Wednesday, May 15, 2019

May Recommendations


In COURTING DARKNESS, Robin LaFevers continues the saga of Lady Sybella, trained as an assassin in the convent of Saint Mortain. In the first of this new duology, Sybella struggles to keep her two sisters safe from their degenerate brother, and the new queen safe from enemies at the French court. An alternate narrative follows Genevieve, also a novitiate of Mortain, and one who has been embedded in the court’s intrigue for years. The story is wondrously crafted, with plenty of action and romance all leading to a compulsive read. Even the book itself is gorgeous—textured book jacket and endpapers, deckle-edged pages, little ornamental design elements within—wow! (YA)

OUR CASTLE BY THE SEA, by Lucy Strange, is the second elegantly plotted novel, with pitch-perfect prose and an enchanting main character, from the author of The Secret of Nightingale Wood. For twelve-year-old Pet, normal is “living in a lighthouse” with her Pa, sister Mags, and German-born mother, but the start of World War ll, with Hitler’s army “surging up through France,” is not an easy time to have a mother from Germany. There are mythic elements and a mystery, but the heart of this story is Pet’s growth as a character. If you liked The War that Saved My Life, you should also give this one a try. (MG)

PAY ATTENTION, CARTER JONES, is yet another winner by the esteemed Gary D. Schmidt (author of Okay for Now, and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, among so many others). One morning, when Carter’s mom had been up all night crying, and the fuel pump on the jeep was broken, and Ned the dachshund threw up (again), and it was “raining like an Australian tropical thunderstorm,” the Butler shows up on Carter's doorstep (wearing a bowler hat), and he calmly takes control of the situation. Taking control means fixing lunches, driving all the kids to school in a purple Bentley, speaking the Queen’s English, and introducing cricket to the junior high. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. (MG)

Picture Books:

THANK YOU, OMU! is the much celebrated debut by author/illustrator Oge Mora, about a very kind woman who cooks a delicious “thick red stew in a big fat pot," which she shares and shares, until there’s nothing left for her own supper. But surprise…there ends up being plenty to eat! Acrylic paint, china markers, pastels and cut paper illustrations are colorful and distinctive.

ANOTHER, by Christian Robinson, is a playful, deceptively simple, wordless look at perspective, discovery, and imagination, rendered in Robinson’s signature paint and collage illustration style. Lovely, thought-provoking, and perfect for its intended audience.

SHE MADE A MONSTER: HOW MARY SHELLEY CREATED FRANKENSTEIN, by Lynn Fulton, illustrated by Felicity Sala, describes how, “two hundred years ago, on a wild and stormy night,” Mary not-yet-Shelley was challenged to think up a ghost story at a party, and got the idea to write her now-famous classic. Sala’s watercolor, ink, and colored pencil illustrations were named a 2018 NY Times/NYPL Best Illustrated Children’s Book.


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