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Bedtime Report #8

I know it's not quite Fall and Halloween time yet, but I'm always ready to curl up with something deliciously dark that'll make me shiver in my blanket and reach for a warm mug ... especially if it's middle grade. So, I was thrilled that Katherine Arden's latest book in her Small Spaces series just came out, and you guessed it, that's my top recommendation in older kid lit this week. If you haven't read the first two books, go back and do so. Right now. You'll never look at scarecrows and mirrors the same way. As for the latest, Dark Waters, well, this book makes me feel quite vindicated in my hesitation to swim in murky ponds and deep lakes! I missed Ollie's perspective at first but Brian's grew on me, and it was nice to get more development of his character and Phil's character through him. My only other (mild) complaint was that it felt like it ended more abruptly than the others.

In picture books, the kids and I loved exploring the soft but engaging illustrations in The Smile Shop by Satoshi Kitamura and journeying along with a boy who has an important decision to make. Equally lovely and compelling, Amy June Bates' When I Draw a Panda takes the reader on a different sort of trip, through the winding strokes of one girl's imagination. It's reminiscent of Peter Reynolds' Ish and Barney Saltzberg's Beautiful Oops!, and we now love all three! They're perfect reads for your art enthusiasts ... and reluctant artists.

Like many kids of late, mine just started back to school, and my youngest embarked on first grade. Since we're partial to pirate speak around here, that made this next book a perfectly roguish adventure the night before school started ... Conquer the high seas (and your classroom) with A Pirate's Guide to First Grade by James Preller and Greg Ruth!

Finally, we read a number of picture book bios this week (and I finished writing a draft for one, about which I'm super-excited!). A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi by James Yang takes a beautifully lyrical approach to the life and work of an often overlooked Japanese American artist while Carter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson and Don Tate (whose own biographies and other illustrated works I love) overviews the accomplishments of another significant historical figure too often left out of the mainstream narrative.

That's enough out of me. Time to get reading!

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