2016 books for children and young adults featured in The Carle's annual Best of the Best presentation by Cathie Mercier and Susan Bloom of the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College.

Best of the Best 2016

A Voyage in the Clouds
Olshan, Matthew

In the year and a half since the flight of the first manned balloon in 1783, an Italian has flown, a Scot has flown, a woman has flown, even a sheep has flown. But no one has flown from one country to another. John Jeffries, an Englishman, and his pilot, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, a Frenchman, want to be the first. On January 7, 1785, they set out to cross the English Channel to France in a balloon. All seemed to be going fine, until Jeffries decides the balloon looks too fat and adjusts the air valve how hard could it be? Too bad he drops the wrench over the side of the aerial car. With no way to adjust the valve, the balloon begins to sink. Jeffries and Blanchard throw as much as they can overboard until there is nothing left, not even their clothes. Luckily, they come up with a clever (and surprising) solution that saves the day. A VOYAGE IN THE CLOUDS is a journey that will keep kids laughing the whole way.
A Margaret Ferguson Book

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Item No. 9780374329549
$17.99
Before Morning
Sidman, Joyce

There are planes to fly and buses to catch, but achild uses the power of words, in the form of an invocation, topersuade fate to bring her family a snow day a day slow and unhurried enough to spend at home together. In a spare text that reads as pure song and illustrations of astonishingly beautiful scratchboard art, Sidman and Krommes remind us that sometimes, if spoken from the heart, wishes really can come true."

Item No. 9780547979175
$17.99
Du Iz Tak?
Ellis, Carson

The creator of Home turns a droll eye to the natural world, with gorgeous art and a playful invented language.
Du iz tak? What is that? As a tiny shoot unfurls, two damselflies peer at it in wonder. When the plant grows taller and sprouts leaves, some young beetles arrive to gander, and soon with the help of a pill bug named Icky they wrangle a ladder and build a tree fort. But this is the wild world, after all, and something horrible is waiting to swoop down booby voobeck! only to be carried off in turn. Su! With exquisitely detailed illustrations and tragicomic flair, Carson Ellis invites readers to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in even the humblest backyard. Su!"

Item No. 9780763665302
$16.99
Frank and Lucky Get Schooled
Perkins, Lynne Rae

Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Lynne Rae Perkins introduces a boy (Frank) and a dog (Lucky) in this celebratory, wry, and happily unconventional introduction to the subjects children encounter in school. This beautifully illustrated, humorous, and insightful picture book offers a new twist on the classic boy-and-his-dog story!

On a rainy day, Frank s parents take him to the shelter to get a new dog. That s how Frank finds Lucky, and from that moment on, they re inseparable. As Frank and Lucky venture out into the world around them, they discover they both have a lot to learn. Exploring their neighborhood teaches them about biology: Lucky learns all about squirrels, deer, and unfortunately for Frank skunks. Sharing a bed teaches them about fractions what happens when one dog takes up three-quarters of the bed, or even the whole thing? They even learn different languages: Frank makes a friend who speaks Spanish and Lucky tries to learn Duck! Who knew you could learn so much without ever setting foot inside a classroom?"

Item No. 9780062373458
$17.99
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Boston Weatherford, Carole
This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans' Congo Square was truly freedom s heart.
"Mondays, there were hogs to slop,
mules to train, and logs to chop.
Slavery was no ways fair.
Six more days to Congo Square."
As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves' duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square. This book will have a forward from Freddi Williams Evans (freddievans.com), a historian and Congo Square expert, as well as a glossary of terms with pronunciations and definitions."
Item No. 9781499801033
$17.99
Freedom Over Me
Bryan, Ashley

Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.
Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as a lantern.
You, an object. An object to sell.
In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN T be bought or sold dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his workers, Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you ve seen."

Item No. 9781481456906
$17.99
Garvey's Choice
Grimes, Nikki

Garvey s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, readinganything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also overweight, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey s life changes. The chorus finds a new soloist in Garvey, and through chorus, Garvey finds a way to accept himself, and a way to finally reach his distant fatherby speaking the language of music instead of the language of sports. This emotionally resonant novel in verse by award-winning author Nikki Grimes celebrates choosing to be true to yourself.
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Item No. 9781629797403
$16.95
Ghost
Reynolds, Jason

A National Book Award Finalist for Young People s Literature.
Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winning author Jason Reynolds.
Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.
Ghost has a crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If he can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons it all starting with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems and running away from them until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who blew his own shot at success by using drugs, and who is determined to keep other kids from blowing their shots at life."

Item No. 9781481450157
$16.99
Home at Last
Williams, Vera B

A poignant, timely, and universal picture book about fear, adoption, family, and the joy of fatherhood, written by beloved and award-winning author Vera B. Williams and illustrated by the author in collaboration with two-time Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka.

After Lester is adopted by Daddy Albert and Daddy Rich, he develops a big problem he can't fall asleep. Night after night he creeps into his parents' room and attempts to crawl in between his two daddies, confident that if he's with them and their dog, Wincka, nothing bad will happen to him ever again. But every night, Lester's new dads walk him back to his own room, hoping that eventually Lester will get used to the new house and his new family and feel as though he belongs. They buy him a bike and take him for ice cream. They make cocoa and introduce him to his cousins. But no matter how happy Lester seems during the day, he still gets scared and worried at night! It's the sweet dog Wincka who finally solves the problem when she climbs into Lester's bed and promptly falls asleep, serving as both his pillow and his protector. Lester feels home at last.

Vera B. Williams died on October 16, 2015, while still working on this book with her dear friend and fellow artist Chris Raschka. Chris Raschka's astonishing and glorious full-color paintings are based on sketches by Vera B. Williams and honor both her spirit and her intent. Home at Last is a universal, timely, and timeless book about the right of all children to belong someplace safe."

Item No. 9780061349737
$17.99
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Orgill, Roxane
What happens when you invite as many jazz musicians as you can to pose for a photo in 1950s Harlem? Playful verse and glorious artwork capture an iconic moment for American jazz.
When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn t own a good camera, didn t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer s day. Francis Vallejo s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane s famous photograph."
Item No. 9780763669546
$18.99
Juana & Lucas
Medina, Juana

Fans of Judy Moody and Clarice Bean will love Juana, the spunky young Colombian girl who stars in this playful, abundantly illustrated new series.
Juana loves many things drawing, eating Brussels sprouts, living in Bogota, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or going to dance class. And she especially does not love learning the English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense? But when Juana s abuelos tell her about a special trip they are planning one that Juana will need to speak English to go on Juana begins to wonder whether learning the English might be a good use of her time after all. Hilarious, energetic, and utterly relatable, Juana will win over los corazones the hearts of readers everywhere in her first adventure, presented by namesake Juana Medina."

Item No. 9780763672089
$14.99
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Woollvin, Bethan
On her way to Grandmas house, Little Red Riding Hood meets a wolf. Now, that might scare some little girlsbut not this little girl! She knows just what the wolf is up to, and shes not going to let him get away with it. In this updated fairy tale with a mischievous twist, talented newcomer Bethan Woollvin uses sly humor, striking visuals, and a dark irreverence to turn a familiar tale on its head.
Item No. 9781561459179
$16.95
Lucy
Cecil, Randy

A tiny dog, a kindhearted girl, and a nervous juggler converge in a cinematic book in four acts — a unique children’s literature experience.

Lucy is a small dog without a home. She had one once, but she remembers it only in her dreams. Eleanor is a little girl who looks forward to feeding the stray dog that appears faithfully beneath her window each day. Eleanor’s father is a juggler with stage fright. The overlapping stories of three delightful characters, offering a slightly different perspective each time, come together in a truly original, beautifully illustrated book for dog (and underdog) lovers of all ages.

A tiny dog, a kindhearted girl, and a nervous juggler converge in a cinematic book in four acts a unique children s literature experience.
Lucy is a small dog without a home. She had one once, but she remembers it only in her dreams. Eleanor is a little girl who looks forward to feeding the stray dog that appears faithfully beneath her window each day. Eleanor s father is a juggler with stage fright. The overlapping stories of three delightful characters, offering a slightly different perspective each time, come together in a truly original, beautifully illustrated book for dog (and underdog) lovers of all ages."
Item No. 9780763668082
$19.99
Makoons
Erdrich, Louise

In the sequel to Chickadee, acclaimed author Louise Erdrich continues her award-winning Birchbark House series with the story of an Ojibwe family in nineteenth-century America.

Named for the Ojibwe word for little bear, Makoons and his twin, Chickadee, have traveled with their family to the Great Plains of Dakota Territory. There they must learn to become buffalo hunters and once again help their people make a home in a new land. But Makoons has had a vision that foretells great challenges challenges that his family may not be able to overcome.

Based on Louise Erdrich s own family history, this fifth book in the series features black-and-white interior illustrations, a note from the author about her research, as well as a map and glossary of Ojibwe terms.

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Item No. 9780060577933
$16.99
March: Book Three
Aydin, Andrew

"One of the Best Books of 2016" - Publishers Weekly
Welcome to the stunning conclusion of the award-winning and best-selling MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today's world.
By the fall of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, and as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is guiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continues to force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every step forward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legal tricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change is to give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression: "One Man, One Vote."
To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and an all-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television.
With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and an unpredictable new president who might be both at once. But fractures within the movement are deepening ... even as 25-year-old John Lewis prepares to risk everything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town called Selma.

Item No. 9781603094023
$19.99
Marta! Big & Small
Arena, Jen

Marta is una nina, an ordinary girl . . . with some extraordinary animal friends!

As Marta explores the jungle, she knows she's bigger than a bug, smaller than an elephant, and faster than a turtle. But then she meets the snake, who thinks Marta is sabrosa tasty, very tasty! But Marta is ingeniosa, a very clever girl, and she outsmarts the snake with hilarious results.

With simple Spanish and a glossary at the end, this fun read-aloud picture book, Marta! Big and Small, teaches little ones to identify opposites and animals and learn new words.

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Item No. 9781626722439
$16.99
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Stork, Francisco X
When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn't be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she's never had.
But Vicky's newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vicky back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn't know.
Inspired in part by the author's own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one -- about living when life doesn't seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.
Item No. 9780545474320
$17.99
Old Dog Baby Baby
Julie Fogliano & Chris Raschka

old dog
lazy
lazy
lying on the
kitchen floor

here comes baby
baby
crawling through the
kitchen door

Follow the antics of a curious baby and his silly old dog in this funny, rhythmic, and joyful picture book illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka.

Item No. 9781596438538
$17.99
Owl Sees Owl
Dunlavey, Rob
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Fans of the classic picture book Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson will adore this utterly simple picture book in which a baby owl goes off on his first adventure.

With just three or four words per page, this story follows a baby owl one night as he leaves the safety of his nest (Home/Mama/Brother/Sister) and explores the starry world around him (Soar/Glide/Swoop/Swoosh). Inspired by reverso poetry, the words reverse in the middle when the baby owl is startled upon seeing his reflection in the pond (Owl/Sees/Owl). Afraid of it, little owl takes off toward home, soaring over farms and forests (Swoosh/Swoop/Glide/Soar) until he is finally safely home again (Sister/Brother/Mama/Home).
"Fans of Jane Yolen s Owl Moon and Martin Waddell s Owl Babies will also love this calming story about an owl s first adventure." School Library Journal, Starred"
Item No. 9780553497823
$17.99
Pax
Pennypacker, Sara

National Book Award Longlist * New York Times Bestseller

From bestselling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes a beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the powerful relationship between a boy and his fox. Pax is destined to become a classic, beloved for generations to come.

Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter's dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather's house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn't where he should be with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own. . . .

"
Item No. 9780062377012
$16.99
Preaching to the Chickens
Jabari Asim & E.B. Lewis

Critically acclaimed author Jabari Asim and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis give readers a fascinating glimpse into the boyhood of Civil Rights leader John Lewis.
John wants to be a preacher when he grows up a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen, content under his watchful care, riveted by the rhythm of his voice.
Celebrating ingenuity and dreaming big, this inspirational story, featuring Jabari Asim s stirring prose and E. B. Lewis s stunning, light-filled impressionistic watercolor paintings, includes an author s note about John Lewis, who grew up to be a member of the Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and demonstrator on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. John Lewis is now a Georgia congressman, who is still an activist today, recently holding a sit-in on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol to try to force a vote on gun violence."

Item No. 9780399168567
$17.99
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
Steptoe, Javaka

A visually stunning picture book biography about modern art phenomenon Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Javaka Steptoe.
Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocked to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art work had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe's vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat's own introduce young readers to the powerful message and art doesn't always have to be neat or clean--and definitely not inside the lines--to be beautiful.

Item No. 9780316213882
$17.99
Raymie Nightingale
DiCamillo, Kate

A 2016 National Book Award Finalist!

Two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.
Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

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Item No. 9780763681173
$16.99
School's First Day of School - Autographed
Adam Rex & Christian Robinson

Autographed by illustrator Christian Robinson

It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?

The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he's not the only one going through first-day jitters.

Item No. AUTOCHR2
$17.99
Snow White: A Graphic Novel
Phelan, Matt
Award-winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan delivers a darkly stylized noir Snow White set against the backdrop of Depression-era Manhattan.
The scene: New York City. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words "Another . . . More Beautiful . . . KILL." In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale, extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the essence of classic film noir on the page and draws a striking distinction between good and evil."
Item No. 9780763672331
$19.99