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Cleary is just one example of an author who wrote for a certain age range, but whose writing can benefit and engage the ages beyond. As a kid reader, Mr. and Mrs. Quimby’s worries about money and jobs and childcare was brushed aside by me as “boring parent stuff,” because while Cleary was validating the idea that all kids worry about their parents on some level and while her books could be a way for kids to talk to their parents about these anxieties, I just wanted to get back to Ramona putting burrs in her hair. Now, as an adult re-reader of Beverly Cleary, those bits of the books that I pushed aside as a kid are almost too painful to read as a parent.
And now I want to re-read the whole series.
Strike that, now I want to re-read EVERY SINGLE CLEARY BOOK.
The New Visions Award, which was created in 2012, will be given to a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. Established by Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW that publishes YA and middle grade science fiction and fantasy, the award is a fantastic chance for new authors of color to break into the world of publishing for young readers.
My nephew is 7, but is a pretty advanced reader. My sister-in-law is having difficulty finding books that give him the reading challenge he wants, without content that is too far beyond his years. (He doesn't like things that are too mysterious/scary and isn't quite ready for fantasy themes like wizards/witches, etc.) He's already powered through just about everything by E.B. White, some Beverly Clearly, old Thornton Burgess, etc. - basically my sister-in-law and I have been raiding our own childhood bookshelves for ideas. Do you or any of your followers have any suggestions for a budding bookworm? Would love some more modern options, but he's also just as happy in the classics.
This request is geared a bit younger than my specialty—off the top of my head, Roald Dahl's less-scary titles (like, NOT The Witches), Geronimo Stilton, the Judy Moody and Stink books, the My Weird School series, Eric Berlin's Winston Breen books, and Blue Balliett come to mind, though those are all pretty broadly ranged in terms of reading level—so I'm passing it along to you all.
Putting this list together, oddly enough, was inspired by a sweet, sad, lovely coming-of-age story about Mira Levenson, a twelve-year-old British girl of Indian and Jewish descent who's journaling the last month of her beloved grandmother's life (among many other things).
Although the Rwandan Genocide wasn't the primary focus of the book, it was an integral part of Mira's new, more complex understanding of the world (not to mention her crush, Jidé), her discovery and exploration of it was a huge part of her coming-of-age journey, and the scenes of her doing research made me wonder what fiction was out there. (Hence, as I said above, this list.)
In addition to all of the book's other virtues—seriously, it's so, so good—there's also a really nice thread about how her PARENTS react to and deal with Mira's maturation. On the one hand, they want to protect her from the horrors in the world, but on the other, they realize that she's growing up, and that learning about and understanding these hard things (as much as understanding is possible, anyway) is a part of that process. It's just really nicely handled.
I'm so very much looking forward to the sequel, which is out in September.
This one is heavily based on interviews with Rwandan refugees, and chronicles the life of a young Tutsi girl who witnessed her mother's murder when she was five years old. Now fourteen, living with the Hutu woman who took her in, still wracked by nightmares, she has to decide whether or not to testify in Gacaca court. According to the reviews I've read, the prose is quite spare, but Combres doesn't pull punches about the subject matter.
This fictionalized biography, translated from the original German, got multiple starred reviews as well as a Batchelder Award. It's about eight-year-old Jeanne d'Arc Umubyeyi, who was ultimately her Tutsi family's only survivor. The book doesn't only chronicle the violence, but the regular life leading up to it, and oddly enough, every review I've read has made me think of Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now, because the book is narrated by a child who is experiencing all of the trauma of a horrific event, but without any real understanding of the political situation that lead up to it.
The descriptions of these sound somewhat didactic to me (the Hankins title alone is pretty cringeworthy), but they both seem to have had decently positive receptions, so, onto the list they go. The Walters is about a fifteen-year-old boy who develops a friendship with a homeless soldier whose last mission was as a peacekeeper stationed in Rwanda; the Hankins is about a fifth grader who discovers genocide isn't just something that affects far away people—it's something that has touched people he knows. These two and the Combres were originally published in Canada.
Girl enters radio contest on whim, wins tract of land! IN CANADA!
Intrepid young sleuth helps old lady cross street; carries her suitcase!
River Heights overrun by Canadians, some of them crooks!
Girl detective receives answer to message... BEFORE EVEN SENDING IT!
In a sudden burst of activity after eleven books of avoiding physical exertion, Bess Marvin CLIMBS A TREE!
Continuing the trend of Bizarro Sidekick Behavior, George Fayne shrieks in fear!
Posse rides in; posse rides out!
Carson Drew dispatches word... telepathically? Via carrier pigeon? THE WORLD MAY NEVER KNOW!
Teenage girl blows up power-generating dam and floods entire valley, no one takes issue with her!
As you may have gathered from the headlines, Nancy enters a radio contest (for the first time ever) and wins. A tract of land. In Canada. That might be full of gold. Because Nancy.
Even though Canada is the SECOND LARGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, said piece of land JUST SO HAPPENS to be located right next to some land related to her father's current case. Because Carson.
Of course, Nancy wants to go and check out her land, but needs an "older person" (<--Carson's words) to go with her. LUCKILY, Carson's client ALSO coincidentally has a friend coming in to town who ALSO has a place in the vicinity of her land and so CAN DO THAT VERY THING.
In River Heights:
Five minutes later, Nancy's on her way to see Bess and George to invite them along. Seeing an older lady struggling to haul a heavy suitcase across the road, Nancy does what Nancy does best and TAKES ACTION. She not only carries the suitcase across the street, but offers to wait with it outside the bank while the lady goes in to "get change for a twenty". Because Olden Days.
A "dapper man in his late thirties" drives up, claims to be the lady's grandson, takes the suitcase, and drives off!
The lady, of course, doesn't have a grandson. Nancy waves down a nearby police officer, and at first he and the old lady seem to suspect HER. Of course, once she pulls the DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM routine, they back off.
A FULL TEN MINUTES LATER, NANCY DECIDES WAITING FOR BACK-UP WILL JUST TAKE TOO LONG, SO SHE ENGAGES IN A HIGH SPEED CAR CHASE TO RETRIEVE THE STOLEN SUITCASE. And yes, OF COURSE she succeeds in A) CATCHING UP WITH HIM, and B) getting him to pull over, and yes, OF COURSE the crowd believes her when she makes her case!
A brief moment of non-snark:
Yes, Nancy is ridiculously lucky, beautiful, wealthy, has a hard-to-conceive-of number of skills, and her detecting skills probably wouldn't carry over very well into the real world. But that's not why we love her: We love her because she never gives up, never gives in, never says die. She always puts others before her, and while she has a tendency to judge by appearances, to be fair, she IS almost always right.
Okay, back to River Heights!
The old lady recognizes the suitcase thief as Tom Stripe, a "mean and low-down" man who has caused problems for her in the past! Also, she is from Canada! And is now Nancy's friend for life! AND IT JUST SO HAPPENS THAT SHE'S CARSON'S CLIENT'S FRIEND AND ABOUT TO BECOME NANCY'S CHAPERONE! (I bet you TOTALLY didn't see that coming!)
It should be noted that Bess has to be talked out of bringing all of her best dresses along on a multi-week camping trip.
While Nancy and Carson are having dinner at his client's house, NANCY GETS A PHONE CALL FROM SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO BUY HER LAND. Because that's how business is done: By calling people while they are ATTENDING DINNER PARTIES AT OTHER PEOPLES' HOUSES.
The next day:
Nancy is accosted by a young man with a "sophisticated smile" wearing clothes that "cut far too elegant an appearance for River Heights". DANGER ZONE! Surprise, surprise, Raymond Niles wants to buy her land. ALL I WANT TO KNOW IS THIS: WHERE'S NED? HE DOESN'T GET A SINGLE MENTION IN THIS BOOK. Poor old Ned. It can't be easy being that boring.
Nancy tells Carson about this Niles character—who, by the way, OUT-AND-OUT THREATENED HER—and this is his response: "It seems to me we ought to let the matter rest for a while. In any event, you will be rid of this fellow in a few days, for soon you'll be on your way to Canada." YES, CARSON. BRILLIANT LOGIC. DUDE THREATENS YOUR DAUGHTER, SO IT'S A GOOD THING THAT SHE'S HEADED OFF TO THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE... BECAUSE IT'S NOT AT ALL LIKELY THAT THE GUY KNOWS WHERE THE LAND HE WANTS TO BUY WOULD BE LOCATED, RIGHT?
Meanwhile, Hannah Gruen doesn't like the idea of the girls gallivanting off to "foreign places". Because Canada.
Two days later:
Hannah, who is only suspicious when it suits the plot, lets Raymond Niles into the house and he ALMOST SUCCEEDS in stealing Nancy's property deed.
At this point, you'd think that Carson would, like, register the deed or make a copy of it or do whatever lawyer-y thing you do with these things, but no. Because the Drews have a lot of great qualities, but logic isn't one of them.
Tom Stripe is out of prison, and it was Raymond Niles who posted his bail! They are, as Nancy puts it, "friends and crooks"!
On the train to Wellington Lake:
Remember the radio contest that started this adventure? Well. To win it, Nancy had to name a mystery serial... and on the train, Nancy runs into Ann Chapelle, the author of said mystery serial!
Miss Chapelle has a Secret Sorrow, though for someone with a Secret Sorrow, she's quite open about it. In fact, she was about to spill the beans to Nancy WHEN THE TRAIN CRASHED AT THAT EXACT MOMENT.
YES, THE TRAIN CRASHED. LIKE, ALL OF THE CARS, OFF OF THE TRACK.
Nancy bumps her elbow! George is buried under a pile of chairs! Bess goes pale! Random passenger breaks his leg! Tom Stripe and Raymond Niles were spotted shortly before the crash! The train catches on fire! Miss Chapelle and the chaperone are missing!
At a hotel:
The girls hole up and wait for news. In the middle of the night, Nancy wakes up and discovers Bess sleepwalking. On the window ledge. So Nancy, being the quick-thinker that she is, GRABS A COIL OF ROPE (because they're generally lying around in hotel hallways), and, just as BESS FALLS OFF OF THE LEDGE, LASSOS HER BEFORE SHE HITS THE GROUND. (Yes, she credits her Shadow Ranch adventure for the ability.)
As if that wasn't ENOUGH ACTION FOR THE NIGHT, it turns out that Bess, while sleepwalking, took the deed to Nancy's land and dropped it outside.
Sure enough, George pops her head out the window and sees a dude walking off with it. But they don't pursue him because... THAT WOULD MAKE TOO MUCH SENSE?
The next day:
They receive word that both the author and the chaperone are at the hospital.
Nancy stops by the newspaper to place an ad about her lost deed... and discovers that someone has already left her a letter, instructing her to call at Ranny farm, six miles away.
The girls check in with the ladies at the hospital, and Ann Chapelle is A) convinced she's going to die and B) manages to say, "The message—in the hollow oak—" before passing out. So that's helpful.
Our Girl Wonders rent a jalopy—it's so decrepit that even Our Nancy needs a lesson in starting the engine—and they head out to the farm, promptly get a flat tire, and then they get lost because they don't know how far they've gone because "the speedometer was broken" even though HELLO, unless Nancy's got Bess and George doing constant Distance = Rate x Time math problems, it's the odometer that matters.
ANYWAY, for whatever reason, they decide to leave the car and hike across a pasture to a nearby farm, but Bess is wearing a red sweater, which enrages the bull (*coughbullsarecolorblindcough*), and it charges them and they almost die but then the farmer opens the fence for them and it turns out he's Farmer Ranny himself. HOW SURPRISING.
I'm going to fast-forward here, because good lord, I'm only up to page, like, 60.
SO. Farmer Ranny's wife has a long-standing feud with the chaperone. Because gold. Or land. Or something.
The Rannys are ALSO the parents of Norman Ranny, Ann Chapelle's long-lost love, who she used to pass messages with via the Hollow Oak and who she ran away from home to elope with except he never showed up, the jerk.
Thinking she's about to die, Ann Chapelle gets Nancy to make a promise to A) find her Grandfather Chap and apologize for running away and B) find Norman Ranny and tell him that she loves him. Or something.
There's a story in the local paper about A STRANGER almost getting creamed by a falling branch from the OAK tree he was sitting under, because THAT'S NEWSWORTHY IN CANADA. (<--I'm from Maine. That would totally make the paper in my town. Anyway.)
The girls get outfitted in "riding breeches and knee-high shoes" (known as BOOTS in more succinct circles) and HEAD OFF INTO THE WILDERNESS WITH PETE ATKINS, GUIDE EXTRAORDINAIRE.
Fast-forwarding again, because their adventures in the wilderness are ENDLESS:
Almost immediately, they run into Tom and Ray, who are terrible at canoeing.
Tom and Ray try to strand the girls in the wilderness (...with the best guide in the area, that'll show 'em!), but, after a brief struggle, end up neck-deep in the lake while Nancy & Co. paddle away. Tom Stripe, logical as ever, vows revenge on them even though he was the one who started it.
Ray, not unlike that jewel thief in The Facts of Life Down Under, has developed QUITE THE CRUSH ON NANCY.
The crooks, miserable and soaking wet and in the middle of nowhere, run into NORMAN RANNY, because of course they do.
Norman, it turns out, thinks that Ann is dead. Because these are the things you should assume to be true without proof.
Tom and Ray tie Norman up and throw him into Grandfather Chap's fruit cellar. No, not root cellar, FRUIT CELLAR. Because that's what they call it.
Nancy, while exploring a nearby abandoned mill, is "...impelled by some impulse which she could not explain..." to look through a crack in the wall, sees Tom Stripe in the house. Seriously, I don't know how she'd solve mysteries if she was slightly less lucky.
Once our heroines take over the house, Bess and George become convinced that it's haunted due to the moans coming from the FRUIT CELLAR.
Nancy, brave girl that she is, heads down there and returns... WITH A CAT.
THEY ALL LAUGH MERRILY ABOUT THAT.
The moans continue, causing Bess to FAINT, AND PETE HAS DISAPPEARED, so it's up to Nancy to head down there again... which she does, AND FINDS ANOTHER CAT BUT ALSO, THANKFULLY, NORMAN.
Nancy jumps to the conclusion that Pete abandoned them, which seems like a REALLY LOGICAL ASSUMPTION, considering how there are bad guys around who have it in for him.
The girls—who have now adopted Norman as the requisite adult male in their party—stay the night with a trapper and his wife, enjoy some banjo music (yes, really), tell said trapper and his wife about the big city (yes, really), and then Pete shows up all beat up because, duh, of course Tom jumped him.
I told you it was endless. I'm going to have to read the '70s revision to see if they tightened it up.
ANYWAY, panning for gold on Nancy's land, they all get a nugget (except Bess, but Nancy gives her one so she doesn't whine), and Norman strikes a vein in the very first spot that he swings his pickaxe. Because that's how things roll around Nancy Drew.
ENTER THE EVIL MINING COMPANY:
A plane lands, and a bunch of evil miners arrive. Nancy realizes she and her crew are outnumbered, so she PAYS THE PILOT TO TAKE HER AND HER FRIENDS BACK TO CIVILIZATION, LEAVING THE MINERS SEMI-STRANDED. Which, you've got to admit, is both hilarious and badass.
In a considerably less badass move, she wires Carson for help.
Buck Sawtice, the owner of the EVIL MINING COMPANY—when they find out it's named Yellow Dawn, George asked, "Is that a company or a disease?" which made me laugh out loud—ALSO cost the Mr. & Mrs. Ranny their life-savings. So, you know: Good to know that he's an equal-opportunity swindler, and not ageist or anything.
Carson rounds up some local law enforcement, and they put together a POSSE and go in there ON HORSEBACK:
"Now, Father, don't tell us we can't go," she forestalled him. "With all these men along to protect us, you surely can't say it won't be safe."
"That's just what I did intend to say, you young tease!"
Pete gets attacked AGAIN. Poor guy, for a minor character and a good guy, he really takes a beating in this book.
Turns out Grandfather Chap buried a treasure under the Hollow Oak and left a message for Ann there, including a confession about switching out the message she left for Norman way back when, which is why he never showed up to marry her. Nancy and Norman dig it up and then BURY IT ELSEWHERE, because they're tricky like that.
But Nancy loses an engraved bracelet, so they have to go back for it, and then they catch Tom (since Norman's there, he does the lassoing this time, presumably because he's got manparts), tie him to a tree, AND THEN THREATEN TO SET HIM ON FIRE UNLESS HE TELLS THEM WHERE GRANDFATHER CHAP IS, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT "THE INDIANS" WOULD DO. I don't even.
They bring their info back to the posse, the posse acts on it... but no Grandfather Chap, so they disperse, leaving Nancy, Carson, the girls, and Norman with the Yellow Dawn guys.
I swear we're almost at the end:
Nancy offers to sell her land to Buck if Grandfather Chap is returned unharmed, so Buck sends the airplane off for some money.
Of course, Buck plans to double-cross her, but she HAPPENS TO BE AT JUST THE RIGHT PLACE AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME TO OVERHEARD ALL OF THE EXPOSITION (IN FRENCH), so she's able to make a counter-plan.
Which involves stealing a key right out of Ray's hand WHILE HE'S AWAKE AND AWARE AND EVERYTHING, CLEARLY SHE'S MAGIC, swiping all of the gold out of the cabin the bad guys have been squirreling it away in, getting all of her loved ones (and Norman and Grandfather Camp, who's been being tortured this whole time, YES, TORTURED) out of the way, and then BLOWING UP THE DAM. BECAUSE NANCY DREW, AS I'VE MENTIONED, IS KIND OF BADASS, AND ALSO HAS AN UTTER DISREGARD FOR PUBLIC UTILITIES.
Ann and Norman are reunited, Ann and her Grandfather make up, Nancy gets all of her gold melted down into gold coins, and everyone in River Heights is at the train station to meet them when they get home.
And just because it wouldn't be a real Nancy Drew book without one more semi-creepy moment with Carson:
After discussing the events Nancy seated herself upon the arm of her father's chair, and playfully tweaked his ear.
[I'm sparing you the twinkling eyes and smoke rings, ag.]
"Father, if anyone should ever offer me another deed, I'd run a mile!" she said. "After having so many adventures up North, I think I'll agree to your holding title to all the property that comes into the Drew family!"
When it comes to chocolate cake, Hannah Gruen believes that "the pupil has gone beyond the master".
In recommending it, CC said: Not Norse mythology, but a fascinating immigration/unreliable narrator/Norse fairy tale combination: West of the Moon, by Margi Preus which I LOVED (and I think you would like too, even though it's more middle grade. The narrator is just your type.)
And she was totally right on all counts! What can I say? She knows me well.
West of the Moon opens with thirteen-year-old Astri's aunt and uncle selling her to a goat-herder:
Now I know how much I'm worth: not as much as Jesus, who I'm told was sold for thirty pieces of silver. I am worth two silver coins and a haunch of goat.
She lives with and works for the filthy and brutish Svaalberd for months—she eats better with him, but she also sleeps with a knife under her pillow to fend off possible advances—waiting and watching for an opportunity to escape. Finally, her plans can't be put off any longer: a young man passes through on his way to catch a ship to America, and Svaalberd is finally about to make good on his threat to marry her.
She has two weeks to escape, get back to her aunt and uncle's house, grab her sister and get to the docks. Not to mention figuring out what to do with Svaalberd's OTHER prisoner, finding birth certificates, scrabbling together the money for passage (as well as the huge list of supplies required for the voyage), and avoiding re-capture. Achieving a single thing on that list would be NO SMALL FEAT, but Astri has to complete them ALL. And, despite her love for fairy tales, she doesn't have magic on her side, and no prince is going to rescue her. She just has herself: her lying, stealing, cheating, canny, bright, survivor self.
So much to love here!
Astri. She is, as I've said, perfectly willing to lie, to cheat, and to steal. She's also not just willing, but UNFLINCHING, when it comes to using violence to protect not just herself, but HER STUFF. She's wonderfully contradictory: On one hand, she's a loving girl with empathy for others, but on the other, she doesn't allow that empathy to override her practicality. After months with Svaalberd, most people would have ended up submissive or even with a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome, but not Astri:
He doesn't reproach me or threaten me as I expect. He says, "Come summer, we will go down to the church and have the parson marry us. Then I'll take you to my bed."
"One of us will go to hell first," I mumble.
Above all, she is a GIRL OF ACTION:
"...And so shall someone rescue us, I shouldn't wonder."
That's what I tell her, but as her wheel whirs, my mind whirs along with it, and soon I've run out of golden thread with which to spin my pretty stories and I'm left with just the thin thread of truth. And that wiry, rough little thread tells me that if anyone is going to do any rescuing from this place, it's going to have to be me.
She is feisty and difficult and I have no doubt that plenty of readers won't find her at all likable, but I loved her, full stop.
The fairy tales. As her journey goes on, Astri comments on the parallels between her story and various Norwegian fairy tales, spinning the two together into a cohesive whole. For another character, it would be a coping mechanism, a distancing one, but Astri uses them to understand her own situation more clearly. She's always up-front about how the stories differ from each other, and unlike in the folktales, in her story, the actions she takes actually have consequences for herself and for other people. The villains, too—her aunt and uncle, Svaalberd—aren't demonized, they aren't simply flat-out monsters. They DO act monstrously, but Astri has an impressively fair-minded perspective of them, in that she considers their situations, their motivations, their outlooks.
The history. Beyond the fairy tales, beyond the adventure, West of the Moon is an AWESOME work of historical fiction about family, immigration, about trying to better your situation, and again, about becoming your own rescuer. Preus works in a TON of details about the period, the place, and the culture—I especially loved all of the commentary about the shift/clash between folk beliefs and church beliefs—but she does it so organically that I didn't even pick up on most of them until I read her (fantastically extensive) Author's Note and Bibliography.
If you've got readers clamoring for the gruesome, then look no further: This book is so gross! SO GROSS! Lots of gore, lots of poop, lots of hideous goings-on at the local slaughterhouse and meat-packing plant. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few young omnivores go vegetarian after reading it.
What would you do if the zombie apocalypse started in your own town? Middle school baseball players Rabi, Miguel, and Joe don't just fight for their lives, they try to follow in the footsteps of their hero Spider Jerusalem—the fact that they were Transmetropolitan fans made me shriek with joy—to reveal the corruption and greed that caused it, as well as the people who are still trying to cover it up.
Holy cow, for a small book, it deals with a LOT of stuff, and it deals with it in depth. The banter between the boys is excellent and funny, as are the dynamics of their friendship: they always have each others' backs, there's complete trust and affection there, and they all know how to play to each others' strengths.
They all have large issues to contend with—Rabi is the main target of a racist bully on their team, Miguel's parents have been deported due to their immigration status and lives in fear of the rest of his family being picked up next, and Joe's father is a mean drunk—but while the issues certainly have a bearing on the storyline and on their worldviews, they're dealt with in a pretty matter-of-fact, non-preachy way. The immigration storyline, especially, was well-handled: Bacigalupi doesn't get into the politics, he just tells a story in which a kid has to deal with a situation that is (and has always been) completely out of his hands, but that has a direct impact on his future. Basically, Bacigalupi focuses on people, rather than on policy. Interwoven into all of it is a dark thread about money equaling power, but it does end on a hopeful note that suggests that information, knowledge, and—this is so awesome—STORY will eventually punch through it all.
It won't be for everyone—like I said, SO GROSS—but I really enjoyed it.
These books are new to me: according to the website, it's a series of stand-alone horror/romance graphic novels. In this first one, high school softball star Dicey Bell and science geek/gamer Jack get paired up for a class project, sparks fly, and then they have to team up to fight a zombie uprising. So it looks like it's the old Opposites Attract And Have To Find A Way To Contend With Their Differences Amid Unrelated Chaos storyline. Of which I am a fan, so I'm going to pick it up soon.
There's a lot to love there (I didn't know that she eloped! Or that she wrote Leave it to Beaver tie-ins.), but I especially liked this bit:
WHEN ASKED “WHY DO YOU THINK THAT CHILDREN LOVE RAMONA QUIMBY SO MUCH?” SHE GAVE THIS WONDERFUL ANSWER:
“Because [Ramona] does not learn to be a better girl. I was so annoyed with the books in my childhood, because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t. They just grew, and so I started Ramona… and she has never reformed. [She’s] really not a naughty child, in spite of the title Ramona the Pest. Her intentions are good, but she has a lot of imagination, and things sometimes don’t turn out the way she expected.”
Random House Children’s Books has acquired actress Amanda Peet’s new children’s book Dear Santa, Love Rachel Rosenstein. Peet co-wrote the title with her friend Andrea Troyer.
The book is about a young Jewish girl who doesn’t quite understand why Santa Claus never brings her gifts. “When my two children, Frankie and Molly, started asking me why we don’t have a Christmas tree and colored lights on the roof and a plate of cookies for Santa, it was hard to come up with an appealing answer,” explained Peet in a statement. “The book came out of a desire to capture the feeling of being left out during the Christmas holidays and to explain how you can’t alwaysget what you want—and how sorting that out, for Jews and Gentiles alike, is part of what the holiday spirit is all about.”
Does anyone have a BACA Bingo Card out there? Because, based on this short description, this one would pretty dang close to winning;
Co-written with a friend? Check.
Book written "for her own children"? Check.
Book that is slated to pub during the holiday season? Check.
Book that teaches a lesson? Check.
I wonder who's going to illustrate it. THAT COULD GIVE ME THE WINNING SQUARE!
I have a soft spot for Norse mythology, and believe it or not, said affection DOES predate Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston's respective portrayals of Thor and Loki. Maybe it's because our childhood dog was named Loki? Or because of all of the shenanigans in Douglas Adams' Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul?
Wherever and whenever the affection stems from, it's made me happy to see more and more of it trickle into the YA section.
So, here are a few that are on my radar, some that I've read, some that I'd like to read:
These—or at least Loki's Wolves, I haven't read Odin's Ravens yet—are geared more middle-grade, but they're totally crossovers, so I'm including them. Despite being natural enemies, a descendant of Thor teams up with two descendants of Loki to roadtrip around South Dakota, looking for other young descendants of the gods in order to prevent Ragnarok. Understandably, Loki's Wolves gets cited as a Percy Jackson readalike pretty often, though it's worth mentioning that it doesn't have nearly as much humor as the Riordan books. While I found Matt's Must Protect Laurie Because She's A Girl mentality grating, it was in keeping with his personality and upbringing and worldview. (Less explicable was this line—He supposed if a girl that pretty was checking Baldwin out, the guy must be good-looking.—because, come on. Just because someone is straight doesn't mean that he is incapable of gauging whether or not another dude is conventionally attractive.)
There's lots of action, though, the full-page black-and-white illustrations complement the text well, and I loved how Armstrong and Marr incorporated historic spots (Deadwood) and other landmarks (Mount Rushmore). I'll be reading the second one at some point.
If this book hadn't been by Tessa Gratton, I'd have never picked it up due to the atrocious cover art. So here's hoping it gets redesigned at some point. (Oh, look, I got my wish. Still not great, and the model is either at a really weird angle or the image was created by just Photoshopping Matt Bomer's disembodied head onto someone else's shoulders, but it's an improvement over straight-up Skeet Ulrich. I think?-->)
Fan of Gratton's work—if you haven't discovered her yet, you're in fora treat—have probably already read this one. It's another roadtrip story, this one about a berserker and a prophetess searching for Baldur, who's gone missing. While the relationship dynamics and the family secrets are totally compelling, and while Gratton does a great job of integrating familiar myths but keeping the plotting unpredictable, for me, this one was all about the worldbuilding, which was FANTASTIC. I'm really looking forward to the sequel.
And that does it for the ones I've actually read! But there are so many more...
Despite having bought it ages ago, I'd been putting this one off because I'm a little bit afraid of it—I've heard that it's gut-wrenching—but no one told me that the faith system of the characters is based on Norse myths! So that, combined with my love of Catch & Release, means I'm bumping it waaaay up the TBR pile.
This trilogy sounds pretty light-hearted, which is understandably unusual in books dealing with Norse mythology. A girl moves from LA to Minnesota and discovers that she's a 'stork': a woman who pairs unborn souls up with their mothers-to-be. Bonus: In addition to the Norse stuff, there's some Snow Queen action!
A panel of parents, teachers and Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school officials voted unanimously Wednesday to keep a book that uses the word "retarded" in the libraries of nine district schools.
Jenna Boutain, a Farmington resident whose daughter attends a district school, requested in April that the book "Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You" by Barthe DeClements be removed from schools because it uses a derogatory term for students with special needs.
A group of Wilmington police officers has been blanketing the city in an effort to book kids – and the kids love it.
The books, in this case, are in the trunks of police cruisers. Master Cpl. Gary Tabor found children's literature had been missing in the homes he entered while he was a member of the department's major crime unit. He discussed it with his wife, Melissa, a school teacher, who told him about the importance of children having reading materials readily available.
Tabor grabbed 50 of his children's old books and began passing them out to children in the Riverside housing community, essentially starting the "Book 'Em Cops and Kids Literacy Initiative."
(Image from the article. There are loads more, including lots of pictures featuring kids actually, you know, LOOKING AT BOOKS, but this one just killed me.)
National Ambassador for Children's Literature and 2014 Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo's fourth title in the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series, an older spin off of the Mercy Watson series, featuring the much reviled neighbor as she comes to terms with a surprise gift, that at once maddens and challenges her, and to her chagrin, the gift is nonreturnable, to Karen Lotz and Andrea Tompa at Candlewick.
And a YA:
Rebecca Podos's debut THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, pitched as PICTURE ME GONE meets PAPER TOWNS, about the daughter of a bestselling mystery writer, who sets out to find her missing father using the skills she has learned from his books, and -- along the way -- uncovers truths hidden in the loneliness that has marked the family since her mother abandoned them years before, to Jordan Brown at Balzer & Bray, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2016.