Hitchcock, Bonnie-Sue. The Smell of Other People’s Houses. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2016.
Abandonment. Loneliness. Grief. Friendship. The lives of four Alaskan teenagers – Ruth, Dora, Alyce, and Hank – overlap in this coming-of-age novel set in 1970. A strong sense of place and a captivating sense of voice make this an outstanding story for thoughtful readers 13 years old and up.
Note: This publisher’s novels are notable for the quality of writing and the depth of insight. If Wendy Lamb publishes a book, pick it up!
High, Linda Oatman. One Amazing Elephant. New York: Harper, 2017.
All sorts of surprises await twelve-year-old Lily when she leaves her father in West Virginia and travels to Florida to attend the funeral of her grandfather. She stays with her grandmother in a circus community. She spends time with her mother, a trapeze artist. She makes a new friend, Henry Jack. And she discovers that her grandfather’s beloved elephant, Queenie Grace, is not frightening after all. This 258-page novel told from alternating points of view is a surprising delight, a heartfelt story of finding unexpected love. Highly recommended for animal lovers 11 to 15 years old.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” – Leo Tolstoy
Cuevas, Michelle. The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016.
A lonely man lives his life by the sea, faithfully watching for letters to deliver. Messages that almost always deliver joy to the recipients. Will there never be a message for him? This poignant tale of hope – softly illustrated by Erin E. Stead – will appeal to gentle reflective readers 8 years old and up. [Friendship, Letters, Oceans]
“A friend is what the heart needs all the time.” – Henry Van Dyke, American writer
Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Trouble the Water. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.
An old yellow dog brings Cassie and Wendell – a black girl and a white boy – together in racially segregated Kentucky in 1953. Buddy leads them to a ramshackle cabin in the woods where two invisible boys are waiting to cross the nearby river. Partly historical fiction, partly a ghost story, this memorable novel by a thought-provoking writer is highly recommended for readers 10 to 15 years old.
P.S. Do you know the story of how Jesus healed the sick man by the pool of Bethesda? The man who never got to the pool in time to be healed after an angel ‘troubled the water’? You might like to read about it in John 5 after you read Dowell’s story. Then you might like to think about the Pharisees in the Bible and the townspeople in the story. And think about that pool at the end of the novel. Might you be called to be an angel?
Colfer, Eoin. Imaginary Fred. New York: Harper, 2015.
Loneliness is awful. An imaginary friend might help. But what if a real friend comes along? What will happen to the imaginary friend? How will he feel?
This delightful picture book by an absolutely brilliant team – Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers – is pure joy. The fanciful story and whimsical illustrations will bring laughter to readers of all ages. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
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Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2016.
Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl Go Exploring. Toronto: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2016.
Buddy, a dog, and Earl, a hedgehog, continue the adventures they started in Buddy and Earl. These joyful picture books provide unique perspectives on everyday life and will delight both the adults who read them aloud and the children who listen.
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