Books We Love
April 2013 edition
Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Sara Varon. Coming from First Second Books in May, 2013. My kids ages 4-17 enjoyed this amusing graphic novel about two ducks who quack to the beat of their own drummers. Yep, that's a pretty big age rangeâ€”this is a book with wide appeal. My younger kids loved the whimsical art and the ducks' goofy antics (Theodora swims with a teacup on her head; Chad scratches his head with a fork); my tweens & teens were drawn to the book's humorous, sensitive exploration of embracing your friends' quirksâ€”and your own, as well. Theodora and Chad are both decidedly odd ducks, and that's exactly what they come to appreciate about each other, despite their very different temperaments. This is a book with real heart. And Sara Varon's illustrations are wonderfully appealing, loaded with small, captivating details that keep you poring over the page. My kids especially love the pictures of constellations, complete with labels. (Theodora is a stargazer, just like us.)
Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier, illustrated by Suzy Lee. Chronicle Books, Dec. 2012. I love a picture book that plays with form, and this is one of the most playful I've ever seen. My younger kids (ages 9, 6, and 4) are enchanted by the clever book-within-a-book-within-a-book (and so on) story that unfolds between these covers. "Open this little red book and read about Ladybug...who opens a little green book and reads about Frog...who opens a little orange book..." Each time you turn the page, you find a smaller book nested inside. Utterly delightful. And the art is simply scrumptious. This is a book you'll be asked to read aloud over and over.
Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley. Clarion Books, March 2013. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's poems have been delighting my family for yearsâ€”we are frequent visitors to her blog, The Poem Farm. Forest Has a Song is a collection of nature poems and is one of the loveliest things I've seen all year. Robbin Gourley's art is a perfect match for Amy's lyrical writing. The book inspired my six-year-old daughter to write Amy a fan letter; you can read it (and see Amy's reply in the comments) at my blog, Here in the Bonny Glen. April is National Poetry Month, and this gorgeous volume is a perfect way to celebrate. You'll want to get out into nature yourself, coaxing chickadees to your hand, studying fern fronds, and searching for fossils.
The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Houghton Mifflin, 1958. Is there anything more promising than a novel that opens with a young person traveling to a mysterious ancestral home for the first time? The Secret Garden, The Children of Green Knowe, The Little White Horse; even, if you stretch it a little, Emily of New Moon. Delicious books with perfectly delicious beginnings. The Sherwood Ring is a book of this sort, and itâ€™s one of the deliciousest. What a fabulous book: mystery, romance, humor, history.
Seventeen-year-old Peggyâ€™s father has died and sheâ€™s been sent to live with her curmudgeonly uncle in upstate New York, at a (you guessed it) mysterious ancestral home called, delightfully and evocatively, Rest-and-Be-Thankful. Uncle Enosâ€™s passion and lifelong obsession is Revolutionary War-era history; he has spent his life preserving the late-eighteenth-century aura and custom of the huge family home in which George Washington himself was reputed to have spent a night.
Not only is Rest-and-Be-Thankful rich in history, it has ghosts... (Read the rest of my review.)