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PITTMAN PICKS

Ghost

 

Author: Jason Reynolds

Genre: Middle Grade Novel

Target Audience: Middle School and Older

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Publication Year: 2016

 

Ghost: that's the nickname of Castle Cranshaw, the fleet-footed central character of Ghost, the first in Jason Reynold's Track series.  Ghost is a character whose past pains and current predicaments have made life flat-out tough but whose future may be beaming with potential if he can stay on the right track (pun-intended).  And with the help of Coach Brody, Ghost and the other athletes might see that competing in those striped lanes may be the key to overcoming the hurdles in their lives (no pun intended).

 

As a fan of track and field, it's good to see the sport get its due in literature, and young people involved in track and field will gravitate toward Ghost.  And so will young people who are trying to navigate past hurts while trying to nurture their natural gifts. 

 

 

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Pennies in a Jar

 

Author: Dori Chaconas

Illustrator: Ted Lewin

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers

Publication Year: 2007

 

When a boy's father goes off to fight in World War II, he's confronted with many fears.  But with his father's birthday coming soon, the boy saves money to buy him a gift that his mother will send oversees— a picture of himself overcoming one of his greatest fears: being around horses. 

 

Readers will enjoy the honesty of the central character (whose name we're never given) of Dori Chaconas and Ted Lewin's Pennies in a Jar.  The key statement of the story, If something is important enough, you just have to do it, will encourage children who struggle with fear, and all readers will enjoy how the boy identifies with his father through an act of courage.  Lewin's marvelous illustrations are reminiscent of Norman Rockwell's work, and Chaconas provides an excellent author's note about life for American families from 1939 to 1945. 

 

This is a humble, winsome book that will stick with readers for both its story and its artwork, and for history buffs and those fond of horses, I'm sure it will become an instant favorite!

 

 

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Game Changers

 

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrator: James E. Ransome

Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Year: 2018

 

Many picture books in my collection are nonfiction books, and I've learned that such books are a great source of information for readers of all ages.  Husband-and-wife team of James E. Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome's Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams is no exception, providing a biography of the tennis stars that highlights their milestones on the court and their impact off the court.  An informative afterword accompanies the illustrated narrative, and readers and tennis fans young and older will be inspired by the Williams sisters' journey to tennis stardom and the special relationship that they share.  After your child puts down the book, they may next pick up a tennis racket!

 

 

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