Posts Tagged children’s books

Indie Spotlight: Ashay ByThe Bay, Black Children’s Bookstore Vallejo CA

Given the challenges of the pandemic, many independent bookstores have turned  increasingly to online sales to survive. Deborah Day, founder and CEO of  “The #1 Black Children’s Bookstore,” Ashay By The Bay, Vallejo, California, made hers an online shop from the beginning in 2000. It survived the recession of 2008 and is still going strong. Fittingly, Ashay is a powerful Yoruba word that means “it shall be so.” It is also Deborah Day’s given name.

So! Day has developed an engaging and user-friendly website (www.ashaybythebay.com) with over 800 titles, from  baby books to picture books to fiction and nonfiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Most have black American and African subjects, themes, and characters.  But since there is a large Latin American community nearby she also has school collections of Spanish and bilingual books for them. More about her school collections in a moment.

It’s exciting to see so many books for kids about black culture, people, and history gathered onto one curated site. I have now added several titles to my staggering must read pile. For instance, though I’m not a fantasy or science fiction fan at all, I can’t wait to read Tomi Adeywmi’s West-African inspired fantasy, Children of Blood and Bone.  Before the week is out I will probably also dip into Nnedi Okarafor’s imaginative and highly praised tale of magic and adventure in Nigeria, Akata Witch. As Day understands, good books for kids are good for everybody!

Before COVID, Day advertised grew her business by going to events, holding book fairs, and helping groups to conduct book fairs. She loved making in-person contacts that way. Now that those events are no longer possible she is relying more on social media ads, and she is hearing from people across the country.

The Pandemic also poses a challenge to her goal of getting children’s books about black subjects and black experience into the schools where they can have more impact on students’ understanding. Few schools are buying books right now and many students are doing distance learning. What an important time to build a home library, Day says. Of course there are many digital book available online, but the students are already screen-weary from school work. Day loves books and believes and holding a book to read is a more satisfying experience.

During shutdown, people can consult the Ashay website for the lists of the book collections, organized by age/grade e level, that Day offers to schools, and find ideas for books to order. These collections include many core curriculum books, but also give a chance for some independent publishers to become better known. Here are just a few of the many titles on her lists for middle graders:

Biographies: The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Young Readers’ Edition) by Kamala Harris ; Portraits of African- American Heroes, by Tonya Bolden , including figures from dance, law athletics, science, and more. Who Was Jesse Owens? By James Buckley and Gregory Copeland; Brave. Black. First, 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World, by Cheryl Hudson; Hidden Figures, Young Reader’s Edition, byMargot Lee Shetterly; Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids by Kimberly Brown Pellum;

Award-winning Fiction:

P.S. Be Eleven, Rita Williams-Garcia; The Season of Styx Malone, by Kekla Magoon; Harbor Me by Jaqueline Woodson; Ghost and Look Both Ways, by Jayson Reynolds; A Sky Full of Stars by Linda Williams Jackson;Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes; The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

Nonfiction:

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba;28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World by Charles R. Smith; The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love, and Truth, edited by Wade and Cheryl Hudson; Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men who Changed America, by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

The Arts:

Radiant Child: The story of Young Artist Jean Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe; Who is Stevie Wonder? By Jim Gigliotti; The Legends of Hip Hop by Justin Bua; The Rose That Grew from Concrete,by Nikki Giovanni and Tupak Shakur; Poetry for Young People: African American Poetry, edited by Arnold Rampersad and Marcellus Blount; Who is Stevie Wonder? By Jim Gigliotti and Who HQ’; Misty Copeland: Life in Motion.

December 2020:  an ideal time to get to know more about black culture from the excellent books being published for children.   It’s also an ideal time to give beautiful, real books to children who’ve been doing schoolwork online all day. And let’s please bypass the chains when we buy these books (Amazon will survive the economic crisis) and support independent booksellers like Ashay instead. A triple win!

 

 

December New Releases

It’s time to explore new book releases for the middle-grade readers in your life! I’m sitting at my desk, in my cozy office with a view of the fresh snow on the banks of the river beyond. The steam from my cup of tea swirls into the air, my Labrador retriever is snuggled back behind my desk. All I need is a great book to enjoy, to complete this perfect winter’s morning. Here are some great titles to enjoy with the younger readers in your life.  They make perfect gifts! Ordering through the links on Bookshop.org supports local booksellers. Happy shopping and happy holidays!

Available Now!

A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem: The Final Gambit by Christopher Healy, Walden Pond Press

Buy this book here.

It is 1884, and Molly and Cassandra Pepper, Emmett Lee, and Emmett’s long-lost father are sailing back to New York following their death-defying adventure in Antarctica. Having discovered a subterranean world at the South Pole while saving the world from certain doom once again, surely their accomplishments will finally earn them the recognition they deserve.

Unless, of course . . . well, you know by now.

And so do the Peppers and Lees. They’re used to having their deeds covered up by the government in order to protect powerful men, and frankly, they’re sick of it. And when their return to New York doesn’t go the way they’d planned, they decide that maybe it’s best to go into hiding and accept that, perhaps, the forces aligned against them are just too great.

As the 1884 presidential election approaches, however, our heroes discover a plot against leading candidate Thomas Edison that only they can stop. It’ll be up to them to decide whether to come out of hiding, make the perilous journey to Washington, DC, and do the right thing one last time. Even if it means risking everything they have left.

The Rembrandt Conspiracy by Deron Hicks, HMH Books for Young Readers

Buy this book here.

In this standalone companion to The Van Gogh Deception, Art and Camille team up once again to solve a large museum theft, using one of the biggest heists in history to help them solve the case. Perfect for fans of Dan Brown and the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and Book Scavenger series.

Something’s brewing at the National Portrait Gallery Museum in Washington, D.C. twelve-year-old Art is sure of it. But his only proof that a grand heist is about to take place is iced mocha, forty-two steps, and a mysterious woman who appears like clockwork in the museum.

When Art convinces his best friend, Camille, that the heist is real, the two begin a thrilling chase through D.C. to uncover a villainous scheme that could be the biggest heist since the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum theft in 1990. With a billion dollars’ worth of paintings on the line, the clock is ticking for Art and Camille to solve the conspiracy.

Build It! Make It! Become a Super Engineer by Rob Ives, Beetle Press

Buy this book here.

Have fun powering up tiny versions of real-life vehicles and robots. Step-by-step, clear instructions are combined with cool illustrations to show you how to make all kinds of aircraft, boats, cars and robots – safely. Simple household items can be transformed into 36 awesome MAKERSPACE MODELS.

. Launch a rocket with air and water power

. Build a soda bottle submarine

. Make an insect-droid with wire legs

. Explore eco-friendly solar power and more.

Unplug and become a super engineer and learn the science behind each project. Building your own stuff is inspiring for the budding engineers of the future. With hands-on fun learning, using high interest, brightly presented photographs of the finished result for guidance, it’s a cool way to spend time.

A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton, Knopf Books for Young Readers

Buy this book here.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon meets Pax in this fantastical tale of a wolf who forms an unlikely alliance with Baba Yaga to save the forest from a wicked tsar.

Since she was a pup, Zima has been taught to fear humans–especially witches–but when her family is threatened, she has no choice but to seek help from the witch Baba Yaga.

Baba Yaga never does magic for free, but it just so happens that she needs a wolf’s keen nose for a secret plan she’s brewing . . . Before Zima knows what’s happening, the witch has cast a switching spell and run off into the woods, while Zima is left behind in Baba Yaga’s hut–and Baba Yaga’s body!

Meanwhile, a young village girl named Nadya is also seeking the witch’s help, and when she meets Zima (in Baba Yaga’s form), they discover that they face a common enemy. With danger closing in, Zima must unite the wolves, the witches and the villagers against an evil that threatens them all.

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy by Melissa De La Cruz, Roaring Brook Press

Buy this book here.

Real life and fairy tales collide in Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy, book one in the new middle-grade Never After series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Descendants series, Melissa de la Cruz.

Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho’s sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there’s no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens.

Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent–he’s real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!

Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.

Hatch The Overthrow by Kenneth Oppel, Knopf Books for Young Readers

Buy this book here.

Fans left desperate for more at the end of Bloom will dive into this second book of the Overthrow trilogy–where the danger mounts and alien creatures begin to hatch.

First the rain brought seeds. Seeds that grew into alien plants that burrowed and strangled and fed.

Seth, Anaya, and Petra are strangely immune to the plants’ toxins and found a way to combat them. But just as they have their first success, the rain begins again. This rain brings eggs. That hatch into insects. Not small insects. Bird-sized mosquitos that carry disease. Borer worms that can eat through the foundation of a house. Boat-sized water striders that carry away their prey.

But our heroes aren’t able to help this time–they’ve been locked away in a government lab with other kids who are also immune. What is their secret? Could they be…part alien themselves? Whose side are they on?

Kenneth Oppel expertly escalates the threats and ratchets up the tension in this can’t-read-it-fast-enough adventure with an alien twist. Readers will be gasping for the next book as soon as they turn the last page…

Week of December 7

Exploring the White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home by Kate Andersen Brower, HarperCollins Publishers

Exploring the White House: Inside America's Most Famous Home

Buy this book here.

Have you ever wondered what exactly goes on inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Sure, the president of the United States works and resides there, but do you know who helps keep this historic house running?

It’s no simple task, especially when there are important state events and foreign dignitaries—in addition to presidential pups, mischievous children, and even a couple of ghosts. And its Residence workers and first ladies make sure everything is in check and running smoothly.

Featuring fascinating photos, fun facts, and memorable quotes from the residents and first ladies of the White House, Exploring the White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home is the perfect read for any curious kid!

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggit-Phillips (author) and Isabelle Follath (illustrator), Aladdin Paperbacks

Buy this book here.

Lemony Snicket meets Roald Dahl in this riotously funny, deliciously macabre, and highly illustrated tale of a hungry beast, a vain immortal man, and a not-so-charming little girl who doesn’t know she’s about to be eaten.

Beauty comes at a price. And no one knows that better than Ebenezer Tweezer, who has stayed beautiful for 511 years. How, you may wonder? Ebenezer simply has to feed the beast in the attic of his mansion. In return for meals of performing monkeys, statues of Winston Churchill, and the occasional cactus, Ebenezer gets potions that keep him young and beautiful, as well as other presents.

But the beast grows ever greedier with each meal, and one day he announces that he’d like to eat a nice, juicy child next. Ebenezer has never done anything quite this terrible to hold onto his wonderful life. Still, he finds the absolutely snottiest, naughtiest, and most frankly unpleasant child he can and prepares to feed her to the beast.

The child, Bethany, may just be more than Ebenezer bargained for. She’s certainly a really rather rude houseguest, but Ebenezer still finds himself wishing she didn’t have to be gobbled up after all. Could it be Bethany is less meal-worthy and more…friend-worthy?

 

Week of December 14

Mighty Justice: The Untold Story of Civil Rights Trailblazer Dovey Johnson Lovetree by Katie McAbe Adapted by Jabari Asim Roaring Brook Press

Buy this book here

A young reader’s adaptation of Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights, the memoir of activist and trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree, by Katie McCabe.

Raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the height of Jim Crow, Dovey Johnson Roundtree felt the sting of inequality at an early age and made a point to speak up for justice. She was one of the first Black women to break the racial and gender barriers in the US Army; a fierce attorney in the segregated courtrooms of
Washington, DC; and a minister in the AME church, where women had never before been ordained as clergy. In 1955, Roundtree won a landmark bus desegregation case that eventually helped end “separate but equal” and dismantle Jim Crow laws across the South.

Developed with the full support of the Dovey Johnson Roundtree Educational Trust and adapted from her memoir, this book brings her inspiring, important story and voice to life.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Week of December 21

The Dog Who Saved the World by Ross Welford, Schwartz & Wade Books

The Dog Who Saved the World

Buy this book here.

In this fast-paced time travel adventure into the future, a girl and her dog set out to save the world from a deadly plague.

He smells terrible. He’ll eat literally anything. And he’s humanity’s only hope….

When 12-year-old Georgie makes friends with an eccentric retired scientist, she becomes the test-subject for a thrilling new experiment: a virtual reality 3-D version of the future. At first, it’s just a game. But when a deadly virus threatens to wipe out every pup on the planet, Georgie and her beloved (and very smelly) dog, Mr. Mash, along with best friend Ramzy, must embark on a desperate quest to save the dogs– and also all of humanity. And they have to do it without actually leaving the room. This high-concept, astonishing new novel from the author of Time Traveling with a Hamster takes us on an epic adventure, and asks the question: is it really possible to alter the future?

STEM Tuesday — Coding– Book List

Let’s get coding! Why? Because coding skills develop students’ logical thinkng and problem solving skills, teach structural thinking and how things work, and is fun and rewarding. We’ve assembled a varied list of books on coding designed to capture a middle-grade reader’s imagination.

Code This Game! Make Your Game Using Python, Then Break Your Game To Create a New One! by Meg Ray and Keith Zulawnik

This is a great book for instruction on how teens can create their own video game.

Code This! Puzzles, Games, Challenges and Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver In You by Jennifer Szymanski

Join the Coder Crew’s mission and learn coding with puzzles, games, and fun characters.

Can You Crack the Code? A Fascinating History of Ciphers and Cryptography by Ella Schwartz; illustrated by Lily Williams

Delve into the history of codes in this fun book that introduces readers to wartime secrets and hidden messages.

Coding Creations by Janet Slingerland

Young readers will use SCRATCH, a computer language, to create their own music, stories, games, and animations.

Video Game Coding by Janet Slingerland

Slingerland takes readers on the path of discovery with this title about coding video games.

So, You Want to Be A Coder? The Ultimate Guide to a Career in Programming, Video Game Creation, Robotics, and More!  by Jane Bedell

Readers who have begun having fun with coding will enjoy reading about STEM careers in coding, from cyber security to artificial intelligence to gaming.

Coding Games in Scratch: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Building Your Own Computer Games by Jon Woodcock

Learn to master SCRATCH in this step-by-step guide for young coders.

Code Your Own Games: 20 Games to Create with Scratch by Max Wainewright

More coding adventures await young readers in this additional Wainewright title.

Scratch Programming Playground: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games by Al Sweigart

Here’s another title that uses SCRATCH to engage young coders.

Code Like A Girl: Rad Tech Projects and Practical Tips by Miriam Peskowitz

Step-by-step projects will guide young readers through the creative process, self-expressions, and telling their own stories. Projects include smartphone gloves and a motion sensor to tell when someone enters your room.

Spies, Code Breakers and Secret Agents: A World War II Book for Kids by Carole P. Roman

Take a look at another facet of coding with this historical STEM book that takes readers on a tour of the undercover operations that helped the Allies win WWII.

Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change The World by Reshma Saujani

Be inspired by the creator of the Girls Who Code organization to get hands-on with this book. Create apps, games, and robots to make the world a better place.

Secret Coders 6-book series by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

Although this series is fiction, former computer programming teacher Yang delivers an exciting mystery full of logic puzzles and basic coding instructions. Pair with any of the other coding books above.


Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also served as Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2020 international title about farm and food is THE FARM THAT FEEDS US: A Year In The Life Of An Organic Farm. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. The Sibert Honor author of Sea Otter Heroes, Newman has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, and a Eureka! Gold Medal from the California Reading Association for Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com. Stay tuned for her upcoming Planet Ocean – spring 2021.