Looking for books to fit a child who has reached the read-alone stage, or a gripping family read? The Wilde Awards for longer books follow. These will be published next Sunday in the Durham Herald Sun, but for those looking for last minute shopping ideas, I’m going to post these in advance!
First Novels (ages 5-8)
Dory Fantasmagory, Abby Hanlon (Dial) Comedic pictures and words describe the fantastical word of young Dory. A slew of imaginary friends provide comfort from her older siblings’ teasing. Hanlon’s words and illustrations capture the wide spectrum of the whole family’s feelings.
Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny John Himmelman (Henry Holt) Himmelman shows his passion for writing, illustrating and martial arts in thirteen short chapters that introduce Isabel, a zen heroine, the “best bunjitsu artist in her school.”
Tween Novels (ages 8-12)
Absolutely Almost , Lisa Graff (Philomel) Ten-year-old Albie has suffered his whole life with almost succeeding. While his overprotective mother and distant father don’t understand, his almost-babysitter, Calista, sees his need for compassion, listening and doughnuts.
Anybody Shining, Frances O’Roark Dowell (Atheneum) Big-hearted 12-year-old Arie Mae Sparks seeks a friend, a relationship with a cousin she’s never met, and the understanding of the “song catchers” who disparage her 1920’s mountain life. Along the way there are ghost stories, adventures, a superb storytelling voice, and well-woven research.
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson (Penguin) The writer’s memoir in verse has all the richness of her novels as she describes her life from birth through childhood, civil rights to Black Panthers, her parent’s divorce and her loving grandparents, and her storytelling start. Small sensory moments make the people and places vivid.
The Crossover, Kwame Alexander (HMH)
This fast-paced novel mixes poetry, sports, two engaging 13 year old twins and a heartbreaking slam dunk ending.
Jackaby , William Ritter (Algonquin) Daring Abigail Rook, has a unique view of her 1892 world, when hired by the eccentric R.F.Jackaby, a detective who specializes paranormal. Mystery, humor, adventure, the supernatural and a touch of horror speed the pacing.
Kinda Like Brothers , Coe Booth, (Scholastic) Jarrett’s not wild about his single mother dividing her energy between him and her foster babies. It’s worse when a toddler arrives with a big brother Jarrett’s age and the two boys struggle to understand each other and themselves.
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, Dana Alison Levy (Delacorte Press) 2 dads + 4 adopted boys + a Maine Coon cat + an imaginary cheetah + a crabby neighbor=a diversity of wild adventures of this warm, chaotic family.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, Karen Foxlee (Knopf)
Plucky Ophelia misses her recently deceased mother’s whimsy as she reluctantly joins an enchanted boy in saving the world. Foxlee effortlessly merges grief, adventure, and fairy tale.
The Red Pencil, Andrea Davis Pinkney (Little Brown)
Amira, at twelve, would like to go to school, but she’s mostly content living in her quiet Sudanese Village with her loving family. Everything changes instantly when the Janjaweed militia attack, kill her father and Amira’s family flees to a refugee camp. Shane Evans’ graceful line drawings compliment Pinkney’s evocative verses.
Rain Reign, Ann Martin (Feiwel and Friends)
Fifth-grader Rose annoys her classmates with her Asperger’s homonym obsession, but her resilience, intriguing interpretations and honesty will win readers immediately.
Saving Lucas Biggs , Maria de Los Santos and David Teague (HarperCollins)
Margaret O’Malley’s father blows the whistle on dangerous fracking, is wrongly sentenced to death, and Margaret helps by time-traveling to 1938. Strong characters and taut pacing in both time periods show, rather than preach, about social justice.
A Snicker of Magic , Natalie Lloyd (Scholastic)
Felicity (Flea) Pickle and her sister are nomads because of their wandering mother. Maybe, finally, they’ll settle in their mother’s hidden home of Midnight Gulch where inhabitants have “magic in their veins.” Words and whimsy enchant.