Category Archives: Children’s Literature

FRIENDSHIP

Books are my best friends. They help me travel, have adventures, fall in love, understand others, and escape to a place where no one is my critic! Just recently I was reunited with a college friend, a fourth grade teacher who joined me at a charity book buying venue. We had such fun choosing books we both loved for her classroom library.

Then, just this week, I found a new blog site to recommend to you for the very same purpose. Find http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/ which shares book lists for parents and teachers and lovers of children’s books. Erica’s categories are easy to navigate for book choosing at the library or your favorite Independent bookstore. I highly recommend her site which I discovered from a new author who mentioned it on Facebook. Thank you to Arti Agarwal Sonthalia for introducing me to this book blog. She mentioned Erica’s list called “10 Picture Books that Nurture EMPATHY.” I was familiar with many titles, but some were new to me. “19 Book Series for kids who like MAGIC TREE HOUSE” is another with popular books to befriend.

What books have I been reading?  By Andrea ChengThe Year of the Book by Joan Bauer Squashed, by Beverly A. Ferber Julia’s Kitchen,  by Sydney Taylor, All-of-a-Kind Family, by E. L. Konigsburg, The View from Saturday and a new, young author Dania Ramos’s Who’s Ju? are my newest friends. Who’s Ju? (The 7th Grade Sleuths) (Volume 1) Each book deals with friends and quarrels among friends and each one creatively and uniquely solves the problems children face as they grow up trying to learn who they want to be. I almost forgot my newest friend who is an author of many middle grade fiction books. Read Frances O’Roark Dowell to find more authentic characters who will appeal to middle grade readers. New writers will gain insights into the craft of writing for upper elementary students by reading this diverse group of titles.

Better return to my own writing where I am attempting to create characters who you will want as friends. Thank you for any suggestions and comments to make this blog more meaningful for you as a reader for your own pleasure or for the books you select for others. Check out reviews on Amazon and find the links for purchasing yourself.  Follow me and my fellow bloggers.

Happy Reading in 2015!

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Filed under Award winning books, Children's Literature, First Novels, Mystery

MYSTERY IS COMPANY!

 

At the beginning of May, I was fortunate to attend a conference called Malice Domestic where I was in the “company” of my favorite mystery authors.  Fans are very welcome to attend this annual conference in Bethesda, MD, and we were able to vote for our favorites to win the Agatha Awards. Here are some books I recommend to keep you “company” next month.  Go to Kathy Harig’s independent bookstore, Mystery Loves Company, online (www.mysterylovescompany.com ) or in Oxford, MD to order your copy of these entertaining books.

One nomination for an Agatha Award for the best children’s or young adult mystery was Greenglass House by Kate Milford. Greenglass HouseI met Ms. Milford at the Annapolis Book Festival on Saturday, April 25, 2015.  Ms. Milford won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for this exciting mystery for older elementary readers.

Another mystery in the juvenile category is Penny Warner ‘s Code Busters Club #4: The Mummy’s Curse which won the Agatha Award for best juvenile mystery this year.The Code Busters Club, Case #4: The Mummy’s Curse  I also enjoyed Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower. (Readers from 7 to 11) Andi Under Pressure (An Andi Boggs Novel)

Ready for some Adult suggestions?  Adult Agatha winners I chose include Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan Truth Be Told: A Jane Ryland Novel for best contemporary mystery, Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen Queen of Hearts (A Royal Spyness Mystery)for best historical, and Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey by Hank Phillippi Ryan, Editor for the best non-fiction mystery title of 2014.

The panel discussions with these writers and Margaret Maron, author of Designated Daughters,Designated Daughters (A Deborah Knott Mystery) the 18th in the Deborah Knott series, highlighted other authors I love.   Shawn Reilly Simmons, author of the “Red Carpet Catering Mysteries,” ably moderated one of the discussions.  Her light mysteries feature Penny Sutherland, a head chef on movie sets.  The setting is intriguing and I look forward to reading more of her mysteries in the future.  Read Murder on the Red Carpet to be introduced to the cast of characters in Simmons’ series.Murder on the Red Carpet (The Red Carpet Catering Series Book 1)

GM Malliet writes a different type of cosy mystery (A Demon Summer) , set in Great Britain, starring Max Tudor, a former MI 5 agent who changes his vocation to become an Anglican priest.  Romance, humor and suspense are present in these ecclesiastical mysteries.  Malliet has been compared to authors Louise Penny, Tara French, and Deborah Crombie, with Charlaine Harris weighing in with her own recommendation.

I missed saying hi to authors Marcia Talley, Sujata Massey, and Elaine Viets, but I was greeted by Hank Ryan who told a funny story about Stephen King, the down-to-earth writer and winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for 2014.  Don’t miss Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King!

I am giving you the Amazon links to these titles.  Use the links in blue to order these titles easily.

Happy Mystery Reading in 2015!

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Filed under Adult Literature, Award winning books, Children's Literature, Malice Domestic, Mystery, The Mystery Writers of America

READING FOR LIFE

June is the month of baby showers and graduations and weddings.  What better time to share a book.  In fact, some organizers of celebrations are suggesting that we add a book inscribed to the honoree instead of a card.

Here is a task not too hard/ Enclose a book instead of a card.

I received an invitation recently with these words added to the announcement of a shower.  So today, I will suggest some classics for including in your celebration presents no matter the occasion.

 Pat the Bunny is a great first book for any baby and new parents.  Don’t worry if multiple copies arrive at the party:  these books wear out with continued reading and feeling.  If you have never seen this gem, it is a pop-up book with each page a new touch for baby.  Reviews mention that the books aren’t that sturdy, but that is why you need a backup copy! Pat the Bunny Book & Plush (Touch-and-Feel)

Guess How Much I Love You is another favorite of young families.  You have heard the expression “I love you to the Moon and back,” I am certain.  This line is from Sam McBratney’s book.  Guess How Much I Love You 20th Anniversary Edition  You can guess why this title is so well-loved.  I hear children still love it when they are toddlers, so you can get your money’s worth for your gift.

Maybe you want to honor an elementary school graduate.  Some buy a thematic Dr. Seuss book such as The Lorax  The Lorax (Classic Seuss)or  Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Oh, The Places You’ll Go! You may not be the only friend giving one of these titles, so you may want a fun book for the student for summer reading such as Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Libraryor Greenglass House by Kate Milford, books I recommended in other posts this year.Greenglass House

How about high school graduates, don’t they deserve a great book to add to their library, too?  1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die1,000 Places to See Before You Die, the second edition: Completely Revised and Updated with Over 200 New EntriesI have heard that John Green’s Looking for Alaska is better than The Fault in Our Stars, so see if that book fits the need for your teen graduate. Looking for Alaska

This post was an experiment to see if I could link titles from Amazon for you to purchase easily.  Let me know if you like this service from my blog.  If you buy the books from this link, I will receive a few pennies for each item purchased. The money will help me to enter writing contests.

Happy Reading and Book Buying for yourself and others in 2015!

Let me know what you recommend and title you suggest to this blog in comments.

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Filed under Adult Literature, Children's Literature, gifts, Links, Mystery

An Affinity for Books (Teens and ‘Tweens)

You could say I have an affinity for books.  Once I read a great title, I want to recommend it and find another Read A-Like for myself and others.  What is a Read A-Like you ask?  Librarians and book review sources alert you to books by saying “If you liked this book…you will love this one!”

The biggest question I have received from parents is “What do you recommend after Harry Potter:  that series is the only ones my child will read!”

Fantasy readers of all ages will enjoy Diane Duane’s creative series So You Want to Be a Wizard?  Similar to HP books are the main characters Nita Callahan and Christopher (Kit) Rodriquez  who do not realize they are wizards until they find a book with that same title.  Duane introduces many topics appealing to readers who love this genre including bullying, voracious readers, love of animals, annoying siblings, and she includes mystery and suspense with a dash of humor, as Nita and Kit learn how to deal with their “special” gift.  There are nine books in the series with one more planned for release this year.

The latest young adult (YA) book I completed (No, I didn’t write one yet) reading this year is by prolific Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  I was amazed that he wrote for young people after I remembered his imaginative adult fiction The Shadow of the Wind and its sequels.  The Midnight Palace reminds me of The Thief Lord, another favorite by Cornelia Funke, because the main characters are orphans who band together in an orphanage in Calcutta to swear allegiance forever.  They are challenged by a murderer who appears to them suddenly when they turn 16 and are ready to graduate from the orphanage.  The suspense is phenomenal, and I mean that literally! Funke uses the setting of Venice, so you can compare these two novels with settings far apart.  Ask yourself the question in each novel:  Who is the antagonist or the bad guy?

In my next post, I will review some adult Read A-Likes for you.

Please send me ideas and comments about this and my other posts!

Happy Reading in 2015!  Don’t forget the Goodreads reading challenge!

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Filed under Children's Literature, Fantasy, First Novels, Literary Fiction, untraditional mysteries

Libraries are “Someplace Special”!

“I was scared. I was lonely. I discovered there was only one room in this school where I was happy and where I felt secure. And that room was the library.”  Anthony Horowitz, children’s author was quoted saying.

We readers love books set in libraries or bookstores. Our fun derives from being transported to the places we remember with enlightening moments of joy.  Many of us have one library or bookstore where we felt at home, a solitary or noisy place where we were surrounded by the sources of our secret habit. Our memories of the stories are intermingled with our pleasures of being in the places where the books are stored.

When authors evoke the wonder of those special book depositories filled with more books, all of which we hope to explore, we are full of awe and desire to try to satiate our hunger for more.

My fingers itch to touch each volume whether it is a huge tome or a miniature storybook.  I will list a few I devoured or I wish to relish soon. This list is eclectic: full of every genre something for each age.

  1. Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia and Frederick McKissick
  2. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  3. The Bookseller by Mark Pryor (and many others used this title)
  4. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
  5. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  6. Clara and the Book Wagon by Nancy Smiler Levinson
  7. A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse
  8. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter
  9. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  10.  Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
  11.  Carolyn Hart’s “Death on Demand” series
  12.  Cook the Books by Marion Moore Hill

Please comment and add more suggestions to this minimal list.

HAPPY READING IN 2015!

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Filed under Adult Literature, Book Mobiles, Children's Literature, Historial Fiction, Mystery

Enlightenment: How Historical Fiction Reveals the Truth

All the Light We Cannot See appeared in my dream the other night, so I knew this important title would be the focus of this blog post.  After mysteries, historical fiction is my favorite genre.  I am exploring what makes historical fiction so compelling and reveals the truth of our history?

All the Light We Cannot See is a perfect example to answer that question.  When an author describes using each of his senses in his setting, you are transported into the lives of the characters. You can taste, smell and touch the places the author has revealed in his words.  Many authors pepper in visual descriptions, so you can see what the characters see.  But when an author such as Anthony Doerr reminds us of the other senses, we are there during a bombing raid or living in a tenement or hearing the rush of the ocean in Ocean City.

Anthony Doerr shows exemplary skill  in this title using his senses because his main character is blind.  Marie-Laure is taught by her father to explore her sightless world so she can live an independent life.  She becomes aware of each brick, manhole cover, and scent in her neighborhood and we experience her scientific and literary world along with her.

Werner, Marie-Laure’s counterpart in this story, uses his fine sense of touch and hearing as he explores the world of radio waves.  I do not understand the science, but I was transported to the bombed out basement with Werner when he scanned “frequencies by feel.”  Read this book to see what a master Doerr is with language and sensual description!

What other historical fiction titles can compare to this new masterpiece?  I have Erika Robuck to thank for reminding me of recent evocative historical fiction titles.  Her TopTen of 2014 is a wonder and it includes Doerr’s latest title.  Check out her blog MUSE for a list you will want on your bedside table.

Since I often switch from adult books to children’s literature, I’ll recommend a few extra bonus books here.  Karen Cushman, Katherine Paterson and Avi are masters in this genre for middle grade readers.  You will be surprised at the tightness and the concepts in the writing these authors present which will interest adults as well as children.  My favorite children’s review blog will inspire you to read even more of these great ones.  www.ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

Until next time:  Happy Reading in 2015!

http://www.erikarobuck.com/Blog.html

http://www.karencushman.com/

http://www.terabithia.com/about.html

http://www.avi-writer.com/

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Filed under Adult Literature, Children's Literature, Historial Fiction