A story of friendship

McCully, Emily Arnold. Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone…While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016.
If Emily McCully writes and illustrates a book, pick it up. Everything she creates is good. And this almost-true biography is no exception. Clara – an orphaned rhinoceros – was adopted by a sea captain in 1741. The two of them travelled throughout Europe for 17 years, amazing audiences and becoming fast friends. While now we would never dream of exhibiting an animal in such a manner, this story of affectionate friendship between a person and an animal is nonetheless intriguingly heart-warming. Included is a map of Clara’s journeys and an author’s note with further information. Highly recommended for curious readers of all ages. 

More historical stories

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True stories of animal intelligence

Let’s go on an adventure…

Sis, Peter. Robinson. New York: Scholastic Press, 2017.
A softly beautiful picture book combining memories from the author’s childhood with the story of Robinson Crusoe. The softly detailed illustrations, complemented by the capital-letters font, will enchant readers 7 to 14 years old. Highly recommended!

Picture book memoirs

Stories of adventure

Write about your own memories

“When you have little children, you want to tell them about joy and happiness and hope. And then comes the time you want to tell them there are tough moments. I admire people who can do that.” Peter Sis 

Note: All of Peter Sis’s books are memorable. Here are some of my favourites:

  

“People think children’s books are about teddy bears and little flowers. I realize people sometimes don’t know what to do with my books because they say, ‘Is it a children’s book, and what age group?'” Peter Sis

Where do I belong?

Stevens, April. The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2018.
Figrotten loves nature. And she loves spending time outdoors on a big rock on a hill behind her house. She feels safe up there. Like she can truly be herself when she is there alone. But over the course of her eleventh year, she starts to see life differently. Maybe she can find friends at school, after all. Maybe her sister doesn’t hate her, after all. Maybe she can find a balance between being along and being with people.
This 196-page novel is beautifully written. Like poetry in prose. Highly recommended for thoughtful readers 10 to 13 years old.

“The things that make me different are the things that make me.”  A.A Milne

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The comfort of trees…

Applegate, Katherine. Wishtree. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2017.
Red is an oak tree who has seen a lot of changes. Provided a home for countless little creatures. And comforted many children. But now someone wants to get rid of Red. What will happen to this venerable neighbourhood tree?
A wonderful read-aloud novel for children 7 to 9 years old. A wonderful story for imaginative readers who enjoy seeing life from a wider perspective.

P.S. Any book published by Fiewel and Friends is worth picking up. The quality is invariably superb.

More stories celebrating the wonders of nature

More novels for young readers

“Friendship is a sheltering tree.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Finding a friend…

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” 
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
 …
Neri, Greg. Tru and Nelle. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.
An unlikely friendship builds between a seven-year-old boy who likes to dress in fancy clothes and a six-year-old girl who dresses like a tomboy. But they both enjoy reading. They also like mysteries and set off together to discover who has stolen candy and a brooch from a local drugstore.  Set in Alabama in the summer of 1930, this 268-page novel is based on the real-life friendship between Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. Readers don’t need that information, though, to enjoy the story. The writing flows like music and the large font and widely spaced lines make it easy to read. Several short stories – inspired by the real Truman’s fondness for short stories – and an historical note with black-and-white photographs round off the book. Highly recommended for readers 8 years old and up.
 …
 
 “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view….Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”  – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Living in Alaska

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.

More stories told from alternating points of view

More stories set in Alaska

More young adult novels

More stories of indigenous people of North America

More stories of runaways

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!

Finding love…

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. 

More stories set in Florida 

More stories of grief

More stories told from alternating points of view

“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