Wednesday, September 16, 2015

September Recommendations

Here are some great books I have enjoyed recently—what are you reading now?


Brian Selznick’s new hybrid novel, THE MARVELS, is another jaw-dropingly beautiful, poignant story from the creator of Caldecott-winning, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Beginning on a ship in 1766 and following a theatrical dynasty through the years, this story begins with wordless illustrations, continues with text-only pages, and brings us back around to illustrations for the ending. The Marvels doesn’t feel like a repeat of what Selznick has done before. It’s lovely—don’t miss it! (MG)

GOODBYE STRANGER, by Rebecca Stead (Newbery winner for When You Reach Me), is so wonderful that I immediately reread it just as soon as I had finished it the first time. In fact, each of her books, including Liar & Spy, are so intricately plotted and satisfying, I have done this for all of them. Bridge, Tabitha, and Emily have been great friends for years but now, in seventh grade, so many things are changing. While Goodbye Stranger is an examination of the benefits and boundaries of friendship, there is also much more going on. Along with the narrative of the three friends, and also new-to-the-group Sherm Russo, there is a mysterious thread, told by an unnamed character who is experiencing something of a crisis. Stead is a master at pulling the strings of her plot together into a satisfying novel that feels a cut above the usual middle grade fare. (MG)

And I have just read the second and third books in THE MAGIC THIEF series, by Sarah Prineas. I have previously talked about Book One. Books Two and Three do not disappoint! The main character, Connwaer, reminds me very much of the narrator in The False Prince—he’s a charming guttersnipe recently elevated to a better state of affairs, he’s a bit of a scoundrel, and he’s thoroughly in control of his own destiny. Much fun, and I believe that the series extends even after the trilogy has been concluded—I intend to find out. (MG)

Picture Books:

IT’S ONLY STANLEY, by Jon Agee, is a perfectly-paced rhyming picture book by master-of-the-genre Jon Agee, who most recently gave us Little Santa (also not to be missed). In It’s Only Stanley, the dog is making lots of nighttime noise, but he’s also getting things done. After howling at the moon, Stanley proceeds to fix the oil tank, make catfish stew, fix the old TV, etc. The book culminates in a silly and surprising ending. It’s tons of fun! And if you want a lesson in how to use page turns effectively, study this one.

LENNY & LUCY, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead, the folks who gave us Caldecott winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee, are back with another distinctive, graceful, and exceptional offering. When Peter and his dog Harold move to a new house, they find that it’s not nearly as nice as their old one. There are terrible things hiding in the trees, but thank goodness for Lenny and Lucy! Subtle and magical, this book is truly a gem.

And ONE WORD FROM SOPHIA, by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail, is also magical in its own way. Sophia has One True Desire, which is to get a giraffe for her birthday, but she also has four problems standing in her way: her Mother, Father, Uncle Conrad, and her Grand-mama, who is very strict. After arguing her way through them all, Sophia discovers a simple solution. The ending is both unexpected and obvious.


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