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Book Review — Emily Wilde’s Encylopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

Each January, the American Library Association hands out its Youth Media Awards to authors, illustrators, and creators. Top among those awards are the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, two of the biggest prizes in the world of books for children and teens!  Librarians, classrooms, book reviewers, and many others are finalizing their predictions as to which book or books they think will come out on top.  

Caldecott: 

The Caldecott award is given …to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” (https://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecott). Essentially it comes down to who created the best pictures used in a picture book.  Past winners of this medal include We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade (2021 winner) and Watercress by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Jason Chin (2022 winner).   

There’s been buzz about a lot of titles in contention for the Caldecott. Here are a couple of our staff favorites:

Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond and illustrated by Daniel Minter – Blue dives into the history and cultural significance of the color blue from Ancient Afghan painters to what we know it as today. 

Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall – take a glimpse into the daily life of the family that lives in this detailed farmhouse. 

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise – Owl always wanted to be a knight since he was hatched. Now he has his opportunity! Does he have what it takes to become one? 

Newbery: 

The Newbery award is given “…to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” (https://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newbery)  Recent winners of this award include When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller (2021 winner) and The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera  (2022 winner). 

For this category, these books stand out among staff: 

The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat – dive into this Thai-inspired fantasy adventure where Sai must deal with the secrets of her past in order to chart the course for her future. 

Thirst by Varsha Bajaj – Minni (living in the poorest section of Mumbai) knows that water is scarce in her neighborhood and even sees it being stolen one night. She is surprised to find out however, that it runs freely though faucets in the high-rise building she just started working in. Now she has to decide if she should expose the water-mafia boss or keep her head down and say nothing. 

Have you read any of these books? Do you have other stand out favorites? Winners in these categories and many others will be announced on Monday, January 30, 2023. 

Genre List Highlight | Adult — Fantasy

Need some help choosing your next book to read? We’ve put together some lists of popular titles in different genres to help you pick! Each Wednesday we’ll highlight a new genre list. This week, we’re highlighting the Fantasy genre list, but if you’re looking for something different, visit the Readers Advisory page for more help!

HALF A KING by Joe Abercrombie

Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first, he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself — all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot…

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Book Review | Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

From the publisher: After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother. But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodermus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880’s America. What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears – as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her. But she won’t be in it alone. Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, Read more »

Book Review | Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

From the publisher: When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he might really be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals, and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

Wallace Price is dead. After spending 40 years of life devoting everything to work (at the expense of his marriage) and thinking only of himself, he had a heart attack and died on the…

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Book Review | Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the

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Book Review | The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

From the publisher: In a world that’s lost its magic, a former soldier turned PI solves cases for the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in an imaginative debut fantasy. Welcome to Sunder City. The magic is gone but the monsters remain.

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Australian actor Luke Arnold treads some familiar territory. It reminded me of Shrek, of , of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Humans managed to destroy all the magic in the world, and main character Fetch Phillips, a human, is trying to work off his guilt. Vampires, werewolves, elves, gnomes, and all other manner of magical creatures now mingle and try to live without what made them special.

Fetch was raised in a walled, nonmagical city of humans. He didn’t realize the wonders of…

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Book Review | The Dark Library by Cyrille Martinez

From the publisher: Libraries are magical places. But what if they’re even more magical than we know? In Cyrille Martinez’s library, the books are alive: not just their ideas or their stories, but the books themselves. Meet the Angry Young Book, who has strong opinions about who reads what and why. He’s tired of people reading bestsellers, so he places himself on the desks of those who might appreciate him. Meet the Old Historian who mysteriously vanished from the stacks. Meet the Blue Librarian, the Mauve Librarian, the Yellow Librarian, and spend a day with the Red Librarian trying to banish coffee cups and laptops. Then one day there are no empty desks anywhere in the Great Library.

Cyrille Martinez is very obviously writing from the perspective of a librarian who has heard…

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Book Review | Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

From the publisher: They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her — you can’t kill what’s already dead.

“No matter what form your soul takes when it hits the ghostroads, it has rules it has to follow. I can borrow flesh and blood from the living for the span of a night by putting on the…

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