Finding Chika, by Mitch Albom
The best-selling author returns to nonfiction for the first time in more than a decade in this poignant memoir that celebrates Chika, a young Haitian orphan whose short life would forever change his heart. Told in hindsight, and through illuminating conversations with Chika herself, this is Albom at his most poignant and vulnerable. Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they form — a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made.
The Fall of Richard Nixon, by Tom Brokaw
The NBC News White House correspondent during the final year of Watergate, Brokaw writes of justice and judgment, in this nuanced and thoughtful chronicle, a close-up, personal account of the players, the strategies, and the highs and lows of the scandal that brought down a president. He recounts Nixon’s claims of executive privilege to withhold White House tape recordings of Oval Office conversations; the bribery scandal that led to the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew and the choice of Gerald Ford as vice president; Nixon’s firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox; travels with Henry Kissinger and how Nixon organized emergency relief for Israel during the Yom Kippur War in the midst of Watergate; Nixon’s “I am not a crook” speech; the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court that required Nixon to turn over the tapes; and other insider moments from this important and dramatic period.
Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives — and Save Theirs, by Richard Louv
Louv’s landmark book, Last Child in the Woods, inspired an international movement to connect children and nature. Our Wild Calling makes the case for protecting, promoting and creating a sustainable and shared habitat for all creatures — not out of fear, but out of love. Transformative and inspiring, this book points us toward what we all long for in the age of technology: real connection. Louv interviews researchers, theologians, wildlife experts, indigenous healers, psychologists and others to show how people are communicating with animals in ancient and new ways; how dogs can teach children ethical behavior; how animal-assisted therapy may yet transform the mental health field; and what role the human-animal relationship plays in our spiritual health.
Little Weirds, by Jenny Slate
This collection of essays is a little weird — and very funny. Slate, who won the 2014 Critics Choice Award for Best Actress in a Comedy, was a literature major at Columbia University, where she helped form the improv group Fruit Paunch. She was a cast member on Saturday Night Live, a regular on the Jimmy Fallon Show and had a recurring role on Bored to Death.
The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire, by Francesca Cartier Brickell
At the heart of this revealing tale of a jewelry dynasty — four generations, from revolutionary France to the 1970s — are the three brothers whose motto was “never copy, only create.” Thanks to their unique and complementary talents, they made their family firm internationally famous in the early days of the 20th century. Brickell, whose great-grandfather was the youngest of the Cartier brothers, has traveled the world researching her family’s history, tracking down those connected with her ancestors and discovering long-lost pieces of the puzzle along the way. This book is a magnificent, epic social history shown through the deeply personal lens of a legendary family.
Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory that Changed American History, by Brian Kilmeade
Recapturing this pivotal war that changed America forever, Kilmeade sheds light on the tightrope all war heroes walk between courage and calculation. Thanks to his storytelling, a new generation of readers will remember the Alamo. In March of 1836 Gen. Santa Anna led the Mexican Army in a massacre of more than 200 Texians, including Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett, besieged in a tiny adobe mission for 13 days. The defeat galvanized the surviving Texians, commanded by Sam Houston, who led them to a shocking victory in the Battle of San Jacinto, securing their freedom and paving the way for America’s growth.
On Swift Horses, by Shannon Pufahl
Muriel is newly married and restless, transplanted from her rural Kansas hometown to life in a dusty bungalow in San Diego. She begins slipping off to the Del Mar racetrack to bet and eavesdrop, learning the language of horses and gambling. Her freethinking mother died before Muriel’s 19th birthday and her brother-in-law, Julius, is testing his fate in Las Vegas, working at a local casino, where he falls in love with Henry while the tourists watch atomic tests from the rooftop. When Henry is run out of town as a young card cheat, Julius takes off to search for him in the plazas and dives of Tijuana, trading one city of dangerous illusions and indiscretions for another.
Beverly, Right Here, by Kate DiCamillo
In a crooked little house by a crooked little sea, a hardened young teen finds compassion, friends, family and the beginnings of a lightness of spirit that compels her to move forward and to reach back. She finds the courage to let people in and to open up to the world of possibility. In her signature style, the two-time Newbery-winning National Book Award honoree has again brought to life a story raw, incredibly sweet and sure to stick with the reader long after the final page. Fans of all of DiCamillo’s books are invited to meet her Friday, Jan. 10, at 5:30 p.m. at the Southern Pines Elementary School auditorium, 255 S. May Street. Sponsored by The Country Bookshop, tickets are available at www.ticketmesandhills.com. (Ages 10-14.)
Juno Valentine and the Fantastic Fashion Adventure, by Eva Chen
This second book from Instagram fashion superstar Eva Chen is part girl power, part history lesson and all fun! When Juno Valentine cannot decide what to wear for picture day, she gets help from her mom and her dad but also (with the help of her magic shoes) from Michelle Obama, Simone Biles and Audrey Hepburn. Perfect for back-to-school or any time a young listener might need a self-confidence boost. (Ages 4-7.)
The Crayons’ Christmas, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
’Tis the season for wish lists and holiday giving but everyone knows the best gifts are the ones you give. Duncan and all the crayons from the beloved The Day the Crayons Quit are back in this delightful holiday title that includes punch-out ornaments, letters to unfold and read and a pop-up Christmas tree. This little gem is sure to be a new holiday favorite. (Ages 4-8.)
Allies, by Alan Gratz
The ever-amazing master of historical fiction, Gratz has crafted another masterpiece. From land, air and sea, Allies follows the lives of four young people through the 24-hour period that will forever change their lives and the lives of so many others. Gratz fans of all ages will devour this one in one big gulp. (Ages 12 and up.)
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows, by Ryan Calejo
Charlie Hernandez heard Hispanic myths from his abuela since he was a very young boy. He always thought that the myths were just that — fun stories meant to entertain. Then, his parents disappeared, his house burned down, and to top it all off, he grew a pair of horns. Now, Charlie suspects his grandmother was not merely entertaining him; she was preparing him. To find out what is really going on, Charlie teams up with his school’s best investigative reporter (and his crush), Violet Rey. Together they embark on an adventure that will change their lives. From talking skeletons to witches and queens, they both will have to come to terms with their new reality and learn how to survive in it. Review by Annabelle Black. (Ages 10-14.) PS
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally