If you’re like me, then you have a ton of free time during the summer. Public libraries are basically dead during the hot months, especially children’s departments. You know what I mean?
Okay, so maybe, no. Our department was hopping this summer and it was a H U G E change from working in a small, rural library which really was very quiet during most of the summer. Downtown Nashville? Not so quiet. Not so empty.
In the midst of a pretty big life change (more people than cows, whaaaaat?) I still found plenty of time to read some truly stand-out children’s books. And also the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, but this blog is not about that (yet. They’re so good, have you read them? Go read them and then watch the movie).
I have way more favorite from this summer than I can list here, but these were my favorite-favorites.
Eventown, Corey Ann Haydu: Sort of a Stepford Wives for kids but with a slightly less dystopian ending. It’s magical realism, for sure, and perfect for so many kids. Kids who love fantasy, sassy leading ladies, books about families, things that are SAD, kids who loved The Giver– it’s for everyone. I loved it so much I immediately read Haydu’s two other books for kids but this one is by far my favorite. Just look at the cover- ugh, don’t you want to go pick it up right now?
The End of the Wild, Nicole Helget: This is a children’s book about fracking and a children’s book about poverty. Growing up in Indiana, I saw a lot of rural poverty throughout my youth and adulthood. It doesn’t look like urban poverty- this book perfectly captures rural poverty. It doesn’t villainize it, it just recognizes what it is and treats the characters living in poverty with such respect. It is a really unique and wonderful kind of representation. The parts about fracking are equally well handled. The author has pretty clear feelings on fracking, and so do I (and they’re the same), but the book is really nuanced and well researched. The characters do not solve fracking or answer many of the big questions, but that’s not the point. The point is to think and The End of the Wild certainly encouraged you to do that.
The Island at the End of Everything, Kiran Millwood Hargrave: Ah yes, finally a children’s book about leprosy! I picked it up for the cover and was immediately on board after reading the inside jacket cover. It’s a truly fascinating slice-of-life novel from the real (and former) leprosarium island, Culion in the Philippines. It is both historical fiction and a pretty thrilling adventure novel. The kids who just like to learn new things will devour this one (and every related Wikipedia entry).
The Griffins of Castle Cary, Heather Schmaker: There is so much to love about the Griffin family. They’re funny and clever and terribly realistic- with the younger Griffin often feeling left out by her older siblings and eventually isolating herself from them. Normally, that would be a very common childhood rite of passage, but problems arise when little Ariel makes a new friend and it’s not exactly a living person. The Griffins is just exactly scary enough for readers who also loved books like The Greenglass House and probably not quite scary enough for readers who loved Took. In addition to being a great sibling adventure story, it’s also diverse, which is truly notable for a fantasy novel and especially notable for a family story that takes place in an old English cottage and manor. I loved this one and cannot wait for more from Heather Schumaker.