I'm clearly way behind on my bedtime reports again! Since I last posted, we've worked our way up to Book 12 in the Magic Tree House series, Polar Bears Past Bedtime. Everyone needs an Arctic adventure some time, right? Meanwhile, independently, my ten-year-old has embarked on one of my favorite middle grade reads, Serafina and the Black Cloak, by Robert Beatty. (I've read this one three times and still adore it. Purely magical, mystifying and frightening fun! I'm so excited she's finally read it.) She's also loving Stuart Gibbs' FunJungle books. On my own middle grade adventures, I am gobbling up (with delightful shivers) Lindsay Currie's latest thriller What Lives in the Woods. Good thing you need to keep a light on to read ... unless you're hiding under the covers with your e-reader.
I want to add one more middle grade, this one in the historical fiction department, which (surprisingly) I haven't shared much in. Recently, we took my eldest to college in Philadelphia and got to explore the city. This, combined with the year+ of pandemic conditions, seemed to make the next read an appropriate and timely one. It didn't disappoint. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson is not only well-researched but also thoroughly engaging, and Anderson does a brilliant job weaving together historical context from more than 200 years ago with a main character who feels modern and relatable. English and Social Studies teachers unite! and add this one to your lists. It's awesome, and it reads quickly, with smoothly paced, succinct chapters and a good size font that won't make reluctant readers feel overwhelmed. It's a great narrative that offers lots to dig into.
In picture books, wow, so many good reads lately. I'm struggling to narrow these down.
Let's start with STEM. Fairy Science and Solid, Liquid, Gassy by Ashley Spires were just as delightful as her other books but they also packed a proper fairy punch about the importance of science, which is both magical and helpful. The premise is just so clever, and we always love her illustrations.
How about two sweet picture books? These are gentle, lyrical reads, both of which herald the changing seasons and star loveable furry critters. The first, Squirrel's Sweater, by Laura Renauld and Jennie Poh, follows Squirrel as she hurries to get ready for the Winter Warmup and discovers that her favorite sweater no longer fits. Squirrel reaches out to her woodland friends for help, and finds an unusual but satisfying solution of her own. There's an empowering maker angle and delightful maker activity to boot! The second, Woodland Dreams, by Karen Jameson and Marc Boutavant, is a gorgeously illustrated lullaby of a story perfect for quieting down and slipping into sleep. The art alone is worth every page turn but the words are beautifully crafted (and cozy), too. Seriously, check out that spread below ...
If you're in the mood for something a little less quiet, check out these fun titles, each of which delivers a heap of humor, spunk, and imagination along with some cleverly tucked in messaging: Grumpy Monkey, by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang, because it's okay to be grumpy and own it now and again; Norman Didn't Do It!: (Yes, He Did), by Ryan T. Higgins, because we all get jealous and make mistakes; Becoming Vanessa, by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, because trying new things and fitting in can be tough; and Good Night, Alligator, by Rebecca Van Slyke and Mike Boldt, because who hasn't tried to tuck in an alligator at night?
Finally, I have two picture book bios today: All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel, Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and Nabigal-Nayagam Haider Ali, tells the brave, bold, determined story of Jennifer and her participation in the Capitol Crawl. The rich narrative is inspiring and the bold illustrations compel your attention. Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs, by Susan Hughes and Valérie Boivin, is a softer, slower read but it's one I think Ana from The Wall and the Wild would appreciate. Join Jane as she not only celebrates her city neighborhoods but also tries to save them from people with different ideas about how certain communities should look and be developed.
I'll leave you with this video from the Capitol Crawl on March 12, 1990 ...