library.

YA nonfictionChasing Lincoln’s Killer
by James L. Swanson
Scholastic, Inc., 2009

illustrated nonfiction, biography, history – 1800s, US Presidents, true crime, book series

Ages 12 and Up

Review tagline: Are you sure you know all there is to know about Lincoln’s Death?

This is a detailed, historical presentation of assassination of President Abraham, the government’s 12-day scramble to find and capture the culprit. In addition to a detailed look at John Wilkes Booth’s sinister plot, readers also learn more about Edmund Spangler (who held Booth’s horse), Dr. Samuel Mudd, and other people close to Lincoln. Readers are immersed in the time and can see “first hand” how Lincoln’s death affected a nation that was not yet 100 years old.

Review Excerpt: I’m 17 and I’ve never been a fan of nonfiction, but Swanson’s narrative style makes this an enjoyable to read. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer taught me new things about our 16th president’s death. Because the author included information about people connected to President Abraham Lincoln, I was able to look at the event from a variety of perspectives. This book would make a great gift to anyone who loves history, true crime, and biographies.

Buy @ Read the review. Buy @ Borrow @your library.