Saturday, October 10, 2015

October Recommendations

It seems like there are so many great kids books coming out lately! Recently I have read and loved these:


THE NEST, by Kenneth Oppel, with moody, atmospheric illustrations by Jon Klassen, is a wonderfully creepy changeling story. Steve's parents are worn out from caring for their new baby, who is sick with a mysterious set of problems. Steve, a big-time worrier, is just supposed to get a grip and not add to the family’s troubles. But once Steve is stung by a wasp, he begins to have visitors in his dreams. At first he thinks they’re angels. But gradually Steve realizes that something bad is happening, and it involves both him and the new baby. Only read The Nest if you enjoy being creeped out—and I know I sure did when I was a kid! (MG)

Newbery medalist Laura Amy Schlitz (also Newbery Honor with Splendors and Glooms) has another winner in THE HIRED GIRL. Fourteen-year-old Joan is tired of cleaning the chicken house and scrubbing the privy, hauling ashes and sweeping muck out of her family's house day after day, and year after year. She yearns to be a writer, a lady who strives for "truth and refinement." But what chance does she have on her family’s small farm, with Ma dead and no one else to keep house for the men? Stubborn Joan will not be denied, however. When Pa burns her favorite books, Joan takes a secret stash of money left to her by Ma and runs off to seek her fortune in Baltimore. Schlitz packs this always engaging novel with plenty of interesting details from the early twentieth century setting, but they never overwhelm the story of how Joan’s fierce pursuit of her goals plays out. (Upper MG)

And, finally, we have the epic and epically fantastic LAIR OF DREAMS, by the awesome Libba Bray. This long-awaited sequel to The Diviners needs all of its 690 pages to work its magic. Told from the varying perspectives of an ensemble cast, readers learn of the malicious evil invading the dreams of sleepers in 1920s New York City. From America’s Sweetheart Seer Evie O’Neill, to piano player and fledgling composer Henry Dubois, to dream walker Ling Chan, to Memphis, Theta, and scam artist Sam, everyone has secrets and passions, and everyone dreams. But now those dreams are turning deadly. Lair of Dreams, like the aforementioned The Hired Girl, is awash in period details which bring the story alive without smothering it. A most excellent series. (YA)

Picture books:

LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG FAMILY, by Mike Curato, is a sequel to Curato’s very successful Little Elliot, Big City. This time, Little Elliot’s friend Mouse takes off for a family reunion, leaving the elephant all alone, and lonely. From endpaper to endpaper, the pencil and digitally colored illustrations are as beautiful as they were in the first book, and the story is even better. Here’s to more stories about Little Elliot!

LEO, A GHOST STORY, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson (Josephine) is a charming and beautiful ghost/friendship story. Leo the ghost leaves his home when the new family who moves in doesn’t appreciate him. When he meets Jane, she thinks he is an imaginary friend, but Leo manages to convince Jane that he’s real. After some adventures, they two enjoy mint tea and honey toast at midnight. The fabulous illustrations are done in acrylic and cutout construction paper.

Last but not least, we have TWO MICE, by Sergio Ruzzier, a sweet and successful hybrid picture book, counting book, and easy reader. Two mice have some pretty cute adventures, until they wind up back at home eating much-needed soup in their cozy kitchen. A small trim size and lovely watercolor and ink illustrations make this an attractive and versatile choice.


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