Best children’s and YA books of the month

A monthly column in the @washingtonpost.
  1. Adam Rex’s "School’s First Day of School" (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, ages 3-7)
    The main character of "School’s First Day of School" is the school itself, Frederick Douglass Elementary. The school’s only friend, the janitor, prepares the building the way a parent would prepare a child — making everything look shiny, talking about what it might be like when the building is filled with children, and reassuring the school that he’ll be there at the end of the day.
  2. Anita Silvey's "Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger" (Clarion, ages 10–12)
    Folk singer Pete Seeger (1919-2014) performed live for millions of people, but how many preteens know of him now? With this engaging, well-illustrated biography, Silvey explains how this unlikely folk-music hero turned singalongs into social change. Perhaps a young reader will be moved to write a folk song about him.
  3. Sharon Creech's "Moo" (Joanna Cotler, ages 8-12)
    Creech adds a third memorable animal — a cow named Zora — to those in her popular middle-grade novels in verse “Love That Dog” and “Hate That Cat.” Twelve-year-old Reena meets stubborn Zora and her cranky, reclusive owner, Mrs. Falala, when the family moves from a busy big city to a “sea salty harbor town” in Maine. A summer setting, vividly developed characters and liberal use of white space make this book a breezy companion for the days before school starts.