Top 10 of 2018: #7




by Ben Guterson

A wonderful book that combines mystery and magic with lost of puzzle-solving.  For some weird reason, Elizabeth Somers gets to leave her aunt’s and uncle’s house to spend Christmas on her own at Winterhouse while they go on vacation.  Elizabeth is surprised to discover she loves being at WInterhouse but she quickly realizes that the hotel has many dark secrets.  Clues are everywhere including in the massive library at the hotel.  Elizabeth soon finds herself in very real dangers.  Lovers of The Greenglass House by Kate Milford will definitely be drawn to this book. Grades 4 and up.



Drawn Together

by Minh Le

An English speaking grandson visiting his Thai speaking grandfather try to communicate with words, but fail. With nothing left to do the grandson goes off and starts drawing. Grandfather notices and gathers his sketchbook and supplies and the two communicate through their art.


Speak: The Graphic Novel

by Laurie Halse Anderson & Emily Carroll

I first read Speak as a teenager and it made a permanent impression on me.  I had never read a book like it before, and all that I’ve read of Anderson’s work since then has been just as excellent.  I adore EMily Carroll’s work as well – the graphic novel she wrote is sitting on my bookshelf at home – and is a perfect fit for bringing Anderson’s classic to new life.  A stark, lonely, sometimes brutally honest story, but never without hope.




The Wall in the Middle of the Book 

By Jon Agee

“There’s a wall in the middle of the book.  And that’s a good thing.  The all protects this side of the book… from the other side of the book.  This side of the book is safe.  The other side is not.”

You cannot go wrong with a Jon Agee book!  This one is so great.  I love that the readers can see what is happening behind our main character, who is so glad to be on his side of the wall away from the ogee on the other side while the bigger unseen dangers mount behind him.

Super-fun read along for kids and grownups with a great metaphor!



Aru Shah and the End of Time 

by Roshani Chokshi


I’m glad I judged this book by it’s cover and picked it up.  It is the first from the new imprint from Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fame).  At first I was little leery since as much as I love Riordan’s twists on mythology, it can get a bit formulaic.  I wasn’t sure if the writers publishing under him would be too similar.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Aru Shah is a lot of things.  A dreamer, a talker, a 6th grader who will spin any story to impress her classmates.  That last one lands her in an awkward position of being confronted at her home in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture by some classmates wanting to settle a score.  Rather than admit that perhaps she had stretched the truth a tad, Aru continues her lies and lights the Lamp of Bharata which is said to be cursed.  By lighting the lamp Aru starts a chain of events that freezes her mom and other loved ones in time.  The only way to get her back is to accept her place as a reincarnation of one of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death.  For the first time ever she will gain real friends on this journey and accept her destiny, finally shaking her insecurities and finally understanding what her mother has really been away working all the time. With a healthy dose of humor balanced with adventure, this book is hard to put down!  It also has an audio version which is also fantastic!


Top 10 of 2018: #9




Aru Shah and the End of Time

by Roshani Chokshi

Aru has a tendency to tell lies at school about how glamorous her life is.  However, during a school break her classmates go to her home at the Museum of Ancient Indian Arts and Culture to catch her in a lie.  Not only is Aru NOT in Paris, she is standing in the doorway wearing her Spider-Man pajamas.  To get herself out of this mess, she lights the museum’s Lamp of Bharata to prove to the kids her claim the lamp is cursed.  Aru knows she is not supposed to light the lamp but she doesn’t realize that in doing so she sets into motion the destruction of the world.  Everyone is frozen in time and there is only Aru to undo it all before it is too late.

WHat and exciting introduction to Hindu mythology!  RIck Riordan fans will love this book.



There’s a Dragon in Your Book

by Tom Fletcher

I really enjoyed this title that allows the listener to engage with the book!  Mischief happens when you have a dragon in your book.  And Dragon is quick to assist in fixing the problems coming from having a dragon in your book.  This story brings out the giggles in any listener!



Black Bird Yellow Sun

by Steve Light

Simple text describes the colors of the things in Black Bird’s world.  Bold, colorful illustrations made this an instant top ten pick for me.



The Day You Begin

by Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”

Beautiful poetic book about the difficulty of being different but finding the courage to express yourself to open the door to friendship.  I love the way Woodson shows how difficult it is to be different, and shows the bravery it takes to be new, but also talks about the eventual process of making connections.



Dread Nation: Rise Up

by Justina Ireland

“It’s a cruel, cruel world. And the people are the worst part.”- Justina Ireland

Antebellum era zombies?  Yes please!  Imagine the Battle of Gettysburg where the dead rise from the fields.  With the War Between the States derailed, the north and south are both fighting the walking dead instead of each other.  Laws are still very unfair to Native Americans and African Americans, such as the Reeducation Act where they must attend combat schools to learn how to kill the “shamblers.”  Jane McKeene is a biracial zombie hunter, training at one of the best schools.  She has a fierce spirit and doesn’t want to become just an attendant like the other girls from school.  Rather than defending some well-to-do white lady,  Jane wants to go see what happened to her mother and her home.   She is assuming the worst- that her home was overrun by the walking dead and she has no family left.  Jane’s brave and adventurous spirit can’t be tamed with any amount of training and etiquette courses and this gets her into trouble when she starts snooping around to find out why some families around Baltimore are disappearing.   Caught up in some deep conspiracies, Jane is shipped out to the western frontier where she must not only fight off the dead and fear the shambler’s bite, but must also deal with a racist Sheriff and a corrupt Mayor who are just as dangerous.


This book is solidly in the Young Adult/Teen Read category for ages 13 and up.  Though there is some violence in this book (killing zombies can be a messy affair, after all), Jane is a very positive role model.  The adventure and twists and turns this story takes makes it tough to put down.  This is book one in the Dread Nation series.