Street art, folk art, fine art, opera, jazz, musical theater—this year’s top 10 arts books for youth, reviewed in Booklist between No-
vember 1, 2014, and October 15, 2015, demonstrate how rich and
varied the arts can be. —Sarah Hunter
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. By Duncan
Tonatiuh. Illus. by the author. 2015. Abrams, $18.95 (9781419716478).
Packed with vibrant multimedia collage, this exceptional picture book profiles Mexican
artist José Guadalupe Posada, who created iconic Día de los Muertos skeletons.
The Game of Love and Death. By Martha Brockenbrough. 2015. Scholastic/Arthur A.
Levine, $17.99 (9780545668347). Gr. 9–12.
Flora, who’s black, and Henry, who’s white, fall in love while playing jazz in Depression-era Seattle. That’s trouble enough, but they’re also unwitting players in a deadly wager
between Love and Death.
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. By David Levithan. 2015. Dutton, $17.99
(9780525428848). Gr. 9–12.
Tiny Cooper, of Levithan and John Green’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson (2010), claims
center stage in this title, presented as a two-act script for his autobiographical musical.
I’ll Give You the Sun. By Jandy Nelson. 2014. Dial, $17.99 (9780803734968). Gr. 9–12.
In vivid, painterly prose, Nelson tells the intertwining stories of twins Noah and Jude,
whose simmering jealousies come to a head when their mother encourages them both
to apply to a prestigious art school.
Jake Makes a World: Jacob Lawrence, a Young Artist in Harlem. By Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts.
Illus. by Christopher Myers. 2015. Museum of Modern Art, $18.95 (9780870709654).
In this vivid glimpse into the early life of African American painter Jacob Lawrence, the
rhythms, shapes, and Matisse-like colors of Harlem in the 1930s make for a sumptuous
Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Raul Colón.
2014. Knopf, $17.99 (9780375856068). K–Gr. 3.
Leontyne Price, a black girl born in 1927, had an impossible dream: to become an opera
singer. Colón’s gently dappled artwork is the perfect accompaniment.
Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip through the Motown Sound. By Andrea Davis Pinkney. 2015.
illus. Roaring Brook, $19.99 (9781596439733). Gr. 5–8.
Cleverly narrated by the voice of the Groove, Pinkney’s journey through Motown reveals
the behind-the-scenes players and actions that helped build an iconic sound.
The Seventh Most Important Thing. By Shelley Pearsall. 2015. Knopf, $16.99
(9780553497281). Gr. 5–8.
When Arthur hurls a brick at the trash picker, James Hampton, he’s sentenced to community service with the man. Little does he know that the types of junk he collects for
Hampton are destined for an amazing piece of folk art.
Shadowshaper. By Daniel José Older. 2015. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99
(9780545591614). Gr. 8–11.
Muralist Sierra is dazzled when she’s ushered into a community of artists who animate
their work with spirits. But when a greedy anthropologist tries to appropriate their powers, Sierra fights back to protect her heritage.
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad.
By M. T. Anderson. 2015. illus. Candlewick, $25.99 (9780763668181). Gr. 9–12.
Dmitri Shostakovich defiantly wrote moving, galvanizing music while under siege in
Leningrad, and Anderson grippingly traces not only the life of the daring composer but
also the turbulent era of dizzying changes in the USSR.
TOP 10 ARTS BOOKS FOR YOUTH
My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s
Journey to Alvin Ailey.
By Lesa Cline-Ransome. Illus. by James
2015. 48p. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman, $17.99
(9781481422215). 792.82092. Gr. 1–3.
Robert Battle’s journey to become artistic
director of the renowned African American
dance company Alvin Ailey is an inspiring
story, filled with lessons on following one’s passion. Born in Florida, Robert was raised by his
aunt Anna, uncle Willie, and their daughter,
whom Robert called “Mama Dessie.” His was a
loving home filled with music and poetry. Despite wearing painful braces on his legs until
he was six, Robert longed to dance and perform. By age 13, he had traded karate lessons
for ballet, eventually gaining the notice of his
high-school dance teacher, who helped him get
into Miami’s New World School of the Arts.
Robert would go on to study at Juilliard and
form his own critically acclaimed dance company, Battleworks, before joining Alvin Ailey.
Ransome’s rich, pastel illustrations are filled
with expression and movement, showcasing
individualized faces and dancers in motion.
Occasionally text heavy, this is a picture book
for independent readers, though younger kids
will certainly enjoy hearing Robert’s story and
admiring the beautiful artwork. —Julia Smith
By Nancy Ohlin.
Nov. 2015. 320p. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $17.99
(9781442464902). Gr. 10–12.
An insecure piano prodigy falls for her
dashing music teacher in Ohlin’s contemporary novel. Seventeen-year-old Bea is used
to pretending. She pretends her workaholic
father cares about her. She pretends enthusiasm for her best friend Plum’s plan for them
to attend Harvard together. She pretends her
piano playing is just a hobby, and she’s already
labeled her dream of attending a conservatory
as unattainable. Dane Rossi, her handsome
new music teacher, changes all that. Having
attended Juilliard and toured Europe as a
pianist, Dane recognizes Bea’s talent and encourages her to develop it. Bea blossoms under
his tutelage; it seems inevitable that she’ll fall
in love, as “accidental” touches progress into
passionate kisses and, eventually, sex. Seen
from Bea’s naive viewpoint, the book reads almost like a romance, but readers will wonder
about Dane’s past long before Bea does, giving
the story an uncomfortable edge. Bea learns
about “age of consent” the hard way yet gains
self-confidence by the story’s end. A morally
complex novel good for discussions with older
students. —Krista Hutley
Da Vinci’s Tiger.
By Laura Malone Elliott.
Nov. 2015. 304p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99
(9780060744243). Gr. 9–12.
The Italian Renaissance is at its peak, and