2021 Newbery Award Winners

January 31st, 2021 by

During the pandemic, there are no more fancy awards shows with live performances, red carpets, and good-looking celebrities chatting with even better-looking celebrities while wearing glittering gowns. But you know one thing that social distancing cannot take away from us? Book awards!!!

On Monday, the American Library Association announced the 2021 Newbery Medal Winner and 2021 Newbery Honor Books. Every year, the Newbery is given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”

This year’s big winner is When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller — which also won the 2021 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature! When we were growing up, it seemed like only a few novels featured Asian-American kids like us, so it’s pretty exciting to see this book selected for both awards.

Plus, the double award was apparently essential to surprising the author with her Newbery news. Tae Keller told Publishers Weekly Magazine that she learned about her Asian/Pacific American Award on a Friday, but then her editor said the awards committee wanted to do a video call with her that Sunday. All weekend, she was super nervous and unsure what they were going to say. Then it turned out that the call was to surprise her with the news that she won the Newbery Medal! We don’t know about you, but that sounds about 100 times more thrilling than any of our recent Zoom calls!

So if you’re trying to decide what to read next, check out When You Trap a Tiger or Tae Keller’s first book, The Science of Breakable Thingsor any of this year’s Newbery Honor recipients (official descriptions from the publishers):

2021 Newbery Medal Winner:

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal — return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni’s health — Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice… and the courage to face a tiger.

2020 Newbery Honor Books:

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon’s adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. The boys are trapped! Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a 17-day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe. As the world sits vigil, people begin to wonder: How long can a group of ordinary kids survive in complete darkness, with no food or clean water? Luckily, the Wild Boars are a very extraordinary “ordinary” group. Combining firsthand interviews of rescue workers with in-depth science and details of the region’s culture and religion, author Christina Soontornvat — who was visiting family in Northern Thailand when the Wild Boars went missing — masterfully shows how both the complex engineering operation above ground and the mental struggles of the 13 young people below proved critical in the life-or-death mission. 

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood

Henry Brown wrote that long before he came to be known as Box, he “entered the world a slave.” He was put to work as a child and passed down from one generation to the next — as property. When he was an adult, his wife and children were sold away from him out of spite. Henry Brown watched as his family left bound in chains, headed to the deeper South. What more could be taken from him? But then hope — and help — came in the form of the Underground Railroad. Escape!

In stanzas of six lines each, each line representing one side of a box, celebrated poet Carole Boston Weatherford powerfully narrates Henry Brown’s story of how he came to send himself in a box from slavery to freedom.

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf — her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly

Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas are three siblings in 7th grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties.

Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing 7th grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his 12-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing.

The Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project — they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways.

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.

Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice — and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.

Are you adding any of these books to your to-read list? Or have you already read them? Leave a comment and let us know!

Best of 2020 Books

January 5th, 2021 by

For us, 2020 seems like it went by really quickly — at the same time that it seems like it dragged on forever. How could so much history happen in a single year, and yet almost every day from mid-March to December felt the same? It was certainly a challenging period for everyone, and a time of loss and grief for many. We hope that you and your families, friends, and communities are ringing in 2021 with good health — and the hope that things must get better.

Now that we’ve reached the new year, here at Kidsmomo we thought it would be fitting to revisit the best books of 2020. So we went through a bunch of “Best of 2020” lists from our favorite sources around the internet, and we compiled a list of the best of the best. See below for the top 12 titles that came up over and over again — at least four times each!

Our compiled list: Top 12 of 2020

Listed in alphabetical order. Official descriptions from the publishers.

Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz

From a beloved voice in children’s literature comes this landmark memoir of hope amid harrowing times and an engaging and unusual Holocaust story. … Uri Shulevitz … details the eight-year odyssey of how he and his Jewish family escaped the terrors of the Nazis by fleeing Warsaw for the Soviet Union in Chance. It was during those years, with threats at every turn, that the young Uri experienced his awakening as an artist, an experience that played a key role during this difficult time.

Class Act by Jerry Craft

Eighth grader Drew Ellis is no stranger to the saying “You have to work twice as hard to be just as good.” His grandmother has reminded him his entire life. But what if he works ten times as hard and still isn’t afforded the same opportunities that his privileged classmates at the Riverdale Academy Day School take for granted? To make matters worse, Drew begins to feel as if his good friend Liam might be one of those privileged kids. He wants to pretend like everything is fine, but it’s hard not to withdraw, and even their mutual friend Jordan doesn’t know how to keep the group together. As the pressures mount, will Drew find a way to bridge the divide so he and his friends can truly accept each other? And most important, will he finally be able to accept himself?

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

After losing almost everything in the Great Depression, Ellie’s family is forced to leave their home in town and start over in the untamed wilderness of nearby Echo Mountain. Ellie has found a welcome freedom, and a love of the natural world, in her new life on the mountain. But there is little joy after a terrible accident leaves her father in a coma. An accident unfairly blamed on Ellie. Ellie is a girl who takes matters into her own hands, and determined to help her father she will make her way to the top of the mountain in search of the healing secrets of a woman known only as “the hag.” But the hag, and the mountain, still have many untold stories left to reveal.

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ten-year-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf–her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime? A crime he says he never committed. Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge. But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family. It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy — that he thinks he might be gay. “You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay too, do you?” But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King’s friendship with Sandy is reignited, he’s forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother’s death.

Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B., members of the Little family, each present the vivid story of their young lives, spanning three generations. Their separate stories — beginning in a cotton field in 1927 and ending at the presidential election of 1968 — come together to create one unforgettable journey. Through an evocative mix of fictional first-person narratives, spoken-word poems, folk myths, gospel rhythms and blues influences, Loretta Little Looks Back weaves an immersive tapestry that illuminates the dignity of sharecroppers in the rural South. Inspired by storytelling’s oral tradition, stirring vignettes are presented in a series of theatrical monologues that paint a gripping, multidimensional portrait of America’s struggle for civil rights as seen through the eyes of the children who lived it. The novel’s unique format invites us to walk in their shoes. Each encounters an unexpected mystical gift, passed down from one family member to the next, that ignites their experience what it means to reach for freedom.

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Maximiliano Córdoba loves stories, especially the fantastical tale Buelo tells him about a mystical gatekeeper who can guide brave travellers on a journey into tomorrow. If Max could see tomorrow, he would know if he’d make Santa Maria’s celebrated fútbol team, and whether he’d ever find his mother, who left when he was a baby. Papa refuses to talk about her, so Max has learned to stop asking. But when Papa is forced to reveal his involvement in an underground network of guardians that led people fleeing a neighboring country to safety, and the surprising reason Max’s spot on the fútbol team may be threatened, everything he knew about himself and his family is upended. A treasured compass, a haunted tower, a mysterious stone rubbing, and a peregrine falcon propel Max on a dangerous search for clues about who he is and what the future holds.

only-black-girls-in-town-book-coverThe Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only Black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her. Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living. When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there, including Mary are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage. But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary’s brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island’s prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a live specimen in a cruel experiment. Deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte weaves a riveting story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th century making readers question their own ideas about what is normal.

Twins by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright

Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods, and are partners on all their school projects. But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran — a girl who wants to join the chorus, run for class president, and dress in fashionable outfits that set her apart from Maureen. A girl who seems happy to share only two classes with her sister!

Ways To Make Sunshine by Renée Watson

Ryan Hart has a lot on her mind — school, self-image, and especially family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means some changes, like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. As her brother says when he raps about her, she’s got the talent that matters most: it’s a talent that can’t be seen, she’s nice, not mean! Ryan is all about trying to see the best in people, to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. But even if her life isn’t everything she would wish for, when her big brother is infuriating, her parents don’t quite understand, and the unexpected happens, she always finds a way forward, with grace and wit. And plenty of sunshine.

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future … but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

Happy reading, and here’s to a better new year!

Books to Big Screen (Kinda): Stargirl and Timmy Failure

February 26th, 2020 by

Usually when we share trailers for movies based on books, it makes sense to say “Books to Big Screen” because the films are released in theaters. But fortunately, streaming TV now makes it possible to enjoy some book-to-movie adaptations from the comfort of your couch. So put on your favorite PJs, grab some microwave popcorn, and check out this downsized (but still very exciting) edition of Books to Big Screen (Kinda)

In just a few weeks, Disney+ will release its adaptation of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. We really love this book and we’ve both read it multiple times — so to be honest, we’re already a bit concerned that the characters and imagery in the trailer don’t match what’s in our imaginations. (Yes, we are two different people with two different brains. But somehow, what’s in the trailer seems off to both of us.) Let’s just hope that the movie ends up doing justice to the original book. You can bet we’ll be glued to our screens and judging it hard-core — much like the students at Mica High judge poor Stargirl. (So maybe we should be less judgy? Well, we have this website. What’s their excuse?)

Check out the trailer for the upcoming Stargirl movie below. It will be available starting March 13th!

If you simply can’t wait until then to get your book-to-movie fix, then you’re in luck: Disney+ has already released an adaptation of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis. Take a look at the trailer below — and if you’ve already watched the film, then you’re in luck because there are seven books in the series to keep you entertained!

Are you excited for the new Stargirl movie? Have you already watched the Timmy Failure film? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

2020 Newbery Award Winners

February 3rd, 2020 by

The Super Bowl was last night, and apparently that’s exciting for some people… Not us! The only recent competition that we care about actually happened last week: the Newbery Awards!

Last Monday, the American Library Association announced the 2020 Newbery Medal Winner and 2020 Newbery Honor Books. Every year, the Newbery is given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” So if you’re not familiar with these awards, just think of them as the Super Bowl — plus children’s books, minus the nachos. We know, we know — nachos are delicious. But even without the cheesy chips and guacamole, the Newbery Awards are still really exciting.

And this year’s announcement was particularly exciting because a graphic novel won the Newbery Medal for the very first time: New Kid by Jerry Craft. Here’s what Karen had to say about it in her review: “I’d recommend this book to literally everyone. Okay, maybe not to little kids who can’t read yet. But everyone else should check out New Kid. Students, adults, everyone.”

So if you were wondering what to read next, check out New Kid or any of the Newbery Honor recipients (official descriptions from the publishers):

2020 Newbery Medal Winner:

New Kid by Jerry Craft
new-kid-jerry-craft

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds — and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

2020 Newbery Honor Books:

undefeatedThe Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.

scary-stories-for-young-foxesScary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood.

No fox kit is safe. When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow… and other things too scary to mention.

Featuring eight interconnected stories and 16 hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R.L. Stine have found their next favorite book.

other-words-for-homeOther Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US — and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.

But this life also brings unexpected surprises — there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself.

genesis-begins-againGenesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

There are 96 things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant — even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight — Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show.

But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?

Are you adding any of these books to your to-read list? Or have you already read them? Leave a comment and let us know!

Spooky Books – Recommended by You!

October 19th, 2019 by

As Halloween approaches, there are some things you can always count on: Neighbors put decorations on their houses, friends start working on their costumes, and we here at Kidsmomo attempt to practice self-restraint and not eat all the candy that we buy for trick-or-treaters. (Sorry, brb, gotta get a chocolate bar…)

As you get ready for the ghoulish festivities on October 31st, now’s the perfect time to check out some spoooooooooky books for the season. Here are a few recommendations from Kidsmomo readers like you:

tookTook by Mary Downing Hahn

Reviewed by Ike, Age 10 from New York

“Read this book and follow the story of Daniel and Erica… The house they move into is a house in the middle of nowhere that is not in good condition. … In their town they live in strange disappearances have happened…”

Read Ike’s full review and check out another review from Abygail-rose (also age 10)

the-collector-kr-alexanderThe Collector by K.R. Alexander

Reviewed by Taylor, Age 10 from Missouri

“I think that you should read it because it’s about a little girl name Josie and her sister named Anna, they just moved in with their grandma, and they meet a girl named Vanessa… Annas grandma has strange rules, the first one is never leave your windows open after dark, the next one is no dolls in the house and last is never ever go by the house in the woods…”

Read Taylor’s full review and check out another review from Meara (also age 10)

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

Reviewed by Cassie, Age 11 from New York

“This book is about a girl who’s freind dyes the night they played the ojie board Sopie goes to Skype to warn her family that see let out Rebeca her cousin who died at the age of 7. And then Sopie finds out that Rebecas sister had killed her…”

Read Cassie’s full review

If you have a favorite spooky book that you want to share, leave a comment below!

Happy haunting!

2019 Newbery Award Winners

February 11th, 2019 by

Recently, the American Library Association announced the 2019 Newbery Medal Winner and 2019 Newbery Honor Books. If you’re not familiar with these awards, just think of them as the Oscars — but for books. Every year, the Newbery is given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” In other words, it’s not just a big deal… it’s a BIG DEAL (in all caps)!

So if you were wondering what to read next, look no further than this year’s BIG award winners (official descriptions from the publishers):

2019 Newbery Medal Winner:


merci-suarez-changes-gearsMerci Suárez Changes Gears
by Meg Medina

Merci Suárez knew that 6th grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

2019 Newbery Honor Books:

night-diaryThe Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu 12-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together. Told through Nisha’s letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, for her own identity… and for a hopeful future.

the-book-of-boyThe Book of Boy written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr

Boy has always been relegated to the outskirts of his small village. With a hump on his back, a mysterious past, and a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked by others in his town — until the arrival of a shadowy pilgrim named Secondus. Impressed with Boy’s climbing and jumping abilities, Secondus engages Boy as his servant, pulling him into an action-packed and suspenseful expedition across Europe to gather seven precious relics of Saint Peter. Boy quickly realizes this journey is not an innocent one. They are stealing the relics and accumulating dangerous enemies in the process. But Boy is determined to see this pilgrimage through until the end — for what if St. Peter has the power to make him the same as the other boys?

Are you excited to read any of these books? Or have you already read them? Leave a comment and let us know!

Best of 2018 Books

December 27th, 2018 by

It’s hard to believe that the year is almost over. Only a few more days to enjoy hot cocoa and build snowmen before it’s back to school (or work, in our cases). Excuse us while we shed a single tear in a very dignified manner like the adults we are… WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!

Okay, back to the book business at hand: With only a few days left in 2018, now’s the perfect time to get your To Read list ready for 2019 — and here are some recommendations to get you started! We went through a bunch of “Best of 2018” lists from our favorite sources around the interwebs (such as School Library Journal), and we compiled a list of the best of the best. See below for titles that came up over and over again, making them good bets for a bright start to the new year!

Our compiled list: Top 15 of 2018

Listed in alphabetical order. Official descriptions from the publishers.

amal-unboundAmal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when — as the eldest daughter — she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens — after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt. Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal — especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

be-preparedBe Prepared by Vera Brosgol
In Be Prepared, all Vera wants to do is fit in ― but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range ― Russian summer camp. Vera is sure she’s found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

blendedBlended by Sharon M. Draper
Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves. Because of this, Isabella has always felt pulled between two worlds. And now that her parents are divorced, it seems their fights are even worse, and they’re always about HER. Isabella feels even more stuck in the middle, split and divided between them than ever. And she’s is beginning to realize that being split between Mom and Dad is more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. Her dad is black, her mom is white, and strangers are always commenting: “You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?” She knows what they’re really saying: “You don’t look like your parents.” “You’re different.” “What race are you really?” And when her parents, who both get engaged at the same time, get in their biggest fight ever, Isabella doesn’t just feel divided, she feels ripped in two. What does it mean to be half white or half black? To belong to half mom and half dad? And if you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole? It seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again — until the worst happens. Isabella and Darren are stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.

dactyl-hill-squadDactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older
It’s 1863 and dinosaurs roam the streets of New York as the Civil War rages between raptor-mounted armies down South. Magdalys Roca and her friends from the Colored Orphan Asylum are on a field trip when the Draft Riots break out, and a number of their fellow orphans are kidnapped by an evil magistrate, Richard Riker. Magdalys and her friends flee to Brooklyn and settle in the Dactyl Hill neighborhood, where black and brown New Yorkers have set up an independent community — a safe haven from the threats of Manhattan. Together with the Vigilance Committee, they train to fly on dactylback, discover new friends and amazing dinosaurs, and plot to take down Riker. Can Magdalys and the squad rescue the rest of their friends before it’s too late?

front-deskFront Desk by Kelly Yang
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, 10-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

harbor-meHarbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat — by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them — everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

ivy-aberdeens-letter-to-the-worldIvy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
When a tornado rips through town, 12-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm — and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing. Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks — and hopes — that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?

martin-risingMartin Rising: Requiem for a King, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
In a rich embroidery of visions, musical cadence, and deep emotion, Andrea and Brian Pinkney convey the final months of Martin Luther King’s life — and of his assassination — through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning. Andrea’s stunning poetic requiem, illustrated with Brian’s lyrical and colorful artwork, brings a fresh perspective to Martin Luther King, the Gandhi-like, peace-loving activist whose dream of equality — and whose courage to make it happen — changed the course of American history. And even in his death, he continues to transform and inspire all of us who share his dream.

merci-suarez-changes-gearsMerci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Merci Suárez knew that 6th grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

Assassination-of-Brangwain-SpurgeThe Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin
Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story. A hilarious and biting social commentary that could only come from the likes of National Book Award winner M.T. Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin, this tale is rife with thrilling action and visual humor… and a comic disparity that suggests the ultimate victor in a war is perhaps not who won the battles, but who gets to write the history.

cardboard-kingdomThe Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when 16 kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters — and their own inner demons — on one last quest before school starts again. In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be — imagine that! The Cardboard Kingdom was created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez.

journey-of-little-charlieThe Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
Twelve-year-old Charlie is down on his luck: His sharecropper father just died and Cap’n Buck — the most fearsome man in Possum Moan, South Carolina — has come to collect a debt. Fearing for his life, Charlie strikes a deal with Cap’n Buck and agrees to track down some folks accused of stealing from the cap’n and his boss. It’s not too bad of a bargain for Charlie… until he comes face-to-face with the fugitives and discovers their true identities. Torn between his guilty conscience and his survival instinct, Charlie needs to figure out his next move — and soon. It’s only a matter of time before Cap’n Buck catches on.

night-diaryThe Night Diary By Veera Hiranandani
It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu 12-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together. Told through Nisha’s letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, for her own identity… and for a hopeful future.

parker-inheritanceThe Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?

the-truth-as-told-by-mason-buttleThe Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard. An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day. Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood, so they create an underground club space for themselves. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again. He’s desperate to figure out what happened to Calvin, and eventually, Benny. But will anyone believe him?

Happy reading and happy new year from Kidsmomo!

You Asked, We Answered: Fantasy and Funny Books

December 26th, 2017 by

In early December 2017, Damien asked us for some book recommendations:

Hey I’m looking for fantasy and funny books for more great ideas please

Thanks for sending your question, Damien! There are soooooooooooooo many good fantasy books and hilarious stories out there, we could probably spend all of 2018 working on a response. But that wouldn’t be very helpful, now would it? So we’re doing everyone a favor and starting with the basics:

Classic Kidsmomo booklists:

Between those three lists, you’ll find 40 recommendations for fantasy and funny books that you might enjoy.

But if you’re looking for something a bit newer, here are some other ideas:

Mythology/Adventure Books We Recently Recommended:

  • The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
  • Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
  • The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

New Fantasy Picks:

  • The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken
  • Fish Girl, written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by David Wiesner
  • The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente
  • The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

New Funny Books:

  • Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams
  • Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten
  • Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
  • Olga & the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel
  • Pottymouth and Stoopid by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
  • Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Are you like Damien and looking to add to your reading list, but not sure what to read next? Ask Kidsmomo a question in the form below!

    Kids: Ask your parents or teachers for approval before you submit anything to us, and read our Privacy Policy Statement.

    Your Name (optional):

    Your Message (required):

    You Asked, We Answered: Mythology and Adventure

    November 26th, 2017 by

    On November 17, 2017, an anonymous Kidsmomo reader asked us for a book recommendation:

    i’m looking for mythology or adventure books. I have read a lot of them, so I need new ideas

    Thanks for sending your question, anonymous reader! Mythology or adventure books are very popular and very plentiful, so finding a good one to read is always a QUEST in itself! And narrowing down a list can be quite the adventure:

    *WE* are going on an adventure, anonymous reader!

     

    Newer Books You Might Enjoy:

    • The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
    • Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
    • The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
    • The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

    Some Old-School Picks:

    • Dragon’s Milk (The Dragon Chronicles) by Susan Fletcher
    • Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles) by Patricia C. Wrede
    • The Will of the Empress (Circle Reforged series) by Tamora Pierce
    • The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix
    • Quicksilver by Stephanie Spinner
    • The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

    And last but never least, the Usual Suspects:

    • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
    • Any and all books by Rick Riordan
    • The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer
    • Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland
    • School for Good and Evil series by by Soman Chainani
    • The Brotherband series by John Flanagan
    • Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
    • Spirit Animals series (various authors)
    • His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
    • Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

    Note: Just the list above is 100+ books! But… winter break is just around the corner…

    Are you looking to add to your reading list, but not sure what to read? Ask Kidsmomo a question in the form below!

      Kids: Ask your parents or teachers for approval before you submit anything to us, and read our Privacy Policy Statement.

      Your Name (optional):

      Your Message (required):

      Some Spectacular Spoooooooky Books

      October 31st, 2017 by

      Happy Halloween!

      What’s the most fun thing to do after a night of trick-or-treating? Well, sorting through all your candy, obviously.

      But what’s the second most fun activity? Curling up under the covers with a creepy, bone-chilling book!

      If you’re not sure which terrifying tale to choose, then check out these recommendations:

       

      The Witches by Roald Dahl:

       

      The Monsters of Morley Manor by Bruce Coville:

      Do YOU have any can’t-miss spine-tingling books you want to share? Leave a comment below with your scary story recommendations!

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