Jessilynn

I was that weird kid who always had her face buried in a book -- walking around the house, in the car, at the park, in the lunchroom. Other children were alright, but I'd  rather be reading. (All of the early warning signs of an English major.) My mom used to force me to "go out and play." I would pout about it, then hide a book under my shirt and sprint into the backyard thinking she was a real sucker. Some things never change. The leaning towers of unread books in my house are a sure indication of my addiction, but I've learned to live with it, and I now know I am not alone.   (The picture is of me at Mother Goose's grave in Boston.)

 

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A Wish in the Dark Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781536204940
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick - March 24th, 2020

I picked this book up at the Winter Institute in Baltimore in January before it was published because the representative from Candlewick Press described it as, "'Les Mis.' set in Thailand." Our protagonist, Pong is born in prison, and therefore not allowed into the general population until he reaches the age of 13. At age 9, he has a split-second to make a decision to escape; and he takes it. Life outside of Namwok Prison is unfortunately, not all that different, and the harsh realities of the "real world" hit Pong hard. Certainly, the warden's daughter, Nok, has things easier. Or does she? This magical, tightly woven novel serves up a fistful of moral and ethical points of discussion, both implied and overt. From trusting your heart and staying strong, to seeing things from another's point of view, kids 9 and up will have plenty to chew on. Frankly, so will adults.


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Pluto Gets the Call Cover Image
By Adam Rex, Laurie Keller (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781534414532
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beach Lane Books - November 12th, 2019

My personal pick for the 2020 Caldecott, this is narrative nonfiction at its comedic best! And I highly recommend brushing up on your favorite foreign language accents prior to a read-aloud. Pluto is our host, and he's thrilled to have visitors. Unfortunately, we meet him right before he gets "the call." Pluto is devestated by the news that mean scientists from Earth (a planet he'd rather not discuss right now, thank you very much) have downgraded him to a "plutoid" or "ice dwarf" from the thing he loves most: being a planet! While he deals with the bad news, he shows us around, and we get to meet all 8 of the other planets. By the time this book is over, you'll be howling with laughter and brimming with knowledge - no matter your age. Thank you, Adam Rex and Laurie Keller for saving me from having to come up with a new acronym to teach my child the names of the planets in our solar system. "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nothing," just doesn't have the same ring to it. If you need proof that this book is memorable, my 3-year-old does not sing herself to sleep anymore. She recites Pluto Gets the Call from beginning to end.


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Song for a Whale Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781524770266
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Yearling - December 31st, 2019

Iris can fix a radio, but she can't hear one. Blue 55 (a humpback whale) can sing, but his song is at a different frequency, so no whales sing back. When Iris finds out about Blue 55, she is drawn to his story. Iris knows what it's like not to fit in.  She can't convince her mother that going to an a"all-deaf" school would be better for her than the school she is in.  Blue 55 can't figure out why none of his fellow whales don't sing back to him, and he doesn't have his own pod.  Iris feels so strongly about Blue 55, that she convinces her band teacher to allow the kids to gather and all play their instruments at the same frequency that Blue 55 sings.  She mixes and cuts sections of the music to make a special Bluee 55 "song."  Now, she's just got to figure out a way to get him to hear it.

I love the way Iris keeps trying, hoping, and wishing for different ways to make her dreams come true throughout this book.  There are unanticipated hurdles, wrong turns, and dead ends.  And she never gives up.  Tenacity without a bad attitude.  Now that's a girl after my own heart.  She'll grab your heart as well.  Best for 9 and up.


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Sharon, Lois and Bram's Skinnamarink Cover Image
By Sharon Hampson, Lois Lillienstein, Bram Morrison, Qin Leng (Illustrator), Randi Hampson (Contributions by)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780735264069
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tundra Books - September 3rd, 2019

National bestseller

Based on the classic folk song made famous by a beloved trio of children's entertainers, this picture book is best sung aloud! "Skinnamarink" is a timeless anthem of love and inclusion.


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The World That We Knew: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781501137570
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 24th, 2019

I can not tell you how many times my heart broke reading this book.  I can not tell you how many times I cried.  I can only tell you that it is exquisite.  It is the kind of book that is rich with mesmerizing characters.  (And not just the magical ones.)  Not since The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer have I seen an author capture the life of a German Jew with such profound intuition.  This may be a novel, but it is also, certainly, someone's story.  Unfortunately, countless "someones."  And there is never a doubt in the reader's mind that if we could get our children out of a dangerous land, we too would create a golem to defend and protect them.  I had a desperate need to believe in Ava, our golem, because there was so little else for the characters in the story to believe in; so little to have faith in; but so very much sacrifice.  You'll feel brittle but thankful for what you have when you reach the electric ending.


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The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781984802439
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - February 19th, 2019

Set in Michigan, torn from the headlines, and full of sibling complications, Anissa Gray knows how to plunge you right into the heart of a family in turmoil.  Althea and Proctor are sent to jail for a series foodstamp and fake donation crimes associated with their resturaunt, which results in a community betrayed and ripped apart.  Althea's sisters, Lillian and Viola are all struggling with what to do next, not to mention that Proctor and Althea's two daughters now have no where to go.  Kim and Baby Vi are left twisting in the wind while the adults around them try to release the painful family history that haunts them even as adults.  Nothing comes easy for this tough clan, especially forgiveness.


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Solving for M Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781101932902
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown Books for Young Readers - May 28th, 2019

Perfect for fans of Raymie Nightingale and The Fourteenth Goldfish, this heartfelt middle-grade novel seamlessly melds STEAM content with first loss in an honest and striking debut.


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The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781524713812
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Schwartz & Wade - August 27th, 2019

Sarah Miller shows us that once again, the truth really is stranger than fiction.  How could five children have been put on public display?  How could babies have been kept from their mother...even though she lived across the street?!  I can not remember ever feeling such emotion while reading a nonfiction title.  It was a shock to my system!  Ask anyone you know over the age of 70, and they know who the Dionne Quintuplets are.  People in the 1930s spent their last dime to come see the first five children born to one woman.  The appalling decisions that the Ontario government made in regard to these babies will haunt you long after you close the book.


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The River: A novel Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780525521877
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - March 5th, 2019

It’s easier to get into a kayak from a dock than the shore, and you know what to expect from a Peter Heller novel, right?  Wrong.  On both.  Get ready to grip the sides and find your balance, because this isn’t just another beautifully written novel.  Full of invigorating panoramas and thrills, Heller once again captivated me from page 1.  Jack and Wynn know that kayaking in the Canadian wilderness isn’t for the faint of heart, and they are certainly up to the task.  But they don’t count on charting a course around a sudden, raging forest fire, picking up a severely injured woman, or avoiding drunk brutes along the way.  Pretend that Die Hard (the movie) was written by Wendell Berry and you've got it.  If you appreciate both, the way that I do, you're going to want a copy for every friend you've got.


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The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501197048
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Gallery Books - April 23rd, 2019

When your computer just won't stop crashing, the only SURE fix is to turn it off and turn it back on again.  And Heather is tired of her crippling depression crashing her life.  She is so tired, in fact, that she is willing to try a controversial new therapy that uses propofol (aka "The Michael Jackson drug") to induce a coma in its participants.  This is not sleep.  This is a coma.  Heather's brain is, in short, dead for 15 minutes, twice a week, and then resuscitated.  If you can not imagine what would drive someone to such a drastic measure, imagine that you are drowning.  Now imagine that a life ring is right in front of you.  How badly do you want to grab that ring?  For Heather, that ring is suicide.  It's the only way out of drowning.  I didn't say it was logical.  In fact, it's downright horrifying.  The sheer terror of the compulsion to kill herself every day is what drives her to the radical decision to attempt a literal reboot.  It changes her life forever.  The candor of the writing, combined with the desperate hopefulness of its author is inspiring.  Inner struggles are difficult to convey, and I applaud Heather for her ability to bring light and clarity to such a dark, difficult illness.  Read it, share it, start a discussion with the people around you.  This is a wonderful reminder that you just never know what someone might be struggling with.

For a full and fascinating account of the trial, click here.  And to see the effects of the propofol on blood flow (rCBF regional cerebral blood flow), view the image below.  Woah.