Parents of young children are obsessed with bedtime. We paint the nursery in calm pastels, pipe in white noise and read soothing stories in hopes of speeding and easing our children’s transition into sleep. From Margaret Wise Brown’s classic Goodnight Moon to Sandra Boynton’s The Going-to-Bed Book, bookstore shelves are full of soporific books. Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!, written by Todd Tarpley and illustrated by Caldecott honoree John Rocco, offers a refreshingly hip take on the bedtime story.
The Marvels opens with 400 pages of drawings telling the story of the fictional Royal Theatre in London and five generations of a family of actors. In 1766, young Billy Marvel runs off to sea, stowing away on the Kraken, the ship on which his older brother Marcus is a sailor. The ship sinks, and Billy is the sole survivor, along with his dog, Tar. Making his way eventually to London, Billy gets involved with the Royal Theater and becomes the progenitor of several generations of Marvels, great stage actors all.
Half-Japanese, half-black, Mimi Yoshiko Oliver loves looking at the moon and wants to be an astronaut. In January 1969, she moves from California to the frosty Vermont town of Hillsborough, an unwelcoming place. The farmer next door is always rude, and Mimi is teased at school. Even after she forms a tentative friendship with a girl named Stacey, she’s not invited to Stacey’s home. Then there’s the matter of shop class. Mimi would rather take shop than home ec so she can use power tools to work on her science project, but girls are supposed to “learn how to cook and sew so they can be good homemakers.”
“There were five of them. And they were waiting.” Thus opens Kevin Henkes’ latest picture book, featuring an unseen’s child five patient toys, all of whom sit in a windowsill and watch the world go by. There’s an owl, waiting for the moon; a pig with an umbrella, waiting for some rain; a bear with a kite, waiting for wind; a puppy on a sled, who longs for some snow; and a content rabbit who “wasn’t waiting for anything in particular. He just liked to look out the window and wait.”
Ten-year-old Christa Adams has a problem. Her parents are making the disastrous mistake of selling the family cabin in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, where Christa has spent every summer of her life. In the past, she might have had help reasoning with her parents from her sister, Amelia—but she’s been replaced by Amelia-the-Princess, who only seems to care about texting and tanning. Luckily for Christa, her new friend Alex might have a solution buried in his family’s past.
Debut novelist Kevin Sands is off to a roaring good start with The Blackthorn Key, which unfolds during six consecutive springtime days in 1665 London. Historical settings can be a bit off-putting to a young reader—they’re generally convinced that it’s going to be too “historical,” and without technology, how exciting can it be? But Sands imbues the story with all the realities of 17th-century England and still keeps the pace tripping along.
As a teenage boy who loves fashion, Francis is used to being teased and bullied at school, and he feels totally alone until he meets Jessica, a girl who shares his untraditional interests. But Jessica has a peculiarity of her own: For all her good spirits, she is thoroughly, completely and definitely dead. Francis is the only person who can see or hear her.
In a story whose title will immediately thrill children and whose charms will keep their attention till the happy end, Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson explore an unusual friendship—between a ghost named Leo and a little girl.
Best-selling authors—and friends—Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld buddy up to create this charming tribute to friendship.
Like an insect flying around your living room, Bug in a Vacuum by Mélanie Watts grabs your attention. A vacuum may seem an easy way to get rid of pests, but to one fly, this undignified “end” is actually a beginning.