Children's Outreach Manager at Lake Forest Park
Niki loves: literature for all ages of young human, graphic novels and visual narratives, and literally all food (eating, making, sharing). She permanently resides in the kids department at Lake Forest Park.
A spectacular debut! Told in traditional prose, blog posts, group chats, news articles, and more, this novel features Bea, a fat fashion blogger turned reality dating show star. Stayman-London doesn't shy away from the multifaceted and sometimes ferociously unkind challenges that face Bea but aptly balances the trolling with characters who are deliciously genuine in both theory and practice. These very human characters also engage in plenty of flirty banter, and Bea herself is a treat: funny, fun, chic, and vulnerable. Read this page-turner for a quick and quippy dose of joy.
The perfect picturebook for quarantine, In a Jar is a heartwarming story about Llewellyn and his friend Evelyn. The two collect all sorts of things to put in jars--both physical and abstract--so they remember all the things they do together. When Evelyn moves away, Llewellyn starts sending her portions of their collections by mail. Marcero's mixed media artwork uses texture and color in exciting and surprising ways throughout the story, and readers will have fun trying to count how many jars they can find on each page. A good reminder for readers of all ages of the simple ways we can connect, despite distance and its accompanying hardships.
I'm a sucker for a retelling, especially one inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. In this fresh remix, Liliam Rivera deftly combines original details with contemporary Afro-Latinx life in the Bronx: from the flirty bounce of bachata to the weight of Hurricane Maria and its impact on island communities & diaspora. I love how this character-driven romance humanizes Pheus and Eury--they are accessible, complex teens distinctly of our time who face an ancient and destructive threat with equal parts assuredness and trepidation. A satisfyingly feminist ending rounds out this myth retextured for our modern moment. Immersive and intense, Never Look Back will make you want Lilliam Rivera to retell all of your favorite classics.
If you don't already know this duo, please check out Drawn Together, another personal favorite. But with this second collaboration, Lê (pronounced "lay") and Santat really knock it out of the park. Lift is hilarious, cheeky, and perfectly pinpoints the annoyances of having a younger sibling. The book also has a very intriguing sci-fi plot twist that readers may even predict if they're paying attention to the many playful visual hints that Santat includes.
I call picturebooks portable museums sometimes, and I think it especially applies here, not only because of Michaela Goade’s exquisite artwork but also because of the ancestral and historical importance of protecting water in many indigenous nations across North America. This book is a thank you note and a call to action, and it’s perfectly digestable for young readers to learn about pipeline protests.
Donte and Trey are brothers. Trey is popular, athletic, and most importantly, light-skinned. Donte's skin is darker, and, as one of the few visibly Black students at his private school, he finds himself facing casual racism from teachers and overt bullying from Alan, a star fencer. Donte starts taking fencing lessons from a Black former Olympic fencer to face off against Alan in a tournament, but he discovers that fencing is less externally competitive and more of an interior sport. Another unmissable book from master storyteller Jewell Parker Rhodes.
Who doesn't love a grouchy bear? This book is oh-so funny, extremely relatable, and such fun to read aloud. Extra great for residents of the drizzly PNW, who know all too well about the relentless rain and its accompanying emotional drain.
P.S. Take a peek under the dust jacket but only AFTER you've finished reading (if you want to avoid spoilers!)
Pure poetry perfection, this picturebook practically begs to be read aloud. I love all of the expansive descriptions of the different types of brown and the personal connection that the narrator makes to each shade. Warm-toned illustrations make the story and its characters feel simultaneously timeless and cozy, while minute details and intricate patterns keep the book firmly in the present moment. As its subtitle notes, this whole book is a celebration of the power, history, and beauty of the color brown.
Pitch perfect, sweet-as-pie YA contemporary about Skye, a fat, bisexual Korean-American teen trying to win a k-pop competition in LA with her dual singing & dancing skills. This novel features a very supportive dad (who diligently tries to make up for a strained mother-daughter relationship), an international, Instagram-famous hottie, fat acceptance highs & lows, and so much good friendship. Just enough romance & plenty of actual k-pop idol references for current & to-be fans. Do yourself a favor and hit shuffle on the "K-Pop Daebak" Spotify playlist and bop along to this girl power anthem of a book.
Joyful and weird, this graphic novel is a delight. DeadEndia's eclectic and unique characters include a loyal and lovable pug, supportive and idiosyncratic friends, and plenty of mischievous creatures from reimagined angelic and demonic planes. Fans of Steven Universe and general supernatural mayhem will enjoy rooting for Barney, Norma, and Pugsley and yearn for future volumes of this refreshingly forward thinking tome.
- Cutthroat competion
- Heartthrob athletes in various states of (un)dress
- Painfully well-executed cliffhangers
- Rivalry rife with sexual tension
and you get this cheeky, enthralling, character-driven volume for those who wish the Rocky movies were a little gayer.
This gem of a graphic novel derails the imaginative escapades of a neighborhood of kids with serious creativity, major crafting skills, and and overwhelming capacity for dynamic supportiveness. Through ups and downs of relationships with family and friends, these characters give each other the emotional and creative encouragement they need to be their best, most authentic selves. A reminder to all that the more you connect with your community, the brighter you (and it) shine!
My new go-to graduation gift recommendation! With sincerity and honesty, Reynolds tells readers that the journey to personal achievement and success is not easy, fixed, or clear and that even passion and perseverance can't cure insecurity. But his refrain, his offering his encouragement is: JUMP ANYWAY.
Just the right amount of corny and wise, Reynolds' message resonates with those moving on to a new chapter in their lives.
A comprehensive starter about consent - which should always be an enthusiastic YES. This graphic novel features a group of teens discussing what they think consent means after learning a classmate was a victim of sexual assault. They ultimately affirm that all relationships should make both participants feel confident, healthy, and fulfilled. A must-read. For everyone. Full stop.
An incredible collection of words, art, photos, and expressions of Indigenous women by Indigenous women. This volume celebrates and amplifies the voices of these women and girls, who are so often silenced by white folks, by governments, by institutions, by men.
Open this book and listen with open ears and open hearts.
From master of mirth Adam Rubin (Dragons Love Tacos) comes a positively riotous tale of fractured folklore. This patchwork quilt of Spanglish will slow down storytelling so the reader can best appreciate the hilariously detailed illustrations by Crash McCreery. If you liked Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairyly Stupid Tales, this funny story is guaranteed hit. Share aloud for best effect!
The alternate-history zombie novel you never thought you'd need; think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets the Walking Dead set in an America where the Civil War only ended because Confederate and Union soldiers rose from the battlefield. In zombie-hunter protagonist Jane, readers will find a modern hero: scrappy, snarky, clever, motivated, and oh-so skilled with a sickle. You'll want to follow her into battle--and don't worry you will. Dynamic, exhilarating, and inventive!
With bold brush strokes an precise black linework, Jillian Tamaki (This One Summer) brings readers on a journey through color and perspective. Moods influence the narrator's perceptions of the surrounding world as together we navigate grey winter clouds golden grasses and the warmth of new summer. Stunning verbal and visual metaphors dance inextricably in this wise and contemplative picturebook.
After her mother's suicide, Leigh and her father struggle through their now-greyscale world. When a great red bird deposits a box of family mementos on her porch, Leigh knows undoubtedly that this bird is her mother. She journeys to Taiwan and dives headfirst into the trauma of her family's past, but the weight of old grief and of new memories compounds. A moving portrait of finding oneself again after tremendous loss.
In a world where people pay to receive body mod services from the Belles-artisans of Beauty who use this arcana in their blood to transform the naturally greyscale populace into beatific glamazons in full color - everything is a mask, and polite society the most so. Come for the decadent descriptions of food and luxury fashion, stay for the diabolical players in this high-stakes game of political intrigue. Deceptively dark, this novel is a reminder that beauty most often wears a face of lies.
This verse novel will slice you up. Visceral, raw, and unique, this is the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the first professional woman painters (active in the 16th century) and one of the first women in documented history to bring her sexual assailant to court and WIN. A book about the process of art, healing from trauma, and growing up in a world that unrelentingly asserts that you're not good enough, even as it uses you up.
A bright, shining lighthouse of a book. At turns tender and ferocious, this is a book that you hand to those struggling to find and express their voice. Acevedo's debut verse novel powerfully asserts the humming, electric, life-altering potential of poetry and literature.
The best fantasy I have read in ages. Achingly masterful and brimming with complexly rendered main and secondary characters, Adeyemi's Orisha world will sweep you up in its embrace with one arm and brandish a knife at you with the other. Paced perfectly at un-put-downable, this is your 2018 must-read.
A smoothie of Into the Wild and On the Road, blended with Grade A feminism and fantasy. Though the plot moves at a walking pace, Tess's character drives this book forward. As she follows the eponymous road on her indelible journey, she moves away from a past that shackles her and towards a future that welcomes her audacious spirit. And as Tess learns, sometimes you just have to walk it off to progress.
To inherit her father's massively successful culinary empire, Brianna must compete against her 15 brothers to run the best, most profitable restaurant. She sets up shop in the affordable and idiosyncratic Monster City, and, despite their strict dietary guidelines and Brianna's bouts of self-doubt and anxiety, her business booms. A competitor dislikes this newcomer, however, and Brianna must find a way to earn the respect of her community and her family without boiling over. Recipes included!!!
This volume tracks a kickbutt girl squad as they hunt down treasure Goonies-style in a hazy, gray seaport town in Oregon.
C'mon - what more do you really need to crack this sucker open?
(vol 2 comes out in late May 2018!!!)
Though this book is short, it is nothing short of profound. Meg was my first fictional hero, and she taught me something fundamentally important: that you can be flawed and still be a hero. You can be angry and amazing, full of fear and love at the same time, and all of those layers stack together to make you strong. A book to combat darkness, in all its forms.
George's titular character is a transgender 4th grade girl whose unwavering faith in herself provides a model for all readers to aspire to. The supportive relationship that George has with her best friend Melissa assures readers that, with friends who encourage you to be your most authentic self, anything is possible.
Kickbutt protagonist Abbie has superpowers that get her in trouble wherever she goes, but she's trying to return her mother's ashes to her homeland. Magruder's art style shifts seamlessly from lush and expansive to quirky and expressive as she respectively focuses on world- and character-building. For fans of Marjorie Liu, Faith Erin Hicks, and those who wish Cece Bell's El Deafo was set in a dystopian desert wasteland.
Dedicated lovingly and joyfully to the art of the haircut, Crown celebrates the confidence and cool a fresh cut can lend to a kid's spirit. James's impressionist illustrations ooze with spunk and swoop with sureness, inspiring an infectious self-confidence. For best results, share aloud with reinvigorated aplomb!
Fabiola arrives in Detroit after her mother is detained on entry to the U.S. from Haiti. Fabiola knows that her new home with her aunt and teenage cousins will always feel empty without her mother, so she resolves to do everything in her power to get her mother released - even if that means confronting harsh truths about her Americanized aunt and cousins. Equal parts heart-wrenching and - warming, Zoboi's expertly woven novel will touch readers' souls and embolden their spirits.
Ballet Cat and Sparkles are best friends. Ballet Cat loves ballet, A LOT. Sparkles? Not so much. Ballet Cat notices Sparkles is unhappy and asks what's wrong. That's when Sparkles tells Ballet Cat a very SECRET secret. Which shocks Ballet Cat. But Ballet Cat has a secret too...
If you like Elephant and Piggie, you'll be fast friends with Ballet Cat and Sparkles in no time.
An inclusive and affirming snapshot of city life, this picture book follows CJ and his grandmother as they depart church and take a bus ride to the very last stop on Market Street. CJ wishes they could take a car home, but his grandmother shows him the beauty that exists all around him in the city, especially on the city bus. Christian Robinson's illustrations are timeless and full of compassion that CJ learns along the way. A gorgeous read.
Do you love:
- cafés with adorable proprietors
- community-building fit to rival Stars Hollow's (sans Taylor)
- spunky rainwear worn to combat seasonal affective disorder
- frustratingly alluring colored pencil and pastel illustrations
- any or all of the above?
Then this rom-com of a picturebook is for you!!
Think Cheaper by the Dozen but WAY BETTER. When you have a big family, it's easy for things to lapse into pandemonium, but the Lotterys manage that delicate balance between chaos and calm with skillful co-parenting, mindful communication, and lots of affection. A loving, inclusive snapshot of a non-traditional family for fans of The Penderwicks, Clementine, and Ivy + Bean.
This short story collection celebrates the chance encounters and first connections that teens invariably make in their romantic lives. The stories are diverse in genre and perspective, and flutter with balanced doses of hope and heartbreak. Read somewhere cozy with a cup of something warm and sweet.
This is not your average robot book. This robot book is also about: animals, what it means to be human, the environment, community-building, creating a family, and - most importantly - finding a home. Brown intersperses his text with his signature graphic illustrations, and his short chapters pack powerful punches while lending themselves well to reading aloud. Readers young and old will find themselves desperate for more robot Roz when this book ends.
A sci-fi bender that details what would happen if Lara Croft and Indiana Jones reluctantly teamed up to decode and ancient alien message in an ancient alien temple.
Read while waiting for OBSIDIO, the final book in the Third Place bookseller-beloved Illuminae trilogy.
Start 2018 off with this magnificent book about the minute yet powerful ways love can manifest in our lives. Matt de la Peña's lyrical prose, accompanied by Loren Long's lovingly crafted illustrations, celebrates the strength of expressing love in the face of hardship and challenging circumstances. A tour-de-force to be read on repeat and shared often with all ages.
Sometimes you need help becoming your most authentic self from the sweet treats, fancy fun, and signature flourishes nestled in Grandma's bottomless bag! A delightful ode to grandmas everywhere, their Mary Poppins-esque pocketbooks, and the little ones that adore them.
An earnest and purposeful and gently worded book about the significant and unique relationships between loved ones and an important book to guide discussions of bodily autonomy and decisions to share space - mental, physical, emotional - with others.
If you and your youngins are not watching Steven Universe, please reconsider. It is the best show for kids since Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. SERIOUSLY!
Alta knows she's the quickest kid in Clarksville, TN - Wilma Rudolph's hometown - even though her shoes are a little beat up. But Charmaine, in her snazzy new sneaks, thinks she can best Alta in a foot race. Frank Morrison's illustrations are a treat: he portrays both runners as contagiously exuberant and physics-defying. Though egos and body parts bruise, the two girls ultimately team together to keep moving forward. Sometimes, life is easier as a relay.
Searching for your next favorite beginning reader? Look no further than this clever, joke-filled book about a girl picking out a pair of shoes for a "Daddy-and-Me Day." Her unexpected choice has her anthropomorphic shoes worried that she's made a big mistake (though she's confident in her decision). Her unconventional choice is in fact deliberate and makes for a rather sweet moment between father and daughter. It's a sho(e)-in!
When Noona and Joon arrive at their grandmother's (the titular Halmoni's) house only to discover she's disappeared, they embark on a journey to find her. Along the way, they meet many vibrant characters from Korean folktales - a handy language guide and a detailed back matter help Western readers fully understand this story's context - eat lots of snacks, and play an intense game of rock, paper, scissors with a tiger! This graphic novel will entice readers fond of strong siblings, clever problem-solving, and impeccable book design!!
After a weird incident 3 years ago, Poughkeepsie has never been the same. Meat puppets populate the buildings, animals went wonky, and tornados of everyday objects hang in suspended motion. Despite the danger, Addison braves the quarantined zone to capture photos of these sci-fi wonders to sell on the black market. When a patron comes to her with a dangerous proposal to retrieve something from the zone, Addison must decide if a cool $1 mil is worth gambling with the zone's unearthly phenomena. SO GOOD.
Don't be fooled by this novel's lack of length - it packs a serious punch. Stone tackles heavy and important topics - police brutality and racial profiling - in a nuanced and innovative way. The main character Justyce writes letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to process the racial tensions at his prep school and his (and our) society at large. A timely and honest book with unmistakable voice and heart.
Can you imagine not knowing what a book is or looks like but somehow still understanding how powerful an object it is? Enter Sefia, whose father entrusted her with such a rectangular object before he was murdered. Then, her aunt gets kidnapped and Sefia begins to unlock the mysteries and magic of reading this book, which might be the only way to save her aunt and uncover the details behind her father's death. This self-reflexive read will leave you enthralled.
Worm loves Worm, and they want to get married. Thing is, all of their friends have ideas about what Worm and Worm need to get married. Worm and Worm want to appease their friends but they don't really care if they wear rings, bow ties, veils - Worm and Worm want to get married because they love each other. This beautifully straightforward picture book celebrates love above all else, and it demonstrates how easy it is to rewrite "how it's always been done."
Pig has been a diligent and devoted protector of Sunrise Valley ever since his father - the Dam Builder - walked into the deadly fog. Pig keeps the Dam safe and secure so the fog doesn't roll in and destroy the entire town. But the fog keeps getting stronger and, one day, breaks off a piece of the dam - with Pig, Hippo, and Fox inside. The animated feel (both creators worked for Pixar) will leave readers breathless and eagerly awaiting the second installment!
This Little Red Riding Hood-inspired tale is like a cup of hot tea on a cold night! Kikko sets out to her grandmother's house when her father forgets the pie to bring. Kikko discovers him entering an unfamiliar and grand house, and upon peeking inside, she sees all the animals of the forest are having a tea party! Miyakoshi's textured black and white charcoal illustrations bring an extra woodsiness and warmth to the story. Perfect for animal-lovers, tea-party enjoyers, and forest explorers!
Ladycastle is part comic, part musical (!?), part genderbent Knight's Tale, and all awesome. Frankly, it's also suitable for most ages, and it has less to do with physical combat and more to do with changing the status quo according to the strengths (and there are many: blacksmithing, etiquette- and chivalry-teaching, horiticulturing, practicing medicine, and library-keeping) of the individuals in this excellent series. Please read now.
A stellar concept book for little ones, Rhymoceros introduces rhymes in a cheeky and easy-to-decode format. By adding variations to the same basic animal shape - one rhino encounters a "shower" while another holds a "flower" - Coat maintains a balance between predictable and new clues that help kids visually grasp the rhyming pair. And even though big for a board book, Rhymoceros still fits well in little hands and laps!
Masha answers an ad in the newspaper to be Baba Yaga's assistant, but, before she officially gets the job, she must complete three seemingly impossible tasks. With help from the memory of her grandmother, a few plucky Matryoshka dolls, and her own fairy tale expertise, Masha approaches each task with wit and confidence. For fans of strong female protagonists, exquisite art, folk tales, and scary stories alike!
After Will's brother Shawn was shot and killed, Will knows that the rules of his neighborhood dictate that he must exact revenge on his brother's murderer. As Will takes the elevator down to complete his deadly task, a victim of gun violence from his past boards the elevator at each floor. Reynolds, who might be YA literature's modern-day Shakespeare, crafts a masterful verse novel that readers will read quickly but ponder deeply, especially after the powerful final line.
This graphic novel from the excellent Faith Erin Hicks has everything you want from an adventure story: lots of high-octane action, and embroiled conflict, political intrigue, and a compelling cast of diverse characters. Despite the tensions between the Dao conquerer currently occupying the City and the city natives, and unlikely friendship develops between Kaidu, a Dao soldier-in-training an Rat, an intellectually and physically agile city inhabitant. Together they begin to uncover the City's vast secrets!
Embrace the quiet joys in making daily decisions with this expansive and jubilant picture book. Morstad uses direct questions to encourage readers to interact with pages full of illustrated options. An interactive, affirming ode to the small decisions that children face on a daily basis, Today celebrates the little ways that kids can assert their power and spirit.