On May 1st, 1996 I was at a James Taylor concert, because that is just the kind of badass I was at the age of 15. The grownups sitting around me spent the duration of the opening act placing bets as to how many songs into his opening set it would take James to roll up the sleeves of his button-down shirt; such is the level of riveting discourse among the true JT faithful. When the man himself finally took to the stage, he leaned into the microphone and said in a monotone “So today is May 1st. Every year growing up, my father used to say ‘hooray, hooray, the first of May. Outdoor fucking starts today.'” Then he launched directly into Sweet Baby James. May 1st was never the same for me, and now it won’t be the same for you. You’re welcome. You’re welcome.
When you’re not busy engaging in singer-songwriter-sanctioned actions of public nudity this month, check out these May new releases:
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb. A smart road trip bildungsroman crossed with a YA romance wrapped in a journey through grief towards finding yourself; this book has it all and does it all, and so very well.
The Cost of all Things by Maggie Lehrman. What would you give for the one change you want more than anything, and would the price you pay be worth it? Exquisitely plotted and masterfully written, The Cost of All Things is easily the best YA debut of 2015. This one haunted me for weeks and I was grateful for it.
Anna, Banana and the Friendship Split by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Meg Park. I used to have a rule that first chapter books needed to be brat-free, but that was before I realized that first chapter book readers, in the best possible way, rarely are. Even the Good Kids are going to have bratty moments– I personally make a point to have at least three per day– and seeing characters handle theirs in a productive but still realistic way is wonderful. This is the lovely first installment in a new line of warm, fun, sweet-but-not-saccharine chapter books that features a wiener dog named Banana, households that are quietly but powerfully diverse in their cultures and family configurations, real-life situations that readers will see themselves in, and charmingly perfect/ perfectly charming illustrations. Great for readers of Just Grace, Ivy & Bean, Clementine and Judy Moody.
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff. I would pick a new Lisa Graff novel to read first out of a pile of books a mile high. She is in a class by herself when it comes to understanding and depicting the emotional life of preteens, and she’s at her best here in a story about bottled-up anger, guilt, and grief. Lost in the Sun is a great introduction to the author for new readers and will in no way disappoint those already in love with Lisa after Tangle of Knots and Absolutely Almost.
Pool by JiHyeon Lee. A text-free picture book worth a thousand words, none of which can do justice to the art and joy found in its pages.
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