“Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth” by Frank Cottrell Boyce
In this quirky, charming, funny, hopeful, heartbreaking and heartwarming novel, Prez has been living with a foster family in the country since his Grandad had to be taken away for brandishing his cooking knives. One fateful day, the doorbell rings and there is Sputnik. To everyone else, Sputnik appears to be a dog, but to Prez, he is an ill-mannered, kilt-wearing alien from outer space. Defying laws of gravity and improbability, they become friends in their quest to save the world by creating a list of 10 reasons why Earth should be saved. Recommended for ages 8 to 12.
“Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive!” by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Lisa K. Weber
Identifying the truth these days can often be tricky, and this new children’s nonfiction title has fun with this unfortunate reality. By exploring plants, animals and humans, readers are challenged to determine fact from fiction in the natural world. Ever heard of a bambiraptor — a new species of raptor found by a 14-year-old? How about a megaconda — an Amazonian snake estimated to be 82 feet long or the praya dubia — a sea creature that can stretch to 130 feet or more? Which two are real and which one is false? The authors reveal all at the end of the book so don’t cheat and read ahead. Recommended for ages 8 to 11.
— Cheryl Weems, Deschutes Public Library youth services collection development librarian
“Anna and the Swallow Man” by Gavriel Savit
Anna has learned from the mysterious Swallow Man that the best way to survive in Nazi occupied Poland is to keep moving and have no home. Having a home means the Gestapo can track a person down, have them sent to concentration camp or much worse. Continually on the move in war torn Poland, Anna learns of the beauty and despair occurring in her country.
The audible audio version of his haunting debut novel won the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audio Production with the narration performed by Allan Corduner. Recommended for ages 13 and up.
“The Pearl Thief” by Elizabeth Wein
This prequel to Wein’s “Code Name Verity” is set in 1938 and provides insights into the family and home of the courageously daring Lady Julia Beaufort-Stuart. Visiting her late grandfather’s Scottish estate one last time before its sale, Julia is dozing by the river when she is struck from behind and wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of her attack. She discovers she was rescued by Irish Travellers, her grandfather’s collection of river pearls have gone missing, and a man has been murdered. Since she was unwittingly thrust in the middle of this mystery, Julia decides to solve the puzzle and must also navigate the quirks of human nature as she goes. Recommended for ages 13 and up.
— Josephine Caisse, Deschutes Public Library community librarian
“No One Belongs Here More Than You” by Miranda July
The stories in this collection are full of contradictions: Characters who are vulnerable and heartless, relationships that are exploitative and tender, intimacies that are inappropriate and genuine. July, also a filmmaker and performance artist, is a genius at making the mundane feel surreal and making the surreal feel mundane. With a cast of misfits grappling with their uncomfortable lot in life, the reader is reminded that despite their ugly foibles, no one belongs here more than they do. And that is comforting because maybe that means we belong here, too.
“Arbitrary Stupid Goal” by Tamara Shopsin
Shopsin grew up free range long before the term free-range parenting existed. In the 1970s and ’80s, her parents owned “The Store,” initially a Greenwich Village grocery store, then for many years a restaurant frequented by models, actors, comedians and most importantly, by the diverse individuals who made up the pre-gentrified, rent-stabilized neighborhood. Complemented by photographs and simple line drawings by the author, this memoir is a poetic, stream of consciousness love letter to the author’s unconventional childhood.
— Catherine Jasper, Deschutes Public Library collections librarian