Dad's just gone to the corner shop when he sees a giant spacecraft floating overhead. And then something odd happens. Gaiman is the king of the mountain when it comes to imbuing the mundane
with the fantastic, and sometimes it seems the only threat to knock him
off his throne is whatever book he writes next. This short chapter book for young readers holds the title for now.
A lot of atlases are informative, but few are
as beautiful as this, with its hand-drawn maps. Kids will love it (if
they can pry it out of their parents' hands). Great for ages 7 to 77.
Comedy and game-playing are the order of the day in Escape from Mr. Lemencello's Library. The title character is a Wonka-like figure who's designed the new town library and invited a select group of fun-loving kids to stay there overnight. But they won't be allowed to leave unless they solve all the puzzles and mysteries that stand between them and the way out. Great for 8- to 12-year-olds.
From the inventive mind that brought us the Bartimaeus trilogy comes this new fantasy for pre-teens. London is plagued by ghosts, and only the young have the ability to detect them. Lucy and Anthony have launched a spectral eradication firm, Lockwood and Co., in an intensely competitive, kid-only environment. There's action-packed suspense galore and plenty of haunted houses to explore.
Brilliant, obsessive Willow is left orphaned by an auto accident, but her story, while moving, isn't a downer. Anyone past the age of ten or so (including grownups) will be impressed by this novel. To enumerate all the good things about it, we'd have to count by sevens.
A unique masterpiece, aptly described by its publisher: "poems to provide comfort, courage, and humor at difficult or daunting
moments in life. It conjures forth laments, spells, invocations, chants,
blessings, promises, songs, and charms. Here are pleas on how to repair
a friendship, wishes to transform one’s life or to slow down time,
charms to face the shame of a disapproving crowd, invocations to ask for
forgiveness, to understand the mysteries of happiness, and to bravely
face a dark and different world. These words help us remember or grieve;
they bolster courage and guard against evil; they help us celebrate and
give thanks." And that summary doesn't even mention the art by one of our favorite illustrators, Pamela Zagarenski. It's hard to say who'll love this the most, a first grader who still loves picture books, a twelve-year-old with an ear for language, or an adult who's looking for solace or inspiration.
This lightly-fictionalized account of a true story details the Atlantic slave trade as seen through the wide eyes of a child. Stolen from her homeland, Magulu is aboard the Amistad when its human cargo mutinies in a desperate bid for freedom. The subsequent court case goes all the way to the Supreme Court before justice triumphs and Magulu can win her life back. Lavishly illustrated, this is the perfect book to introduce middle-grade readers to the reality of the past.
It's about teens, and teens will love it, but so may their parents. The throwback setting (1986! Ancient!) will be either exotic or familiar, depending, but either way, this story of a burgeoning relationship between two misfits, built on banter and shared geeky interests, is compelling.
What's a Best of the Year list without a little dystopia? Thrills abound in this series opener that, as USA Today says, "should do for aliens what Twilight did for vampires." Beware of THEM . . . .
There aren't too many settings more vivid than the one you'll find here--the French Quarter of New Orleans in the 1950s. 17-year-old Josie is trying to escape this seedy milieu, but a murder and her own family past might hold her back in this strong drama for teens.