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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Spring 2019 Showcase

IMG_7754Beyond the people I work with and the people this blog has led me to get to know, by far the best aspect of blogging for TLT is the constant influx of books. All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to teen readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, my kid’s school, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get, but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to  see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader.

 

Today I’m sharing with you titles from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All annotations are from the publisher.

 

 

every momentEvery Moment After by Joseph Moldover (ISBN-13: 9781328547279 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 04/09/2019)

 

Best friends Matt and Cole grapple with their changing relationships during the summer after high school in this impactful, evocative story about growing up and moving on from a traumatic past.

Surviving was just the beginning. 

Eleven years after a shooting rocked the small town of East Ridge, New Jersey and left eighteen first graders in their classroom dead, survivors and recent high school graduates Matt Simpson and Cole Hewitt are still navigating their guilt and trying to move beyond the shadow of their town’s grief. Will Cole and Matt ever be able to truly leave the ghosts of East Ridge behind? Do they even want to?

As they grapple with changing relationships, falling in love, and growing apart, these two friends must face the question of how to move on—and truly begin living

 

RBGDissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life and Work by Victoria Ortiz (ISBN-13: 9780544973640 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 06/04/2019)

The life and career of the fiercely principled Supreme Court Justice, now a popular icon, with dramatic accounts of her landmark cases that moved the needle on legal protection of human rights, illustrated with b/w archival photographs.

Dramatically narrated case histories from Justice Ginsburg’s stellar career are interwoven with an account of RBG’s life—childhood, family, beliefs, education, marriage, legal and judicial career, children, and achievements—and her many-faceted personality is captured. The cases described, many involving young people, demonstrate her passionate concern for gender equality, fairness, and our constitutional rights. Notes, bibliography, index.

 

 

 

briar and roseBriar and Rose and Jack by Katherine Coville (ISBN-13: 9781328950055 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 06/11/2019)

 

Sumptuous storytelling combines Sleeping Beauty with Jack and the Beanstalk in a magical exploration of prejudice, justice, and the meaning of true love.

Lady Briar is scorned for her appearance. Princess Rose is adored for her looks. Unbeknownst to them, one or both may bear a curse that only true love can break. But the girls have little time for curses anyway—along with their friend Jack, they are busy plotting the downfall of the evil giant who plagues their kingdom. But how can children succeed when the adults are afraid to even try? And what if the curse manifests? Whose love could be true enough to save the day?

 

 

moles

Moles by Rachel Poliquin, Nicholas John Frith (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780544951075 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 06/18/2019)

Funny and fact-filled, MOLES is another installment in the SUPERPOWER FIELD GUIDES series by author Rachel Poliquin, featuring full-color illustrations by Nicholas John Frith that will engage readers with witty narration and fun visual elements, inspiring readers to dig deep and see the world, both above and below ground, with new eyes. 

Meet Rosalie, a common mole.The first thing you need to know about Rosalie is that she is shaped like a potato. Not a new potato, all cute and round, but a plain old lumpy potato. She may be small. She may be spongy. But never underestimate a mole.

I know what you’re thinking: moles are just squinty-eyed beasts that wreck your lawn.

You’re right! Those squinty eyes and mounds of dirt are proof that moles have superpowers. There is absolutely nothing common about the common mole.

 

impossibleImpossible Music by Sean Williams (ISBN-13:9780544816206 Publisher: Clarion Publication date: 07/02/2019)

In an emotionally compelling tale crackling with originality, when a teen musician goes deaf, his quest to create an entirely new form of music brings him to a deeper understanding of his relationship to the hearing world, of himself, and of the girl he meets along the way. 

Music is Simon’s life—which is why he is devastated when a stroke destroys his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counseled, refusing to learn sign-language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly-experienced deafness.

In an emotionally engaging tale crackling with originality, Simon’s quest to create an entirely new form of music forces him into a deeper understanding of his relationship to the hearing world, of himself, and of the girl he meets along the way.

 

 

from an ideaFrom an Idea to Google: How Innovation at Google Changed the World by Lowey Bundy Sichol (ISBN-13:9781328954916 Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Publication date: 07/09/2019)

From an Idea to Google is a behind-the-computer-screen look into the history, business, and brand of the world’s largest search engine. With humorous black & white illustrations throughout, learn about the company that even earned its own catchphrase: Google it!

Today, Google is the number one internet search engine and the most visited website in the world. But a long time ago, two college friends, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, started out with just an idea. Find out more about Google’s history, the business, and the brand in this illustrated nonfiction book!

Find out where the name “Google” came from. (Hint: It involves a LOT of zeros!)

Discover how Google became the fastest and most popular internet search engine of all time.

Explore how Google transformed from a tiny startup (in someone’s garage!) into one of the most powerful companies in the world.

 

survivor girlSurvivor Girl by Erin Teagan (ISBN-13:9780544636217 Publisher: Clarion Publication date: 07/16/2019)

In this funny, action-packed middle grade novel from the author of the American Girl Luciana books, Alison gets invited to be on her dad’s reality show, Survivor Guy, and faces important realities about her family, self-reliance, and learning to work together with friends. 

12-year-old Ali adores her reality-show celebrity father, Survivor Guy, and hopes to follow in his footsteps. But when he invites her on location, Ali is sure she won’t survive one episode . . . until she learns the truth: The show isn’t just her dad and a camera. It’s a huge crew and set, with stunt doubles! When a wildfire strikes and Ali and two other kids miss the last rescue helicopter, suddenly, the fight for survival is real. Will she find the self-confidence she needs so they can work together and get out of the wilderness alive?

STEM themes and plot strands about body image and divorce are subtly woven into this page-turning tale.

 

 

mystery clubMystery Club: Wild Werewolves; Mummy Mischief by Davide Cali, Yannick Robert (ISBN-13:9781328528483 Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Publication date: 07/23/2019)

Two graphic novel mysteries in one book, each filled with fun humor and intrigue. Are there really werewolves in London? Mummies in the metro? Fear not—Mystery Club is on the case!

In Wild Werewolves, a stranger approaches Zoey and Kyle in the library as they ask the question: “Do you think monsters exist in London?” The stranger gives them information that sets them on a city-wide adventure with Ashley and Tyler. The Mystery Club pieces together the werewolf mystery and the identity of the stranger and a zany series of events ensues.

In Mummy Mischief, train passengers spot a mummy in the subway. Then it happens again! The occurrences are uncanny and strange enough to lure the Mystery Club to action. As they unwrap the mysteries of the mummy appearances, they unearth even more hijinks than they bargained for.

 

bee the changeBee the Change by James Preller (ISBN-13:9781328973399 Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Publication date: 07/30/2019)

 

The Big Idea Gang is buzzing with excitement! They’re going to show Clay Elementary just how important bees can be in this chapter book series about making a case—and making a difference—by the author of Jigsaw Jones.

After Kym and Lizzie get the awesome opportunity to visit a bee colony, they realize all the wonderful things bees do! But how can it be that these amazing insects are disappearing? And what will happen to our food chain without the great pollinators buzzing about? If only everyone else at Clay Elementary could understand how important the bees are for the environment! Now that’s a big idea that needs to be shared! With the help of Connor and Deon, Kym and Lizzie set out to show their school the beauty of bees, and use their powers of persuasion to make a difference in the world.

 

 

all in a dropAll in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World by Lori Alexander (Author), Vivien Mildenberger (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 978-1328884206 Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Publication date: 08/06/2019)

For fans of the “Who Was” series, this lively, accessible, and full-color chapter book biography shows how a self-taught scientist was the first to observe the microbial life in and around us. By building his own microscope, Antony van Leeuwenhoek advanced humanity’s understanding of our oft-invisible world around us.

Microbes are everywhere: in the soil and oceans, in snow, and inside our bodies. But in Antony van Leeuwenhoek’s time, people believed that what they saw with their own eyes was all that existed in the world. How did a simple tradesman—who didn’t go to college or speak English or Latin like all the other scientists—change everyone’s minds?

Proving that remarkable discoveries can come from the most unexpected people and places, this eye-opening chapter book, illustrated with lively full-color art, celebrates the power of curiosity, ingenuity, and persistence.

 

beasts ofThe Beasts of Grimheart: Podkin Book 3 by Kieran Larwood, David Wyatt (Illustrator) (ISBN-13:9781328696021 Publisher: Clarion Publication date: 08/13/2019)

The young rabbit Podkin One-Ear and his allies battle to save their land from the evil Gorm tribe. The Longburrow series is Middle Earth for middle graders!

Podkin and his sister and baby brother, Paz and Pook, struggle to keep their ragtag clan of refugees safe from enemies who are destroying the forest in an effort to find them. When they are separated from their clan, the siblings encounter the mysterious and mystical creatures who are the heart of the forest itself. As the fate of all rabbitkind hangs in the balance, the youngsters must recruit these new allies and convince feuding clans to come together in a desperate final battle to defeat the diabolical Gorm.

Action and high stakes propel the climactic struggle in the series that shows anyone—even little rabbits—can do great things.

 

 

song ofSong of the Abyss (Tower of Winds #2) by Makiia Lucier (ISBN-13:9780544968585 Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Publication date: 08/27/2019)

Ancient grievances, long-held grudges, and dangerous magic combine in this sweeping fantasy perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Rachel Hartman.

As the granddaughter of a famed navigator, seventeen-year-old Reyna has always lived life on her own terms, despite those who say a girl could never be an explorer for the royal house of St. John del Mar. She is determined to prove them wrong, and as she returns home after a year-long expedition, she knows her dream is within reach. No longer an apprentice, instead: Reyna, Master Explorer. But when menacing raiders attack her ship, those dreams are pushed aside. Reyna’s escape is both desperate and dangerous, and when next she sees her ship, a mystery rises from the deep. The sailors—her captain, her countrymen—have vanished. To find them, Reyna must use every resource at her disposal . . . including placing her trust in a handsome prince from a rival kingdom. Together they uncover a disturbing truth. The attack was no isolated incident. Troubling signs point to a shadowy kingdom in the north, and for once, the rulers of the Sea of Magdalen agree: something must be done. But can Reyna be brave enough to find a way?

The Pressure to be Perfect: Emily Franklin interviews H.A. Swain about her YA novel Gifted

giftedEF: In Gifted, you write about a future in which genius can be purchased by wealthy parents for their children. What was the inspiration behind this?

 

HS: Two things happened simultaneously in my life to inspire this premise: 1) My daughter was applying to public middle schools in Brooklyn and 2) I was recovering from a concussion. Those might sound completely unrelated, but here’s the thing… where we live, kids have to apply, audition, submit report cards and test scores, go through interviews, and rank schools just to get a seat in PUBLIC middle school. It’s bonkersville.

 

During that process, I bounced my head off a cement retaining wall in a snow tubing accident (yes, I did say snow tubing, so embarrassing). As I researched how to recover from a concussion, I came across stories of people with traumatic brain injuries that induce savant abilities. For example, one guy hit his head diving into a pool and woke from a coma as a musical genius.

 

With all the pressure and non-sense of the middle school process, I could imagine parents wanting to bonk their kids on the head to make them automatic geniuses and guarantee a good spot in middle school. That’s silly of course, but the idea was intriguing.

 

EF: Do you feel that you were addressing the mounting pressures facing today’s youth to be uber-talented and excel in a particular area?

 

HS: Absolutely! It’s so easy to fall into. Parents see so much potential we want to foster when our kids are small. Plus, as a culture we have a fascination with precociously talented children. (Think of all the reality TV talent shows about kids who can sing opera or play violin or bake cakes like talented adults.) That pressure can make regular kids feel like sad-sack losers if they aren’t stellar at something when they’re really young.

 

In our eagerness to find what’s “special” and “amazing” about each unique individual, we run the risk of creating anxiety in kids who are trying to live up to impossible expectations. I worry that we lose sight that it’s good for kids to try lots of things, fail at some, excel at others, but mostly learn to work hard in order to be proficient at something they truly enjoy.

 

EF: Orpheus’s mother is a former pop star and his father is a successful music executive who expect Orpheus to carry on the family legacy. By contrast, Zimri is a “plebe” warehouse worker and natural-born musical genius whose grandmother is deeply opposed to her making music. What commentary are you making in Gifted about parental figures trying to control the future of their teens?

 

HS: My favorite parenting advice came from the director of my children’s pre-school who says, “Your job as a parent is to allow your children to become who they are.” Orpheus’s parents and Zimri’s grandmother do not subscribe to this idea.

 

Orpheus is expected to have a musical Acquired Savant Ability surgery in order to carry on the family reputation and preserve their wealth. (This is the futuristic equivalent of a parent dictating what university a child should go to and which careers are acceptable.) But Orpheus sees how his friends’ induced savant abilities are commoditized for money and fame that don’t necessarily bring them happiness.

 

On the other hand, Zimri is from the “plebe” class who have little education or opportunity beyond warehouse work. Her grandmother’s fears about Zimri utilizing her musical abilities are not unfounded. The stakes are very high. If Zimri gets caught making illegal music in this world she could be put in prison, or worse, have her brain scrubbed for infringing on strict copyright laws. (This set up is an exaggerated version of discouraging children from pursuing a talent or dream for fear they won’t make a decent living.) For Zimri, being denied the right to make music means she has to suppress a fundamental part of who she is and that makes her deeply unhappy.

 

As parents, we should be along for the ride, offering support and advice, while letting kids find their own path in life, which is a vital (and exciting) part of becoming an adult.

 

EF: Beneath all the science and tech of this futuristic society, Gifted is an old-fashioned story of star-crossed lovers. Why was it important for Orpheus and Zimri to come together in this book?

 

HS: When I’m writing, I love thinking about that moment in life when young people are beginning to pull away from their families to create their own tribes based on common interests and experiences. It’s such an important part of development. As people rely more on social media to find one another, I think we forget that sometimes teens greatly benefit from crossing boundaries (physical or metaphorical) in order to find like-minded people.

 

Orpheus and Zimri have to overcome many obstacles (he’s a privy, she’s a plebe; he’s posing as someone he’s not, she’s in a relationship with someone else; plus Orpheus’s father will do anything to keep them apart), but somehow they find one another and discover commonality in their passion for music. They’re kindred spirits—just kindred spirits in a fantastical futuristic world with flying cars and delivery drones and brain scrub technology!

 

hungryEF: Grandmothers play significant roles in both your futuristic YA novels, Hungry and Gifted. Why is the older generation important to your work?

 

I write about the future in order to see the present more clearly; but in order to contextualize the future, you have to dig into the past. This is true when writing about society and also when thinking about our personal lives. Understanding where you come from helps you figure out where you’re going. As parents, we need to help our teens see themselves as part of concentric circles of communities (family, school, neighborhood, cultural groups, etc.) that have meaningful histories. Grandparents are in a unique position to offer perspective about the past while being an additional source of support as teens forge ahead into their futures.

 

In our world, where young people feel pressure to be super stars, supporting teens to take their time to find a passion (and the people who share it) goes a long way toward fostering a healthy, happy transition into adulthood.

 

About Gifted (Feiwel & Friends, 2016)

An entitled boy whose talents are bought meets a girl whose gifts are natural in this futuristic thriller from H.A. Swain, the author of Hungry. In Orpheus Chanson’s world, geniuses and prodigies are no longer born or honed through hard work. Instead, procedures to induce Acquired Savant Abilities (ASAs) are now purchased by the privileged. And Orpheus’s father holds the copyright to the ASA procedure. Zimri Robinson, a natural musical prodigy, is a”plebe”—a worker at the enormous warehouse that supplies an on-line marketplace that has supplanted all commerce. However, her grueling schedule and her grandmother’s illness can’t keep her from making music—even if it is illegal. Orpheus and Zimri are not supposed to meet. He is meant for greatness; she is not. But sometimes, rules are meant to be broken.Gifted by H.A. Swain is a thriller, love story, and social experiment that readers will find gripping—and terrifying.

 

autor-close-upH.A. Swain writes books for children and teens. She is the author of the young adult novels Gifted and Hungry. Her illustrated children’s book, All Kinds of Kisses and How Many Hugs will be published in 2016 and 2017. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Follow her@HeatherASwain or stop by her Facebook fan page to say Hi!

 

Credit: Lou Rouse

Credit: Lou Rouse

Emily Franklin is the author of a novel, Liner Notes and a story collection, The Girls’ Almanac. She is also the author of sixteen young adult books including Last Night at the Circle Cinema, selected by the American Association of Jewish Libraries as a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for 2016, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and an ALAN Pick. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio and in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and in numerous literary magazines. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and four children and is at work completing a new novel and another story collection.