Story smorgasbord

YouChoose

“If you could go anywhere, where would you go?” The sky’s the limit in Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart’s You Choose (Kane Miller, March), an interactive book (originally published in the U.K. in 2003) where kids call the shots in their own narrative. Sharratt’s bright and friendly cartoon illustrations invite readers into pages filled with […]

Ripperology: Saucy Jack is back

ripper petrucha

Jack the Ripper has been creeping into children’s literature recently: Gordon Korman included him in his 2011 Titanic trilogy (Scholastic). (Incorporating a Ripper mystery aboard the famed ship now marking the 100th anniversary of its sinking? That should sell a few books.) Last September saw the release of the first book in Maureen Johnson’s exciting […]

The Pocket Bible Doodle Book

pocket bible doodle book

A blurb on the back of The Pocket Bible Doodle Book (Zonderkidz/Zondervan, January) states, “The story of creation, Noah’s ark, the plagues, and more make this Bible-based collection of doodles fun for everyone.” I can’t decide if I should laugh or be offended—the plagues can be fun? Okay… As the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, […]

Those happy golden years

chigger

Raymond Bial, well-known author of nonfiction for children (Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty; Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side; Amish Home; Frontier Home), has just published a novel, one “intended primarily for adults,” according to the promotional copy on the back of the (attractive) paperback. Set in small-town 1959 Indiana […]

“Magic most foul”?

darker still

I admit, with a subtitle like “A Novel of Magic Most Foul,” I had to resist the temptation to mock this book outright.  Thankfully, Leanna Renee Hieber’s novel Darker Still (Sourcebooks, November) offers a bit more substance than this melodramatic teaser of a subtitle. In it, Natalie Stewart, a mute Victorian-era teenager, chronicles the supernatural […]

Fighting in the Shade

fighting in the shade

I still recall fondly the female protagonists of teen “chick lit” and coming-of-age stories I read in high school. On a given day I might feel as tormented by love and teenage awkwardness as Mia Thermopolis (Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries) or lonely and isolated like Melinda Sordino (Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak). These were gals […]

Dogs just wanna be existential

mush

Glenn Eichler, creator of MTV’s Daria, brings that series’s wry, witty tone to his new graphic novel, Mush! Sled Dogs with Issues (First Second, December). From the cover, which features a sled dog caught licking itself, it’s clear this book isn’t going to be pretty. Mush! is harsh, blunt, and rather philosophical. The sled dogs […]

Food for thought

hunger games

In a few short months, you’re bound to hear the sound of thousands of teenage girls stripping posters of Twilight franchise stars Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner from their bedroom walls in favor of Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Don’t recognize the latter names? You will. Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) and Hemsworth (of […]

A keeper

What_we_keep

Amanda Cockrell’s What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay (Flux, June) begins with fifteen-year-old protagonist Angela Arnaz’s disclaimer, “I am not a religious fanatic.” Angie confesses she regularly talks to a statue of St. Felix—and then the statue miraculously seems to come to life and offers advice. Is grubby Felix the saint incarnate, […]

Serial thriller

spirits-of-the-noh

Dreams of the Dead (Bloomsbury, 2009) kicks off Thomas Randall’s original paperback trilogy The Waking with a killer first line: “Akane Murakami died for a boy she did not love.” After moving to Japan’s Miyazu City with her recently widowed father, American high school student Kara befriends the sister of murdered schoolgirl Akane. When their […]