I can almost always tell by the first chapter of a book whether it is one that will endear itself to my lil’ book worm heart. Jennifer Bell’s The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence was not only endearing but filled the void that had been left by some of my favorite series. This trilogy opener has magic, mystery, humor and adventure as Ivy and her brother Seb end up unexpectedly in a land called Lundinor, where nothing is as they know it in their world. Check out the book trailer below for the publisher’s quick summary. If you read and loved the Harry Potter series, The Underland Chronicles (Gregor the Overlander) or The Land of Stories and were left feeling like no other book or series would measure up, give this series a try. I devoured book one and am anxiously awaiting book two!
Full disclosure: I read this using an audio book. I’d pop it in and listen on my drive to the library each day. Jayne Entwistle is an award-winning actress who did a beautiful job bringing individual voice and personality to each and every character. I have listened to many books read by her, but by far, this was my favorite. From the slightly dented bicycle bell named Scratch (who has a slight issue with speech) to the mysterious Valian, to Grandma Sylvie herself, Entwistle seamless reads from one character to the next in a way that will have you lost in the story and isn’t that what the best books do? Not to worry though, for those who need the physical book, the smell of the paper, the sound of the pages turning, we have traditional book copies available as well and Jennifer Bell’s writing on it’s own will pull you into the land of Lundinor and all of the curiosities it holds.
I’m not much on realistic fiction typically. Living through upper elementary and middle school was hard enough the first time, right?! For some odd, quirky reason though, the realistic graphic genre has totally grabbed me. I get knots in my stomach every time a character hits an awkward spot and am cheering them on when they have a victory. The graphic format is just more powerful for me.
Real Life by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham is one of the best in this genre, by far. This should come as no surprise. This is the duo who has already blown us away with The Princess in Black series.
This new title though is one that unlike their fantasy series for early readers, lands us in the very real, very challenging topics of friendship, growing up, and finding your “tribe”. The friends who get you and have your back no matter what. Anyone who spends time with children knows friendship brings some of the highest highs and lowest lows. This book delves deeper into that from the child’s perspective. The anxiety, the fear of rejection and confusion surrounding why, the joy and peace of acceptance.
The story is actually a memoir written about Hale’s own childhood, revisiting the ups and downs of friendship, family, and change. As I read it, it brought back all the memories of the tumultuous nature of childhood friendships from my own childhood and the immense joy felt when you have acceptance and compassion.
The relationship between Wendy and Shannon is one I feel a lot of readers will connect too. Between family dynamics and mental health issues, these two characters are pushed apart but in the end, come to see that they actually have an ally in each other and are family, regardless of past hurts.
This awesome array of new-book-ey goodness will be arriving at MPL soon! Come check these titles out!
I am Not a Chair by Ross Burach
Could there be anything worse for Giraffe? Maybe being sat on by a skunk or smooshed by two hapless hippos, or worst of all—cornered by a hungry lion? No one seems to notice that Giraffe is not standing around just to be sat upon. Will he be able to find his voice and make his friends realize who he really is?
The Day I Ran Away by Holly Niner
While Dad tucks her in, a little girl named Grace calmly recounts her day—which was anything but calm.
Duck, Duck, Dinosaur: Noise At Night by Kallie George
Feather, Flap, and Spike are spending their first night in their very own nest. They tell stories and snuggle up to get a good night’s sleep, until . . . GRRORE! What’s that scary-sounding noise?
How to Find a Friend by Marie S. Costa
Two creatures …too busy …to notice each other! Finding a friend can sometimes be a hit-and-miss affair! When Rabbit moves into his new burrow and Squirrel moves into her new treehouse, they would both love to BUMP into a friend. But will that ever happen or will they keep on MISSING each other? With all the appeal of those ‘it’s behind you’ moments from pantomime, you can join Squirrel and Rabbit on their comedy CRASH course in how to find a friend!
Good Night My Darling Baby by ALyssa Satin Capucilli (board book)
In this lovely bedtime story, animals tuck in their babies, sing a song, and give a kiss good night, ending with parents tucking in their child for a sweet sleep.
I’m Grumpy by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (board book)
A grumpy cloud upsets his friend Sunny and must make amends. A sweet, funny, and simple introduction to the impact that emotions can have on those around you.
Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds
Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.
Flora and the Chicks by Molly Idle (board book)
Idle brings her balletic heroine Flora to a younger audience in this nearly wordless board book that finds the girl struggling to keep up with a nestful of hatching chickens.
Brobarians by Lindsey Ward
Two brothers, two great warriors—two brobarians!—engage in an epic backyard battle, until the “magic that ruled all” (aka mother) calls them in.
Is Your Smile Like a Crocodile’s?
Get ready for fun as you compare your toddlers smile to the toothy grin of a crocodile.
Bird, Balloon, Bear by Il Sung Na
Bird’s new in the forest, and as much as he’d like to befriend Bear, he never quite gets up the courage to say hello.
Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins
Having failed in the hospitality business due to a rude and surly bear (Hotel Bruce, 2016), mice Rupert, Nibbs, and Thistle decide to go into publishing.
Carrot and Pea: An Unlikely Friendship by Morag Hood
Colin is tall. He’s orange. He’s a carrot! He’s nothing like Lee, a round green pea. He can’t do any of the things Lee and his pea pals can do. How can Colin and Lee ever be friends? A charming celebration of embracing differences and standing out in a crowd.
Amazing Animals: A Spin & Spot Book by Liza Charlesworth
Bear Likes Jam by Ciara Gavin
When Bear discovers jam for the time, he can’t think of anything else. Mama Duck tells him that growing bears need to eat their vegetables first . . . but Bear can’t stand the strange green things on his plate. He only wants jam! It’s not until Bear notices the little ducks around him eating ALL of their food, that it finally clicks: Bear can have his dinner and his jam.
I love walking into our office to find a cart of bright and shiny new books to look through! What I love even more is sharing our new books with you! Here is a quick preview of some of the exciting new chapter books that have arrived at MPL in the past couple of weeks (or will be very soon). If there isn’t a link to the catalog on the title you are interested in yet, have no fear… that book will soon be here! What new books are YOU reading? We love suggestions!
Henry Whiskers must face his fears and rescue his little sister from the scary Rat Alley in this fun, fast-paced debut chapter book set in Queen Mary’s historical dollhouse at Windsor Castle.
Joplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley
A heartfelt and magical middle grade novel in the tradition of Tuck Everlasting and Bridge to Terabithia, about family, wishes, and the power of true friends to work magic.
Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker
When Felix Yz was three years old, a hyperintelligent fourth-dimensional being became fused inside him after one of his father’s science experiments went terribly wrong. The creature is friendly, but Felix—now thirteen—won’t be able to grow to adulthood while they’re still melded together. So a risky Procedure is planned to separate them . . . but it may end up killing them both instead.
This book is Felix’s secret blog, a chronicle of the days leading up to the Procedure. Some days it’s business as usual—time with his close-knit family, run-ins with a bully at school, anxiety about his crush. But life becomes more out of the ordinary with the arrival of an Estonian chess Grandmaster, the revelation of family secrets, and a train-hopping journey. When it all might be over in a few days, what matters most?
The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron
Sent for the summer to their aunt’s sleepy village in the English countryside,Tess and Max find the key to a castlehidden from time and learn that wishes can come true, if they wish carefully. Perfect for fans of Half Magic and The Secret Garden—and for anyone who’s ever wondered if magic is real.
The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell
Ivy Sparrow and her big brother Seb discover a city beneath London where ordinary objects have magical powers.
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
Aventurine is the fiercest, bravest kind of dragon, and she’s ready to prove it to her family by leaving the safety of their mountain cave and capturing the most dangerous prey of all: a human.
But when the human she captures tricks her into drinking enchanted hot chocolate, she finds herself transformed into a puny human girl with tiny blunt teeth, no fire, and not one single claw. She’s still the fiercest creature in these mountains though – and now she’s found her true passion: chocolate! All she has to do is walk on two feet to the human city, find herself an apprenticeship (whatever that is) in a chocolate house (which sounds delicious), and she’ll be conquering new territory in no time … won’t she?
Middle School: Escape to Australia by James Patterson
The trip to Australia Rafe has won starts badly, but after connecting with a group of misfits he finds a way to do what he does best–create mayhem.
Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Very short for her age, Julia grows into her sense of self while playing a munchkin in a summer regional theater production of The Wizard of Oz.
Nnewts: Battle for Amphibopolis by Doug TenNapel
In the final, epic installment of the Nnewts trilogy, the fate of all Nnewts hangs in the balance! Herk, falling under the influence of Blakk Mudd, is slowly turning into a Lizzark and abandoning his Nnewt friends. Herk’s siblings, Sissy and Zerk, have been corrupted by evil and the Lizzark army is still threatening Amphibopolis with total destruction. Now the Nnewts need a true hero to step up and save the day before it’s too late!
Hopefully you have enjoyed reading our favorite reads of 2016. And now *insert drum roll here* our what we thought were the BEST 2016 had to offer…
Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian
This book celebrates the fact that love is love is love!
Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm
This is one of the best, most entertaining, kid-accessible historical fiction books I have read in a long time. The chapters read quickly and are packed with action or information to put the story together. This book is so well written that it will capture even your most reluctant reader. Beans Curry and his marble-playing gang The Keepsies had me rooting for them as they work with the New Dealers to rebuild Key West after the Depression while dealing with fires, illness, mobsters, and friendships.
There’s a Bear On My Chair by Ross Collins
Mouse complains, with escalating rage, that there’s a (polar) bear on his chair. When his words fail, mouse leaves and gets his revenge. Sure to be a classic read-aloud!
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Like all great fairy tales, this book shows the light in a work filled with darkness and woe. Several stories in one, this magical tale weaves separate narratives together to a riveting conclusion that will leave even the most seasoned reader enthralled.
We are almost to our top books of the year, but first… which ones made runner up? #2 slot here we come! To see more of the books we loved in 2016, click here!
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems
Gerald and Piggie’s final book is filled with gratitude for everyone, but will someone be left out of the thank-o-rama?
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
Adjusting to a new town is hard enough for Cat. Not only is she trying to make new friends, figuring out how to get along with her neighbor, and creating a social life for herself without her little sister butting in, but she also is going to have to figure out how to live in a town filled with ghosts! The relationship between the sisters in this book is so realistic and the art, as always, is amazing!
The Airport Book by Lisa Brown
As a family takes to the friendly skies, no one know what happened to Monkey except the little girl who packed him (with his tail hanging out of the suitcase)! Follow along in this Knuffle Bunny-esque narrative to see if Monkey is reunited with his girl. More than just an introduction to the airport, the story is a look at the wide world itself.
Meltdown! by Jill Murphy
Parents everywhere can relate to this tale of the evolution of a child’s world-class tantrum. The illustration style is a bit old-school, but the interactions of Mom and daughter are spot-on, and my daughter clearly identified with the tantrum-ing Roxy.