Launching 2022 into the Stars

By Megan Ciskowski, Associate Publicist

The year has started with a smattering of starred titles. Today we share our books that received starred reviews in the first half of 2022!

Titles from Lerner Publishing Group



Grade Level: 9 – 12
Age Level: 14 – 18

This singular graphic novel by Canizales follows Andrea, a young Indigenous Colombian woman, who has returned to the land she calls home. She comes to mourn her child—and to capture evidence of the illegal mining that displaced her family.

★”Simply powerful, Colombian artist Canizales’ illuminating, expressively rendered graphic novel translated from the Spanish contains moments of great beauty (particularly Andrea’s memories of her husband and father) among numerous scenes of deep anguish . . . A brutal, vital text.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

Gold Mountain

Grade Level: 6 – 12
Age Level: 11 – 18

Debut author Betty G. Yee provides a suspenseful depiction of a pivotal point in US History. In the 1860s, Tam Ling Fan needs money to help her father. Disguised as a boy, she travels from China to America to take a dangerous job as a laborer on the Transcontinental Railroad.

★”An exceptionally told story that will satisfy readers of history, mystery, and adventure while providing food for thought.”—starred, Booklist

The Deep Blue Between

Grade Level: 7 – 12
Age Level: 12 – 18

In 1890s West Africa, twin sisters Hassana and Husseina are torn apart by violence and must build individual lives for themselves an ocean apart. But the choices they make may eventually reunite them. Author Ayesha Harruna Attah gives readers a powerful portrait of fiercely independent sisters offers a rare glimpse of empowered young women in 19th-century Ghana, Nigeria, and Brazil.

★”This sweeping story is rich in detail, and the settings are vividly evoked. . . . A successful exploration of rich cultural experiences and enduring familial connections.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews


Resistance to Slavery: From Escape to Everyday Rebellion

Grade Level: 4 – 8
Age Level: 9 – 14

In addition to slave uprisings and escapes on the Underground Railroad, enslaved people also resisted their mistreatment through small acts in their everyday lives. Discover the many forms of resistance to slavery in the latest series from Read Woke ™ Books.

★”[A] compelling shift in how this period of American history has traditionally been told. . . . An excellent starting point for researchers.”—starred, Booklist

Call Me Miss Hamilton: One Woman’s Case for Equality and Respect

Grade Level: 2 – 5
Age Level: 7 – 11

Award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford tells the story of Civil Rights activist Mary Hamilton, a Black woman who took a stand for respect—with a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States—and won. The distinctive digital scratchboard illustrations from Jeffery Boston Weatherford paired with archival photographs, honor this unsung heroine.

★”Weatherford introduces young readers to this lesser-known changemaker who challenged the court system for due respect. . . . Lending to this powerful story is mixed-media artwork that blends expressive black-and-white scratchboard illustrations with tinted photos from the time period.”—starred, Booklist

Make Way for Animals!: A World of Wildlife Crossings

Grade Level: K – 3
Age Level: 5 – 9

Around the world, roads have cut off animals from the resources they need to survive. Fortunately, this problem has also inspired some creative solutions! Author Meeg Pincus and illustrator Bao Luu take readers on a tour of wildlife crossings from badger bridges to penguin pipelines.

★”Everything readers need to know about wildlife crossings—what they are, why they are needed, who makes them happen—in a book all libraries should own.”—starred, School Library Journal

Washed Ashore: Making Art from Ocean Plastic

Grade Level: 1 – 4
Age Level: 6 – 10

In this inspiring picture book, author and photographer Kelly Crull combines biology and art in with photos of incredible animal sculptures created from ocean trash. The sculptures are accompanied by key facts about the featured animals and tips for how to reduce plastic use.

★”An excellent work on an unusual topic and a must for school and library shelves.”—starred, Booklist

Attention Hijacked: Using Mindfulness to Reclaim Your Brain from Tech

Grade Level: 8 – 12
Age Level: 13 – 18

For years, scientists have warned that too much screen time negatively impacts our health. Attention Hijacked explores exactly how technology affects consumers, dispels misinformation, and helps readers make personal usage decisions. Author Erica B. Marcus has spent over 15 years as a classroom teacher, mindfulness educator/director, and a wilderness youth therapy field guide.

★”Cover[s] various aspects of mindfulness, with Marcus advising students what to do about all the busyness we face in this tech-fueled world. . . . lively and deeply relevant work that is a must for school and public libraries.”—starred, Booklist

How to Be a Difficult Bitch: Claim Your Power, Ditch the Haters, and Feel Good Doing It

Grade Level: 9 – 12
Age Level: 14 – 18

Being a powerhouse is a choice, a lifestyle, a code of ethics. It takes work, a thick skin, and perseverance. Authors Halley Bondy, Mary C. Fernandez, Sharon Lynn Pruitt-Young, and Zara Hanawalt describe the basics of being a Difficult Bitch, from school to friends to body to life in this new guide.

★”A thoughtful, engaging, bad-ass crash course in moxie, self-confidence, and self-love.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

Quiet Fire: Emily Dickinson’s Life and Poetry

Grade Level: 6 – 12
Age Level: 11 – 18

Emily Dickinson is revered as one of America’s greatest and most original poets. Using primary source materials, including the poet’s own letters and poems, authors Carol Dommermuth-Costa and Anna Landsverk present the life and art of Emily Dickinson to a new generation.

★”Dommermuth-Costa and Landsverk’s research on the nonreligious, nature-loving, and doting daughter is revelatory; their back matter is impeccable; and the fascinating portrait they paint of the often misunderstood author is mesmerizing. . . . An excellent biography for all YA collections.”—starred, School Library Journal

Science and the Skeptic: Discerning Fact from Fiction

Grade Level: 8 – 12
Age Level: 13 – 18

Fake news and pseudoscience have unprecedented reach on social media platforms. Chemistry professor Marc Zimmer explains how science is done, why some people want to trick others, and why false information is dangerous. He empowers readers to identify trustworthy sources with 25 easy-to-follow rules.

★”[D]oes a thorough and extremely effective job of explaining the difference between scientific fact and fiction. . . . A very helpful guide for a very timely problem.”—starred, Booklist

★”This slim but rich book on approaching science news with healthy skepticism would be an excellent and welcome addition to junior high or high school nonfiction collections.”—starred, School Library Journal

Where Have All the Birds Gone?: Nature in Crisis

Grade Level: 8 – 12
Age Level: 13 – 18

In the face of rapidly declining bird populations, author Rebecca E. Hirsch shares the vast impacts birds have on ecosystems, food systems, and our mental health and what we can do to protect them.

★”Coverage of each topic smoothly incorporates history, science, case studies, and/or work being done to address the problem. . . . It’s impossible to read this and not recognize the seriousness of the problem, but Hirsch also highlights birds’ resilience when given a helping hand.”—starred, Booklist

★”This pithy book more than fulfills its promise to introduce readers to the importance of birds, the state of avian research, and how they can contribute to birds’ well-being. . . . Well-informed inspiration.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

★”Scientist and naturalist Hirsch uses a clear and straightforward style to describe factors leading to the loss of three billion North American birds since 1970 and the meaning of such a catastrophic loss to the environment. . . . [E]asy to read and understand on many levels, including for those beginning to study environmental issues.”—starred, School Library Journal

Titles from Kar-Ben


The Button Box

Grade Level: 3 – 7
Age Level: 8 – 13

With the help of a magic button, Jewish Ava and Muslim Nadeem go back in time to ancient Morocco to help Prince Abdur Rahman escape to Spain and fulfill his destiny. Fawzia Gilani-Williams and Bridget Hodder bring this magical tale to life!

★”Both the modern and medieval characters are presented in emotionally charged language as unique individuals with strong personalities.” —starred, Kirkus Reviews

Raquela’s Seder

Grade Level: K – 3
Age Level: 5 – 9

Joel Edward Stein’s picture book follows Raquela, a young girl who yearns to celebrate a Passover seder, but Inquisition-era Spain is a time when Jews must hide their religion. Her clever papa, the best fisherman in town, creates a unique celebration for his family.

★”Thoughtful and tender, this beautiful story of hope is a valuable addition to all collections.”—starred, School Library Journal

For more stars and awards visit our recently recognized page!

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