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Written by Flannery Fitch   

The year ahead will no doubt bring a bounty of wonderful new books for young readers, but before we look forward I wanted to take a look back and share some of my very favorite books of 2016.


They All Saw a Cat

By Brendan Wenzel

This book has a simple enough premise: A variety of creatures see a cat. But Wenzel tells the story through the eyes of each animal, allowing the reader to experience the viewpoint of each being. The illustrations are amazing, and it’s a fun, educational picture book that adults will enjoy just as much as kids.


Rad Women Worldwide

By Kate Schatz

If you loved Rad American Women A–Z as much as I did, then you’ll love Kate Schatz’s new book, which covers barrier-breaking women from around the world. Some, like Malala Yousafzai or Frida Kahlo, you might know. Others, like one of my heroes, Wangari Maathai, you may not have. And even if you know every name, this is still a great book for the young (or old) feminist in your life!


First Light, First Life: A Worldwide Creation Story

By Paul Fleischman

With first light came first life. In this beautifully illustrated new book, local author Paul Fleischman takes you through creation myths from around the world. The folk art illustrations are wonderful and the myths flow into each other smoothly. Not only is this book educational, but it shows the similarities between humans everywhere, a reminder the world seems to need at the moment.


The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes

By Albert Wade White

This book is a ton of fun and is sure to appeal to fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Anne is more than ready to leave St. Lupin's Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children, especially since she is neither, but she certainly doesn’t expect to do it after finding a mysterious book that changes title and contents to suit her need, or by falling off a cliff and being rescued by a lady and a dragon. Needless to say, it’s the beginning of a wild romp. Full of snarky humor, adventure, and good friends, this is a book to get lost in.


March: The Complete Trilogy

By John Lewis

March is the graphic memoir of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. Chronicling the Civil Rights Movement from the inside, this trilogy not only tells Lewis’ story, but provides an intimate look into the history and strategy of the movement. A recent National Book Award Winner, this is a powerful trilogy that serves as a poignant reminder about the power of movements to make change.


And I Darken

By Kiersten White

In this fantastic historical novel, White tells the story of a young Vlad the Impaler—except that Vlad is Lada, a feisty, sullen girl who fiercely loves her homeland. When she and her younger brother, whom she protects at all costs, are sent to live with the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Lada reluctantly goes. Soon, she and her brother are swept up—in very different ways—with their new life and with the Sultan’s son. This is not only great historical fiction that presents a positive view of Islam, it’s a brilliant twist on history. I was completely blown away by book and can’t wait for the rest of the trilogy!


The Swan Riders and Crooked Kingdom

By Erin Bow & Leigh Bardugo

These two books are sequels to two of my favorite books of 2015—The Scorpion Rules and Six of Crows—and they are two of the best sequels I’ve ever read. I liked Swan Riders even more than The Scorpion Rules, and Crooked Kingdom blew me away. The Scorpion Rules and The Swan Riders are great for any teen who likes sci-fi or dystopic fiction—it’s the most thought-provoking dystopia I’ve read in ages. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are fantastic fantasy heists with a diverse, utterly loveable cast of characters. 

Flannery Fitch is a bookseller at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Her life has been about books since before she could read.

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