December is a busy month for many things, but it’s a quiet month for new books. Despite that, there were plenty of noteworthy titles published in December. Check out these exciting easy, fiction, and nonfiction books. Happy reading!
ELEMENTARY PICTURE BOOKS
The ABCs of What I Can Be by Caitlin McDonagh. 9780823437825. Random House. 2018. Gr PK-2.
Children can imagine working in 100 different careers, which are arranged alphabetically. Three or four careers are presented for each letter.
Four Seasons of Fun : Egg Hunts! Fireworks! Pumpkins! Reindeer! by Pamela Duncan Edwards (ill. by Sylvie Daigneault). 9781585364039. Cherry Lake. 2018. Gr K-2.
Rhyming lines are used to explore what happens to and around an apple tree during the four seasons.
Harold Loves His Woolly Hat by Vern Kousky. 9781524764678. Random House. 2018. Gr PK-2.
When a crow swoops down and steals his special hat, Harold will give anything to get it back.
How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams & Christopher Silas Neal. 9780062394446. Harper Collins. 2018. Gr PK-3.
This child-friendly adaptation of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 uses references to nature and the seasons to celebrate the love of friends.
I Wish It Would Snow! by Sarah Dillard. 9781534406766. Simon & Schuster. 2018. Gr PK-2.
A little brown bunny impatiently waits for the first snow and is ecstatic when it finally comes. However, soon too much snow has him wishing for spring. Kids from warmer climes might not appreciate the love/hate relationship that we northerners have with snow, but they should be able to relate to the feelings of wanting something and then getting tired of it.
I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi & Kristyna Litten. 9780062574206. Harper Collins. 2018. Gr PK-3.
This picture book goes on with variations on the title’s theme to the extreme. “I will love you till the ants march in / wearing tiny ant hats and tiny ant grins / and birthday cake crumbs on their tiny any chins.” Since the amusing scenarios make the point without being sappy, the book will make a great read-aloud and can be a spur to creative writing and drawing.
Is That You, Eleanor Sue? by Tricia Tusa. 9781250143235. Macmillan. 2018. Gr PK-2.
On Saturdays, young Eleanor Sue likes to play dress-up, and her patient mother engages each new “character” Eleanor Sue creates, such as the cranky Mrs. McMuffins, a wizard, and a bear.
Isle of You by David LaRochelle (ill. by Jaime Kim). 9780763691165. Candlewick. 2018. Gr PK-2.
Anyone having a bad day would do well to follow the advice in this uplifting picture book. Put all your troubles in a basket and sail to the Isle of You. There you can enjoy being yourself with no worries—do what you wish, practice being someone else—and, most importantly, be reminded that “someone loves you very, very, very much.”
Love, Z by Jessie Sima. 9781481496773. Simon & Schuster. 2018. Gr PK-2.
Z, a young robot, finds a message in a bottle, but the only words that he can make out are at the end: “Love, Beatrice.” Love? The word doesn’t compute with any of the robots in his family. So Z sets out on a journey down the river, looking for Beatrice and asking everyone he meets what love is. None of their answers make sense, until Z’s frightened family shows up looking for him.
Mina vs. the Monsoon by Rukhsanna Guidroz (ill. by Debasmita Dasgupta). 9781949528985. Ingram. 2018. Gr K-2.
Young Mina doesn’t understand why she has to stay indoors during the monsoon rains when all she wants to do is play soccer. Her ammi doesn’t seem to understand until Mina discovers ammi’s old soccer jersey while trying to stave off the boredom. When the clouds break, ammi and Mina go outside to play together. A glossary with pronunciations for the Hindi/Urdu words is in the book.
Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets : An Unusual Alphabet by Sara O’Leary (ill. by Jacob Grant). 9781524713317. Random House. 2018. Gr PK-2.
This alphabet book of animals features amusing “facts” about each animal.
Persuading Miss Doover by Robin Pulver (ill. by Stephanie Roth Sisson). 9780823434268. Random House. 2018. Gr 1-3.
After their successful but harmless prank in class, Miss Doover separates Jack and Samir and assigns them to write a four-sentence persuasive essay.
Stewart’s Best Pen by Stephen W. Martin (ill. by Karl Newsom Edwards). 9780544867734. HMH. 2018. Gr PK-2.
Stewart met his pen at camp last summer, and since then, they have been inseparable. When his pen becomes lost, Stewart looks everywhere and tries out other pens and pencils, but nothing is quite the same. Readers will laugh at the antics of the writing utensils and cheer when Stewart and his best pen are reunited.
How a City Works (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science) by D.J. Ward (ill. by Violet Lemay). 9780062470317. Harper Collins. 2018. Gr PK-3.
Learn about how the systems in a city work, including communication, transportation, power, sewage, recycling, and more
Squares, Rectangles, and Other Quadrilaterals by David A. Adler (ill. by Edward Miller). 9780823437597. Random House. 2018. Gr 1-4.
After their previous books on Circles and Triangles, Adler and Miller introduce and describe shapes with four straight sides.
What If You Had T. Rex Teeth!?: And Other Dinosaur Parts by Sandra Markle (ill. by Howard McWilliam). 9781338271409. Scholastic. 2018. Gr 1-3.
How would your life change if you had dinosaur teeth? Or velociraptor toes or a brachiosaurus neck? Markle explains how their body parts helped dinosaurs, what makes a dinosaur a dinosaur, and why there are no dinosaurs today.
Dog Diaries : A Middle School Story by James Patterson with Steven Butler. 9780316487481. Hachette. 2018. Gr 1-4.
Junior the dog tells how he came to live with his pet human he calls Ruff, gives readers a tour of their home, and introduces his canine pals. Then he tells how he got into some trouble and was forced into obedience classes. His plan was to ace the class, but instead he failed. Now he has one more chance to win a prize in a local dog show or he will be sent back to the animal shelter by the evil Mrs. Stricker.
Lily & Kosmo in Outer Outer Space by Jonathan Ashley. 9781534413641. Simon & Schuster. 2018. Gr 3-5.
Aspiring astronaut Lily Lupino is startled when Kosmo Kidd crash-lands his wind-up rocket in her 1949 Brooklyn kitchen. Thinking Lily is a boy, Kosmo takes her to the floating treehouse in the stars, but it doesn’t take long for the other Spacetronauts to see that Kosmo has broken the biggest rule—no girls allowed. They are banished to an alien world, and Lily must prove that a girl from Brooklyn can hold her own against the galaxy’s worst creatures.
The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club (Book 1) by Alex Bell. 9781534406469. Simon & Schuster. 2018. Gr 4-6.
Stella’s aunt wants her to be a proper lady, but Stella wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a Polar Bear Explorer. Defying convention, she joins her father on an expedition to the Icelands. In addition to the expected hardships of exploring, Stella and three others are separated from the rest when a bridge collapses between them
Turbo Racers : Trailblazer by Austin Aslan. 9780062741035. Harper Collins. 2018. Gr 4-6.
An avid fan of TURBO racing (a triathlon in which vehicles morph between land, sea, and sky designs), Mace is an expert at the simulated racing in the video arcade. When he has a chance to see a real older-model racer, he climbs in to examine the cockpit and becomes trapped. He is instructed to fly to Denver, where he is trained to become a real racer. But the world of competitive racing is not what he imagines
Beavers (Superpower Field Guide) by Rachel Poliquin (ill. by Nicolas John Frith). 9780544949874. HMH. 2018. Gr 2-5.
This illustrated, humorous nonfiction book highlights the physiology and behavior of beavers.
Don’t Mess With Me : The Strange Lives of Venomous Sea Creatures (How Nature Works) by Paul Erickson. 9780884485513. WW Norton. 2081. Gr 4-6.
Over 12,000 different kinds of stinging creatures live in the ocean, and this book provides close-ups of 28 of them, including sea anemones, coral, sea stars, and stingrays. The text (and extensive back matter) describes the types and effects of venom as well as how humans use venom in medicines. The “ick factor” will add to the demand for this book.
It’s Up to You, Abe Lincoln by Tom & Leila Hirschfeld. 9780553509533. Random House. 2018. Gr 4-6.
This tongue-in-cheek biography explores ten crucial decisions in the life of Abraham Lincoln.
One Iguana, Two Iguanas : A Story of Accident, Natural Selection, and Evolution (How Nature Works) by Sneed B. Collard III. 9780884486497. WW Norton. 2018. Gr 4-6.
This addition to the How Nature Works series explains natural selection through the evolution of iguanas into land and marine species in the Galapagos Islands
Seven Wonders of the Milky Way by David A. Aguilar. 9780451476869. Penguin. 2018. Gr 4-6.
Go on a journey through space, visiting the wonders of the Milky Way. Readers will see planetary nebulae, exoplanets, ancient stars, and newly discovered objects.
Struttin’ with Some Barbecue : Lil Hardin Armstrong Becomes the First Lady of Jazz by Patricia Hruby Powell. 9781580897402. Charlesbridge. 2018. Gr 3-6.
This biography of Louis Armstrong’s first wife, Lil, uses free verse and bits of scat to tell her story and provide an ode to jazz. Lil has been called the “first lady of jazz” for her role in her husband’s success.
MIDDLE SCHOOL FICTION
Fade by Demitria Lunetta. 9781524766337. Random House. 2018. Gr 7-10.
Fifteen-year-old Haley moves into a house haunted by the ghosts of murdered girls who hope Haley will be able to help them move on.
Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst. 9781101931004. Random House. 2018. Gr 7-10.
Sky belongs to a family of wealthy were-dragons who live among humans. Ever since her mother disappeared in the middle of a heist, her family’s status has been greatly reduced. Sky decides to use her coming-of-age heist to search for clues and to restore her family’s honor. Though the heist itself is fairly simple, the secrets she discovers could up-end wyvern society.
The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm : Tales from Alagaesia by Christopher Paolini. 9781984894861. Random House. 2018. Gr 6-8.
Paolini returns to the world of Eragon and the Inheritance trilogy with three new stories.
Never Evers by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison. 9781524701826. Random House. 2018. Gr 5-8.
Jack has never kissed a girl, but he—and most of his seventh-grade class—plan to change that on their school’s annual snowboard trip to France. Mean girls, identity mix-ups, and a lost hamster add drama to this light humorous story.
North to Benjamin by Alan Cumyn. 9781481497527. Simon & Schuster. 2018. Gr 5-8.
After he moves to Dawson, Yukon, with his destructive, troubled mother, Edgar bonds with an elderly Newfoundland, Benjamin, and learns a new way to communicate. His mother is up to her usual tricks and Edgar knows they might have to move again, so, desperate to stop his mother from ruining lives, he and Benjamin embark on a journey into the Canadian wilderness.
HIGH SCHOOL FICTION
Broken Lands (Book 1) by Jonathan Maberry. 9781534406377. Simon & Schuster. 2018. Gr 9-12. Gabriella “Gutsy” Gomez teams up with Benny Imura and his gang as they seek to finish what Captain Joe Ledger started—to find a cure for the zombie infection.
Deadfall by Stephen Wallenfels. 9781368014267. Hachette. 2018. Gr 9-12.
Cory and Ty have stolen a car and are on the run in the Oregon wilderness. Finding the body of a dead deer in the middle of a mountain road, they investigate tire tracks leading off the road. At the bottom of the ravine is the wreckage of a car. Hearing sounds from the trunk, Cory and Ty find a handcuffed girl, badly hurt…and now someone is hunting all of them.
My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn. 9781368008396. Hachette. 2018. Gr 9-12.
Ellie’s future looks bleak after her mother is jailed on drug charges. Ellie has moved from one foster family after another when a family friend takes her to Japan to live with her estranged father. Her new family is super wealthy, but aloof and unemotional. At school, after a great start as part of a popular clique, she falls for an unacceptable boy. Though Ellie finds herself living in luxury, her life is just a confusing as always.
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton. 9780525580959. Random House. 2018. Gr 8-12.
These six featured stories are linked to one another through the life, career, and afterlife of a reverend named Tad Tadd. In a near future where human modification is a way of life, characters explore the ethics of scientific meddling.
What If? by Anna Russell. 9781538382585. Enslow. 2018. Gr 9-12.
Josh, a drummer at school, keeps secret his compulsive counting rituals, especially after he and his sister Julia have to move to a new school. His low self-esteem and lack of confidence improve after they meet Mage, and the three of them form a band to perform in the school talent show. He starts seeing a therapist, who prescribes medication and counseling. Despite his family’s lack of support, Josh learns how to manage his OCD.
HIGH SCHOOL NONFICTION
Dear Heartbreak : YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love edited by Heather Demetrios. 9781250170903. Macmillan. 2018. Gr 9-12.
Well-known YA authors, including Adi Alsaid, Nina LaCour, Cristina Moracho, and Ibi Zoboi, discuss the dark side of love, from dating violence to cheating to loneliness, while answering letters from teens all over the world. Often autobiographical, the answers offer hope for the anonymous teen letter writers.
A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea (Young Readers’ Edition) : One Teen Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming. 9781250311429. Macmillan. 2018. Gr 7-12.
Syrian refugee Doaa Al Zamel chronicles her experiences in Syria from 2011 when the civil war began. She describes her path to Egypt and the opposition to refugees she faced there, and falling in love with a resistance fighter. After crossing the frigid waters of the North Sea, she ended up in Sweden, where her quest for survival really began.
Unpresidented : A Biography of Donald Trump by Martha Brockenbrough. 9781250308030. Macmillan. 2018. Gr 7-12.
The author used an incredible amount of research for this straightforward biography of the 45th president. Her clear explanations make the book accessible to its target audience (young adults), valuable for assignments, and suitable for adults.