November 20, 2015

JLG BTG: 2015 Novels Not-to-Miss

Written by Deborah B. Ford

Now that I’ve been at the office a day or two, I took some time this morning to work on the LiveBinders. This post features an elementary, middle, and high school novel. As Kiera would say, I expect them to get a little love at the ALA Youth Media Awards. And remember to watch for the Notables. You’ll often find your favorites (and your kids) on those lists.

Firefly HollowMCGHEE, Alison. Firefly Hollow. illus. by Christopher Denise. 304p. Atheneum. 2015. ISBN 9781442423367. JLG Category: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2-4). LiveBinder resources

Firefly and Cricket each have been taught that “giants” are dangerous, but when they each leave the Hollow to pursue their dreams, they end up befriending one (albeit a small one).

I should have talked about this book yesterday. Not only is it gorgeous, the story is poignant and timeless. Characters learn to believe in themselves, face their fears, and think of others first. Powerful and important lessons! The next The Wind in the Willows, this novel begs to be read aloud, hugged to your chest, and placed in a prominent spot on in your library.

Learn more about author Alison McGhee on her website. She writes for people of all ages. Read her blog. Find out about her fees for visits, coaching, and teaching. She Skypes too! She will even write you a personal haiku for a small fee.

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Illustrator Christopher Denise, famously known for his Redwall illustrations, adds another dimension to this powerful story. Reminiscent of The Wind in the Willows, the charm and warmth of his work cannot be separated from the story itself.

Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Atheneum has produced a reading guide to support you. You’ll also find an excerpt on their website.

Hired GirlSCHLITZ, Laura Amy. The Hired Girl. 400p. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763678180. JLG Category: C+ : Advanced Readers (Grades 6-9). LiveBinder Resources

1911: Joan finds no art or beauty on her father’s farm, so she runs away to Baltimore. Working for a refined Jewish family, Joan learns she’s less cultured than she thought—but has plenty of potential.

Newbery award-winning author Laura Amy Schlitz is back with another carefully researched historical novel. Her character Joan was raised Catholic and finds herself working for a Jewish family with very strict rules and guidelines. While she struggles with which sink and which dishes, she also teeters on the edge of social dividing lines. Having grown up on a farm, finding her true self is just as hard as discovering her place in the world.

Though you can’t follow the author on social media, a search for her reveals her many fans. Read about Schlitz on Candlewick’s website where you’ll also find amazing resources.(Thank you Candlewick!)

You’ll find support material, a discussion guide, and the author’s inspiration for the novel.

Watch the book trailer and read SLJ‘s author interview.

For the YA group, don’t miss this one!

All AmericanREYNOLDS, Jason and Brendan Kiely. All American Boys. 240p. Atheneum. 2015. ISBN 9781481463331. JLG Category: HI : High-Interest High (Grades 10 & Up) Feb 2016 selection. LiveBinder Resources

Rashad, an African American teen, is beaten by a white police officer. Quinn, also white, witnesses the incident—and flees the scene. As Rashad’s story goes viral, both boys deal with the aftermath.

Reynolds and Kiely team up to write alternate chapters in a terribly-timely story of police brutality. It’s the story of what people of all colors could and should do. It’s perfect for book groups to discuss and plan action steps to help their communities.

Learn more about Jason Reynolds (two books for him this year: Boy in the Black Suit). You can follow him on Twitter.

Learn more about Brendan Kieley on his website. Follow him on Twitter.

Read an excerpt on the publisher’s page and find out more about the goal of the novel at NBC. Watch an interview when the authors talk about the story behind the story. Reynolds and Kieley traveled to 15 cities to lead controlled conversations about how to stop racism. They were struck by the similarity in the questions: Why does this happen? Will racism ever end? How can we help?

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Deborah B. Ford

Deborah B. Ford

Deborah B. Ford, JLG’s Director of Library Outreach, is an award-winning library media specialist and international speaker with almost thirty years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools. Traveling across North America, she does workshops, library coaching, and professional development for school and public libraries. Deborah is the author of JLG's Booktalks to Go @ SLJ. She also maintains an award-winning coordinating online resource at Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @jlgdeborahford.

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