Seeing Stars (and Awards): Top Titles from 2018

By Libby Stille, Publicist

Today we share this year’s best and brightest books from Lerner Publishing Group.

Picture books

Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship

Can I Touch Your Hair?

Can I Touch Your Hair?, written by Charles Waters and Irene Latham and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, features poems written from the perspectives of two (fictional) fifth graders.

Irene and Charles don’t know each other . . . and they’re not sure they want to. But when they’re assigned a poetry project together, they begin exploring their different experiences of race, from hair to family dinners.

  • ★ “A fresh approach to exploring interracial communication. . . . A brave and touching portrayal worthy of sharing in classrooms across America.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
  • ★ “[D]elicately demonstrate[s] the complexity of identity and the power of communication to build friendships.”—starred, Publishers Weekly
  • Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction Honor Book
  • Kirkus Best Middle-Grade Books of 2018
  • 10 Books All Young Georgians Should Read
  • NCTE Notable Poetry Books

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday, written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Sarah Horne, is a hilarious picture book about a girl who wants to go to an amusement park for her birthday . . . but gets a chicken instead. But the chicken is no ordinary chicken!

  • ★ “[T]his utterly seamless blend of story and art is an ingenious treat for all ages.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
  • Kirkus Best Children’s Books of 2018

Seeing into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright

Seeing into Tomorrow

In Seeing into Tomorrow, Nina Crews pairs haiku by Richard Wright with photo-collages of contemporary African American boys in this accessible introduction to one of the most important African American writers of the twentieth century.

  • ★ “This loving, welcoming introduction to one of the most important American writers of the 20th century centers young black boys as supreme observers and interrogators of the natural wonders that surround them.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
  • ★ “These verses are an introduction to haiku as well as an entry point into Wright’s work; they can be read aloud to younger children or enjoyed independently by older readers.”—starred, School Library Journal
  • 2018 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
  • School Library Journal Best Book of 2018
  • NCTE Notable Poetry Books


The Great Rhino Rescue: Saving the Southern White Rhinos 

The Great Rhino Rescue

The Great Rhino Rescue by Sandra Markle follows civilians, volunteer organizations, and African governments as they work together to save endangered southern white rhinos.

  • ★ “[A] compelling, hopeful account of ecosystem defense.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
  • AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books Longlist

Snowy Owl Invasion! Tracking an Unusual Migration

Snowy Owl Invasion!

Snowy Owl Invasion! by Sandra Markle explores the reasons behind why snowy owls started showing up in places no one expected to find them—including Florida—in 2013.

  • ★ “Markle introduces the birds, the lemmings, and the science in lively, clear prose organized into chapters profusely illustrated with well-captioned photographs.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
  • ★ “[I]nterviews and accompanying photographs set the book apart and bring the story to life. The writing is easy to understand and never boring. . . . An excellent purchase for STEM collections.”—starred, School Library Journal
  • Kirkus Best Middle-Grade Books of 2018
  • NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12

Middle grade

The Flight of Swans

The Flight of Swans

A retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale Six Swans, Sarah McGuire’s The Flight of Swans follows Ryn as she seeks to save her family and her father’s kingdom from an evil queen.

  • ★ “[F]illed with magic, romance, and peril. . . . An imaginative retelling with an unforgettable heroine.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
  • 2018 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids

My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder

My Beijing

Originally published in Chinese, My Beijing is Nie Jun’s English language debut and is set in a hutong (traditional neighborhood) in Beijing.

  • ★ “Jun’s exquisite graphics . . . offer nonstop merriment and whimsical delight.”—starred, Booklist
  • “The stories move gracefully between reality and fantasy, a bit like Miyazaki movies, but sweeter.”—The New York Times Book Review
  • New York Public Library Best Books for Kids 2018
  • New York Times Kids Notables 2018

Young adult

The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary

The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary

NoNieqa Ramos’s debut novel, The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary, features the electric voice of Macy, who’s classified as “disturbed” at school. But Macy doesn’t care how others define her. In dictionary entries, Macy shares stories from her life and reveals how she sees the world.

  • ★ “Ramos is a voice to watch; her exceptional writing and compassionate realism will draw many readers . . .”—starred, Booklist
  • ★ “[A] harrowing, heartbreaking tour de force, a story of will and determination against all odds.”—starred, Foreword Reviews
  • ★ “Ramos’s stunning, gritty debut is equal parts hilarity, heartbreak, and hope.”—starred, VOYA
  • New York Public Library Best Books for Teens 2018

I, Claudia

I, Claudia

Mary McCoy’s I, Claudia is loosely based on the novel I, Claudius by Richard Graves. Claudia never wanted to be thrust into the political limelight at her prestigious high school, but through happenstance, luck, and a little scheming, she finds herself at the top of the high school food chain. She’s about to find out if absolute power really does corrupt absolutely.

  • ★ “Smart, witty, and featuring an unforgettable (and possibly unreliable) narrator, as well as a seamless stream of political history, the audience that finds this novel will be unable to put it down.”—starred, Booklist
  • ★ “[A] gripping political thriller . . . about power, corruption, and the choices we make both for ourselves and the ones we love.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
  • 2018 Booklist Editor’s Choice
  • 2018 Booklist Top 10 YA Books for Adults
  • Kirkus Best Young Adult Books of 2018

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