Spotlight: Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

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Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren't going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what's going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina.

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About the Author

Meg Medina is the author of the YA novels Burn Baby Burn; Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, winner of the Pura Belpré Author Award; and The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind.She also wrote the picture books Mango, Abuela, and Me, a Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Honor Book, and Tía Isa Wants a Car, recipient of an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Spotlight: A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton (Illustrator)

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Ours is a blue planet. The oceans cover more than two-thirds of its surface and constantly calls to us to play, explore, and dream. Our fascination with the sea is as endless as our means of enjoying it — whether building sand castles, navigating by the stars, or observing strange and beautiful marine creatures. In a volume brimming with information, Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton capture the magic and majesty of the ocean with stunning words and pictures. Poems about manta rays, flying fish, and humpback whales mingle with verses about harbors, storms, and pearl divers. Glimpses of life in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans flow into spreads about tropical islands, coral reefs, and ancient shipwrecks on the seabed. Teeming with colorful details, this treasure trove of knowledge will be pored over by adults and children alike, and its exploration of the vast mysteries of the sea will captivate readers for years to come.

In a remarkable collaboration, Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton celebrate the sea in all its changing moods — and the place it holds in our hearts and minds.

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About the Author & Illustrator

Nicola Davies trained as a zoologist and has written many award-winning books for children, including Bat Loves the Night, Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes, The Promise, and I (Don’t) Like Snakes. She lives in Wales.

Emily Sutton is the illustrator of The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy and two other picture book collaborations with Nicole Davies: Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes and Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth. Emily Sutton lives in York, England.

Spotlight: Houndsley and Catina and Cousin Wagster by James Howe and Marie-Louise Gay (Illustrator)

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When his cousin Wagster comes for a visit, Houndsley is excited. Wagster is all adventure and enthusiasm and razzle-dazzle, and all his friends love him. Even Catina thinks Wagster is fun and good at everything, and pretty soon Houndsley is starting to feel a little bit invisible. But Houndsley and Catina are best friends, and certainly Cousin Wagster won’t change that — right? James Howe and Marie-Louise Gay have created a tender and funny story about some of the ways that friendships can change, and how they also stay exactly the same.

Does Catina like Houndsley’s larger-than-life cousin more than she likes him? The charming friends return in this relatable tale.

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About the Author & Illustrator

James Howe is the author of many books for children, including the Bunnicula series and the Misfits series. He is also the author of the Houndsley and Catina books, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay; Otter and Odder, illustrated by Chris Raschka; Brontorina, illustrated by Randy Cecil; and Big Bob, Little Bob, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. James Howe lives outside of New York City.

Marie-Louise Gay is the illustrator of many award-winning children's books, including the Houndsley and Catina series by James Howe and Tiger and Badger by Emily Jenkins. She lives in Montreal, Canada.

Spotlight: Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon

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“History ain’t in a book, especially when it comes to folks like us. History is in the lives we lived and the stories we tell each other about those lives.”

When Zora Neale Hurston and her best friend, Carrie Brown, discover that the town mute can speak after all, they think they’ve uncovered a big secret. But Mr. Polk’s silence is just one piece of a larger puzzle that stretches back half a century to the tragic story of an enslaved girl named Lucia. As Zora’s curiosity leads a reluctant Carrie deeper into the mystery, the story unfolds through alternating narratives. Lucia’s struggle for freedom resonates through the years, threatening the future of America’s first incorporated black township — the hometown of author Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960). In a riveting coming-of-age tale, award-winning author T. R. Simon champions the strength of a people to stand up for justice.

A powerful fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood adventures explores the idea of collective memory and the lingering effects of slavery.

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About the Author

T. R. Simon is the co-author, with Victoria Bond, of the 2011 John Steptoe New Talent Author Award winner Zora and Me. She is also the co-author, with Richard Simon, of Oskar and the Eight Blessings, illustrated by Mark Siegel and winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Children’s Literature. T. R. Simon lives in Westchester County, New York.

Spotlight: Good Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo and Harry Bliss (Illustrator)

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Rosie is a good dog and a faithful companion to her owner, George. She likes taking walks with George and looking at the clouds together, but the closest she comes to another dog is when she encounters her reflection in her empty dog bowl, and sometimes that makes Rosie feel lonely. One day George takes Rosie to the dog park, but the park is full of dogs that Rosie doesn’t know, which makes her feel lonelier than ever. When big, loud Maurice and small, yippy Fifi bound over and want to play, Rosie’s not sure how to respond. Is there a trick to making friends? And if so, can they all figure it out together?

Beloved storyteller Kate DiCamillo and cartoonist Harry Bliss introduce some delightfully doggy dogs in a warm, funny tale of a timid pup who needs a friend.'

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About the Author

Kate DiCamillo is the celebrated author of many books for children, including Flora & Ulysses and The Tale of Despereaux, both of which received Newbery Medals. A former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, she lives in Minneapolis.

Harry Bliss is a cartoonist and cover artist for The New Yorker. He has illustrated many picture books, including the #1 New York Times best-selling series by Doreen Cronin that began with Diary of a Worm, and he has both written and illustrated several picture books, including Grace for Gus and Luke on the Loose. Harry Bliss lives in New Hampshire.

Spotlight: Josie's Lost Tooth by Jennifer K. Mann

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Josie is the monkey-bars champion, the first one to read a whole book by herself, and the second-fastest runner in her class. But she’s the worst at losing teeth —the only kid in her class who still has all her baby teeth! One night, Josie finally feels a tooth wiggle, just a little, and she can’t wait to show her best friend, Richard. But nothing makes the tooth fall out — not hanging upside down, chomping on an apple, or even pulling on the tooth with a string — until Josie trips and goes splat and the tooth is lost for good. Now what can she leave under her pillow for the tooth fairy?

What if you’re first and best at everything — except losing your first tooth? A sweet, relatable story about comparing yourself to others, losing teeth, and the value of good friends.

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About the Author

Jennifer K. Mann was an architect before turning to children’s books full-time. She is the creator of the picture books Sam and Jump, Two Speckled Eggs, and I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard. Jennifer K. Mann lives on an island near Seattle with her husband, children, cats, dogs, and chickens.

Spotlight: Night Job by Karen Hesse and G. Brian Karas (Illustrator)

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When the sun sets, Dad’s job as a school custodian is just beginning. What is it like to work on a Friday night while the rest of the city is asleep? There’s the smell of lilacs in the night air, the dusky highway in the moonlight, and glimpses of shy nighttime animals to make the dark magical. Shooting baskets in the half-lit gym, sweeping the stage with the game on the radio, and reading out loud to his father in the library all help the boy’s time pass quickly. But what makes the night really special is being with Dad. Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse’s quietly powerful story of a boy and his father is tenderly brought to life by G. Brian Karas in this luminous tribute to an enduring, everyday sort of love.

With lyrical narration and elegant, evocative artwork, Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse and illustrator G. Brian Karas share the nighttime experience of a father and child.

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About the Author & Illustrator

Karen Hesse is the author of numerous books for young people, including Out of the Dust, winner of a Newbery Medal and a Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; The Cats in Krasinski Square; and Letters from Rifka. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellows Grant in 2002, Karen Hesse lives in Vermont.

G. Brian Karas has illustrated more than ninety children’s books, including two by Megan McDonald about Ant and Honey Bee; Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle; and Are You Going to Be Good? by Cari Best, a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year. G. Brian Karas lives in the Hudson Valley of New York.

Spotlight: Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers by John Burningham

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Mr. and Mrs. Plumpster are delighted when their six eggs hatch into adorable baby goslings. But one has them worried: Borka, who was born without feathers. The doctor encourages Mrs. Plumpster to knit Borka a fuzzy sweater, but while it helps keep out the cold, it doesn’t keep all the other young geese from teasing Borka — until, come migration day, her siblings fly off without her. What is the tearful goose to do? In a brand-new edition of his debut book for children —awarded a prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal in 1963 — the incomparable John Burningham turns a sad beginning into a whimsical tale of pluck and serendipity, kindness and kindred spirits, as he celebrates the rare birds among us.

Odd appearances don’t get in the way of adventure in a jubilant new edition of John Burningham’s very first picture book, back by popular demand.

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About the Author

John Burningham is one of the world’s most recognized and beloved illustrators. His work has received countless awards, including a Boston GlobeHorn Book honor for It’s a Secret! and two Kate Greenaway Medals. Over his fifty-year career, John Burningham has written and illustrated more than thirty picture books, including Picnic, Motor Miles, and Mouse House. He is married to illustrator Helen Oxenbury. They have three children and live in North London.

Spotlight: Tooth by Leslie Patricelli

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Ouch. Baby’s mouth feels funny. Something is happening, and it’s not just that a puddle of drool keeps escaping. There it is — a new tooth! And where there’s one, there are soon to be more. From discovering what’s good to bite (and what’s not) to mastering the art of the toothbrush, Baby’s dental adventure is sure to give little teething buddies something to chew on.

Baby’s big smile is about to get toothier.

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About the Author

Leslie Patricelli is the creator of a series of best-selling board books starring her beloved bald baby. She is also the author-illustrator of Higher! Higher!, Faster! Faster!, and Bigger! Bigger!, among other books for young readers. She lives in Ketchum, Idaho.

Read an excerpt from Nana and the C by Doris Schneider

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Nana and the “c” is a book for all ages and all cultures as it is about family and the ability to support a loved one through the challenges of cancer. It is told from a seven-year-old’s perspective as she gathers the courage to face her grandmother’s illness and learns that her irritating younger sister is perhaps smarter than she seems. Together they also learn how to conquer their biggest fear and replace worry with wonder.

The story is uplifting and often humorous while symbolizing hope. It will make readers of all ages laugh, cry, and remember their own childhood and the relationships and events that influenced who they have become. The goal of this story is to help children through health crises in their family. The illustrator, editor and designer donated their time to help with the project in order to make possible the donation of copies of the book to waiting rooms of cancer clinics.

Doris Schneider is an artist, scene designer, writer, and educator. She taught at William Carey University and was a tenured professor of theatre at North Carolina Central University. She published two novels: Borrowed Things and By Way of Water

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About the Author

After her own bout with breast cancer, she wrote this story based on a real event with her granddaughters. While the illustrator, Wenhai Ma, was teaching at Duke University, the two became long term friends—culminating in their collaboration on Nana and the “c”.

Meet the Illustrator:

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Wenhai Ma - American-Chinese scene designer, illustrator and educator. He was granted tenured professorship at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, China and Carnegie Mellon University, USA. He has taught at Duke University, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Purdue University and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, the Central Academy of Drama, China and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore. He is the author of Scene Design Rendering and Media (Focus Publishing, USA) and illustrator for 10 children's picture books in the US. He has designed sets and costumes for various dramas, operas and musicals in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia. His first novel Such An Enchanted Night was published in Taiwan, 2017.

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