Award-winning memoirist and critic Daniel Mendelsohn will discuss his latest book, An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and An Epic. Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Library Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, and Newsday, An Odyssey tells the story of a father and son’s transformative journey in reading—and reliving—Homer’s epic masterpiece.
In the beginning, there were three colors: red, yellow and blue. Each color lived in a separate harmony until they all decided they were better than one another. The blues were too calm and cool to care, but the reds and yellows were furious with everyone. The city became divided: friendships were torn apart, businesses closed and neighborhoods were wrecked! Then one day, a calm blue met a bright yellow and they decided they liked one another. However, their fondness for one another is tested when other colors turn on them and state they can’t like one another because they are not the same color. This vibrant story is an excellent lesson in co-existing and helping each other, of all colors and backgrounds, to grow. Readers are sure to fall in love with Arree Chung’s storytelling and fun, colorful illustrations that make each color character pop!
Eleven-year-old Elizabeth Somers doesn’t want to go to Winterhouse hotel over Christmas break, but her aunt and uncle send her there anyway. But she soon falls in love with Winterhouse and the all the activities it offers including visiting the massive library. She even becomes friends with another unaccompanied kid named Freddy. Elizabeth learns that there are secrets and mysteries in the hotel, and even discovers a book in the library that may be the key to the mystery of Winterhouse. Can she and Freddy crack the code and end the curse of Winterhouse forever? Winterhouse is a perfect book for those who enjoy the Mr. Lemoncello series and other puzzle-filled books. There are numerous references to other books and tons of word puzzles and codes throughout. Charming as an audiobook, the narration by Sophie Amoss is perfect for setting the tone and bringing the characters to life. However, illustrations in the print version add to the overall tone of the book. In either format, Winterhouse has the perfect balance of mystery and fantasy and is a wonderful start to a new trilogy.
Have you ever been so angry that you feel that you feel like you’re a monster? That’s what happens to Allie after her crayon breaks. But then her brother gives her a pillow to hit, because she couldn’t hurt it and she starts to feel better. Slowly, step by step, using different centering and anger management skills, Allie calms down. Finally with a hug, the last bit of anger and sadness goes away and Allie is back where a monster once was. Allie All Along is a wonderful picture book aimed at preschool children. The story validates a child’s anger while showing different methods to cope with overwhelming emotion. The monster that overtakes Allie when she becomes angry is a relatable image for children who can’t always put their feelings into words. The illustrations add immensely to the story as a visual representation of Allie calming down by having the monster become smaller and less vividly colored.
Kimmy is so excited for her class’s field trip to a Natural History Museum. She loves collecting rocks, gems and especially fossils! As soon as they enter the dinosaur exhibit, Kimmy recounts all the facts she knows, and she knows a lot. That is until Jake says the words, “girls aren’t scientists”. Kimmy immediately becomes insecure and starts to believe Jake, especially when she sees a whole wall of only male paleontologists. Mr. Tiffin, her teacher, notices and motions Kimmy over to a special display of a dinosaur recently discovered by a female paleontologist. As Kimmy reads about this amazing female in her favorite science field, she gains her confidence back. This story starts as a lesson about dinosaurs, the differences between them and fun facts about all of the different kinds. However, this story has a much deeper and important lesson: representation matters.
With more than twenty possible endings, The Oregon Trail: The Race to Chimney Rock is a fun-filled choose-your-own-adventure style book. Unlike many similar books, the ending of the book sets the reader up for the next title in this four-book series. But be aware out of all of the possible paths in the book, only one will get you to Chimney Rock alive. After the introduction, the reader is encouraged to read a trail guide which provides background information on survival and what challenges to expect on the trail. If you make smart decisions, you just might make it successfully to Chimney Rock. The Oregon Trail: The Race to Chimney Rock is a fast-paced adventure that will keep the reader re-reading until they can correctly make it up Chimney Rock. The book series is based on the old video game some parents may remember from the 1980’s and 90’s, and yes just like in the game, you may die of dysentery.
Bear likes things just so. He cleans his house every day and he always takes good care of his stuffed friend Ursa. But one day Bear finds something odd in his house: a book was left on the floor. Bear knows he would have never done that but who did? A closer look gives Bear the answer. There was a spider in the house and it was making a mess, leaving webs everywhere! When looking for the uninvited visitor, Ursa gets hurt. Spider helps Ursa and it is the start of a new friendship between the three of them. Bear’s Scare is full of charming simple illustrations which add visual cues to further the story. The tale’s wonderful message that friendship can be found at the most unexpected times and places is a lesson that never gets old.
Meet Yasmin! – a second grade explorer, painter, builder and fashionista! In this short, beginner’s chapter book, Yasmin tackles her problems with energy and imagination that young readers will easily understand. Whether she’s nervous to create art for an art contest, or loses track of where her mom goes at the market, Yasmin finds creative solutions to troublesome worries. In addition to the short chapters, back matter with book questions, facts about Pakistan, Urdu words, a craft and a recipe provide relevant factual and cultural information on Pakistan. Faruqi’s depiction of the delightful Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani family along with Hatem Aly’s colorful illustrations will appeal to many beginning readers who want a story with big heart. Recommended for K-2nd graders.
Two boys, one from the United States and the other from Syria, find themselves in Brussels, Belgium, where they barely speak the language. Thirteen year old Max is the son of a defense consultant to NATO who is spending the year in Brussels with his family. Ahmed is a fourteen year old refugee who has lost everything and is now stranded in the same city. When their lives begin to inexplicably intertwine, they will learn the true meaning of friendship and bravery. In this timely and poignant novel, Katherine Marsh explores the divisive refugee crisis and humanizes the young refugees fleeing towards a better life. Nowhere Boy is a gripping story that seamlessly weaves modern day issues with issues from the past while exploring difficult topics. This novel is a great contemporary read for fans of historical fiction grades 4 and up.
Julián is a young boy who often travels on the bus with his abuela (grandmother). One day he sees three beautiful women wearing fancy dresses that almost make them look like mermaids. Julián tells his grandmother that he wants to be a mermaid. While she sets off for her bath and leaves Julián alone, he dresses himself up as a mermaid with some curtains and flowers. When his abuela comes back from her bath, she seems him all dressed up. Julián is nervous about how his abuela will react but she decides to show him just how wonderful, unique and loved he truly is. The illustrations in this book include vibrant spreads and depictions that pop off the page and draw the reader in. This great story about self-actualization explores themes of self-love and being surrounded by a supportive community.
Carlos’s mom runs Las Pistas Detective Agency and is set to start on a new case when she becomes sick. Carlos knows it could be the end of the company if a detective doesn’t show up to interview the rich client, Guinevere LeCavalier. Carlos decides to take on the case ever though he has never solved a mystery. With help from his friend Eliza and his little brother Frank, he knows he can do it. However, there is one other person helping the trio – YOU – the reader. After interviewing the client, hearing about the threats she has received and the treasure her husband left her in his will, you have to decide what questions to ask next. Should you find out more about the threats or the treasure? That’s only the first decision you have to make to see if it can be a CASE CLOSED!
Case Closed: Mystery in the Mansion by Lauren Magaziner is a humorous and engaging read filled with clues, and puzzles. Since the story changes with every decision you make, it may never be the same story twice.
There is an unspoken rule, written in stone, that dinosaurs do not scratch! When one dinosaur spots the stone’s message, he immediately takes it to heart. What ensues is mayhem as dinosaurs big and small do their best to toughen up and not scratch their itchy spots. This book features Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggy at the beginning and end, which is a nice treat for the readers. The best part about this story is its unlikely friendships that develop between some very different dinosaurs. Written completely in dialogue and speech bubbles, this early reader book is great to read aloud and for emerging readers in Grades 1-3.
Ghoulia is just like any other girl. She lives with her aunt and dog near a village, but there is one little difference: Ghoulia is a zombie. But like any other child, she wants friends. Her aunt doesn’t allow her to play with or even meet the children in the village for fear that they would be scared. After spying on the village children from the safety of the her yard, Ghoulia learns about a day that children dress up like monsters and ask for trick or treats. Ghoulia decides this “Halloween” is the perfect day to introduce herself to the village children and make friends. She meets the other children and has fun but when she forgets to act like a “real” child what will her new friends think and do? Ghoulia is an adorable story about acceptance and the true meaning of friendship. The illustrations, which are reminiscent of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey, add to the mood of the book while remaining lighthearted. All together it makes for an enjoyable start to a new series for 1st to 3rd graders.