Banna's New Recs

 

Banna

To see Banna's earlier recs, click here.

 

 

 

Staff Pick Logo
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781250135995
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - January 17th, 2017

Listen up, white people. Despite undeniable progress, there’s still a lot of work to be done, work that has to be done by us. Dyson, a writer and a sociologist, is also an ordained Baptist minister and he incorporates elements of a worship service into this must-read book. He doesn’t finger-point or belittle us readers — in fact, he addresses us as “beloved” — but he presents historical and contemporary hard truths that we need to hear, accept, and act on. It’s too easy to react to some of these truths with indifference or defensiveness; we’ve been doing that far too long. Please, please suppress those instincts and read this necessary book with an open heart.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who's Sick Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781610392839
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: PublicAffairs - April 9th, 2013

We’ve all been there, and we will be again: a friend, family member, friend’s spouse, child, or parent is seriously ill, injured, or dying. For most of us, what to say and do can be challenging; sometimes it’s paralyzing. Pogrebin, who dealt with her own cancer diagnosis at age 70, interviewed scads of patients, caregivers, friends, and family members to determine what truly helps and what doesn’t. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but Pogrebin walks us through many scenarios that serve as models and cautionary tales. We all need this book.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Chester and Gus Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062330680
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: HarperCollins - April 4th, 2017

MIDDLE GRADE - AVAIL. 4/4/17

Chester knows what his purpose is: find his person, and be that person’s service dog. But when fear of loud noises derails his certification, he’s at sea . . . until Gus’s parents choose him to be a companion to their son, who has autism. It’s not what Chester had in mind, especially because Gus seems completely uninterested in him. A relationship slowly develops as boy and dog begin to communicate wordlessly. Love dogs? Fascinated by how kids who aren’t neurotypical navigate the world?  Just want a great story movingly told? This book’s for you.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Edgar and Lucy Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250096982
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - March 7th, 2017

Avail. 3/7/17

It hardly seems possible for one author to completely inhabit such wildly different characters: a loving but somewhat suffocating Italian grandmother; her mentally unstable son; his widow, burying her grief in promiscuity; her young grandson, whose appearance is as unsettling as his intelligence and sensitivity, and a predator trying to escape paralyzing remorse and guilt. Yet Lodato somehow manages to make them all both true to life and larger than life. The book will grab you right from the start and propel you, enthralled, through both joy and dread until the very last sentence . . . and far beyond.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher Cover Image
$6.99
ISBN: 9780385376556
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yearling Books - July 14th, 2015

MIDDLE GRADE

The Fletchers have a host of ordinary problems: Sam, the jock, might try out for the school play, but worries about teasing; Jax has a major assignment he’s unable to complete; Eli’s transferred to a school for gifted kids that turns out not to be what he expected; and Frog is starting kindergarten with his imaginary friend Flare, a cheetah. The boys and their problems are vividly, lovingly drawn. But here’s what’s different: this multi-racial, multi-cultural family with two dads celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali. Let yourself be embraced by this very real, very contemporary family.

-Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Dreidels on the Brain Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780803740976
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Books - October 4th, 2016

Who knew? A wonderful middle-grade novel with Hanukkah festivities at its center that will be loved by kids of all backgrounds. Joel is a short, funny-looking 12-year-old, a talented magician with a loving family. He needs a series of Hanukkah miracles: help for his father’s crippling arthritis and his family’s crippling money problems, the affection of a classmate, and – somehow – a way to get through the Winter Holiday assembly where he (the only Jew in his school) and his family are expected to enlighten everyone about their holiday. Great fun, and some genuinely moving moments.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog Cover Image
By Adam Gidwitz, Hatem Aly (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780525426165
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - September 27th, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE THROUGH ADULT

What a quartet: Jeanne, a peasant girl whose seizures let her see the future; William, a supernaturally strong, biracial  monk-in-training; Jacob, a Jewish boy with a gift for healing; and Gwenforte, a saintly greyhound resurrected from the dead. It’s France in 1242, and they meet by chance at an inn, all of them running for their lives from the persecution of King Louis. This episodic tale, told by multiple narrators, will bear you breathless on their journey. Along the way you’ll grapple with faith, truth, loyalty, and bigotry. And fierce knights. And a dragon with fiery flatulence. The book is visually stunning; adventure, humor, and mystery abound. Leap on this one!

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Other Boy Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062427663
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - September 20th, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

Shane’s interests aren’t surprising for a 12-year-old – baseball, video games, creating a graphic novel, hanging with his best friend, and experiencing his first major crush. Just one thing: he was designated “female” at birth. No one at his school knows. He’s at a turning point, because it’s time to begin testosterone injections. His mom is supportive; dad, not so much. When a bully learns Shane’s secret, everything falls apart, but heartbreak and tragedy, thankfully, aren’t permanent conditions. Terrific book with plenty of depth and hope.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Chance Developments: Stories Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781101871256
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon Books - July 12th, 2016

Sometimes you just want to lose yourself in a good story. Who better to provide it – five of them, in fact – than master storyteller McCall Smith? He chose five black-and-white photos, subjects unknown to him, and created detailed and very specific back stories for each of them. A thoroughly satisfying and occasionally astonishing collection, filled with love and longing, tenderness and sorrow, sweetness and bittersweetness. A perfect little treasure of a book!

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Ghosts Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780545540629
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graphix - September 13th, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

Wow. Just wow. Embracing anxiety, a move to a new community, life-threatening illness, and more, Telgemeier uses magical realism to give us an absorbing, moving, and thrilling graphic novel for middle graders. Sixth-grader Cat’s family has moved from Southern California to a gloomy town up the coast for the sake of her younger sister, whose cystic fibrosis made it hard for her to breathe in the drier climate. Cat’s anxious and resentful, but also guilt-ridden – she knows that her sister’s life hangs in the balance. Their new community is deeply into ghosts and the Day of the Dead; Cat and her sister are drawn into the celebration and their own Mexican heritage. You’ll want to devour the book at one sitting, but go slowly enough to savor the artwork and process the subject matter.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Cloud and Wallfish Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780763688035
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - September 2nd, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

Fifth-grader Noah Keller has a challenge: a speech impediment he calls the Astonishing Stutter. Suddenly that’s the least of his problems. His parents pick him up at school one day and announce that they’re all off to the airport for a six month stay in East Berlin. Oh, and they all have new names: he’s now Jonah Brown. And there’s a whole series of rules, starting with No Serious Things Can Be Discussed Indoors. In this Cold War adventure, set in 1989, nothing is as it seems and everything is dangerous. A friendship with Claudia, a downstairs neighbor his age, and his loving parents help Noah/Jonah navigate this strange new world; historical notes will help kids grasp this amazing story and the bizarre world in which it’s set.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Last True Love Story Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781481429887
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - September 13th, 2016

YOUNG ADULT

Teddy has too much on his plate for a 17-year-old: a dead father, a largely absent mother, a swirl of unanswered questions, and providing care for a grandfather distraught at losing his memories to Alzheimer’s. Corinna has a plateful, too: Guatemalan by birth and adopted by two clueless white ex-hippies, betrayed by a boyfriend, scorned by former friends, and burning with musical talent and ambition. To help the grandfather reconnect with memories of his late wife, the three decide to drive from Santa Monica to Ithaca, NY. As several characters say, “Everybody respects the road trip.” This is one you definitely want to go on.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Moonglow Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062225559
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - November 22nd, 2016

The intersection of world history and family history, the interplay of memory and imagination, a tangle of humor and grief, the blurred and shifting line that separates sanity and madness: all come into play in this stunning book. In the months before his death, Chabon’s grandfather revealed much of his life to his grandson. On that foundation, Chabon has built a novel filled with family stories, World War II episodes (including an appearance by Wernher von Braun), an obsession with rocketry, and a vividly realized, against-all-odds love story. While all the characters are richly developed, the narrator’s grandfather, the brave, eccentric, anger-fueled, and deeply loving center of this novel, will remain with readers forever.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9781250113320
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - January 17th, 2017

Gorgeous book; glorious narrator – a delicious cocktail of wit, grit, and poignancy. On New Year’s Eve of 1984, Lillian Boxfish walks miles around midtown and lower Manhattan. She’s 85, and for many years was the highest-paid advertising woman in the world. She’s seen it all, but has an unquenchable thirst to see and experience more. Her standards, her attire, and her poise are impeccable. Her senses of perspective and humor are unfailing. As she walks and interacts with an improbable but wholly believable variety of people, Lillian recalls scenes and people from her long and eventful life. Walk with her. You’ll never find a companion like this again.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Threads Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781484746905
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Disney-Hyperion - November 1st, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

Clara and her parents are mired in grief for her older sister, adopted from China, whom they lost to cancer. At the mall one day, Clara aimlessly reaches into a handbag on display – only to find a note pleading for help from Yuming, a child imprisoned in a factory in China where the bag was made. Clara knows immediately that she was meant to rescue Yuming and the other children in the factory. The story, told back and forth from each child’s perspective, is riveting and deeply moving.  What a wonderful opportunity for American kids to get an eye-opening look at the bitter reality of some of the world’s children. The absence of a contrived happy ending (but a thoroughly satisfying conclusion nonetheless) sealed the deal for me.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Lucky Strikes Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781627793902
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt & Company - July 5th, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

Depression-era rural Virginia. Melia, a fatherless 14-year-old, must grieve her mother’s death, keep their gas station going despite the take-over schemes of a rival owner, look after her younger brother and sister, and keep the authorities from learning that the kids are orphans and sending them into different foster care placements. When a derelict rolls off a coal truck, she persuades him to pose as the kids’ father. Now, how to juggle all the other pieces? Melia is bright, determined (and then some), outspoken, and a crackerjack mechanic. All the characters and situations are exquisitely drawn, and draw readers in deeper than you might think possible. I love, love this book.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Jackson, 1964: And Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780399588242
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - June 28th, 2016

When one of our finest writers has been covering any issue for fifty years, we need to pay attention. When the issue is race in America, we need to drop everything and read now. In virtually every essay, I found myself saying, alternately, “Well, at least that doesn’t happen anymore” and “Dear God, this could have been written yesterday.” Trillin follows each piece with an update, so we have the benefit of context and follow-up that wasn’t available when these essays were originally published.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Mayday Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780316298018
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - May 24th, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

Whenever 12-year-old Wayne Kovok felt uncomfortable, which was often, his default was to fill conversational voids with some of the random fascinating facts he’s always collected. But after surviving a plane crash, he’s robbed of speech for a long period of healing and has to redefine himself. That would be hard enough, but he’s also grieving the death of a favorite uncle, always falling short in the eyes of his highly critical ex-military grandfather, and trying to deal with the repeated hurts and disappointments provided by his absent divorced father. Wayne is consistently good company, and it’s a great pleasure to cheer him on as he heals and finds his way.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Wolf Hollow Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781101994825
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - May 3rd, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

About to turn 12, Annabelle is jolted out of her predictable, peaceful life in rural Pennsylvania  –  peaceful despite World War II raging in the distance  – by a vicious bully and a new-found awareness of the naïveté and bigotry of some of the adults around her. She faces a series of difficult choices that endanger herself, her family, and a solitary, homeless, and virtually speechless World War I veteran who arouses the suspicion of many in the community. Annabelle will remind you of Harper Lee’s Scout in her intelligence, compassion, and dogged determination to confront issues of agonizing moral complexity.

- BANNA


Staff Pick Logo
A Life Everlasting: The Extraordinary Story of One Boy's Gift to Medical Science Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062438225
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperOne - September 27th, 2016

Sarah Gray was elated to learn she was pregnant with twins and then devastated when one of them was revealed to have anencephaly, a terminal condition. Adamant that their son's very short life would have meaning, she and her husband chose organ donation. He was born too small for his organs to be transplanted, so they decided on tissue donation for research purposes. As time went by, Gray wanted to know more; she visited the facilities that had received her son's tissue to find out more about the research they conducted and what they learned. In doing so, she was consoled and inspired to learn just how much her son had contributed to medical knowledge through this donation. This book is an absolute must for readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, for everyone who's a registered organ donor, and especially for anyone who's not.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780306824616
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Da Capo Press - March 29th, 2016

Silverman and her husband are the parents of three daughters (biological) and two sons (adopted from Ethiopia). Their family life is full of drama, questions, chaos, tenderness, messiness, tears, hilarity – and always, always, love and spirituality. Yes, this is a book about international and transracial adoption, but it’s so much more. Silverman welcomes readers into her family of origin (which includes the comedian and actor Sarah, with whom she shares a delightfully wicked sense of humor) and the family she created with her husband, Yosef. You’ll feel immediately at home – and in awe that out of such tumult and chaos can come so much love and peace.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Girl in the Blue Coat Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316260602
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 5th, 2016

YOUNG ADULT

You’ve read Anne Frank’s diary; you think you know what Amsterdam was like in 1943. You don’t. This historical novel has a sense of immediacy that makes it impossible to put down – and it will haunt you long after you finish it. Hanneke, 18, leads a complicated life: secretary to a mortician, finder/deliverer of black market goods, dutiful daughter who’s her parents’ sole support. When she’s asked by one of her clients to locate a Jewish girl who disappeared from her hiding place, Hanneke gets drawn into the resistance against her better judgment. How much is she willing to risk? Her parents’ lives? But how can she refuse? This sharply focused, well-researched look at daily life in Nazi-occupied Holland is also a masterful suspenseful story.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Mister Monkey Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062397836
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - October 18th, 2016

Margot, one of the leads in a misguided production of the mediocre (but beloved) children’s musical “Mister Monkey,” bemoans the turn her once-promising career has taken. This is only the first of many turns in Prose’s wild ride of a darkly comic novel, where a group of unconnected characters are, in fact, deeply connected through the pivot of a particularly horrible performance of this show: a child in the audience, his grandfather, his teacher, the author of the book on which the show is based, the costume designer, a waiter in an upscale restaurant, even Mister Monkey himself. Totally unpredictable, totally mesmerizing.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Gertie's Leap to Greatness Cover Image
By Kate Beasley, Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780374302610
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr) - October 4th, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

Gertie’s mission: to become the greatest fifth grader in the universe. Her reason? She has no relationship with her mother, who lives in another part of town. But when she learns her mom is about to move to another city, Gertie has to find a way to make her recognize and acknowledge what a terrific kid she is. Her plan appears to be thwarted on the first day of school by a new girl in class – pretty, instantly popular, and with a father who’s a movie director. Gertie’s grit, confidence, wild optimism, and even wilder imagination will make her the greatest fifth grader in your universe!

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062333469
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - March 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

Prison is the only home 11-year-old Perry has ever known; his mother was incarcerated before he was born. In an unusual arrangement (the warden is his foster mother), Perry lives in the prison, with full access to his loving mother and many friendships among the prison population. A district attorney overturns this, insisting that Perry come live with him, his wife, and their daughter, and threatens to sabotage Perry’s mom’s upcoming parole hearing. Perry’s world is turned upside down, but he manages to keep his bearings and respond brilliantly to these challenges. A rare look at the child of an incarcerated parent, and a beautifully written middle-grade novel.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Wherever There Is Light Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781476705583
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - November 3rd, 2015

Julian Rose, a German Jewish immigrant and son of a scholar, is a wealthy, (semi)reformed bootlegger. Kendall Wakefield, granddaughter of slaves, is the stunning, artistic daughter of the president of an African American college. In 1938, in Florida, it’s hardly a match made in heaven. This gripping novel covers three decades of turbulent American history, and an equally turbulent relationship. From the Jim Crow South to the Greenwich Village art scene to postwar Paris, you’ll unable to let go of this unlikely but fascinating couple.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Symptoms of Being Human Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062382863
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - February 2nd, 2016

For Riley, a smart, witty narrator of considerable depth, gender identification isn’t a switch, it’s a dial. Some mornings Riley wakes up feeling “girl”; other days, it’s more “boy.” But that’s not the only issue Riley faces. Add a new school (Riley left a parochial school after persistent bullying and a suicide attempt), parents who don’t have much idea of what’s going on, and a father who’s a Congressman in the midst a close reelection campaign. Riley’s therapist advises writing a blog; when it goes viral, it creates both challenges and opportunities. Riley is a thoroughly engaging, believable character whose emerging self-awareness and confidence we’re delighted and privileged to witness.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
I'm Just a Person Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062266637
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press - June 14th, 2016

Heartbreaking. Thoughtful. Mind-boggling. Hilarious. How do you turn a four-month period that includes an excruciating, life-threatening illness, the sudden death of your mother, a breakup, and a diagnosis of bilateral breast cancer into something that anyone would want to read? Not just want to, but love to? If you’re Tig Notaro (and maybe only if you’re Tig Notaro) you make it as laugh-out-loud funny as it is deeply moving and terrifying. Notaro has the instincts and timing of the accomplished writer and comedian she is, but her warmth, self-awareness, and open-hearted vulnerability are what seal the deal. Don’t miss this extraordinary debut.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Secret Subway Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780375870712
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Schwartz & Wade Books - March 8th, 2016

This is a picture book, but don’t let that keep you from discovering its abundant gifts. The true story of New York City’s first (failed) attempt at a subway system is a fascinating slice of history that contains vision, ingenuity, perseverance, suspense, and political intrigue. And oh, those illustrations! Breathtaking, detailed dioramas, photographed with stunning lighting. The inside of the dust jacket explains and illustrates the process. This book is not to be missed – by anyone, of any age!

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Just My Luck Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062330659
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - February 23rd, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

Benny’s mom has always told him that when bad things happen you should try to help someone else who’s having problems. He’s trying to do just that, but he has plenty of issues of his own to deal with. His best friend has moved away, and he has difficulty making new friends. Schoolwork is a real challenge. One of his brothers is autistic. And Benny feels responsible for the accident that sent his father to the hospital. Whew. But this totally engaging, utterly believable fourth grader, with the help of his family and others, blossoms and grows in many directions. I’m generally wary of books called “heartwarming.” Trust me:  this book is truly soul-warming.

- BANNA


Staff Pick Logo
The Gallery Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780525428657
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - June 14th, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

You couldn’t ask for a smarter, sassier, feistier heroine than 12-year-old Martha in this jazz age mystery. Expelled from Catholic school for asking too many questions, she’s joined her mother as a servant in a Fifth Avenue mansion. Although newspaper baron J. Archer Sewell seems like a kind, generous employer, Martha never sees his wife, confined to her room. But Rose Sewell manages to communicate her despair and imprisonment by means of the paintings she chooses for display downstairs. Martha becomes Rose’s secret advocate, and a wild rescue ensues. Fitzgerald (Under the Egg) has crafted another engrossing art history thriller that will delight kids while immersing them in the Roaring Twenties.

- BANNA


Staff Pick Logo
Beware That Girl Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780553507904
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delacorte Press - May 31st, 2016

When a narrator tells you right of the bat she’s an accomplished liar, you know you’re in for a bumpy ride. But you can’t imagine how bumpy until you’ve become immersed in the world of Kate, a scholarship student with a complicated, murky past at an elite prep school, and Olivia, the ultimate alpha girl with an equally complicated past. As they warily and calculatedly form an intense friendship, a charismatic, Brad-Pitt-handsome administrator charmingly threatens their friendship – as well as other students and staff members. Who is he, really? And, for that matter, who are Kate and Olivia, really? An edge-of-your-seat nail-biter with loop-the-loop shockers right up to the very end.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Book Cover Image
By Phil Bildner, Tim Probert (Illustrator)
$6.99
ISBN: 9781250079763
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - July 12th, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE

I love it when an all-kinds-of-inclusive book isn’t a book about inclusion; it’s first and foremost a terrific story. Basketball-mad Rip (who’s black) and Red (who’s autistic) are longtime best friends. They’re sure they have fifth grade and the basketball team all figured out. They’re stunned to learn that they have a brand-new teacher, and even more so when they get to know him. Mr. Acevedo turns his class’s ideas about teaching and learning and basketball inside out and upside down, and everyone comes out the better for it.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
When Breath Becomes Air Cover Image
By Paul Kalanithi, Abraham Verghese (Foreword by)
$25.00
ISBN: 9780812988406
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - January 12th, 2016

A brilliant young student, enroute to a Ph.D. in literature, decides that he could better understand the intersection of “biology, morality, literature, and philosophy” by becoming a neurosurgeon. At the end of his residency, on the brink of a spectacular career, Kalanithi was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. A tragedy, yes, but how lucky we are that he devoted part of his remaining two years writing this book. No reader will look at living a meaningful life in quite the same way; what a legacy Kalanithi has left us.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Pax Cover Image
By Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062377012
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - February 2nd, 2016

MIDDLE GRADE - ADULT!

Can a 12-year-old comprehend war? Or process devastating loss? Peter faces both and embarks on a journey, literal and figurative, to find answers. Shortly after his mother’s death he took in Pax, an orphaned fox kit. Five years later his father, before going off to war, takes Peter to live with his grandfather and forces him to abandon Pax. Parallel stories follow Peter’s determination to find his way back to Pax and the fox’s steadfast belief that Peter will return. War complicates everything, but wise elders enable boy and fox to find their way to each other, and to understanding. Nuanced, brilliant book.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
This Old Man: All in Pieces Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780385541138
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Doubleday Books - November 17th, 2015

Roger Angell, acclaimed New Yorker writer and editor, has produced a compendium of writings that celebrate the view from the tenth decade of his richly lived life. It’s a delicious, bracing stew of topics (friendship, fox terriers, loss, literature, baseball, marriage, ageing) and of forms (essays, letters, verse, blog posts). His wide-ranging curiosity, razor sharp memory, and prose that sparkles, hums, tickles, and envelops, fill this book with warmth and unexpected delight. What stands out in all these pieces is gratitude. Angell is unfailingly kind and grateful for the many gifts he's been given. Anyone who reads this book must be grateful for him and his extraordinary talent.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Anna and the Swallow Man Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780553513349
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - January 26th, 2016

Left in the care of a family friend when her father is taken away by the Gestapo, and then turned out by that friend, 7-year-old Anna must fend for herself. A tall, thin stranger who can talk to birds takes her under his wing. Together they walk all over Poland for several years, learning what they need to do to survive. The Swallow Man teaches Anna a language he calls “Road,” which helps her interpret their ever-changing reality.This amazing book somehow manages to be both realistic and allegorical; it will sweep you along on a compelling, deeply moving journey.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
As Close to Us as Breathing Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780316384148
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Lee Boudreaux Books - March 15th, 2016

The setting is “Bagel Beach,” so named because Jews were restricted from living in Connecticut’s other beach communities. Three sisters have spent all their summers there, first as children and now with their husbands and children. This beautiful, enveloping book paints a detailed and nuanced portrait of a most intriguing family. At the book’s center is the accidental death of a child; in learning what led up to the tragedy and what followed it we become a part of the event and a part of the family. Everyone in the family – and every reader – will go on a journey that includes joy, grief, self-discovery, and, ultimately, wisdom.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Hired Girl Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780763678180
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - September 8th, 2015

A 14-year-old girl whose mother has died looks after her three brothers and verbally abusive father in rural Pennsylvania in the early 20th century. Her routine is incredibly grueling; her only respite, her books and a beloved teacher. But when her father forces her to quit school and burns her few precious books, she runs away to Baltimore and, claiming to be 18, becomes a hired girl for a wealthy Jewish family. Raised Catholic, her class, religion, and experiences are totally different from her new life. The book is written as a diary, and her keen observations, intelligence, and growing maturity make her a wonderful, insightful companion.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Nest Cover Image
By Kenneth Oppel, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781481432320
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - October 6th, 2015

MIDDLE GRADE

This book will be buzzing around in your head (yes, pun intended) long after you finish it. Steve dreams of angels who offer to “fix” his baby brother, who was born with a life-threatening condition that consumes his parents’ time and attention. As the dream recurs repeatedly and is increasingly menacing, it becomes clear that the “angels” are actually wasps – just like the ones in a large nest outside Steve’s window. Steve rejects the wasps’ offer of help, but they refuse his rejection. It gets scarier and scarier, with a rock ‘em, sock ‘em absolutely terrifying climax!

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
George Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780545812542
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - August 25th, 2015

MIDDLE GRADE

Gino has created a remarkable character and a remarkable book. Everyone sees George, a fourth grader, as a boy. George knows she’s a girl. Not only that, she’s determined to play Charlotte in a school production of Charlotte’s Web, her favorite book, despite the fact that her teacher won’t even let her audition. By using the female pronoun throughout the book, Gino lets us feel the disconnect between George’s interior and exterior. An excellent, accessible story about acceptance and unconditional friendship.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Ruby on the Outside Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781442485037
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - June 16th, 2015

MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION

Baskin addresses a subject rarely mentioned in books for kids – a middle-school girl’s mother has been in prison for almost as far back as her daughter can remember. Not wanting her secrete revealed, Ruby hasn’t let anyone get too close to her. But a new girl in her apartment complex seems to want a friendship – and seems to have a secret of her own. Ruby’s ambivalence about her mother is achingly real. This is a moving, believable, beautifully written book on a very sensitive subject

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Goodbye Stranger Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780385743174
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Wendy Lamb Books - August 4th, 2015

MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION

Three best friends start seventh grade. Bridge barely survived a horrible accident four years earlier; she’s haunted by the reasons for her survival and confused by a new friendship with a boy. Tabitha’s developing an intense social conscience. Em’s trying to come to terms with her blossoming body. All three are determined to maintain their friendship and their no-fighting rule. This book, like Stead’s others, is a jewel. Totally believable, sympathetic characters (even when some of their decisions make you want to scream), with three-dimensional adults, too. Immense warmth, depth, and intelligence.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Between the World and Me Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780812993547
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau - July 14th, 2015

This book, which addresses racial issues in ways I’ve never encountered, made my heart ache, my blood boil, and my head work overtime. Here is a list of the people who really need to read Coates’s book: whites, blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, mixed-race people, Americans, and everyone else. I use the term “must-read” sparingly, but this is truly a MUST must-read.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
A Song for Ella Grey Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780553533590
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - October 13th, 2015

YA FICTION

Almond’s lilting, lyrical prose reproduces the magical, transporting music of the Orpheus myth. In this retelling, set in contemporary England, our narrator Claire shares with us the story of Ella, her lifelong, deeply loved best friend. Their lives are much like those of other teens until Claire, on holiday with some friends, encounters Orpheus, an ethereal young man who makes astonishing and enveloping music with his voice and his lyre. Claire uses a cell phone to share the sound with Ella, who falls passionately in love with the music and the musician. The intense love story doesn’t sidestep the inevitable tragedy; the soaring joy and devastating grief of young love ring as true today as they did thousands of years ago

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Fishbowl Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781250057808
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - August 4th, 2015

Constrained by a life that consists of a gallon of water, a pink plastic castle, and a snail, Ian the goldfish leaps to freedom. Alas, his fishbowl rests on a balcony on the 27th floor of an apartment building. His descent takes him past an assortment of the building’s residents – a grad student and his girlfriend, a construction worker, a shut-in, the building superintendent, a homeschooled boy, a hugely pregnant woman, and more – whose lives intersect, entwine, enrich, and bounce off each other. This microcosm is a small miracle: an absorbing, moving, suspenseful, witty look at a collection of characters who demand your attention and utterly capture your affection.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062369659
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - March 10th, 2015

YA NONFICTION

This must-read book packs a one-two punch. One storyline is a brilliant kid’s persistence (despite 192 letters of rejection) in creating an inexpensive early-detection test for one of the world’s deadliest cancers, and winning – at 15 – the country’s most prestigious science award. The other story is that of a middle schooler’s growing awareness that he’s gay and overcoming vicious bullying. Each story is remarkable, and in this compulsively readable book the whole is even greater than the sum of its parts.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780393240184
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 6th, 2015

Longtime New Yorker editor Mary Norris takes us on a grammar/spelling/punctuation road trip that will absolutely delight both grammar geeks (if you know what a diaeresis is, I’m talking to you) and just plain enthusiastic readers. As we gain some useful knowledge, we’re treated to countless “I didn’t know that!” moments (Why is there a hyphen in Moby-Dick? How do they get the lead in a pencil?) and inside-the-New Yorker anecdotes and insights. There’s a laugh and a fascinating bit of information on every page – in almost every paragraph, in fact!

Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The War That Saved My Life Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780803740815
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Books - January 8th, 2015

MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION

Can a book be both heartbreaking and uplifting? This one sure can. Ada was born with a clubfoot that her mother chose not to have surgically corrected; this was only the start of her abuse and neglect. As World War II looms, Ada gets herself and her younger brother on a train from London to the English countryside with other evacuees. When no one wants to take them in, they’re dumped with a middle-aged woman who’s been paralyzed by grief since the death of her partner. How she and Ada restore each other to life is a beautiful, deeply moving tale, and the background of the war is fascinating.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780385755115
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - October 14th, 2014

YA NONFICTION

Born in Sierra Leone to loving parents who valued education, DePrince got off to a good start. But civil war intervened, leaving her in an orphanage at age 4. By chance she saw a ballerina on the cover of an old magazine; becoming one herself became her dream. She was adopted by an American couple who were as determined as she was to make that happen. Overcoming many obstacles, including racism in the world of classical ballet, she’s now a soloist with the Dutch National Ballet. An amazing story, amazingly well told.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780812994520
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Spiegel & Grau - October 21st, 2014

When it works, the U.S. criminal justice system is excellent. When it doesn’t, as is the case for many defendants who are poor, very young, and/or people of color, it’s appalling. Stevenson, a black, Harvard-educated lawyer and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, has made those disenfranchised defendants his life’s work. He and the Equal Justice Initiative he founded put their lives on the line for their clients. This is a must-read for anyone who cares about justice, racial issues in America, or decency.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Laughing at My Nightmare Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781626720077
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - October 14th, 2014

YOUNG ADULT

Yeah, Shane Burcaw’s like any other kid: he loves sports, video games, hanging out with friends. He’s hilarious in an irreverent, smart-alecky way. At the same time he couldn’t be more different: he was born with a life-threatening, profoundly limiting neuromuscular disorder, which means he can do virtually nothing without help from a family member, friend, or aide. Yes, it’s inspiring. But mostly it’s outrageously funny and breathtakingly candid.

- Banna

 


Staff Pick Logo
El Deafo Cover Image
$10.95
ISBN: 9781419712173
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Amulet Books - September 2nd, 2014

MIDDLE GRADE

In this fictionalized graphic memoir (whew!) for middle graders, Bell shares the challenges she faced as a hearing-impaired child. She wore a “phonic ear”; her teacher wore a lanyard microphone. Despite her embarrassment, it enabled her to hear in the classroom. It also enabled her to hear what her teacher was saying and doing outside the classroom – kind of like having super powers! She creates an alter ego, El Deafo, to celebrate what might otherwise be seen as a disability. This wonderful book will enable hearing readers to grasp what it’s like to live without a sense that most of us take for granted.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Saving Lucas Biggs Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062274625
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins Publishers - April 29th, 2014

This terrific middle-grade novel addresses intense environmental and social justice issues: hydrofracking in 2014 and a coal miners’ strike in 1938. When Margaret’s father is unjustly convicted and sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit, she feels compelled to use the O’Malley family gift of time-travel to go back to 1938 and change events in the life of the judge who sentenced him.  Readers of this absorbing story will be treated to heart-stopping adventure and beautiful writing, as well as important lessons in risk-taking and doing the right thing.

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Terrorist's Son: A Story of Choice Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781476784809
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/ Ted - September 9th, 2014

If it were fiction, it would be dismissed as way too improbable: the son of a terrorist, raised in hatred and anger, becomes a peace activist. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Ebrahim is the son of El-Sayyid Nosair, convicted assassin of Rabbi Meir Kahane and one of the planners of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. After his father’s arrest, the family moved again and again. Constantly the “new kid,” and of Arab descent at that, Ebrahim was bullied and intimidated throughout childhood and adolescence. Ultimately, intelligence and empathy won out. Fascinating story, engagingly told.

-  Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Imaginary Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780802738110
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books - March 3rd, 2015

MIDDLE GRADE

While Harrold has a singular voice, he’s channeled some of Roald Dahl’s delicious, wry creepiness in this astonishing middle-grade novel. Amanda’s imaginary friend, Rudger, accompanies her on many and various adventures. Her mother finds this charming, though Rudger is invisible to her. But not to everyone. A mysterious Mr. Bunting and his own imaginary friend can see Rudger, too – and they have nefarious plans for him. An accident that lands Amanda in the hospital introduces Rudger to a whole world of imaginaries with complicated rules and relationships. Emily Gravett’s brilliant illustrations take this terrific book over the top. Kids with imagination and pizzazz will be reading it over and over!

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
The Shock of the Fall Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781250028136
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - January 6th, 2015

Matthew’s family is in disarray. They’ve never fully recovered from the death of his older brother, who had Down Syndrome. But Matthew, our narrator, has an additional challenge: he’s schizophrenic. This novel, which reads like an extended conversation with a brilliant, struggling, introspective friend, will totally envelop you. Matthew’s circuitous storytelling swirls and loops through time as memories surface and he tries to make sense of his story. Yes, there’s tragedy, but it’s tempered by tenderness and hope. If you don’t accompany Matthew on his journey of understanding, you’ll be missing one incredibly good, enthralling read.

Note: originally published under the title “Where the Moon Isn’t”; the book won the  2013 Costa Book of the Year Award and the 2014 Betty Trask Prize, and is being reissued. Avail. 10/26

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Under the Egg Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780803740013
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - March 18th, 2014

MIDDLE GRADE

Every element in this engrossing story is beautifully handled, and the whole is even greater than the sum of its parts. Theo’s beloved grandfather has died suddenly, leaving her responsible for her dotty, math-absorbed mother, the deteriorating Greenwich Village brownstone they live in, and the garden and flock of chickens they live on. There’s not only the mystery of his dying words to be solved, but the challenge of living on a legacy of $463. An immensely likeable narrator pulls you by the hand into quite a lot of art history (there’s this painting; is it really by Raphael?), and you’ll love every step of the journey.

-  Banna

 


Staff Pick Logo
Getting Life: An Innocent Man's 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781476756820
Availability: Special Order
Published: Simon & Schuster - July 8th, 2014

It’s almost inconceivable, but far too common. Wrongfully convicted of his wife’s murder, Morton spent 25 years in prison before he was exonerated, separated from the son who was just 3 when his mother was killed. He was told the only way he could be paroled was to admit guilt and remorse, but his innocence was all he had left. Morton writes with clarity, specificity, and an astonishing lack of bitterness. This heartbreaking, infuriating, but ultimately hopeful book is an amazing window into the criminal justice system and the Innocence Project. Great book group choice!

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Florence Gordon Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9780544309869
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Houghton Mifflin - September 23rd, 2014

Irascible, intellectual, life-long activist Florence Gordon never sought the limelight, and her work now seems to be receding into feminist history. But at 75 she receives a rapturous review in the New York Times from a noted critic. That, plus some disconcerting physical difficulties, increasing and unreasonable demands from her ex-husband, and the recent move of her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter to her Upper West Side neighborhood, throws this fiercely controlled, independent woman off balance. Every character faces unexpected challenges and is vividly, memorably drawn. Florence’s granddaughter, Emily, observes that “each person is the center of a world.” Rarely has that been so richly demonstrated as in this terrific novel

- Banna


Staff Pick Logo
Courage for Beginners Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780316210485
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - August 12th, 2014

MIDDLE GRADE

Every family has secrets, but in Mysti’s family there’s the secret they don’t even speak about  to each other: Mysti’s mother never leaves the house. Never. It’s called agoraphobia. The family has found ways to compensate – that is, until a disabling accident puts her father in the hospital. At age 12, smart as she is, can Mysti take charge of herself, her little sister, and their mother? And all this while her only friend is distancing himself from her and tormenting her in an effort to be seen as a hipster? Mysti is an engaging, quirky, admirable, very real young woman, and in a refreshing change this middle-grade novel features some well-meaning, competent, and helpful adults.

- Banna