10 Kids Books for Fall 2018 | Books & Authors | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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10 Kids Books for Fall 2018 

It’s autumn, and that means long winter evenings are approaching once again. Not thrilled about the prospect of your kids staring at glowing screens ’til next May? Better cache a few of this year’s fine harvest of books for children and teens.

Picture Books

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Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter

Dave Horowitz

Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018, $16.99

Rosendale author/illustrator Dave Horowitz's day jobs have ranged from rock-climbing instructor (Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again) to paramedic. Hearing him kvetch (Five Little Gefiltes) about the hardships of writing, a coworker recited the Chinese folktale that sparked this story of a stonecutting frog who wants... more. As he vaults from businessman to king ("This rules!") and beyond, insatiable Stanley will satisfy many young readers. —NS

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A House That Once Was

Text by Julie Fogliano, illustration by Lane Smith

Roaring Book Press, 2018, $18.99

What makes a house a home? That's the central conceit of this lovely offering by an award-winning Woodstock-based author. Two children enter an abandoned house through a window "that says climb inside" and ponder the lives that were lived there. Linear, sepia-toned illustrations spark memories of favorite vintage books, and empathetic prose creates a comforting, gently-paced vehicle for a child-reader's own journey of imagination. —SK

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Mama's Happy Dance

Text by Kristin Cole Brown, illustrations by Matt Maley

Create Space, 2018, $15

A young girl's single mom holds all kinds of jobs, including usher at a ballet theater, though secretly, Mama loves to dance. But something incredible happens—the dancer who plays the grandmother in "The Nutcracker" can't perform, and Mama is tapped to take her place! A feel-great book by a New Paltz writer and illustrator pair about getting a well-deserved chance. Mama's Happy Dance is available for sale at Inquiring Minds in New Paltz —SK


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Hello, Hello

Brendan Wenzel

Chronicle Books, 2018, $17.99

The finest picture books offer a subtle, loving message, and this one by a Coxsackie resident and Caldecott Honor winner is no exception. Beginning simply with images of black and white cats, animal complexity builds with each page turn: a tiger's spots, a whale's size, an octopus's tentacles. The final spread shows a menagerie, plus children, one fair and one brown, and an exhortation: "A world to see, a world to know. Where to begin? Hello, hello." —SK

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Ladybug Girl and the Rescue Dogs

David Soman and Jacky Davis

Dial Books for Young Readers, $17.99

The farmers' market offers a cornucopia of colorful produce, but it's the group of rescue dogs that catch LadyBug Girl's eye. Dogs who need homes? Bring in the Bug Squad! With the help of her friends, LadyBug Girl hatches a plan that demonstrates how even small children can make a big difference. Another charming entry in a much-loved, best-selling series by a Rosendale author-illustrator husband-and-wife pair. —SK

Middle Grade/Young Adult

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America Border Culture Dreamer: The Young Immigrant Experience from A to Z

Wendy Ewald

Little Brown, 2018, $18.99

It's hard to imagine a timelier project than this collaboration between acclaimed photographer and Red Hook resident Wendy Ewald and 18 immigrant teens. A reinvention of A-Z primers, it was created by the students themselves, who selected words representing their varied experiences. With Ewald's guidance, they chose interview questions, set up photographs, and designed layouts. Key words appear in English and the interviewee's native tongue; Argentine-born George (D is for Dreamer) is also a Soñador. The interviews are urgent and unvarnished. "We came from countries where the people also thought that what happens doesn't affect me until it was too late," offers Xuen from Vietnam. Uzbekistan-born Malika says simply, "I want people to be more kind." Listen and learn. —NS

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Butterfly Wishes 4: Spring Shine Sparkles

Jennifer Castle

Bloomsbury, 2018, $16.99

New Paltz author Castle takes a break from writing masterful novels of young-adult angst by creating a middle-grade series of pure sparkly fun. Sisters Addie and Clara recently moved to rural Brook Forest, where they're amazed to discover their wild backyard hosts a secret world of talking butterflies, including some just-hatched "New Blooms" whose magical powers are under attack. In this, the series' fourth book, rainbow-winged Spring Shine can't see her true colors until she gives a transformative boost to a needy girl's self-esteem. Though the climactic action is dense with jargon, Castle's characters—human and insect—are so well-drawn that we never lose sight of what's really at stake. Come for the glitter, stay for the empowerment. —NS

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Finding Langston

Lesa Cline-Ransome

Holiday House, 2018, $16.99

Celebrated Rhinebeck picture book author Lesa Cline-Ransome leaps into middle-grade fiction with this powerful tale of a motherless boy torn from his Alabama roots when his taciturn father moves north in the Great Migration. Isolated and homesick, Langston finds salvation when a headlong flight from schoolyard bullies leads him to the library. Unlike the whites-only libraries in Alabama, the historic George Cleveland Hall Branch of the Chicago Public Library is staffed by black librarians and open to everyone. Its shelves house magnetic works by Langston's namesake, Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, and other luminaries. Young Langston's palpable thirst for poetry is both a moving salvation and a guilty secret, until he bonds with some unforeseen kindred spirits. Slender and taut, Finding Langston packs an emotional wallop. —NS

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A Room Away From the Wolves

Nova Ren Suma

Algonquin, 2018, $18.95

How can we help ourselves? How do we hurt ourselves? And why do we carry so much painful emotional baggage? When a teen with a penchant for theft and lying is beaten by her stepsisters at a party, she finds sanctuary at a women's boardinghouse in New York City, where her mother once stayed. Bina's fled here to start over, but Catherine House is loaded with strange rules, bizarre mysteries, and the hovering presence of the house's namesake, who, as a teen 100 years before, plunged from the roof. Why is the only girl who talks to her so mysterious and defiant? Why can't her mother seem to hear her on the phone? And why won't Bina's bruises heal? This haunted and haunting tale in the Gothic style is by a best-selling Woodstock-raised author. —SK

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Back From the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction

Nancy F. Castaldo
Algonquin Young Readers, 2018, $17.99

Harsh news about the state of the natural world abounds, but there is good news as well, and this book uses an engaging mix of science, history, and photography to offer an introduction to the movement to save endangered wild animals. Castaldo pulls no punches, because the stakes are very high: Bald eagles, whooping cranes, and Galapagos tortoises are off the list now, but ongoing political, scientific, and educational efforts are needed to keep them there. "In the end," a Senegalese forestry engineer named Baba Dioum once stated, "we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught." So despair not: There are actions we can all take to save animal life, and giving this book to children is one of them. —SK

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