It seems like I am always looking for more time to read! Here are some books that I have recently enjoyed that I would like to share:
CHICKADEE, by Louise Erdrich is the fourth book in her mid-grade Birchbark House series. The entire series is a terrific counterpoint to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Erdrich follows Omakyas as she grows up and has children of her own, one of them being the title character of this new book. And Chickadee has won the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. (Erdrich also took home the National Book Award this past December for her adult book, Roundhouse.) All four books in this series have been a real treat to read.
CREWEL is Gennifer Albin's debut fantasy about a society tightly controlled by Spinsters, who weave the very fabric of life in Arras. Adelice Lewis has the gift, and she is taken away to begin her glamorous new life at the loom. But when she discovers the unjust conventions imposed upon her, and upon all of the Spinsters, by the ruling men of the Guild, the feisty Adelice refuses to play along. Crewel, the first in a series, is a fun and suspenseful read.
THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND, by Margo Lanagan, is a fascinating take on the Selkie story. When witchy Misskaella calls the first seal woman up from the ocean, all of the men on Rollrock Island are lost. They will pay her anything to possess one of these strange beauties. With gorgeous prose, the story is revealed through successive generations of Rollrock inhabitants, the men, women, and children who are so affected by Misskeala's wrath.
RED KNIT CAP GIRL, by Naoko Stoop, was on the list of NY Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2012 and it's clear why. The illustrations are beautifully done in acrylic, ink, and pencil on plywood, with the grain allowed to show through. The author/illustrator uses her talents to bring us a story about the moon, and a girl who solves her own problems, too.
NIGHTTIME NINJA, by Barbara DaCosta with art by Ed Young, is anther striking picture book. Illustrated with cut paper, textured cloth, string and colored pencil, this is a powerful story with a very few, perfectly placed words.
THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN, by James Agee is full of goofy fun. Beginning with a backwards cover, we follow a taxi cab driver as he takes his passenger through the Finkon Tunnel to the other side of town. Where the Spankees play baseball, the roads are full of spot holes, and when it gets dark, you need to turn on your nog lights. This book reminds me of all the time I spent reading The Hungry Thing, by Jan Slepian, to my kids, and also recalls a favorite episode of Dan Greenberg's The Zack Files, which featured that very famous baseball team, the NY Yunkees. Agee is also the author of a number of my family's most cherished books, including Palindromania! Go Hang a Salami! I'm a Lasagna Hog! and Who Ordered the Jumbo Shrimp?