Newbery Contender: “The Lion of Mars” by Jennifer Holm

Book review: The Lion of Mars by Jennifer Holm (tween fiction)

Jennifer Holm has already received Newbery honors for three previous novels – Our Only May Amelia, Penny from Heaven, and Turtle in Paradise. In addition to her novels, she collaborates with her brother Matthew on several graphic novel series: Babymouse, Sunny, and Squish. She is sure to be a Newbery Award contender for her latest novel, published in January 2021, The Lion of Mars.

This sci-fi adventure is about the life of Bell, an eleven-year-old cat lover who lives on Mars. His days are taken up with assigned chores such as collecting the extremely fine Mars dust from all the vents in the underground compound, school lessons, helping the community’s gardener with the algae and vegetable farm, and taking care of Leo, the only cat.

The Americans on Mars are not alone – there are also French, Chinese, Norwegian, and Russian communities, but because of wars and disagreements on Earth, they have been told not to communicate with the others. The children of the U.S. colony have only heard that the others are dangerous and not to be trusted. When all the American adults come down with a mysterious illness, Bell becomes an unlikely hero and manages to reach the French colony and enlist their help. He and the other children are very surprised to learn that … well, I won’t spoil the story here.

Holm has once again woven a unique and compelling tale for the adventurous middle grade reader. There is just enough intrigue to keep the pages turning, and more than enough sentiment for us to welcome Bell and his comrades into our hearts. Its speculation about what life on Mars would be like for earthlings is funny, informed, inventive – all the elements of a great book for kids.

Check out The Lion of Mars and let us know what you think – what was most interesting about life on Mars? Is it what you imagined? Were you as surprised as I was when you read the truth?

Happy Reading!

~ Ms. Laura

Newbery Bingo Challenge:

Help us celebrate 100 years of Newbery Medal winners by competing in our bingo challenge! Download and print off your bingo board and try to read as many of these Newbery Award winning books as you can before January 24, 2022. You can download a copy of our Newbery Bingo Board here:

Newbery Contender: “The Shape of Thunder” by Jasmine Warga

Book review: The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga (J fiction)

Jasmine Warga’s Other Words for Home received a Newbery Honor in 2020 for its honest, moving portrayal of the experiences of a young Syrian refugee whose outside perspective provides reflections of not just the Syrian civil war, but American culture. Warga’s latest, The Shape of Thunder, too, gives an honest, if painful, reflection of American culture that is deserving of 2021’s Newbery Award.

Cora misses her big sister Mabel terribly. Mabel was her best friend and the only other person in their small Ohio town who understood what it was like to be a child of the only Muslim immigrants around. Last November, though, Mabel was killed in a school shooting, and twelve-year-old Cora is still learning how to live with her grief and fear. As the one-year anniversary approaches, the pain only seems to get worse. Cora misses her former best friend, Quinn, too, but can’t admit it to herself. It was Quinn’s brother who killed Mabel.

Quinn misses Cora, and she misses her big brother, Parker. She misses who Parker was before he started isolating himself in his room, spending all of his time on his computer, and saying awful things about people like Cora’s family. She misses how things were before Parker did the worst thing a person can do. But Quinn believes she’s found a way that she can fix everything: she has reason to believe that time travel is possible. She needs the help of Cora’s scientific mind, though, for it to work.

The Shape of Thunder follows Cora and Quinn as they attempt go back to that fateful morning and repair what was destroyed. But, even more, this novel follows two families and their surrounding community as they continue to grapple in their own ways with the aftermath of a tragedy that has become all too familiar. Warga skillfully and delicately handles these heavy topics, demonstrating their immensity and complexity as experienced by two twelve-year-old girls.

The Shape of Thunder is the very definition of a Newbery Award-worthy book. Warga has developed an affecting portrait of modern American life that is not just a stunning contribution to children’s literature, but to American literature as a whole.

~ Ms. Louise

Newbery Bingo Challenge:

Help us celebrate 100 years of Newbery Medal winners by competing in our bingo challenge! Download and print off your bingo board and try to read as many of these Newbery Award winning books as you can before January 24, 2022. You can download a copy of our Newbery Bingo Board here:

Newbery Contender: “Amber & Clay” by Laura Amy Schlitz

Book review: Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz (tween fiction)

Laura Amy Schlitz is the author of numerous award-winning books, including the Newbery award-winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, and the Newbery honor Splendors and Glooms. She also wrote the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and a National Jewish Book Award Winner, The Hired Girl, and received a Cybils award for A Drowned Maiden’s Hair: A Melodrama. Her writing is broad in scope and captures many different points in history and styles of writing.

In Amber & Clay, the story follows Rhaskos and Melisto, unalike in many ways, with profoundly different lives, and never truly meeting within the narrative, but whose stories are entwined in many curious ways. Rhaskos is a Thracian slave who is torn from his mother and sold to a wealthy family who, after a series of miserable years, sells him to a Greek potter as a stable boy. Treated badly by those around him, Rhaskos becomes enamored with drawing horses, and strikes up a friend with the old philosopher, Socrates. Melisto is the daughter of an aristocrat, spoiled by her father but hated by her mother and ultimately sent off to serve Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, where she befriends a bear and a kindly monk, and her life takes an unexpected turn. Ghosts, gods, and a wily philosopher ultimately weave the two children’s stories together.

Written in both prose and verse, with the Greek god Hermes chiming in on occasion, Schlitz moves between writing styles with ease. Illustrations by Julia Iredale of imaginary artifacts included with each chapter help paint a vivid portrait of ancient Greek life and will be sure to capture the imagination of any reader who has read Percy Jackson but wants something slightly more grounded but with a definite historical backbone.

Let us know what you think of this one! How did you like the illustrations? Do you think they seemed like things that one might find if you were at an archeological dig in Greece? There’s a certain plot twist halfway through the book that certainly surprised me. Did it surprise you?

~ Ms. Emily

Newbery Bingo Challenge:

Help us celebrate 100 years of Newbery Medal winners by competing in our bingo challenge! Download and print off your bingo board and try to read as many of these Newbery Award winning books as you can before January 24, 2022. You can download a copy of our Newbery Bingo Board here:

Hudson Library Mock Newbery: 100 Years of The John Newbery Medal

In 1922, the Children’s Librarians’ Section of the American Library Association created an award named for an eighteenth-century English bookseller, with the purpose of encouraging original creative work in books for children. It was the first, and is still the foremost, award of its kind.

Now overseen by ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), the Newbery Award and Newbery Honor seals are sure signs of excellence in writing by an American author. From the first – The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon – to the most recent – When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller – the Newbery awards represent both the hard work and passion of the committee members who read hundreds of books to whittle the field down to a handful, and the distinctive connection between an author and their readers as they explore worlds both real and imagined, together.

On January 24, 2022, the current Newbery committee will announce their choices for the Newbery Medal and Honor books of 2021. Join us for the next few weeks as we discuss some of our favorite books of 2021, maybe throw in your own comments and suggestions, and then we can meet virtually for one last celebration of the year’s best books – let’s see if we can predict what the next Newbery winner will be!

Possible Newbery Contenders:

From November 22 to January 17, we will publish a new blog post every Monday that will talk about a book that the Hudson children’s librarians think has a chance at winning. Titles include:

Nov 22 – Amber and Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz

Nov 29 – The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga

Dec 6 – The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm

Dec 13 – Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt

Dec 20 – Kaleidoscope by David Selznick

Dec 27 – Red, White and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

Jan 3 – The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo

Jan 10 – Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Jan 17 – Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Newbery Bingo Challenge:

Help us celebrate 100 years of Newbery Medal winners by competing in our bingo challenge! Download and print off your bingo board and try to read as many of these Newbery Award winning books as you can before January 24, 2022. You can download a copy of our Newbery Bingo Board here:

More Important Dates:

January 21: Hudson Library’s Mock Newbery virtual discussion. Details forthcoming.

January 24: ALA announces the winner of the Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, Martin Luther King, Pura Belpre, and many more annual awards for children’s books.

February – December 2022: Watch for special events, challenges, and opportunities to celebrate the Newbery with your Hudson Library Youth Services librarians!

Haunted Gingerbread Houses 2021!

This year’s annual Haunted Gingerbread Houses program took place virtually again, with families creating their own masterpieces, and then joining a Zoom program to show off their fun creations!

Each family was given an empty creamer container and then had to supply all of the other materials and decorations on their own.

We were so grateful to everyone who participated and so delighted with the unique houses!

We posted large pictures of each haunted gingerbread house on the front windows of the library for the week leading up to Halloween. Here they are:

Thanks so much to our participating families! Happy Halloween, everyone!

Our Brand-New Storywalk!

You are invited to visit the Hudson Library’s brand-new permanent outdoor storywalk! We are so excited to offer this service, featuring a new children’s book to read and discover each month. Our very first storybook selection is on display now. The storywalk is located on the library’s back lawn, along the accessible walking path between Clinton Street and Village Way. Enjoy!

Our first book is Beatrice Was a Tree by Joyce Hesselberth. We hope you have a fun time reading it on the storywalk! If you would like to check out a copy, you can find it in our catalog here. Happy reading!

Lego Challenge Winners 2021!

This year, we received 70 entries for our virtual Lego Challenge! There were two main categories, and entries were evaluated virtually by a panel of a dozen judges made up of library staff members from nearly every department in the building.

The first category was “Tales & Tails”. Participants created Lego scenes based on their own interpretations of this year’s summer learning program theme. We separated entries into four age divisions.

The second category was the ever-popular “Minifigure Challenge”! Participants set up their Lego minifigs in all sorts of fun and funny adventures around their home. This category had so many awesome entries that the judges had a hard time deciding!

And finally, we have a few honorable mentions, which were creations that did not quite fit into the categories but were great nonetheless!

Thank you to all of the children who participated this year, submitting photos of their creations, and then visiting the library to see all of the photo entries in the windows. We appreciate you and are proud of your creativity!

Here are the winners! Congratulations to all! …

Ages 4-6, Tales & Tails:

First Place: “Zoo Animals Escape to the Library” by Tessa T., age 4 …

First Runner-Up: “Jack and Annie’s Magic Treehouse in the Amazon” by Nadia T., age 6 …

Second Runner-Up: “The Tale of the Haunted Clock Tower” by Michael R., age 6 …

Ages 7-8, Tales & Tails:

First Place: “Dive Into a Good Book” by Levi K., age 8 …

First Runner-Up: “Tail Island” by Connor S., age 7 …

Second Runner-Up: “Library Adventures” by Levi K., age 8 …

Ages 9-10, Tales & Tails:

First Place: “Tales and Tails: The Learnéd Menagerie” by Liam W., age 10 …

First Runner-Up: “Library “Create Your Own Animal Challenge” Comes off the Page” by Mia T., age 9 …

Second Runner-Up: “Tales from the Future” by Noah S., age 9 …

Ages 11-12, Tales & Tails:

First Place: “Mythical Library” by Emma S., age 12 …

First Runner-Up: “The Hunger Games” by Carson F., age 12 …

Second Runner-Up: “Where the Red Fern Le-Grows” by Tristan D., age 12 …

Minifigure Adventures! (all ages):

First Place, 2-way tie!: “The Miner” by Karthik B., age 11, AND “Piggy Bank Heist” by Maxwell M., age 7 …

First Runner-Up, 4-way tie!: “Baking Party Baking Fun” by Tessa T., age 4 …

… AND “Battle for the Backyard” by Maxwell M, age 7 …

… AND “Cliffhanger” by Kishore B., age 11 …

… AND “Fish Life” by Connor S., age 7 …

Second Runner-Up, 4-way tie!: “‘Camo’ See Me?” by Noah S., age 9 …

… AND “Failed Potions Class” by Mia T., age 9 …

… AND “Smores!” by Michael R., age 6 …

… AND “Snack Mission” by Michael R., age 6 …

Judge’s Honorable Mentions:

“Burnt Chicken: Who wants chicken? AHHHH! It’s burned!” by Noel O., age 7 …

“Gemstone Falls” by Elizabeth E., age 7 …

“Snow Day / Fun Day in the Sun” by Jude J., age 8 …

Great job, everyone! We hope to see you in our virtual monthly Lego Club and also at next summer’s Lego Challenge. Keep building and creating!

Note: For books about building with Legos, take a look at our online library catalog here.

A Few Favorite Fall Picture Books

Here we are in Fall again! The season is a winner each year, with its colorful leaves, festive pumpkins, chilly evenings, and great seasonal picture books! All of the things that make the autumn season special are celebrated in a variety of picture books that you can share with your child.

Below is a list of some of our favorites, ideal for preschool through grades 2 or 3. Click on the book title to access our online catalog and reserve a copy.

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

Little Elliot, Fall Friends by Mike Curato

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall

Fall Leaves Fall! by Zoe Hall

In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes

Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley

Why Do Leaves Change Color? by Betsy Maestro

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka

Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins

Leaves by David Ezra Stein

Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer

Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

Stop in the Children’s Room or call for further recommendations or assistance. Happy reading!

Fall Storytimes: In-Person or Virtual!

Registration for our Fall session of storytimes is now underway! We will be offering both in-person and virtual options this Fall. The Fall session runs from September 13 through November 8.

Important note: For in-person library programs, including storytimes, face masks must be worn by all attendees ages 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status.

For more information about dates, times, schedules, and registration, please see our storytime page here.