14 Booklist January 1 & 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
drug dealers, he teams up with a drunken,
down-on-his-luck masked wrestler to fight
back. Their strange but tender relationship
grounds this compassionate, violent, and
A Small Madness. By Dianne Touchell.
Groundwood, $16.95 (9781554988372).
Rose is pregnant, and only Michael, the
father, and her best friend, Liv, know the
secret. Calling the baby a “virus,” Rose
sinks into a melancholy with horrific results. What begins with a standard YA plot
explodes into one of the year’s most disturbing dramas.
Steeplejack. By A. J. Hartley. Tor Teen,
$17.99 (9780765383426). Gr. 8–12.
Repute as a death-defying “steeplejack”
leads to Anglet being hired to solve the theft
of a luxorite stone before a civil war breaks
out. Like many other great fantasies, this
thriller, set in an alternate South Africa, brings
up a bevy of relevant subjects.
Still Life with Tornado. By A. S. King.
Dutton, $17.99 (9781101994887).
Sarah’s in the midst of an existential crisis,
but when she meets her 10- and 23-year-old
selves, they help her piece together some
hard truths about her family. King laces
Sarah’s restrained first-person narrative with
powerful images and offers compassionate,
but frank, insight into the damage abuse
leaves behind. (Top of the List winner—
The Sun Is Also a Star. By Nicola Yoon.
Delacorte, $18.99 (9780553496680).
Natasha has only hours left to prevent
her family’s deportation to Jamaica. Korean
American Daniel has to decide whether to
follow the path his parents want. It’s inconvenient, but when they meet, sparks fly. This
lyrical account of one life-changing day is artful, smart, and swoonworthy.
This Savage Song. By Victoria Schwab.
Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780062380852).
Verity, a not-so-distant America, is overrun with monsters, including the musical,
soul-stealing Sunai. When Sunai August
meets Kate, daughter of one of the city’s most
powerful men, they find themselves thrown
together despite existing on opposite sides of
Verity’s underground war.
Whatever. By S. J. Goslee. Roaring Brook,
$17.99 (9781626723993). Gr. 9–12.
High-school junior Mike is doubly surprised when his girlfriend dumps him and
informs him he’s gay. But nothing’s more
shocking than this: his former rival looks
a little less like competition and more like
a crush. A coming-of-age story that’s both
sweet and hilarious.
When the Moon Was Ours. By Anna-Marie
McLemore. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne,
$18.99 (9781250058669). Gr. 9–12.
Sam and Miel begin a tentative romance
even as Sam is drawn to bacha posh, a Pakistani practice where families allow a daughter
to live as a boy. But the mysterious Bonner
sisters are paying attention, and they could
destroy everything. A fairy tale infused with
magic realism and Latino folklore.
Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a
Mouse to the Moon. By Torben Kuhlmann.
Illus. by the author. Tr. by David Henry
Wilson. North-South, $19.95
(9780735842625). Gr. 1–4.
In this beautifully illustrated adventure, a
stargazing mouse is inspired to build a rocket
ship and fly to the moon—something not
even humans have yet accomplished. The
story is rich with the spirit of discovery, as the
mouse studies, sketches, builds, and ultimately takes to the skies.
As Brave as You. By Jason Reynolds.
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $16.99
(9781481415903). Gr. 5–8.
Genie and his brother are spending the
summer with their grandparents in backwoods Virginia—a far cry from their home
in Brooklyn. Inquisitive Genie’s explorations gradually uncover deep rifts and hurts
in his family as well as enduring love. A
moving, vivid account of intergenerational
The Best Man. By Richard Peck. Dial,
$16.99 (9780803738393). Gr. 4–6.
Two weddings bracket this amusing and ultimately moving novel. In the first, Archer is a
six-year-old ring bearer suffering from a wardrobe malfunction. In the second, he’s the best
man. Archer’s dad, his grandfather, and his gay
uncles are portrayed with particular affection
and respect in this intergenerational story.
Gertie’s Leap to Greatness. By Kate
Beasley. Illus. by Jillian Tamaki. Farrar,
$16.99 (9780374302610). Gr. 5–8.
When fifth-grader Gertie learns her estranged
mother is planning to move away, she devises
a five-phase plan to get her mom’s attention.
Beasley takes on real-life problems while remaining true to the feelings of childhood.
Ghosts. By Raina Telgemeier. Illus. by
the author. Scholastic/Graphix, $24.99
(9780545540612). Gr. 4–7.
Cat’s scared of the ghosts in their new home
on the Northern California coast, but her sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis, is enchanted
by them. Telgemeier’s graphic novel deftly
explores fears about death, and her jaunty,
jewel-toned art enlivens the story beautifully.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon. By
Kelly Barnhill. Algonquin, $16.95
(9781616205676). Gr. 5–8.
Every year, a baby is sacrificed to appease an
evil witch—though Xan, the witch, actually
rescues each infant. When she accidentally
feeds baby Luna moonlight, the child gains
powers, prompting Xan to adopt her and
guide her magical education. A richly imagined read filled with whimsy and treachery.
Hour of the Bees. By Lindsay Eagar. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763679224). Gr. 5–8.
Twelve-year-old Carolina eschews most of
the Mexican half of her culture. When she’s
forced to spend the summer in New Mexico
with her ailing grandfather, the long summer
feels unbearable until Grandfather Serge begins telling half-magical family stories.
The Inquisitor’s Tale; or, The Three
Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. By
Adam Gidwitz. Illus. by Hatem Aly. Dutton,
$17.99 (9780525426165). Gr. 5–8.
Gidwitz plunges into medieval France to tell
the incredible story of three gifted children, a
holy greyhound, and the people whose lives
they touch. Taking cues from The Canterbury
Tales, he nimbly weaves history, excitement,
and multiple narrative threads into a taut, inspired (and illuminated) adventure.
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel. By Firoozeh
Dumas. Clarion, $16.99 (9780544612310).
Set in 1978 California, Dumas’ funny and
affecting novel tells the story of Iranian-born
Cindy Yousefzadeh as she navigates middle
school during the Iranian hostage crisis. As
Cindy’s family becomes the target of prejudice, readers will root for the Yousefzadehs’
safety and laugh at Cindy’s relatable mishaps.
Maybe a Fox. By Kathi Appelt and Alison
McGhee. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $16.99
(9781442482425). Gr. 4–7.
When Jules Sherman loses her sister in an
accident, she struggles to adjust to life “After
Sylvie.” At the same time, a newborn fox, Senna, feels a spiritual connection to Jules, and
Lord Bertulf, as
you may know, is a
great man. By that,
I mean he’s very
chunky. He’s about
as round as he is
tall. And he has no
hair on him. Not
anywhere. His eyebrows are bare, his
head is bare, his cheeks are as bare as
a baby’s bottom—but chubbier. He’s not
a great lord. —Adam Gidwitz