Children's Book Buyer & Programming Director
I am a kidlit & YA specialist to the core! I read it all, from board books to children's nonfiction to middle grade adventure to complex young adult novels. I look for books that offer readers something new--an original imaginative spark, an undeniable human connection, or a distinctive point of view. I also love nonfiction that ignites curiosity and expands the worldview of young readers. Reading with my two kids at home (one eager and one more reluctant) plus literacy work with emerging readers keeps me honest, seeing what kids at different stages and levels respond to (or don't).
In this gorgeously illustrated jungle adventure, a boy threads his canoe through the murky waters and deep green shadows of a mangrove forest--braving hidden eyes, daunting waves, and his own unease to get to his very first day of school in the Mekong Delta. Kids will love getting lost in the beautiful pages of one boy’s quest to conquer his fears as he embarks on his next great journey: going to school!
With a Rraaak and a Pssheew and a pitter patter STOMP, everybody in the red brick building's suddenly AWAKE, launching a runaway late-night cacophony that slowly quiets as calm is restored in this rhythmic bedtime winner certain to lull tiny listeners to sleep.
Delicate and ethereal and deeply profound, this breathtaking maker's-eye view of what makes a bird a bird inspires gratitude and wonder at the almost unbearably miraculous improbability of life.
Colors, shapes, and positional words collide in whimsical, unexpected, and ever-changing ways in a book cleverly designed to make toddlers laugh while they practice valuable conceptual skills.
I adore this quirky story of a little log princess and the wooden robot brother who loves her. It’s not a "tale as old as time," but it's a pretty darn good one. Readers should prepare to laugh, cry, and never look at a log the same way again.
Don't know an atom from a grapheme? Journey into the realm of our world's tiniest building blocks to see what they are, how they work, and how they could change the future in this fascinating intro to the science of the very (very) small!
Even though everyone calls her "Too Small Tola" because she's the youngest, Tola's pluck, determination, and can-do spirit prove she's anything BUT small when she puts her mind to getting something done in this exuberant early chapter book set in Lagos, Nigeria.
An adorable but risk averse introvert seeking a quiet staycation gets pulled out of his shell by one of the most irresistible creatures imaginable in an exuberant ode to friendship sure to make even the most curmudgeonly reader smile.
In a world of irresistible hummingbears and stinktastic screechers, two determined kids--an artist and a naturalist--fight to protect a threatened ecosystem in this impassioned tale of love, loss, and the magic of angry tears.
Filled with fascinating facts, a touching ursine-human friendship, and gorgeous jungle backdrops, this semi-autobiographical animal rescue adventure will thrill budding conservationists and animal lovers alike!
In which our ordinary, unheroic narrator meets a prince, breaks an ankle, gets many C minuses, parties with pirates, dreams about a rock, gets attacked by a lake, and does something very remarkable indeed. A sheer delight from start to finish!
Four intrepid explorers separated by over a century. Two impossible dreams. Two perilous races to the finish in the icy, inhospitable, climes of the southern pole -- battling frostbite, scurvy, icy crevasses, and the limits of human endurance. Each race can only have one winner, and there's no guarantee of survival (in either century) in Barone's riveting and well-researched ode to the treacherous allure and grueling realities of high-stakes exploration.
Marked by a shameful water curse after freeing a criatura from the town police, Cece Rios knows not to call attention to herself in her community of devoted Sun god descendants. But when El Sombrerón takes her sister, she's done playing by the rules. Whether escaping her risk-averse family's watchful eyes, shaving her head, teaming up with the legendary criatura Coyote, or tricking the cruel desert brujas into thinking she's one of them, Cece will stop at nothing to sneak into Devil's Alley and bring her sister home. Readers will adore this exciting adventure inhabited by the magical creatures of mesoamerican mythology and infused with Spanish and Nahuatl phrases throughout.
While cooking for a bustling logging camp, Mei Hao wrestles with what her future holds as she spins hopeful tales of folkloric caretaker Auntie Po and her blue water buffalo. A moving story about racism, loyalty, and the power of myth set after the Chinese Exclusion Act.
A bear cub of a girl chafes against rules and expectations in her aristocratic Athenian house while a slave with the soul of an artist seeks freedom from his bonds. Destined never to meet in the human world, their fates entwine through love and tragedy, leading each of them on unexpected and perilous paths through the ancient world -- while the beautiful, vengeful, generous gods tip the scales from above.
Blending verse and prose, archaeological context, and a lesson in Socratic questioning from the master himself, this ambitious novel offers philosophical readers plenty of food for thought. Perhaps not for the casual or reluctant reader, this one will offer a unique reading experience for those thoughtful and inquisitive middle school readers looking for something a bit more complex! I've never read anything quite like it.
Moth and Sani's incandescent connection is undeniable--and launches them on a road trip to honor their ancestors, rewrite their stories, and overcome the pain of their pasts in this astonishing, heart-shattering novel with a TWIST ending we didn't see coming.
Ever a slight outsider within her Sault Ste. Marie community as an unenrolled Anishinaabe descendant on her deceased father's side and a member of one of the town's wealthiest white families on her mother's, Daunis has long felt pulled between worlds. But suddenly her tangled family ties, love of hockey, and passion for science uncomfortably collide as she investigates a string of drug-related deaths in the community--deaths that hit Daunis way too close to home. Filled with Anishinaabemowin phrases and compelling cultural context, Boulley's immersive YA thriller packs a big punch that will stay with readers for a very long time.
After activist and YouTube star Kezi Smith is killed in police custody after a social justice rally, her sisters and best friends decide to honor her memory by taking a road trip through the south that Kezi herself had planned--using The Negro Motorist Green Book to make stops that intersect with the history of her own family. The Moulite Sisters offer a breathtakingly wide lens as they interrogate what it means to be Black and labeled "one of the good ones" (and what it means if you're not) in this searing and unpredictably complex examination of racism, power, sisterhood, and fame. There's also a lot more to this twisty tale than meets the eye, but to say more would spoil the experience of discovering that for yourself...
When a devious cat tricks them into a terrible trade, Amparo's exiled to a lush alternate world filled with ravening demons while the cat assumes their identity above in this savage and stunningly illustrated cautionary tale. Be careful what you wish for!
When you're part of a cool-girl werewolf squad eating boys after dark, the pressing question becomes how to cover your tracks when the body count starts to rise in this gruesomely campy feminist fantasy ... with bite!
In prose that captures the urgent horror of those pivotal days, Colbert places the shocking truth of the Tulsa Race Massacre firmly within our country's historical narrative. An important and accessible look at one of America's great sins.
In the tenements of Chicago, a Jewish refugee tracks a spate of sinister disappearances in this dazzling and occasionally gruesome historical mystery set against the backdrop of the White City and the Chicago World's Fair.