Recent Reviews

Staff Pick Badge
We Are Not from Here Cover Image
We Are Not From Here

DUE IN MAY: We Are Not From Here follows three Guatemalan teens along their treacherous journey to the United States as they flee the violence of their homeland.  Pequeña, Pulga, and Chico, whose Spanish nicknames even deny their humanity, ride La Bestia—the beast, the death train—dreaming of better lives.  Eerily reminiscent of the Holocaust, this book is about the unthinkable events that force people from their homes, that occur along their journey to the U.S., and that greet them once they arrive (so long as they survive).  Unforgettable—the squealing brakes of La Bestia are the screams of migrant children, demanding to be heard.  Open your eyes. Recommended by Mary

Staff Pick Badge
Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm) Cover Image
Stepping Stones

Following her parents’ separation, Jen and her mom move from the city to a small country farm.  She’d rather be reading or drawing than caring for chickens, let alone answering to her mom’s annoying boyfriend, Walter.  And she really doesn’t want to work the farm stand at market with Walter’s two daughters.  Andy and Reese are so perfect—Jen can’t seem to do anything right. But one step at a time, the farm—and their blended family— finally starts to feel like home.  I adore Lucy Knisley, and I’m so excited that she’s sharing her pitch-perfect voice with middle readers in this story inspired by her childhood! Fans of Raina Telgemeier rejoice! 

Staff Pick Badge
When Stars Are Scattered Cover Image
When Stars Are Scattered

DUE IN APRIL: Omar’s childhood was interrupted when militants overtook his peaceful village in Somalia, killing his father and forcing the villagers to run for their lives.  Separated from their mother, four-year-old Omar and baby brother Hassan fled to a refugee camp in Kenya. As they grew up, Omar cared for Hassan, who was nonverbal and differently abled, and they were taken in by a foster mother.  Omar fought for his education, and after years of endless waiting, the stars finally aligned. A stunning account of resilience, hope, and the truest love you can ever imagine, When Stars Are Scattered gives voice and humanity to those most often rejected. Recommended by Mary

Staff Pick Badge
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas Illustrated Cover Image
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

DUE MARCH 3: Never was there such a perfect match of quirky, brilliant minds than in Maira Kalman's recent illustration of Gertrude Stein's classic, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Kalman's strangely endearing color depictions of the seeming minutia of Stein's and Toklas's lives in turn-of-the-century Paris have re-birthed a literary tour-de-force for a 21st century audience. Recommended by Kelly

Staff Pick Badge
Yes No Maybe So Cover Image
Yes No Maybe So

DUE IN APRIL: Seventeen-year-olds Jamie and Maya can’t vote, but they can volunteer in the campaign of their state senate candidate.  Jamie’s excited to get involved, but the fact that he’s expected to give a speech at his sister’s bat mitzvah is giving him hella anxiety.  Maya needs a distraction from her parents’ separation (during Ramadan of all times!), and her bestie keeps cancelling their plans. When white supremacists target the campaign, and a congressional supermajority threatens to pass an Islamophobic bill, Maya and Jamie realize their activism is more important than ever.  Featuring masculine sensitivity, realistic outcomes, and the cutest love story you’ve ever heard, you’ll be going door-to-door raving about this book! Recommended by Mary

Staff Pick Badge
Artforum Cover Image
Artforum
DUE IN MARCH: In Artforum, Aira’s earnest narrator chronicles his obsession with collecting Artforum magazine, which is difficult to acquire in his country and centers around contemporary art.  Among the dreamy landscape of his cozy apartment and beautiful neighborhood, the narrator tells a series of collector’s triumphs and defeats, with a curious story about a rapture of clothespins mixed in for fun.  In short, bouncy chapters, he struggles to understand his obsession with surrounding himself with precious things, and his passion becomes peace in the blink of an eye. Readers will be taken by the charm of this work—Aira’s dancelike prose and absurdist humor made me think of Richard Brautigan. Recommended by Mary
 
Staff Pick Badge
Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir Cover Image
Recollections of My Nonexistence

Recollections of My Nonexistence is very much what it sounds like.  An intimate look at Solnit’s role in the world as a woman, it is largely a story of the oppression—the invisibility—of women, and it is told with such grace and delicacy, but also with great dignity and strength.  Including her development as a feminist writer in 1980’s San Francisco, the cultures that impacted her there, the origins of a handful of the books she’s authored, and the origin of the desk at which she wrote many of them, this is a memoir—bursting with intellect and insight—that could only have come from the epitome of ferocity that is Rebecca Solnit. Recommended by Mary

Staff Pick Badge
The Night Watchman Cover Image
The Night Watchman

DUE IN MARCH: Written in homage to her own grandfather, Louise Erdrich's The Night Watchman features Thomas, the equally humble and wise tribal leader who sees through the federal government's promise to "emancipate" his tribe as yet another threat of displacement and erasure. Erdrich deftly weaves several plot lines as characters overcome similar threats to their freedom and survival through family loyalty, spirit guidance, and an unfailing connection to their past. This story is a clarion call today given that the Trump administration is currently attempting to terminate tribes throughout the United States. Recommended by Kelly

Staff Pick Badge
Selena Cover Image
Selena

DUE IN FEBRUARY: With warm, endearing illustrations and a story that will inspire for years to come, Selena is a beautiful testament to a shining star. A radiant Tejano girl with a soaring voice, Selena Quintanilla began her musical career in her family band. Breaking down barriers for women and people of color, she went on to have a wildly successful career that was tragically cut short. Selena’s kind spirit and affinity for fun made her a unique and beloved icon, and she was and is an inspiration to Latinx people, especially girls. Keep this book close to remember a girl who followed her dreams. Recommended by Mary

Staff Pick Badge
The Cat Man of Aleppo Cover Image
Cat Man of Aleppo
DUE IN APRIL: Even as war raged in his beloved city of Aleppo, Alaa stayed to continue his work as an ambulance driver, caring for his people as others sought safety elsewhere.  He began to notice an abundance of stray cats roaming the city, now homeless as their owners became refugees. His friends and family gone, big-hearted Alaa gave all his love to these cats.  This book gives humanity to tragedy so often ignored. My hope for readers: if you empathize with these cats, may you have empathy for the humans who were forced to leave them behind. Recommended by Mary