Some of Our Favorite Books of 2019 (so far...)
At Red Balloon, one of the things we love to do is to share our favorite new books with you. Each month we feature a few books in our newsletter, but we have so many more we’d like you and the young readers in your life to know about! In this issue of Book Gathering , you’ll find books published this year that we highly recommend. If you’re wondering how to fill your summer days, this list is a good start.
Picture Books
A Normal Pig
By K-Fai Steele

A sweet book about differences, microaggression, and belonging. Pip and the other pigs are adorable, and make the story very approachable to a large number of readers.    — Angela (RBB Staff)
Bear Came Along
By Richard T. Morris, LeUyen Pham (Illus.)

A cumulative story starring a whole cast of adorable woodland friends including Bear, Frog, Beaver, the turtles, and two raccoons! LeUyen Pham's illustrations are wonderful — the colors and textures she uses add delightful new dimensions to the story. A very fun book to share with young readers.    — Angela (RBB Staff)
Dandy
By Ame Dyckman, Charles Santoso (Illus.)

A hilarious tale of a daddy and daughter! Daddy takes his lawn very seriously, but Sweety is now best friends with a dandelion called Charlotte. What will Daddy choose: his lawn or his daughter?  A laugh out loud story with vibrant illustrations.   — Angela (RBB Staff)
How to Walk a Dump Truck
By Peter Pearson, Mircea Catusanu (Illus.)

A very silly read-aloud from local author Peter Pearson. If you've ever wondered how to make a good forever-home for a dump truck, look no further! Give this to any truck-obsessed little one — especially those who already have or are angling for pets of their own.   — Angela (RBB Staff)
A Piglet Named Mercy
By Kate DiCamillo, Chris Van Dusen (Illus.)

Could there be a cuter pig?! I’ve loved the Mercy Watson series for several years and now I love Mercy even more. This picture book tells the very sweet story of how piglet Mercy came to be part of the Watson household and how the ordinary quickly becomes special with people (and pigs) you love.  — Holly (RBB Staff)
Middle Grade
New Kid
by Jerry Craft

Jordan Banks is starting a new school—not the art school he begged to go to, but a fancy private school where he turns out to be one of one of very few black kids (and one the only ones on financial aid). Navigating the difference between his neighborhood friends and the kids at his new school is hard enough, even without the constant microaggressions from teachers and other students. Jordan works out his feelings through the comics he draws and by talking to family and friends, trying to figure out what kind of "new kid" he wants to be. Smart and very funny! — Lily (RBB Staff)
This Was Our Pact
by Ryan Andrews

In town, there is a legend that the lanterns that are sent floating down the river on the night of the Autumnal Equinox eventually float into the night sky and become stars. Every year the boys try to follow them, but this year is different. Ben and Nathaniel follow the floating lanterns down the river only to find many surprises along the way. This has feelings of My Neighbor Totoro , and spooky nighttime hi-jinx. Recommended for those who love a little silliness with their magical realism.  — Julie (RBB Staff)
Pie in the Sky
by Remy Lai

Jingwen is having a rough year. His family just moved from China to Australia, he barely knows any English, and he misses his late father terribly. To cope with it, he decides to make all of his father's favorite cakes. The only catch? His mother has forbidden him from using the oven alone. Told partially in illustrations and partially in text, Jingwen's story is one of finding your place when you feel completely lost and learning to forgive yourself and others for their mistakes. A little salty, very sweet, and as comforting as a perfectly made cake — Lily (RBB Staff)
Spark 
By Sarah Beth Durst

When quiet Mina bonds with a fiery lightning dragon, it seems like a mistake—to everyone but Mina and the dragon, Pixit. Mina convinces her family to let her go to a school to train with Pixit despite their doubts, but as her training progresses she uncovers a terrible secret about the cost of her world's peacefulness. As Mina tries to alert the unwilling authorities to the consequences of their actions, she discovers the strength—and the lightning—she has inside.     — Lily (RBB Staff)
Where the Heart Is 
By Jo Knowles

It's the first day of summer and Rachel's thirteenth birthday. She's ready for the best summer ever, but thirteen is starting to feel like an unlucky age—her parents are arguing about money, her summer job taking care of animals includes a probably-possessed pig, and her forever best friend, Micah, wants them to be...more. But Rachel doesn't feel that way about him—or about any other boy—and she's not ready for what that means. With everything in her world changing, Rachel has to figure out what her future will look like and who she's going to become. A wonderful story of friendship, identity, and growing up over the course of one beautiful and heartbreaking summer.     — Lily (RBB Staff)
Young Adult
Like a Love Story 
by Abdi Nazeiman

In the middle of the AIDS crisis, three friends try to figure out who they are and what they're going to do about it. With men all over the city wasting away, being gay seems like a death sentence. Reza is terrified of his desires; Judy is worried for her beloved HIV-positive uncle; Art wants to go somewhere where he can be openly gay and also happy. They must find a way forward together, even as a love triangle makes everything complicated. Come for the Madonna and fabulous fashion, stay for the queer history, including the '89-'90 ACT UP protests. Unflinching, lovely, and devastating.     — Lily (RBB Staff)
Opposite of Always
By Justin A. Reynolds

From the first chapter, this book had me hooked. A teenage twist on a Groundhog Day scenario where Jack keeps reliving the moment he met Kate. Each time, he has the opportunity to save her life...or does he?   — Stacy (RBB Staff)
We Set the Dark on Fire 
By Tehlor Kay Mejia

What an incredible debut book. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to start reading the next book in the duology right away! Mejia has created complicated, interesting characters and situation. The result is a sort of Handmaid's Tale with a YA twist. Dani Vargus is graduating at the top of her class into a world where she is faced with so many difficult choices. The unexpected turns her life takes will make you think deeply about freedom, privilege, family, social norms, and power. A gripping and timely tale!   —Holly (RBB Staff)
The Princess and the Fangirl 
By Ashley Poston

Absolutely loved this modern retelling of The Prince and The Pauper . Set against the backdrop of ComicCon, this book has such much heart and love for nerds and nerd culture. I laughed. I cried. I cheered. I love this book! —Jaya (RBB Staff)
This Time Will Be Different
By Misa Sugiura

CJ Katsuyama is officially on my list of favorite narrators! The stakes are high, the social topics are relevant, the teenaged relationships are COMPLICATED, and throughout it all the jokes are hilarious. A timely, delightful read!     — Angela (RBB Staff)
We Contain Multitudes 
By Sarah Henstra

When Adam and Jonathan are paired up as pen pals in their high school English class, neither is prepared for the relationship that blossoms out of their correspondence. Embracing the confidentiality that comes with letter writing, the boys open up to each other about everything and nothing all at once—things they wouldn't say to one another in person. Like how Adam's uncle hurts him, and how Jonathan is afraid to stand up to his bullies. The more they share, the more they fall in love...and the harder it is to keep their relationship a secret from the world outside of their letters. This is a gorgeous, romantic story that celebrates the written word and the preciousness of first love. —Kelsie (RBB Staff)
Adult
Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia
By Christina Thompson

Sea People is a history of a history—the story of centuries of explorers, anthropologists, folklorists, archaeologists, and wayfinders trying to figure out how humans first discovered and settled upon the far-flung islands of Polynesia. With thousands of miles of empty ocean separating them and only stars and swells to steer by, it seems like an impossible task, and has proven a tantalizing mystery for generations. Thompson takes us through all of the theories chronologically, giving us a clear account of the ways they've been influenced by cultural prejudices, scientific advancements, and lack of data. A fascinating read . — Lily (RBB Staff)
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
By Ruth Reichl

I always love Ruth Reichl's writing...she is brilliant at being brutally honest about herself, relaying her experiences in delicious detail, warts and all. This memoir covers the period in which she was Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine, a venture she took on without a shred of business background. But she had a vision—wanting to expand upon an already-established journal, helping it to grow in appeal for 21st century readers. She was not a traditionalist: she took risks, learned about the nature of magazine publication, hired a great staff, and put her own stamp on a magazine she had revered since childhood. A great read, with a few recipes tossed in. Yum! — Susan (RBB Staff)
On our 2019 Summer Reading Bingo sheet, there are two squares that ask you to read a Red Balloon recommendation!

We've made a list of books for all different ages (including adults!) that we think would make great summer reading—check them out!
The  Scholastic Summer Read-a-Palooza   unites kids, parents, educators, public librarians, community partners, and booksellers in a nationwide movement to get books to kids in need during the summer, keeping every child reading.

At Red Balloon, we're running a book drive benefiting CommonBond Communities 's Study Buddies Program! We're offering a 25% discount on all full-priced books purchased to donate to the Read-a-Palooza book drive.