Monday, October 15, 2018

October Book Picks


MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS, by Meg Medina, is one of my favorite kids’ novels this year. It’s a funny, wise, realistic mid-grade story about plucky sixth-grader Merci, who navigates the changes in her life with varying degrees of grace: an escalating rivalry with Edna Santos, the most popular girl in her class, a beloved abuelo who’s becoming increasingly confused, and —gross—puberty. Meg Medina delivers yet again. (MG)

Jeanne Birdsall concludes her fabulous Penderwicks series with THE PENDERWICKS AT LAST. The zany Penderwick family all return to beloved Arundel, the grand estate owned by Honorary Penderwick Jeffery’s insufferable mother, the dreaded Mrs. Tifton. Eleven-year-old Lydia’s sister, Rosalind, is getting married to longtime boyfriend, Tommy Geiger, and Lydia dances her way through plenty of charming hijinks, not all of which are her fault. (MG)

Easy Reader:

BABY MONKEY, PRIVATE EYE, by Brian Selznick and David Serlin, is a meticulously illustrated, beautifully produced, pitch-perfect book for emerging readers. Baby Monkey investigates The Case of the Missing Jewels, The Case of the Missing Pizza, The Case of the Missing (clown) Nose, The Case of the Missing Spaceship, and one more adorable Last Case. The short, repetitive text is lovingly drawn in Selznick’s singular style, and deeply enriched by all sorts of literary, cinematic, historical, etc. references, all of which are listed in the Key to Baby Monkey’s Office at the end—and none of which needs to be understood for readers to enjoy this book. Wow!

Picture Books:

A PARADE OF ELEPHANTS, by Kevin Henkes, is practically perfect in every way. A short, lyrical text is expertly brought to life by the simply-designed, candy-colored elephants trundling about. There’s marching and counting, yawning and stretching, and a dose of wonder at the end. Another wow!

In A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR, by Grace Lin, Little Star hopes her mother won’t notice as she nibbles her way through the sweet and tasty Big Mooncake that they baked together. The illustrations wonderfully illuminate this tender, original story based on the author’s favorite Asian holiday, The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Identical endpapers reinforce the satisfying full-circle structure.

Board Book:

HERE, GEORGE! by Sandra Boynton, illustrated by George Booth, is a little gem of a book about the secret life of a dog. There’s not a wasted word in the text, not a wasted line in the art. Perfecto! (I do wish it was a regular picture book though—the publisher says it’s for one to five year olds, but I think it makes more sense to give it to two to five year olds, and they don’t necessarily eat their books anymore.)


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