2016 Young Readers' Roundup | Books & Authors | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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2016 Young Readers' Roundup 

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PICTURE BOOKS:

EXTREMELY CUTE ANIMALS OPERATING HEAVY MACHINERY

David Gordon

Simon & Schuster, 2016, $17.99

When you're totes adorbs and bullies keep stomping your sandcastles, it's good to have bulldozer skills. Undaunted Karen and her extremely cute friends crush it. Woodstock artist Gordon has created visuals for everything from Toy Story and Spongebob to the bestselling Trucktown series; he knows how to think like a kid. With artwork that reaches across the toy aisle from pink tutu to heavy-lift helicopter, this irresistibly titled, girl-positive book is a winner. —NS

FROM WOLF TO WOOF: THE STORY OF DOGS

Hudson Talbott

Nancy Paulsen Books, 2016, $16.99

How did a prehistoric predator become Man's Best Friend? In inventive spreads that bear many viewings, Hudson Talbott offers a possible "myth of origin" with two scruffy orphans—cave boy and wolf cub—bonding over bones at a scrap heap. Their interspecies band of outsiders "eats better than anyone" (vegan parents may blanch at the spitted muskox). As humans domesticate, dogs diversify. In the final image, cave orphan, wolf cub, boy in pjs, and collared pup share a happy howl. —NS

A HIPPO IN OUR YARD

Liza Donnelly

Holiday House, 2016, $16.95

Sally tells her mother a hippo is in their backyard, but Mom doesn't believe her. She tells Dad a tiger has joined the hippo, but he doesn't believe her either. More animals appear, and then the phone rings. An escape at the zoo? Everyone believes Sally now! Simple, silly text and lively illustrations make for a fun read-aloud for young children. Liza Donnelly, who lives in Dutchess County, is a well-known New Yorker cartoonist. —SK

JUST A LUCKY SO AND SO: THE STORY OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG

Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James Ransome

Holiday House, 2016, $16.95

Before he forever altered the course of American music, cultural icon Louis Armstrong started life as a hardscrabble New Orleans kid, bound for jail at best. But a few mentors changed everything from dismal to lucky. Acclaimed Hudson Valley husband/wife duo Lesa Cline-Ransome (words) and James Ransome (pictures) excel at bringing this perilous but ultimately joyous journey to vivid life, artfully embracing some seamier aspects lesser storytellers might've glossed over. —RBW

LOOKING FOR BONGO

Eric Velasquez

Holiday House, 2016, $16.95

As every kid knows, a missing stuffed animal is an urgent matter. Award-winning Westchester author-illustrator Eric Velasquez paints idiosyncratic faces and color-drenched rooms full of books, pets, and musical instruments. His bilingual Afro-Latino family includes a slender, young-looking woman called Wela; some readers may be surprised to find out she's the hero's abuela (grandmother). But they'll be even more surprised by the story's delectable night-lit ending. —NS

ON THE FARM, AT THE MARKET

G. Brian Karas

Henry Holt & Company, 2016, $16.99

How does the food we eat get to our plates? Karas tracks three different kinds of farmers through one day's work, then follows them to a lively farm market where growers sell products, fiddlers play, and a restaurant owner uses everyone's ingredients to make a delicious market pie. Author-illustrator Karas lives in Dutchess County, and characters' resemblance to local farmers is not accidental. (Is that you, Ken Migliorelli?) —SK

OUR CRAYON COMPANY

Matthew Kelly

ColorPage, 2015, $15

Ever wonder what happens behind the closed doors of a crayon factory? Your kid certainly has. In Our Crayon Company, Matthew Kelly, who works at Kingston's R&F Handmade Paints, relates the step-by-step process of the crayon craft, with each job performed by one of his many pets, including a dog named Joe, a rooster named Kimochi, and a cat named Priest Holmes. With adorable illustrations and simple text, Kelly communicates not only the technical aspect of making crayons but the fun of it too. —JW

THIS IS MY DOLLHOUSE

Giselle Potter

Schwartz & Wade, 2016, $17.99

When is a shoe not a shoe? When it's an airplane. Rosendale artist Giselle Potter's creative heroine loves her DIY cardboard-box dollhouse, with its multispecies family, matchbox bed, and yarn spaghetti. But her friend Sophie's plastic dollhouse is "all perfect." Will she disdain the homemade house, or will her imagination soar like that supersonic blue shoe? Potter's distinctive folk-inflected illustrations include an inviting set of suggestions for young dollhouse architects. —NS

WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES: POEMS FOR ALL SEASONS

Julie Fogliano, pictures by Julie Morstad

Roaring Brook Press, 2016, $18.99

Hudson Valley mom Julie Fogliano nabbed an Ezra Jack Keats Award for her lovely And Then It's Spring. It's easy to see why in this couplet from follow-up When Green Becomes Tomatoes: "Just a tiny, blue hello / A crocus blooming in the snow." Similarly taut lines resonate throughout this whimsical calendar of a changing natural world. Elegant, simpatico illustrations from Julie Morstad make this a must-have. —RBW

MIDDLE-GRADE:

OLGA

Ted Kelsey, illustrations by Dillon Samuelson

CreateSpace, 2015, $10

Olga begins like many a good adventure story: two kids whisked away from a world of parents and cellphones to one of magic and wonder. Instead of a wardrobe or a rabbit hole, 12-year-olds Jack and Sally find themselves stuck to a floating stuffed elephant, which brings them above the clouds to a world beyond their imagining. Peekskill writer Ted Kelsey crafts an enchanting 21st-century fairy tale, featuring terrible attack tigers, great blue giants, and mysterious mustachioed moths. Each page zings with clever writing and snappy dialogue, creating a story as mythic as it is modern. —JW

MERCY: THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF HENRY BERGH, FOUNDER OF THE ASPCA AND FRIEND TO ANIMALS

Nancy Furstinger, illustrated by Vincent Desjardins

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, $16.99 

In the mid-1800s animals were often viewed as slave labor, but Henry Bergh could not ignore their mistreatment. On a diplomatic visit to Russia, he stopped a carriage horse from being brutally whipped, an act that lit a fervor within him to end inhumane treatment to all animals. The organization he founded, the ASPCA, pushed for laws to punish abusers. This earned Bergh both enmity and respect, with nicknames ranging from "the great meddler" to "angel in a top hat." Furstinger's compelling and passionate biography offers a well-researched depiction of this era but doesn't soft peddle its brutalities. Desjardins's full-color illustrations add clarity and dimension to her words. —SK

BOOKS FOR TEENS:

DIVAH

Susannah Appelbaum

Skyhorse, 2016, $17.99

Itzy Nash's father is spending the summer in Paris, sending his 17-year-old daughter to stay with a loathsome aunt who lives in Manhattan's luxe Carlyle Hotel. But Aunt Maude has vanished, leaving a curt note, a suite full of furs, and a creepily over-attentive staff. First-world problems? Hardly. In the gleefully skewed world of Divah, the Upper East Side is its own ring of Hell. Some handy tips for demon-hunters: The damned adore Botox, Hermes scarves offer powerful protection, vintage Leicas excel at photographing the supernatural (including your maybe-love-interest's fallen angel wings), and Marie Antoinette isn't as dead as you think. Wicked fun from the Ulster County author of the Poisons of Caux trilogy. —NS

THE HATERS

Jesse Andrews

Abrams, 2016, $18.95

Recent HVYAS guest Jesse Andrews, whose Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a hit on shelves and onscreen, returns with another two-boys-and-a-girl scenario, upping the rawness with sex, drugs, and many, many dick jokes. For The Haters, he uses his musician cred to create a world of interesting kids with believable problems taking huge risks—like abandoning jazz camp to take their newly formed band the Haters on tour. Parents would be advised not to read over shoulders as believable madness ensues, and narrator Wes (bass), BFF Corey (drums) and manic pixie Ash (guitar, vocals) struggle to shoehorn angsty misadventures into song. Or at least a listicle. —RBW

THE OUTLIERS

Kimberly McCreight

HarperCollins, 2016, $18.99

The Outliers is a heart-pounding thriller centered around grief-stricken Boston teenager Wylie Lang. The action begins with a text from Wylie's ex-best friend Cassie, who's in serious trouble. Wylie enlists Cassie's mysterious boyfriend Jasper to help save Cassie. But is this just another one of Cassie's attention-fueled schemes? Or is it something more? Twisting at every corner, The Outliers steals your breath with every sentence. Appearing at Hudson Valley YA Society, 6/12 at 4pm, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck. —AR

WHAT HAPPENS NOW

Jennifer Castle

HarperTeen, 2016, $17.99

Ari Logan plans to spend this summer like she spends every summer: at a lake in the Catskills, pining after the unattainable Camden Armstrong. Except this summer isn't like every other summer. Ari's finally getting her depression under control, and Camden and Ari begin to bond over an old sci-fi television show. As she gets to know Camden and his friends better through cosplay shoots and convention visits, Ari learns the actual Camden is far different from the boy she yearned for. What Happens Now is the quintessential vacation read, with beach days, a visit to the Ulster County Fair, soft serve, and summer love. —AR

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