Carmen Agra Deedy’s The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! (Scholastic, ages 4-7) is perfect for a rowdy read-aloud. This tale of a bold gallito — a rooster — who brings music back to a tiny village will stir up plenty of audience giggles and participation. As the book opens, the streets of La Paz ring “with song from morning till night.” Illustrator Eugene Yelchin’s vibrant folk-art illustration expresses this cheerful proliferation of sound and activity in bright, silly, nearly chaotic profusion. “Everyone and everything had a song to sing” in La Paz until the mayor is fired and Don Pepe, the candidate promising silence, is voted into office. He cracks down not only on loud singing, but also all singing. “Even the teakettles were afraid to whistle.” Seven quiet years later, a rooster finds the sweet mango tree just outside the mayor’s window and begins to do what roosters do any time of day — he sings. The mayor tries to contain the bird’s exuberance by cutting down the mango tree, putting the gallito in a cage away from food and from his hen and chicks, covering the cage in a dark blanket — all to no avail. “How can I keep from singing?” asks the rooster. Whether it’s a spirited child or a determined teen, every family has its own noisy rooster: insistent, persistent, exasperating at times, and with a song that must be sung — and should be heard.

Kathie Meizner

"Alice Paul and the Fight for Women's Rights: From the Vote to the Equal Rights Amendment," by Deborah Kops (Calkins Creek)

Many young readers may be familiar with the name Susan B. Anthony, but lesser known, and equally important, is Alice Paul, the activist who helped women earn the right to vote in 1920. With Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights (Calkins Creek, ages 11 and older), Deborah Kops focuses on Paul (1885-1977), who was raised as a Quaker and spent her adult life furthering the Quaker ideal of equality between men and women. Drawn into women’s suffrage activism while studying in England, Paul returned to the United States determined to build on a movement that seemed to have stalled. She threw herself into drawing news media attention to the universal suffrage movement and putting pressure on President Woodrow Wilson and Congress to support it. Paul and her allies (almost all of them female) started with parades and petitions but soon moved on to picketing the White House. Their banners and signs drew hostile crowds and prison sentences. Kops doesn’t ignore the divisions, rivalries and missteps of the suffrage struggle and subsequent legislative battles. But Paul emerges as a devoted and ingenious fighter for justice — and an inspiring role model in her devoted and ingenious fight for justice.

Abby McGanney Nolan

"Hello, Universe," by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow )

In a single eventful day, the paths — and stories — of four middle-school students cross in Hello, Universe (Greenwillow, ages 8-12), a charming, intriguingly plotted novel by Erin Entrada Kelly. As a gentle, lonely introvert in a boisterous family, Virgil Salinas feels closest to his guinea pig, Gulliver, and his storytelling Filipina grandmother. When he tries to rescue Gulliver from the neighborhood bully, Chet Bullens, Virgil and his pet become trapped in an abandoned well. His friend, an amateur psychic named Kaori Tanaka, is sure something has happened to Virgil and sets out to find him. Meanwhile, a young nature lover, Valencia Somerset, visits the stray dog she has been secretly feeding in the woods and joins Kaori in her search for Virgil. But there is no trace of him. He’s like a character in one of his grandmother’s stories, like the boy who was swallowed by a stone. As Virgil sits, terrified, for hours in the quiet, dank darkness, he remembers bits and pieces of these old stories and they calm and strengthen him. As she skillfully intercuts these four narratives, Kelly builds suspense and fosters empathy for her characters, from the fiercely independent, hearing-impaired Valencia, who insists that “solo — it’s the best way to go,” to mean-spirited Chet, who yearns for approval from his intolerant father. As the connections deepen, it seems that this “big, mysterious, fickle” universe might harbor friendship and self-awareness for each.

Mary Quattlebaum