Thursday, October 27, 2016

Roller Girl

Written by: Victoria Jamieson

First line: If you really want to know, it all began in fifth grade.

Why you should read this book: When Astrid falls in love with roller derby, she's excited that she and her best friend Nicole can spend the whole summer at roller derby camp, until Nicole informs her that she's going to ballet camp instead. Now Astrid's down one friend, and to make matters worse, she realizes she doesn't know how to skate. Over a strenuous, eye-opening summer, Astrid begins to figure out who she is without Nicole, and what it means to be a friend.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't get why anyone would want to go to roller derby camp or ballet camp.

John Jensen Feel Different

Written by: Henrik Hovland and Torill Kove

First line: This is John Jensen.

Why you should read this book: John Jensen doesn't understand exactly why he feels he is different, although astute young readers will note that it's because he's a crocodile living in a world of humans, although they all seem to accept him as a normal human. He tries various strategies to help him fit in without success, and end up being detrimental in the long run. Fortunately, his trip to the emergency room leads him to Dr. Field, who looks suspiciously like an elephant, but has found ways to turn his differences into advantages.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're a total conformist.

The Ghosts Go Scaring

Written by: Chrissy Bozik and Patricia Storms

First line: The ghosts go scaring one by one, hurrah! hurrah!

Why you should read this book: A silly ghost counting book based on the tune, "The Ants Go Marching One by One." Kids can easily pick up the chant and will enjoy singing along. Good for Halloween read-alouds.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You are extremely susceptible to earworms.

The Dangerous Alphabet

Written by: Neil Gaiman and Chris Grimly

First line: A is for Always, that's where we embark.

Why you should read this book: I don't know if it's the most gruesome alphabet book ever written, illustrated, and distributed, but it definitely takes a note from the Ghashlycrumb Tinies. Horrid and evil things happen to a pair of vaguely Victorian children as they travel through a sewer infested with monsters and cannibal pirates and the letters of the alphabet, A to Z. Just about what you'd expect from Neil Gaiman's alphabet book.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Most kids can handle this sort of thing, but some grownups might be overwhelmed by the morbidity.

Thirteen O'Clock

Written by: James Stimson

First line: It was the middle of the late hours, twelve fifty-nine to be precise.

Why you should read this book: In a fairly normal house, a fairly normal baby goth has a creepy clock. When it strikes thirteen, with every toll, a variety of spooky monsters emerge and descend upon the delighted child. With rollicking verse and unearthly illustrations, it creates an appropriately spooky, but not at all scary, Halloween atmosphere.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't want an appropriately spooky, but not at all scary, Halloween atmosphere.

No Such Thing

Written by: Ella Bailey

First line: One cool day in late October Georgia noticed something weird.

Why you should read this book: A skeptical little girl refuses to be scared of things that go bump in the night, rationally explaining away every spooky anomaly. What makes this book a real crowd-pleaser is the fact that Georgia's world is actually haunted. Young readers will enjoy spotting the dozens of ghosts hiding on every page, which our clever heroine never sees.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't want to believe.

Mrs. Mo's Monster

Written by: Paul Beavis

First line: One day there is a knock at the front door.

Why you should read this book: Newcomer monster has terrible manners but Mrs. Mo patiently corrects all his crunching, munching, and chewing. The monster learns that sometimes it's fun to be helpful. He even learns to recognize rudeness in others.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're deliberately destructive even thought you know it's not OK.

The Shortkut: A Tail of the Porkus

Written by: Rick Sardinha

First line: Idle apples are the Devil's workshop.

Why you should read this book: This mostly silent comic offers a colorful and spot-on tribute to George Herriman and his groundbreaking Krazy Kat comics while creating an entirely new world built over the familiar, insane structure of Kokonino Kounty. Sardinha's modern hero must drive a truckload of melons through flying-pig-infested territory or risk not getting paid for the job. It's hilarious.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You can't seen the sublime in the ridiculous.


Written by: Kurt Vonnegut

First line: The thing was: One million years ago, back in 1986 A.D., Guayaquil was the chief seaport of the little South American democracy of Ecuador, whose capital was Quito, high in the Andes Mountain.

Why you should read this book: Pure Vonnegut: a ghostly narrator points out the fatal flaws of the human race as it exists today and explains how civilization as we know it ends, along with the details of natural selection that helped out species evolve to be happier and better suited to our environment. A cast of ultimately human characters and mistakes skip along from disaster to disaster, and finally to salvation. Expect cynicism.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't understand cynicism. 

The Half Child

Written by: Kathleen Hersom

First line: It is cuckoo time in the year of our Lord 1700.

Why you should read this book: Lucy loves her weird, vivacious, troublesome little sister, even though everyone else in their village and most of her family seem to think that young Sarah is a changeling left by the fairies. When Sarah disappears, everyone encourages Lucy to forget about the girl, but Sarah never quite gives up hope. Even when she meets a boy who seems to have some idea of what might have happened to Sarah, Lucy knows that the world is magical and full of possibilities.

Why you shouldn't read this book: It's not exactly a happy ending, but it's not exactly and unhappy ending either.

Emily's Runaway Imagination

Written by: Beverly Clearly

First line: The things that happened to Emily Bartlett that year!

Why you should read this book: For a book written more than fifty years ago, and set about a hundred years ago, this story remains remarkably fresh and charming. Emily's natural childish enthusiasm is infectious, and her relationship with herself, her family, and the culture and technology of her world is still relatable as it ever was. I can't remember when I last laughed at a scene in a book as I did when, in her efforts to follow instructions, she inadvertently gets her father's pigs drunk.

Why you shouldn't read this book: No interest in being completely charmed by a children's book.

No Place for Me

Written by: Barthe DeClements

First line: Sitting on the deck overlooking Lake Washington, I felt the morning sun warm me into a lazy daze.

Why you should read this book: Copper's mother is in treatment for her substance abuse issues, and her stepfather needs to travel for business, so Copper is shunted off from one family to the next. She may be a little spirited, but she also can't catch a break from her own kin, until she's nearly out of options. Everyone says her Aunt Maggie is a witch, and they may be right, but Copper doesn't have any choice but to try to understand and learn to love her weird relative.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You have rejection issues.

Born to Read

Written by: Judy Sierra

First line: In the town of Sunny Skies/A tiny baby blinked his eyes/At dragons dancing overhead/And letters painted on his bed.

Why you should read this book: In bouncy, attractive rhyme, a young boy finds that every problem can be solved with the knowledge gleaned from books. Even in the case of traumatic and unusual emergency, in which no books list the solution, books are still the solution. Great for love of reading initiatives.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're illiterate.


Zomo the Rabbit

Written by: Gerald McDermott

First line: Zomo! Zomo the rabbit!

First line: Blessed with speed and cleverness but little sense, Zomo asks Sky God for wisdom, which he will receive if he accomplishes three impossible tasks. Using trickery he succeeds and is granted the wisdom to not do the reckless things he did in pursuit of wisdom. One of many lovely world trickster tales by this author.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You never learn. And you're slow.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Written by: Mo Willems

First line: Once upon a time, there were three dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur, and some other dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.

Why you should read this book: In this twisted take on an old favorite, the little girl is naughtier than ever, but the dinosaurs have eagerly set their trap. Clever kids will enjoy being surprised by the way their intention subtly changes the narrative. Fun fractured fairy tale.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You doubt a creature with a brain the size of a walnut could outsmart even a stupid kid.