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Staff Reads: September 2020

What has the CBC been reading lately?


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press, May 2020)

Delving into familiar stories can feel safe, but this dive back into Panem was nothing of the sort. A tragic coming-of-evil story, a psychological exploration of an individual, a society, and a detailed look into violence through the lens of one man, Coriolanus. Not a comfort read, but definitely engaging, entertaining, and gripping.


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015)

Although it came out in 2015, I am just now finding All the Bright Places. This book got to me. From its honest portrayal of Mental Health struggles to the way it showcases the nuance of label, image, and how we categorize ourselves, All the Bright Places makes you question everything around you.


Paper Planes by Jim Helmore and Richard Jones (Peachtree Publishers, March 2020)

This is a charming story about young friendship that turns long distance, and their inspiring imagination. Mia and Ben love making paper airplanes together and seeing how far they can make them fly. But their quest to make one that flies across the lake is cut short when one of them moves away. A great story that navigates maintaining friendships even from afar.


Bear by Ben Queen; illus. Joe Todd Stanton (BOOM! Studios, Aug 2020)

This graphic novel about a guide dog’s devotion to his owner, left me reaching for tissues. Bear loves Patrick and helps him experience the world. One day, Bear’s vision vanishes. To stay with Patrick, Bear will journey into a magical forest in search of a spirit who may return his sight. This emotional epic, rendered in clean warm artwork, will leave feelings with middle grade readers of all ages.


I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott; illus. Sydney Smith (Neal Porter Books / Holiday House, September 2020)

From start to finish, this book is perfect. The text and illustrations work in absolute harmony to tell the story of a boy with a stutter. Poet Jordan Scott shares this autobiographical tale in elegant prose. It is moving and so thoughtful. Sydney Smith has truly outdone himself with the evocative watercolor and gouache art. I will love reading this book again and again.


Odin, Dog Hero of the Fires by Emma Bland Smith; illus. Carrie Salazar (Greystone, 2019) 

This is a fantastic story about a truly loyal dog. Despite the danger that he was with the fires spreading in and the desperate pleas of his human family to evacuate, Odin refused to abandon his post of protecting the goats. Read on to discover Odin’s feats in successfully keeping the goats safe and even looking after a few fawns too.


Z is for Zoom: A Scientific Alphabet of How Things Go from Alternator to Zerk Fitting by Ashley Parlett Malec; illus. Teresa Bellon (Sourcebooks Explore, August 2020)

A fun, smart book about car engines and the entire drive train — you know, those things you’ve paid to repair all these years! From Quarter Panel to Electric Motor, this gem covers it all with challenging vibrancy.

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