Ann's Picks

Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062472502
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Published: HarperCollins - March 7th, 2017

 When Andrea and Sophie were teenagers, their lives converged at a Girls Who Code summer camp--paired together, the two ended up coding a feminist game that went viral and became a media darling, a game which launched both of their careers in the STEM world! This book is their account of that time of their lives--why they decided to start coding, what their initial impressions of Girls Who Code and each other were, the obstacles they faced (both socially and code-wise) for their smash hit game Tampon Run (an entertaining way to de-stigmatize periods), how they engineered it's success, and what happened after they became tech stars. This memoir is a positive, fun look at the possibilities for girls who persist even in male-dominated fields, and proof that girls have voices that people want to hear! Ages 12+ 

Beautiful Broken Girls Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374300593
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr) - February 21st, 2017

Savage has absolutely knocked it out of the park with this mystery. The story starts with the death of beautiful, over-protected sisters Mira and Francesca, drowned in the local quarry, and follows Ben as he receives letters that Mira (he dated her briefly) left for him the places that they touched. Ben is convinced that there was more to the sisters’ deaths than a simple accident, and desperately needs the letters to tell him the truth of what happened. The real beauty of this book is the way it sets up expectations–both for Ben and the readers–only to knock them down again and again. Savage has painted a vivid, realistic picture of a town and community: settings so real you’ll feel like you’ve been there; people as conflicted and complicated as any you know; goodness, badness, forgiveness, trauma, and imperfect loves; and terrible mistakes resulting in hurts that were never intended. She manages to put the messiness of humanity and our minds into an intricate story as successfully as Robert Cormier at his best. This novel is impossible to put down and utterly addictive! 

Dance Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481487078
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Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - February 14th, 2017

The little, just-hatched chick heads to the dance hall, but doesn’t know how to dance! The other animals are more than happy to help by showing their moves (hula hippo, hopping bunny, even gators and beavers get in on the action).  When the text isn’t focusing on the action of the dance, it uses alliteration, rhymes, and slant rhymes to emphasize the musicality of the story. While pull-tab board books are becoming more and more durable every year, this one has my all-time favorite new innovation: a thick, clear plastic over the moving parts, so that tiny curious fingers will be able to touch without risk of damaging the dancing animals! And don’t miss the big finish, after Little Chickie learns to dance from all of the new friends!

#Famous Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062430038
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Published: Katherine Tegen Books - February 14th, 2017

Such an amusing book! When a surreptitious picture of school hot guy Kyle is sent by Rachel to her best friend, it unexpectedly goes viral, changing their worlds. Kyle gains positive attention and even a talk show invite, whereas Rachel gains scorn and bullying. Clued into how hard things have been on Rachel, Kyle uses the talk show appearance to get her some positive attention, and soon things spiral into a choreographed pseudo-courtship between the two as a reoccurring segment for the talk show. What makes this book so special is that even though it touches on some tough aspects of real life (anonymous strangers sending a deluge of nasty messages to Rachel combined with in-school bullying), Rachel's narration never loses its sense of humor--a fresh, more resilient take than the customary angst of young adult fiction.

Do Fairies Bring the Spring? Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608936335
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Published: Down East Books - February 9th, 2017

Say hello to spring with this gorgeous celebration of fairies and the natural world! In gentle rhymes and soft art, this book asks about if and how the fairies come out to clear away winter and make room for the colors and life of spring. It’s a positive, happy book with a wonderful color palate and cheerful, lively artwork. The rhymes of the book flow smoothly, and the amount of text makes it great for very young audiences that have trouble maintaining attention, as well as for older picture book readers who are emerging as independent readers. 

Chee-Kee: A Panda in Bearland Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316407441
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Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - February 7th, 2017

Bearland is a happy land, welcoming to all bears. The Loo family of pandas travel all the way from the Island of Coney to live there. Little Chee-Kee struggles the hardest--everything there is new and strange to him, and he feels like his own differences will prevent him from ever truly belonging. Although the other bears are friendly and welcoming,  Chee-Kee doesn't feel comfortable until he personally sees how the cultural differences he brings can contribute to Bearland, through a mild instance of saving the day (he uses bamboo to pole vault to the top of a tree and retrieve a stuck soccer ball). This book has a great message, and charming art. The beautifully shadowed watercolors pop against the minimal backgrounds.

ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101999783
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Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - February 7th, 2017

Do you know a kiddo who can’t get enough kitchen action? This ABC book is perfect for budding chefs, or even just kids who spend a lot of time in the kitchen during meal prep. The alphabetical pastas range from spaghetti to ditalini to the occasional non-pasta pasta accessory (basil, pecorino and parmigiano),  and each is assigned a circus role. The illustrations combine photos of the actual food item with  thick-lined  drawings, turning them into the role. Great fun for foodies—or for the kind of kids who live on macaroni and buttered noodles! 

Spurt Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481479721
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Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - February 7th, 2017

The hilarious boy-and-his-puberty book you didn’t even know you needed! Jack is a late bloomer, smaller than the other boys and behind schedule on… certain, other, hairy secondary sex traits. Desperate to avoid the embarrassment , he decides to take a fake-it-till-you-make-it approach, leading to the kind of hilarity that’s impossible not to laugh out loud at. Making matters worse, at the beginning of middle school he was on an obscure reality show, which has now picked up popularity enough to do a retrospective segment.  Jack fears the entire country will know his secret, and concocts a scheme to ape what he thinks masculinity is. Part of Jack’s adrift-ness stems from his father’s death years prior; this story element is present  just enough  to add richness without detracting from the silly, occasionally gross puberty and social awkwardness humor. This book is full of heart…and other parts! 

All That Glitters (Enchanted Pony Academy #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780545908870
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Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - January 31st, 2017

Underneath the sparkles that adorn this cover, there’s a solid book with real heart! Daisy has the sparkly hooves of a Glitter Pony, which mean she’s admitted to the Enchanted Pony Academy (where ponies work on their magical gifts so they one day may be a close companion of a royal child), but she’s insecure because she hasn’t found her magical glitter gift yet. Being around the other Glitter Ponies—and seeing their magical abilities—makes her feel like she doesn’t belong, but the other ponies encourage her to keep working and to be patient. Sure enough, her work ethic pays off when she’s able to help her friends without magic, and her friends in turn show that they value her for being a good person more than they would for any magic—her cool gift is revealed at the end, though!

Nope Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101997314
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Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - January 17th, 2017

A young bird faces high anxiety about flight! This story is mostly told through the expressive characters and art, as the older bird loses patience with the younger's hesitations towards making the big leap to flying. In thought bubbles, the younger bird imagines rapidly escalating scary reasons against jumping (the forest could transform into an alligator-packed swamp!), before the older gives up and pushes the younger bird, who immediately flies with success--what first seemed so scary was nothing to worry about at all! The cartoonish, highly expressive art and the minimal text (sound effects, and single words like "Nope!" which will be fun for young listeners to shout along with) make this book about overcoming irrational anxieties an enjoyable read-aloud for young kids.

A Greyhound, a Groundhog Cover Image
By Emily Jenkins, Chris Appelhans (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780553498059
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Published: Schwartz & Wade Books - January 3rd, 2017

Looking for a wonderful book to read aloud for young children? This is it! The story of a greyhound and a groundhog playing together is written with a bouncy abundance of alliteration and rhyme, creating a naturally sing-song cadence and encouraging young ears to take pleasure in the complementary sounds of the words. In the accompanying illustrations, Appelhans creates vibrancy through motion and lustrous highlights in the watercolor figures and minimal backgrounds. This book is as joyful as the happy, rambunctious animal characters in it, and is sure to delight! Ages 2-5

Game Over, Super Rabbit Boy! Cover Image
ISBN: 9781338034714
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Published: Branches - December 27th, 2016

The When King Viking abducts the Singing Dog that delights the citizens of Animal Town, it’s up to Super Rabbit Boy to save the day by preserving fun, in a video game played by a boy. The boy controls Super Rabbit Boy against traps, enemies, and lava; and especially through Game Overs that frustrate the boy, who must persevere—the positive message about not giving up fits in well with all of the child-friendly content. The amount of text is great for young, emerging readers working on their text-endurance, and there are little Easter Eggs for adults reading with children in the vintage gaming motifs that will bring adults back to the video games of their own youths. It occupies a spot—age and content-wise—that isn’t always easy to shop for in chapter books, and is a fun addition to early readers’ shelves!

The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation Cover Image
By Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763665128
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Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - November 8th, 2016

 One of the most popular early chapter book characters—proper Princess Magnolia, who moonlights as the monster-fighting Princess in Black—returns for another adventure! But this time, she’s just plain exhausted from so much monster fighting. Duff the Goat Boy convinces her to take a vacation, and while she’s gone he becomes the long-awaited Goat Avenger, and gets in a nutty situation! Meanwhile, the Princess’s vacation goes awry when a sea monster attacks the beach, leading to the most energetic sleepy fight scene in perhaps all of children’s books’ history! Gentle, funny, and always a crowd-pleaser. (Ages 5-8)

The Diabolic Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481472678
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Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - November 1st, 2016

 In the far off future, humanity has been spread across the galaxy, and humans are malleable enough that hair and skin colors are fashion statements. The genetic engineering also extends to the Diabolic, a humanoid creature designed to be faster, stronger, tougher, and completely loyal only to a single person—the ultimate bodyguard. They were a bit too ultimate, and were banned, but a soft-hearted senator’s daughter, Sidonia, views her own Diabolic, Nemesis, as a person and refuses to let her family dispose of it. Then, when Sidonia’s heretic father runs afoul of the Emperor, the court demands Sidonia’s presence. Desperate to save Sidonia, her family sends Nemesis instead. Nemesis must pretend to be Sidonia in order to save her life—deeply devoted Nemesis would be emotionally destroyed if anything happened to her Sidonia, and so must maintain the ruse and find ways to navigate the snake-pit of a senate (quite ancient Roman flavored), which forces her to confront questions about her own soul or lack-there-of. A complicated intrigue story with unobtrusive social commentary and philosophical questions.

Gemina Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553499155
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Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - October 18th, 2016

The biggest young adult science-fiction break out of last year, Illuminae, is being followed up by a sequel that defies the rule that second books are a step down in quality! In fact, when we first received our advance copy, the Odyssey staff passed it around and then argued in the back offices about whether it might have actually even surpassed the first! This sequel takes place at the Jump Station Heimdall, the safe destination that the heroes of Illuminae struggled towards. It uses the same format—found-footage collage of documents forming a dossier that uncovers the truth of the incident—and has a different pair of narrators (space Mafioso with a heart-of-gold Nik, and spoiled party-girl with greater depths Hanna), and fills in some gaps left by Illuminae while introducing more space terrors, like parasitic creatures, corporate mercenaries, and worst-case wormhole physics scenarios. A must read for sci-fi fans

Choose Your Own Misery: The Holidays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781682303191
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Published: Diversion Publishing - Ips - October 18th, 2016

This team of humor-writing alums of The Onion are back with another twisted love letter to those vintage choose your own adventure books. This time, the second-person protagonist that the reader “plays” as is all set for a nice, relaxing vacation only for a hurricane to destroy his travel plans, leaving him with a variety of impromptu choices—and none of them will end well! As you read, the most innocuous decisions will quickly spiral into unpredictably wild disasters. The dark comedy will make you laugh, and also make you more appreciative of your own family and life. A clever diversion for immature mature audiences only!

Aleppo Cookbook: Celebrating the Legendary Cuisine of Syria Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566569866
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Published: Interlink Books - October 15th, 2016

Fight ISIS with your forks! From Aleppo’s place on the Silk Road, it has a long history of multicultural food exchanges, reflected in the sheer variety of flavors and recipes collected. ISIS is tearing Syria apart, destroying cultural artifacts and trying to destroy entire cultures. This enormous treasure of a cookbook is a compilation of not just Aleppo recipes, but a documentation of its ancient food culture. Along with the wonderful, well-explained recipes (this is a massive cookbook with a recipe for any course, formality level, or to appease any eater—flip through it and see for yourself!), this book offers stunning photography not just of the food but also of the city markets. It is an easy-to-use encyclopedia of Aleppo’s broad, marvelous cuisine that will leave your dinner guests in awe, and it gave me a new appreciation for the flowering quince in my own backyard!

The Great Antonio: Toon Level 2 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781943145089
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Published: Toon Books - October 11th, 2016

This is an early reader biography in graphic novel form and written as a tall tale. It tells the life story of colorful Montreal strongman Antonio Barichievich, stress on story part—many of the stories that circulated from and about Antonio are crazy, though just as crazy were some of his well-documented feats… The retellings are framed by speculations on how such a man could have come to be. The artwork relishes in the hairy Canadian, and a reoccurring cat is fun to spot throughout. What really makes it special, though, is how much heart it packs in—both from Antonio, and the clear affection from Gravel for her subject. (Ages 5-8)

The Weight of Zero Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101938898
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Published: Delacorte Press - October 11th, 2016

This is the kind of book that can save a life—literally. High school junior Catherine’s life was derailed with the onset of bipolar disorder, and she’s been switching meds and suffering social isolation ever since, dreading the imminence of “Zero,” her personification of the depressive swing that counters the manic side of bipolar. Unwilling to face Zero again, she plans to kill herself—and to succeed this time. Catherine tries to keep her plans under wraps in the face of a new doctor, meds, therapy group, and a tentative new friendship (with relationship potential)—all the while knowing that Zero is coming, and so is her personal D-Day. This is a wonderful, realistic book about resiliency, hope, and human connection in the face of the heavy struggles of mental illness. Depression isn’t romanticized, and medical treatment isn’t stigmatized. Aside from the power of the content, this book is beautifully written and paced, a tense story that is easy to lose yourself in.  

The Way Things Work Now Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544824386
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - October 4th, 2016

 It’s been ten years since this touchstone book has last been updated, and with the digital explosion in technology since then, it was well due for an update! Macaulay’s meticulously detailed illustrations and diagrams break down various complex machines into understandable bits and pieces, allowing readers to see the way they connect and build on each other as technology evolves. But don’t think that just because it’s exactingly factual that it isn’t fun—the whole thing is done with a playful sense of humor that infuses the writing, and is most obvious in the silly cartoon wooly mammoth that appears throughout! This is a wonderful kind of book because it both inspires curiosity and encourages agency, by getting kids started down the path of engineering. Great for all ages.

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481465656
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Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - September 20th, 2016

 Atkins uses her spare, deft poetry to create a fast-reading, accessible historical novel in verse (this isn’t esoteric poetry that needs to be deciphered) that tells the stories of three highly influential scientists who were once girls bucking societal expectations: entomologist Maria Merian (1674-1717), paleontologist Mary Anning (1799-1847), and astronomer Maria Mitchell (1818-1889). Atkins, a marvelous storyteller and meticulous researcher, creates tension through the obstacles the three girls encounter, and how they overcome. Along with being an inspiring book about following curiosities even when it’s a harder path, this book is also desperately needed to counter-balance the compartmentalized, test-oriented way that STEM subjects are presented in schools—after all, it is passion that will give us our next great scientists, a passion that this book nurtures.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders Cover Image
ISBN: 9780761169086
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Published: Workman Publishing - September 20th, 2016

This large, beautiful tome documents natural wonders and man-made oddities from all around the globe. Gorgeous pictures are accompanied by pithy introductions to each subject in this sampler buffet of what actually exists out there in the world, things like: bridges made out of living tree roots, a giant hand statue emerging from a desert floor, caves lit by glow worms, a 600 year old clock, a Canadian Potato Museum, and much more. Get ready for wanderlust when you check out this celebration of our wonderfully weird world! 

Toby Cover Image
By Hazel Mitchell, Hazel Mitchell (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763680930
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Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - September 13th, 2016

An adorable white doggy is adopted from the animal shelter by a little boy, but it’s not all smooth sailing for the shy pup. Toby is a combination of timidity and untrained unruliness that overwhelms the little boy’s father, but the little boy refuses to give up on Toby, and trains Toby into the good dog that he could always be. The gentle artwork reflects the softness of the characters and the stories, and depicts Toby’s fear (and the boy’s fear of losing Toby) in a way that won’t disturb young readers. A doggone adorable book about patience for puppy lovers. (Ages 2-6)

And I Darken Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553522310
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Published: Delacorte Press - June 28th, 2016

What if the infamous Vlad the Impaler, inspiration for Dracula, had been born female? Lada is just as brutal and ruthless as her real life counterpart, and stands out among young adult heroines for being not (as they all seem to be) an attractive girl convinced she’s plain, but genuinely physically homely. Prickly Lada walks a careful line between her coarseness and cruelty, a balance managed through her relationships with well-developed side characters, like her charismatic but delicate and gentle baby brother. This book follows the early parts of Vlad’s life, both as a Romanian noble and as a hostage of the cosmopolitan Ottoman Empire. The complex society and multifaceted characters—both aspects grounded in a tangible sense of realism—result in an engrossing, intrigue-packed story, great for historical or fantasy fiction writers.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616205676
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Published: Algonquin Young Readers - August 9th, 2016

Nearly every family of the Protectorate has been touched by deep sorrow, as once a year a baby must be sacrificed to an evil witch to sate her wicked ways. What the Council of Elders keeps secret is that there is no evil witch. What they don’t know, is that there is indeed a witch—Xan doesn’t know why the strange town leaves a baby to die each year, but she won’t allow it and rescues each, feeds them starlight (which brings out the best of them), and takes them to the Free Cities to loving adoptive families. But when Xan accidentally feeds one baby moonlight, making her a creature of magic, the carefully maintained order is shaken by the sheer power in so small a child. And so kicks off a rich plot from multiple perspectives that explains why Xan is what she is, and the Protectorate what it is, and how it can be fixed. This is a beautiful story, thematically powerful and lyrically written. In parts it is a dreamy fairy tale, a socio-political small town picture, and a family saga. Wonderful for strong kid readers (ages 9 or 10+), teens, and adult readers alike.

Local Girl Swept Away Cover Image
ISBN: 9781440589003
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Published: Simon Pulse - June 15th, 2016

The latest contemporary, realistic young adult novel from the author who inspired John Green! A group of friends is torn apart when their charismatic leader is swept away during a storm. Protagonist Jackie deals with survivor’s grief after losing Lorna, especially as her crush (and Lorna’s boyfriend) and her lean on each other for emotional support, while fourth member of their clique distances himself to the point of no longer being reachable. Thematically, Jackie’s struggles as she extricates herself from her group and into her own identity apart results in a relatable coming of age story, while in the plot she grapples with new information about who Lorna really was, and who anyone is, in this twisty drama. The vividly-painted beach setting will leave readers practically smelling the ocean, while the town will resonate with teenagers feeling pinned in by their own hometowns and ready to enter the world.

Old MacDonald Had a Truck Cover Image
By Steve Goetz, Eda Kaban (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781452132600
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Published: Chronicle Books - March 1st, 2016

The elderly MacDonald couple undertake a construction project--with each construction equipment vehicle/equipment featured in lieu of an animal in the classic "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" tune around which this book is based. With onomatopoeia a plenty in the song and the farm construction ongoing, the farm animal pit crew helps convert the red truck into a monster truck in time for the construction project's results and a big finish! The illustrations are as energetic as the song, making this picture book a winner for all kids who like music, heavy machinery, or both!

After the Woods Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374300555
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr) - February 23rd, 2016

One year ago, teenage Julia went for a jog through the woods, only to be abducted by Donald Jessup. While she’s safe now, back at home and with Jessup dead, the memories of her brief captivity are a patchwork of blurs, of cold, of the pain from a sprained ankle. When another girl’s body is found in the same woods she emerged from, it isn’t just one-year retrospective attention towards the case, but a reopened investigation. Julia teams with a local reporter and finally starts unpacking just why her memories and the facts she knows about her own case aren’t adding up. This is a fast-moving story where trauma psychology is expertly juggled with a precise mystery, a mystery that is scary through how true to life the characters and their relationships are. Savage’s writing simmers with tension, propelling readers to discoveries alongside the imminently likable Julia, and is as fun to read as it is thought-provoking.

Choose Your Own Misery: The Office Cover Image
ISBN: 9781626819245
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Published: Diversion Publishing - Ips - January 26th, 2016

Sometimes, you have a day that's just so miserable that there's only one way to make it okay: find a book that exponentially magnifies the misery for vicarious, cartoonish catharsis. CHOOSE YOUR OWN MISERY fits the bill perfectly. Styled after the vintage Choose Your Own Adventure books, this interactive book gives the readers choices in how the story unfolds, directing to different page numbers instead of having them read straight through. Explore everything that could possibly go wrong in an office job, from bodily functions run amok to intraoffice romance; relish in the fictional protagonist facing the consequences of the bad decisions you control. What makes MacDonald and Gagnon's portrayal of the unnamed protagonist's profanity-laden, alcohol-drenched day so special is how each bit of over-the-top sitcom levels of horrible luck germinates from an embarrassing seed that could happen in real life. This Worst Case Scenario narrative deserves the only praise that matters for a comedy book: it's really, really funny.

Coding Games in Scratch Cover Image
ISBN: 9781465439352
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Published: DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) - December 1st, 2015


This book is the easiest and fastest way to get kids making their own computer games. It uses SCRATCH, a visual coding language (think draging and dropping code images instead of copying and pasting or tying out passages of code text) developed by MIT to get people started with coding (and the kinds of logic and thinking programmers use) in a way that it is easy to share your creations. Scratch is completely free, and can be used online (no downloads) or downloaded to be used offline. This book has the best layout and clearest instructions of the Scratch books for kids, and walks them through very quickly running a handful of different types of games. Best, it encourages kids to mess around and try different things to find ways to make new outcomes.

Minna's Patchwork Coat Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316406215
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Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - November 3rd, 2015

 For decades, readers have cherished local author-illustrator Mills’s award-winning picture book The Rag Coat so much that they wanted more—finally, Mills has obliged. In the early 1900s, Minna’s impoverished Appalachian family can’t afford a winter coat for her, meaning she can’t go to school and is an outcast among the other children. When, after tragedy, the sewing mothers of the community come together to quilt a coat for her out of scraps from their own children’s favorite old possessions, Minna faces an interesting dilemma. She loves the children from their mothers’ stories, and has trouble reconciling the meanness they display towards her (and the prejudice some display towards her biracial friend) with their secret selves. This nuanced story about bullying has instant-classic appeal stemming from the setting’s rustic charm, the goodness of the characters, Mills’s deft and humorous wordplay, and—of course—the beautiful works of art that accompany the prose. This is the kind of book that’s guaranteed to be treasured. Ages 8-12

Teach Your Kids to Code: A Parent-Friendly Guide to Python Programming Cover Image
ISBN: 9781593276140
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Published: No Starch Press - May 1st, 2015

Wonderful Python guide for the whole family! Payne does an excellent job appealing to a variety of learning styles with his super-clear instructions that can help even the most luddite of parents! The wide variety of projects are made so easy that this book will kids eager to learn more and ready to handle more advanced programming (it also features math in a nonthreatening, purposeful way that will help even kids intimidated by the subject really click with it!).

The Natural World of Winnie-The-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest That Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood Cover Image
ISBN: 9781604695991
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Published: Timber Press (OR) - September 23rd, 2015

Scores of children and their parents still visit Winnie-the-Pooh and the Hundred Acre Woods, reading the classic A. A. Milne books together. Aalto’s book brings the Hundred Acre Woods to life by introducing readers to the Ashdown Forest, the woods that inspired Milne’s fictional world. Balancing a tale of a nature loving father and his son’s private world turned to stories, and what inspired both, Aalto does double duty as a nature writer with a biographic spin. There are illustrations from Milne’s time and current photographs of Ashdown in all of its lush glory. Aalto doesn’t write herself out of the text; her charming personality comes through in each of the sections, from the collaboration behind Winnie-the-Pooh to the story’s origin. This guide is perfect for armchair visits in history and nature, and might inspire readers to venture to the real Hundred Acre Woods.  

Ruby Wizardry: An Introduction to Programming for Kids Cover Image
ISBN: 9781593275662
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Published: No Starch Press - December 18th, 2014

This interactive fantasy story allows readers to follow along two young wizards in a kingdom where everything is going crazy! The protagonists must use the Ruby programming language to fix the kingdom's code as they get closer and closer to solving the mystery of what--or who--is behind the trouble! The story is written to encourage young readers to code alongside the heroes, learning how to fix the programming with them. The chapters of the adventures are just stand-alone enough that they offer good stopping places without interrupting the flow of the story.

Wolfie the Bunny Cover Image
By Ame Dyckman, Zachariah Ohora (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780316226141
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Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - February 17th, 2015

Dot the bunny doesn't plan on a younger sibling, but a basket left at her family's doorstep changes that. Her parents gladly take in the new baby and fall head-over-heels in love, leaving Dot frustrated that she seems to be the only one who realizes the danger of keeping a wolf in a family of rabbits! The art is absolutely adorable, from grey Wolfie in pink bunny suit to Dot in her little red hoodie--a clever wink. The climax of the story involves a run in with a bear at the local carrot co-op, and is both a funny joke and a sweet realization about familial love and acceptance.

Dreams of Maryam Tair: Blue Boots and Orange Blossoms Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566560917
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Published: Interlink Books - June 15th, 2015

A multicultural fantasy novel with broad appeal! This novel combines a family saga, a politically radical story, and prophesy-packed circular creation tales. Maryam is born to a mother disappeared by the demons during the Casablanca Bread Riots of 1981. She's a very odd, special child, and is given three gifts and a curse, and tasked with bringing about change. Alaoui's work is literary in its beautiful language and ambitious in its execution, while also telling a sprawling, engrossing story populated by a host of believable characters, both human and not.

I'm with Cupid Cover Image
ISBN: 9781492615460
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky - July 7th, 2015

Love, death, and middle school! When Lena (secretly a reaper) and Marcus (secretly a cupid) kiss, they swap spit AND secret powers. After they find out about the swap through wacky hijinks, they must find a way to make things right—after all, sensitive Marcus makes a terrible reaper, and logical Lena doesn’t even believe in love. Through the fast and funny plot, a natural connection between the two blossoms into young romance. The eminently believable and distinct characters, the prose’s wit, and the amount of fun packed into this novel will make I’m With Cupid a bull’s-eye hit for tweens!

JavaScript for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming Cover Image
ISBN: 9781593274085
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: No Starch Press - December 12th, 2014

Featuring excellent explanations of programming concepts, this guide to JavaScript rivals college textbooks in informational quality (and far surpasses many in ease of use), and offers a fun way to get into one of the most versatile, widely-used codes used today! Absolutely wonderful step-by-step instructions with full explanations for the language used in interactive webdesign, programming apps for android phones, and more!

Lauren Ipsum: A Story about Computer Science and Other Improbable Things Cover Image
ISBN: 9781593275747
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: No Starch Press - December 14th, 2014

After a fight with her parents, Lauren goes for a walk in the woods and gets horribly lost in a strange world made up of computer programming principles. This book is a Phantom Tollbooth for computer science, forcing Lauren to journey through obstacles that can be surmounted through the types of logic that make coding easier, natural, and intuitive. Instead of teaching programming code, this book allows kids to think like a programmer while following the wacky adventure. Both fun and funny—even for kids who ignore the STEM motif—the book is an enjoyable., philosophical, and intelligent fantasy adventure.

Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594747403
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - October 21st, 2014

I have used this cookbook to trick so many people into thinking I'm a talented baker! This book is a winner for three specific reasons. Firstly, the cookies look absolutely gorgeous. Secondly, the recipes are incredibly delicious--and diverse, too, with traditional flavors, nuts, fruits, savory kinds, and more, yielding something for everyone. But the biggest boon that the book offers is how easy it is to consistently get the beautiful, delicious results. The recipes are easy to follow, and Morse's introductory chapters detail--with photos--how to find and select ingredients, as well as the equipment and techniques that give optimal results. Madeleines can make anyone feel ready to open a fancy cafe!

Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061561559
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - October 14th, 2014

Master of fantasy Nix brings readers back to the Old Kingdom (of the Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen trilogy) for this prequel. Clariel longs for freedom, but her high positioning in the Kingdom (related to both the king and the magical, setting-dead-to-rest necromancer Abhorsen) makes her too valuable as a pawn for others. Her rebellious schemes to self-liberate bring her unpredictable consequences. The nuanced magic, politics, and the dilemmas faced by the complicated heroine are set against the Old Kingdom as it totters over the edge and into the state readers find it in Sabriel. What's great is that while Clariel fleshes out the world in fun ways for fans of the series, it's also an accessible entry point for new readers, leaving them breathlessly grabbing the older books to find out what happens next.

The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft Cover Image
By H. P. Lovecraft, Leslie S. Klinger (Editor), Alan Moore (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780871404534
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - October 13th, 2014

With high production values and through, readable notations, Klinger's collection of Lovecraft's works is a must for horror devotees looking for the roots of the terrifying madness in the famous horror works, or connoisseurs seeking a perfect showpiece for their Cthulhu collections. The text and explanatory notes are accompanied by illustrations ranging from photos of real life story locations, artwork published with the stories originally, and more--even drawings taken straight from Lovecraft's own private letters. Read it by day or night; just be sure not to read it too loudly--wouldn't want to wake the OId Ones from their slumber!

We Were Liars Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385741262
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - May 13th, 2014

Cady Sinclair comes from a blond, beautiful, successful family that summers every year on their private Cape Cod island. The summer she’s fifteen, there’s an accident that leaves her with debilitating migraines and memory loss. Worst of all, it keeps her away from the island and isolated from her same-age cousins (and family friend) for their 16th summer. Now she’s back at the island for her 17th summer, struggling to fit into both her close-knit seasonal group and into a picture perfect family that’s slowly crumbling. Through it all, she wonders: What happened that 15th summer? We Were Liars is a richly written family story filled with secrets, greed, and mysteries right to its final, devastating twist.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451666175
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Touchstone Books - October 29th, 2013

Brosh's humor stems from her willingness to embrace neuroses and insecurities and vulnerabilities, spinning them--with the aid of her childlike, highly expressive illustrations--into comedy gold. But she also demonstrates a bit of range in this book, from her hilarious childhood remembrances to a painful-yet-still-funny-in-a-dark-way take on depression.

The Count of Monte Cristo Cover Image
By Alexandre Dumas Pere, Robin Buss (Translator), Robin Buss (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780140449266
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - May 27th, 2003

This is my favorite classic to recomend to people who aren't classic readers because the plot is just so much fun! It starts when an innocent man loses his freedom and fiance when he is falsely imprisoned after jealous rivals scheme against him. Sweet, niave Dantes is educated in the terrible prison fortress so that after his escape he is ready to build himself into a new man, one capable of terrible and deliciously karmatic revenges against those who have wronged him. Action! Adventure! Schemes! Murder! Opium dens! Pirates!

Sabriel Cover Image
By Garth Nix, Leo And Dillon (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780064471831
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Teen - August 11th, 1997

Everyone's favorite teenage necromancer! Along with being a classic in young adult fantasy, this book is also groundbreaking for its treatment of such dark content--death, necromancy, and the like--without falling into a pit of angst. Sabriel is a determined, competent, well-rounded hero--the kind you would want along on an adventure to keep you from dying.

Underwater Puppies Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316254892
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - September 16th, 2014

How does one top a masterpiece like Casteel's earlier photo book, Underwater Dogs? As Underwater Cats would be a disaster, Casteel enlists puppies! All of the goodness of canine faces under water--flopping ears and lips and all--is now combined with wide-eyed new-to-the-world enthusiasm and puppy proportions, like over-sized paws reaching for underwater tennis balls. The pictures are huge and bright, allowing nothing to come between you and appreciating baby dogs having the underwater time of their lives!

The Glass Cage: Automation and Us Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393240764
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 29th, 2014

Carr's back with another look at the dangers in store for us if we rely too heavily on technology. His new argument is that automation--from stock trading software to GPS and even to autopilot and the heralded Google self-driving car--has ramifications ranging from the decline of our abilities, sucking the joy out of life in unexpected ways, and the stratification of labor as more jobs are made obsolete by advances in artificial intelligence. For the anti-tech crowd, this thorough, detailed work puts words to hesitations some people have about the increasing role of technology. For early-adopters and tech enthusiasts, even if you disagree with Carr's conclusions you'll enjoy the intellectual exercise of engaging with his ideas.

Jaybird Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616554699
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dark Horse Books - September 16th, 2014

The artwork in this is just gorgeous.

Out West: Travels Through the American West - Past and Present Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566560641
Availability: Special Order
Published: Interlink Books - August 8th, 2016

BBC filmmaker Tim Slessor is deeply, madly head-over-heels in love with the American West—and he wants to help you love it, too. Here, he has put together a history of the West, filling in the broader strokes with details about some of the more intriguing characters—well known or obscure—and their extraordinary experiences. The areas of research depth align not with your standard areas of American history textbook content, but to the anecdotes his own interests took him; for instance, did you know that in order to pay cash for the Louisiana Purchase the US took out a mortgage with British banks that still hold the original financing paperwork? Throughout it all, Slessor writes with a remarkable warmth and kind sense of humor. Through this personal, human look from an outsider’s eyes at the wide swath of frequently written-off fly-over-country, it becomes much easier to appreciate the beauty and history of our country, and the way its legacy shaped the character of our nation. Great for history buffs and adventurous travelers (and history buffs who like to adventure vicariously).