We love when our favorite authors write new books because then we can share them with our patrons. All of these titles were published in 2020 and get the Roseburg Public Library staff seal of approval.
Board and Picture BooksRaffi is a children’s musical artist who has been writing and singing songs since 1976. His most well-known songs include “Baby Beluga,” “Bananaphone,” “Down by the Bay” and “Shake My Sillies Out.” Raffi’s songs are great for singing with children to practice speech and daily routine and have been made into board books.
The newest Raffi song to be made into a board book is “Shake My Sillies Out.” The illustrations follow a little boy and life-sized versions of his toys going through a bedtime routine. They bathe, put on pajamas, brush teeth, pile up blankets and pillows, and get hugs from Mom and Dad. Then the sillies are gone, and it’s time for bed. Every page of illustrations features lines from Raffi’s song for a great book to share and sing with your toddlers.
Jan Brett has illustrated or written and illustrated 48 books for children, and she keeps writing at 71 years old. Her illustrations are memorable for their details, including pictures about what is coming next or what is happening other places in the story.
Brett’s newest picture book is called “Cozy” and focuses on a musk ox. The story has her trademark detailed illustrations that can help a child make predictions about what will happen next. In the story, a musk ox is separated from his herd, and many different arctic animals come to hide from the cold, blowing snow in his long, shaggy coat. They have to be quiet and kind to one another while hiding in Cozy’s winter coat. When spring comes, Cozy sheds, and the animals part ways. It is fun to see what animals live in the same environments and learn about a creature you might not normally see, the musk ox.
Middle GradesKimberly Brubaker Bradley has been publishing for 20 years and garnered accolades for “The War That Saved My Life” and its follow-up, “The War I Finally Won,” which features Ada, a physically disabled girl living in London during World War II who flees to the English countryside to join her brother and escape their abusive mother.
Bradley’s latest book for middle graders, “Fighting Words,” is a more difficult read that addresses mature themes such as sexual abuse, suicide and consent. Della is 10 years old when she and her older sister, Suki, arrive at a foster home after a horrific incident with their mother’s former boyfriend. Their mom is incarcerated, there is no father in the picture, and the girls have survived by sticking together. Now that the authorities are involved, Suki is overwhelmed, and Della slowly puts together the pieces of her sister’s experience. Bradley is incredibly sensitive to Della and Suki’s story, and she tells it in a way that invites youth and the trusted adults in their life to have a serious conversation.
Linda Sue Park won the 2002 Newbery Medal for her book “A Single Shard,” which features a young man who wants to learn the art of making beautiful pottery and travels to the capital to gain his teacher a commission. Park has continued to write picture and chapter books, and her newest book for middle grade readers is “Prairie Lotus.”
“Prairie Lotus” features a half Asian, half white girl living in the 1880s Midwest. Park wrote the story to share a narrative about westward expansion that is not usually focused on: the Asian children’s experience. Hanna is 14 and living with her white father after her mother has passed away. More than anything Hanna wants to attend school to learn before helping her father with the dry goods store. Hanna faces racial prejudice against herself and her father’s store. “Prairie Lotus” tells a beautifully gripping story about life and hardship to be faced and overcome on the frontier. This is a great prairie life story that does not perpetuate racism.
TeensKaren M. McManus writes mysteries that bring together teenagers from various backgrounds, kind of like if The Breakfast Club solved crimes.
“The Cousins” is McManus’ newest book, and it takes place mostly on the fictional Gull Cove Island near Nantucket. As with McManus’ other novels, “The Cousins” rotates narrators, this time a cast of three cousins whose parents were disowned by their rich mother 24 years ago for no apparent reason. Now the matriarch has summoned her teenage grandchildren, although she becomes surprisingly unavailable once the kids get to the island. The plot thickens when the local lawyer bribes them to go away and the local doctor, in the early stages of dementia, says too much. The pace picks up from there to a wild and satisfying conclusion.
Jason Reynolds centers Black youth in his incredibly popular junior and teen books. “Long Way Down” is a novel in verse in which 15-year-old Will plans to seek vengeance for the murder of his older brother, Shawn. Will takes Shawn’s gun, heads to the elevator in his building and presses down. As the elevator stops at each floor, Will encounters friends and family members who have lost their lives to gun violence, and their conversations give Will much to consider.
The graphic novel version of “Long Way Down” was released this fall, and the watercolors by Danica Novgorodoff match the sobering tone of the book. The text appears on various parts of the page and becomes especially effective when it changes size to reflect the emotions of the moment. Both versions of “Long Way Down” are exquisite.