Everyone should read Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird; at least that’s what eighth-graders Lucy and her friends Michael and Elena think. In fact, they believe so strongly in this summer reading-list classic that they decide to put their clever and surreptitious marketing skills to work to get everyone talking about—and searching for—the book. The trio begins creatively “hiding” copies of the book in stores and libraries; they’re not doing anything illegal, just generating some buzz.
From the title of Jonathan Auxier’s fascinating, original (and more than a little creepy) version of a Victorian ghost story, one might suppose that The Night Gardener is, like The Secret Garden, a sweet, perhaps a bit sentimental, coming-of-age story. And while the novel does share some elements with the classic tale, including orphans (Molly and her little brother Kip); a creepy mansion; spoiled children (Penny and Alistair Windsor); and somewhat magical growing things, The Night Gardener is decidedly darker—in the most delicious and delightful way.
Who hasn’t imagined a new life, with new parents, in an exciting place? And a castle—definitely a castle! With chefs and maids and servants—everything you could ever want. In Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times, written by Emma Trevayne, 10-year-old Jack gets exactly this. Unfortunately, things are not as wonderful as they may seem.
Suzy’s summer begins with an emergency: Mrs. Harden, her neighbor and honorary grandmother, suddenly collapses. Thanks to the quick thinking of Suzy's little brother, Parker, who calls 911, Mrs. Harden is whisked to the hospital and is soon on her way to a full recovery.
When you open a children’s book, it’s not fair to expect the characters to be ready every time. This is especially true if it’s by Hervé Tullet, the New York Times best-selling author of Press Here. When you open the equally inventive Help! We Need a Title!, you find a princess and a pig tossing a ball together until they notice that you, the reader, have arrived. “Hey! Someone’s watching us! . . . And they’ve opened our book!” The full cast of characters appear and realize that—of course—you would like a story.
It’s an accepted fact that elephant seals (who can weigh between 2,000 pounds for females and 8,000 for males) live their lives by and in the ocean, where they eat squid, cuttlefish and even small sharks. But as a young boy named Michael and the rest of the friendly folks in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, find out, there are always individuals—whether humans or seals—who prefer doing things exactly their own way.
Three picture books about racing use the excitement of competition to introduce themes of cooperation, collaboration and sharing.
By age 6, Kara Westfall has seen and suffered unimaginable loss: Her mother was convicted of witchcraft, and Kara was accused as well. By 12 she’s developed a dark sense of humor, but she’s a dutiful sister to younger brother Taff and tries to care for her grieving father. Their village hates and fears her, so when a strange bird appears in her path and leads her into the Thickety, the oppressive forest that surrounds them, she’s frightened but curious. What she finds there will reshape her destiny.
Alan Rabinowitz is a champion of wildlife conservation. He is president and CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit wildlife organization devoted to protecting big cats. As he shares in his charming picture book for children, A Boy and a Jaguar, Rabinowitz's passion for defending wildcats comes from the struggle to find his own words as a child.
BookPage Children's Top Pick, May 2014
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Shaun Tan’s books are breathtaking—just consider his wordless graphic novel, The Arrival. But the effect is even more astounding when he puts words and images together, as he’s done in Rules of Summer. There is an underlying beauty to his work that transcends our everyday lives. His design sense is striking, and he pushes the boundaries of picture books in delightful ways.