Friday, February 15, 2019

February Book Picks


In WICKED NIX, by Lena Coakley, with illustrations by Jaime Zollars, Nix is a fun—if unreliable—narrator in a story of fairies and humans coexisting rather badly. All the other fairies have left for the Summer Country, but Nix has been left behind by the Queen to guard their forest. Since he can’t use magic, he decides to make plenty of mischief when “a people" moves into an abandoned cottage nearby. WICKED NIX, at 110 pages, is a short and completely enjoyable tale. (MG)

In EVERLASTING NORA, by Marie Miranda Cruz, the main character is as twelve-year-old girl in Manila who, along with her mother, becomes homeless after the death of her father. The two must move into a cemetery, where they live alongside a whole community of others who squat in and among the tombs. When her mother disappears, Nora begins a frantic search, gaining friends, family, and a deeper awareness of herself along the way. It’s well crafted and moving. (MG)

SWEEP, THE STORY OF A GIRL AND HER MONSTER, is by Jonathan Auxier, author of The Night Gardener. In this new yarn, even though life on the road is difficult, as long as Nan Sparrow has the Sweep by her side, the world is full of “all sorts of wonderful things.” But when her beloved guardian disappears, leaving only a "charred lump of soot” behind, six-year-old Nan is forced to work alongside Newt, Whittles, Shilling-Tom, and the awful Roger, in Master Wilkie Crudd’s much abused Clean Sweep crew. But after Nan, now eleven, gets stuck in a chimney and almost dies, she wakes to find her bit of char has miraculously turned into a creature that’s alive. Nan knows at once that this is a gift from her Sweep, so she takes little “Charlie” and runs away from Crudd, hoping somehow for a better life as her own master. Auxier has done it again with this magical, complex, and rewarding read. (MG)

Picture Books:

“It’s my birthday. So boo! I hate all of you.” Thus begins I HATE EVERYONE, written by Naomi Davis and illustrated by Cinta Arribas. The main character is not having a good day, but readers follow along as she works her way through a very interesting tantrum. The art is bold and appealing, with a decidedly weird pink, blue, purple, and orange palette. “Don’t sing…okay, go ahead. Sing.” And enjoy!

DOOR, by JiHyeon Lee, is a wordless fantasy, in which a boy finds a key, and follows a mysterious bug to an old door in a wall. The key fits, and opens the door into a world of outrageous—and friendly—beings who invite the boy to join their picnic. The beasties speak an unintelligible language, but all parties manage to communicate anyway. The “real world” is monochrome, while the fantasy appears to be delicately drawn in colored pencil. It’s a lovely piece of bookmaking from Chronicle and JiHyeon Lee.

STORIES OF THE NIGHT, by Kitty Crowther, is another picture book with lots of pink in it, but it’s very different from the one above. Little Bear wants "three stories, please, please, please?” so Mother Bear obliges with one about the Night Guardian who bangs a gong when it’s time for sleep, a second about a tiny girl who gets lost while picking berries until she meets up with her friend Jacko Mollo (a bat), and a third about a little man who never takes off his coat and has trouble sleeping until he finds one of his friend Otto’s “stone poems.” Whimsical, nonsensical, original, and truly lovely.


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