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!


The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

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As you can probably guess from the title, there is a wall in the middle of this book. The knight repairing the wall tells the reader it protects his side of the book from the scary and dangerous things on the other side. However, as his side of the book fills up with water and a crocodile appears, he discovers the other side of the wall is not exactly what he thought.


Agee uses the page in a really interesting way, with the wall in the gutter (inside margin) of the book and two stories happening simultaneously on each side of the wall/page. The knight thinks his side of the wall is safe and the wall protects him from the scary ogre that would eat him up. But while he’s focused on building up the wall, he fails to notice the rising waters behind him. When he realizes his side of the wall has flooded and cries out for help, it is the ogre from the other side who saves him and the knight discovers the creatures on the other side of the wall are not the terrifying monsters he imagined. The art is simple with muted colors without being boring. Similar to Agee’s Life on Mars, paying attention to what’s happening in the pictures is essential to understanding the story. Learning to interpret pictures into a narrative is an excellent pre-reading and early reading skill! Agee is excellent at pacing and humor for the younger set, though adults are likely to enjoy this gentle story about preconceived notions across boundaries and how wrong they can be as well. Highly recommended.

Find it in the catalog here!


Miss Jessica