14 Booklist January 1 & 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
an intricate, deadly game, using humans as
pawns—and always, Death wins. This time,
their chessboard is Depression-era Seattle,
and the players are African American aviatrix Flora, and white musician Henry, whose
lives—and tenuous romance—are threatened.
The Ghosts of Heaven. By Marcus
Sedgwick. Roaring Brook, $17.99
(9781626721258). Gr. 9–12.
Four different narratives span centuries in
Sedgwick’s characteristically sophisticated
latest work. Readable in any order, each
is linked by spirals, a shape that occurs in
everything from astronomy to our DNA.
Gorgeously written and lush with big moments and bigger questions.
The Hired Girl. By Laura Amy Schlitz.
Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763678180).
In 1911, 14-year-old Joan clashes with
her father and flees to Baltimore, where she
becomes a hired girl in the household of a
wealthy Jewish family. With its vividly portrayed characters, this is a memorable novel
by a captivating storyteller.
I Crawl through It. By A. S. King. Little,
Brown, $18 (9780316334099). Gr. 9–12.
King’s newest novel crawls through the
psyches of four seniors trying to escape personal traumas in the face of daily bomb
threats at their high school. Beautiful prose,
poetry, and surreal imagery combine for an
utterly original story that urges readers to
question, love, and believe—or risk explosion.
More Happy Than Not. By Adam Silvera.
Soho Teen, $18.99 (9781616955601).
Teen Aaron Soto struggles with his sexuality in his macho Bronx neighborhood and
considers undergoing a memory-altering
procedure at the Leteo Institute to help him
forget he’s gay. A thought-provoking and supremely structured narrative.
Mosquitoland. By David Arnold. Viking,
$17.99 (9780451470775). Gr. 8–12.
Sixteen-year-old Mary Iris Malone (“Mim”)
embarks on an unforgettable road trip to visit
her ailing mother. Honest insights into men-
tal illness, inventive characters, and Mim’s
quirky worldview make this bighearted debut
one to remember.
The Porcupine of Truth. By Bill Konigs-berg. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99
(9780545648936). Gr. 9–12.
Carson meets Aisha and falls in love, but
just his luck, she’s a lesbian. Anyway, they
hit it off and embark upon a mission to find
Carson’s long-lost grandfather. Their quixotic
search for truth—thorny as a porcupine—
tests their friendship. But what a fascinating,
rarely depicted friendship it is.
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. By Stephanie Oakes. Dial, $17.99 (9780803740709).
In a bone-chillingly beautiful first-person
narrative, Minnow recounts her childhood
in a religious cult and the act of disobedience that led her father to chop off her
hands. Oakes’ harrowing retelling of “The
Handless Maiden” plumbs the depths both
of Minnow’s righteous rage and her empowering recovery.
Shadowshaper. By Daniel José Older.
Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99
(9780545591614). Gr. 8–11.
Sierra is a “shadowshaper,” able to animate
art with the spirit of a departed soul. Shadowshapers are a disappearing community in
which Sierra has a powerful role, and Older’s depiction of it weaves in commentary
on gentrification, cultural appropriation,
the shifting social mores of immigrants,
and more. A cinematically paced fantasy of
The Tightrope Walker. By David Almond.
Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763673109).
Set on the banks of the River Tyne, this fol-
lows Dominic and Holly as they grow from
children to adults, their lives periodically
disrupted whenever Vincent, a magnetic
punk, slithers in. Almond delves into im-
portant issues: how good stacks up against
evil, the question of choice versus chance,
and whether God is watching us, helping us,
or baiting us.
X. By Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon.
Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763669676).
Shabazz, the third daughter of Malcolm
X, and award-winner Magoon bring energy,
immediacy and emotional power to this
fictionalized biography told in Malcolm’s
first-person, present-tense voice. Satisfyingly
complete and never simplistic.
Detective Gordon: The First Case. By Ulf
Nilsson. Illus. by Gitte Spee. Tr. by Julia
Marshall. Gecko, $16.99 (9781927271490).
First published in Sweden, this illustrated
chapter book introduces Detective Gordon,
a toad, as he works on a case with his new
assistant. Endearing characters and a childlike sensibility are highlights of this quiet but
supremely amusing story.
The Detective’s Assistant. By Kate Hanni-gan. Little, Brown, $17 (9780316403511).
Eleven-year-old Nell, an orphan, turns up
on the doorstep of her aunt, Kate Warne, the
first female detective at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Kate has no time for her niece,
but Nell, who proves herself talented at detecting, has other ideas. A strong story with a
Full Cicada Moon. By Marilyn Hilton.
Dial, $17.99 (9780525428756). Gr. 4–7.
In elegant free verse, Hilton catalogs the
journey of half-black, half-Japanese Mimi,
TOP OF THE LIST WINNER
Iknow that I might die in here. I’m well aware of that. I know that you might kill me.
In fact, I think you probably will. But you can’t
kill my thoughts. Thoughts don’t need a body.
They don’t need air. They don’t need food or
water or blood.
From The Bunker Diary, by Kevin Brooks
hasn’t had a
massage in years.
He has a cheesy
smile and uses
too much hair
We’re made for
–A. S. King