“Hats Are Not For Cats”
by Jacqueline K. Rayner
There is something for everyone in this expressive tale of a cat-and dog-standoff that culminates in the knowledge that hats are for everyone. Rayner’s understated text and rhyming cadence draws the listener in and encourages emerging readers to participate. Her dynamic and emotive illustrations mirror the narrative’s shifting moods. Defiant felines, a bossy canine, and their emotions, are masterfully conveyed through watercolor and chalk pastel. A humorous ode to conflict resolution.
by Megan McKinley, illustrated by Nathanial Eckstrom
What begins as an ordinary tale of mistaken identity morphs into a unique spin on a traditional tale. This delightful collaboration pairs soft, mixed media and digital illustrations with mostly unpredictable text.
McKinley bypasses the obvious trajectory this story could take. Increasingly haughty farm animals correct a clueless duck who shouts “Duck!” at each one it meets. Young listeners will delight in the opportunity to correctly identify each animal. Eagle-eyed readers will piece together hints that the duck should have been saying “Run!” from the start. Recommended for those looking for twist endings or a departure from standard farm animal fare.
— Roxanne M. Renteria, Deschutes Public Library community librarian
“The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane”
by Julia Nobel
When Emmy’s mother, a supposed parenting expert, ships her off to exclusive English boarding school Wellsworth, Emmy can’t help but feel abandoned. Prior to her departure, Emmy discovers a mysterious box full of medallions that once belonged to her missing and presumed dead father. At Wellsworth, the mystery of the medallions leads Emmy and her two new friends, Jack and Lola, down dangerous paths. While Emmy is embroiled in covert activities, she also shines as the new star of her school’s soccer (well, football) team. This is a great middle grade mystery with themes of friendship and adjusting to a new school, sure to resonate with tweens and young teens.
by Jerry Craft
It’s back to school for Jordan, who’s heading to Riverdale Academy instead of the art school he hoped for. Setting foot on campus, the school’s lack of diversity is immediately apparent, and African American Jordan starts to receive a rush of race-based microagressions. Will he be able to find the friendship he’ll need to make it through the school year? Sketches from Jordan’s sketchbook interspersed in the pages of this full-color graphic novel deepen the reader’s perspective on his experience, while Craft slyly nods to pop culture in his chapter-opening splash pages. This is a great read to open conversations on race for both middle school students and educators.
— April Witteveen, Deschutes Public Library community librarian
by Stewart O’Nan
At 75, Henry lives with his wife in Pittsburgh and lives a life full of normal love, church, and family. Henry putters with mousetraps, yellow spots on his lawn, and drives to church, the golf course and the club.
He loves and cares for his wife. He worries about his wayward daughter. He approaches life with the zeal of a retired engineer who is very much a part of the greatest generation. O’Nan masterfully captures everyday life. He builds and curates scenes that are full of normality. Nothing much happens, yet the writing is extraordinary and exciting. A wonderful piece of character-driven fiction.
by Claire North
Equal parts sci-fi, fantasy and paranoia-come-to-life, “The Gameshouses” is all intriguing and captivating.
Set in three parts, we learn about The Gameshouses that grant immortality and life to its top players.
Each player is granted pieces in a grand political scheme. Who will win the senate seat? Players compete for the victory. You might find yourself with a spy, a beggar, two police constables, and a priest who you can use how you like to try and win the game. But what is the purpose of The Gameshouses? Who controls it? And how much of the past and future does it influence? North weaves an entertaining and easy to read piece of fiction that is hard to put down.
— Graham Fox, Deschutes Public Library community librarian