Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain. By Russell Freedman. illus. Clarion, $17.99 (9780547903781). Gr. 4–7.
Freedman catalogs the hopes and dreams of generations of Asian immigrants, as well as the disappointment of those denied entry to the U.S. in this fascinating introduction to “the Ellis Island of the West,” lavishly illustrated with photographs.
Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America. By Russell Freedman. illus. Holiday, $20 (9780823429219). Gr. 6–9.
Freedman transports readers to the heart of the voting rights struggle in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Writing with great immediacy, he weaves pertinent first-person accounts into a narrative that is moving as well as informative.
Eyes Wide Open: Going behind the Environmental Headlines. By Paul Fleischman. illus. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763671020). Gr. 8–12.
Fleischman insightfully reflects on the often-skewed presentation of environmental issues today and gives young people the critical thinking skills they need to become informed, responsible global citizens.
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. By Candace Fleming. illus. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $18 (9780375867828). Gr. 7–12.
Fleming’s sweeping take on the fall of the House of Romanov is a perfectly realized examination of the context of each (in)famous character’s life. By contrasting the rich with the poor and oppressed, Fleming creates one of the most absorbing reads of the year. (Top of the List winner—Youth Nonfiction.)
Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. By Mary Cronk Farrell. illus. Abrams, $24.95 (9781419710285). Gr. 7–10.
This thoroughly researched book chronicles the experiences of 67 American nurses held as POWs in the Philippines during WWII. Details of their individual trials combine in a powerful account of their harrowing shared experience.
A Volcano beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War against Slavery. By Albert Marrin. illus. Knopf, $19.99 (9780307981523). Gr. 8–12.
In this gracefully written, well-documented biography of John Brown, the fervent, nineteenth-century abolitionist, Marrin does a brilliant job of introducing readers to this extraordinary man who “raised questions that are as valid today as they were in his lifetime.”
At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui. By Christine Liu-Perkins. Illus. by Sarah S. Brannen. Charlesbridge, $19.95 (9781580893701). Gr. 4–7.
This book about a remarkable discovery takes readers to 150 BCE China, where the body of a well-preserved woman gave archaeologists incredible insights about life at the time. Delicate original art juxtaposes well with the many photos of artifacts, making this a handsome, intriguing offering.
Beetle Busters. By Loree Griffin Burns. illus. Harcourt, $18.99 (9780547792675). Gr. 5–8.
Burns documents how scientists and citizens responded to the discovery of quiet, destructive invaders: an infestation of Asian longhorn beetles in Worcester, Massachusetts. An absorbing and informative book on a timely topic.
Brown Girl Dreaming. By Jacqueline Woodson. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $16.99 (9780399252518). Gr. 5–8.
In this beautiful, affecting memoir in verse about her young years, Woodson gives context to her life as she recalls racial discrimination as well as the civil rights and Black Power movements. Elegant and eloquent, this is a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable.
Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. By Susan Goldman Rubin. illus. Holiday, $18.95 (9780823429202). Gr. 5–8.
Rubin’s startling jaw-dropper looks at the student volunteers who brought reform during the tumultuous and watershed year of 1964. With its shocking events, courageous characters, and potent emotion, this well-researched story reads as wildly as any piece of fiction.
The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. By Peter Sís. Illus. by the author. Farrar, $18.99 (9780374380694). Gr. 1–4.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s life was interesting in its own right—pioneering ever-more dangerous airmail delivery routes, flying in WWII—and Sís’ multifaceted and evocative illustrations thrillingly capture his escapades, from the grandeur of flight to the joy of discovery to the terror of battle.
A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country. By Ilene Cooper. Illus. by Elizabeth Baddeley. Abrams/Amulet, $24.95 (9781419710360). Gr. 5–8.
Cooper surveys more than a century of U.S. history in this highly readable, wide-ranging volume that spotlights female trailblazers in the U.S. Congress. Heavily illustrated with archival photographs as well as original drawings, this also folds in basic civics concepts.
Althea & Oliver. By Cristina Moracho. Viking, $17.99 (9780670785391). Gr. 10–12.
Best pals since age six, teens Althea and Oliver are edging closer to a deeper relationship—until Oliver goes to New York for a medical study to address his narcoleptic-like condition. An edgy, mature debut that mixes keen insight with fierce emotion.
The Art of Secrets. By James Klise. Algonquin, $17.95 (9781616201951). Gr. 7–10.
Told through documents, interviews, journal entries, and text messages, this intricately constructed art mystery, set at a Chicago high school, lets loose a chorus of genuine voices as the disturbing truth emerges, and people’s secrets grow too large to hide.
High School Level Readers:
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces. By Isabel Quintero. Cinco Puntos, $17.95 (9781935955948). Gr. 9–12.
Quintero’s debut has all the noise, emotion, and joy of a big family fiesta. Saddled with fears of becoming “Hispanic Teen Mom #3,789,258,” 17-year-old Gabi’s first-person journal nevertheless illuminates a girl who will not be defined by ethnicity, class, weight, or lifestyle.
Girls like Us. By Gail Giles. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763662677). Gr. 8–12.
In compelling, raw voices, 18-year-olds Biddy and Quincy, newly independent, intellectually disabled high-school graduates, narrate their growing friendship and uneasy transition into a life of jobs, “real world” apartments, and cruel prejudice.
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. By A. S. King. Little, Brown, $18 (9780316222723). Gr. 9–12.
Glory starts seeing flashes of a future plagued by misogynistic violence when she looks at passers-by, but she doesn’t see her own future until she starts to face down her grief over her mother’s suicide. Glory’s angry, ambivalent, and hopeful narrative resists tidy resolution in this powerful coming-of-age story.
Going Over. By Beth Kephart. Chronicle, $17.99 (9781452124575). Gr. 9–12.
National Book Award finalist Kephart has re-created the inexorable fear and tension, as well as the difficult living conditions, of Berliners on both sides of the wall, in this 1980s story that centers on Stefan trying to escape and join his love Ada in the West. A stark reminder of the power of love, courage, and hope.
Half Bad. By Sally Green. Viking, $18.99 (9780670016785). Gr. 9–12.
Green’s trilogy starter is an allegory as graphic and immediate as any piece of uncompromising historical fiction. Nathan, the son of a black witch and a white witch, is kept caged to toughen him up for a future of power—and Green’s deft, tricky prose makes it darkly gorgeous.
I’ll Give You the Sun. By Jandy Nelson. Dial, $17.99 (9780803734968). Gr. 9–12.
Noah and Jude, twin siblings, have a relationship characterized by both love and deep-seated jealousy, and there’s nothing that fuels their antagonism and mutual adoration more than applying to a prestigious art school. In alternating first-person narratives, Nelson’s electric style evokes the twins’ highly visual imaginations.
The Impossible Knife of Memory.By Laurie Halse Anderson. Viking, $18.99 (9780670012091). Gr. 9–12.
Haley, 17, and her trucker father, Andy, have landed at her grandmother’s house after years on the road. But tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan have left Andy with PTSD, and his methods of coping are drugs and alcohol. This shines a light on living with those who’ve lived through war.
The Infinite Sea. By Rick Yancey. Putnam, $18.99 (9780399162428). Gr. 9–12.
As good as The 5th Wave (2013) was, this gasping, grueling sequel is better. With “the Others” using children as IEDs, a nest of survivors must suffer the mental anguish of this turn of events while figuring out a way to escape both encroaching aliens and a horrid new program from the evil Vosch.
Revolution. By Deborah Wiles. illus. Scholastic, $19.99 (9780545106078). Gr. 6–9.
Wiles’ complex documentary novel about Greenwood, Mississippi, during the Freedom Summer of 1964 focuses on Sunny, a white girl whose town is “invaded” by civil rights workers, and Raymond, an African American youth who is pulled between his parents’ differing viewpoints and his own frustrations. The archival material adds to the authenticity of the second book in the Sixties Trilogy.
This One Summer. By Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. Illus. by Jillian Tamaki. First Second, $21.99 (9781626720947). Gr. 8–11.
This gorgeous, wistful coming-of-age graphic novel explores the awkward transition from carefree childhood to jaded, self-conscious young adulthood as it follows Rose and Windy during one summer at the lake. Jillian Tamaki’s beautiful and expressive illustrations resonate with poignant emotion.
The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim. By E. K. Johnston. Carolrhoda/Lab, $17.95 (9781467710664). Gr. 8–11.
Johnston’s masterful book is a refreshing blend of alternative history, high fantasy, and contemporary teen life, set in an inventive, intricately built world where dragons are real. Siobhan, high-school music student and bard to Owen, dragon-slayer-in training, narrates the clever and entertaining tale.
A Time to Dance. By Padma Venkatraman. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $17.99 (9780399257100). Gr. 7–12.
Acclaimed author Venkatraman deftly shapes readers’ comprehension of physical ability into a new arc of understanding in this powerful verse novel about a passionate young dancer who is forced to find new ways to connect with the art form she love