One Time

Creech, Sharon. One Time. New York: Joanna Cotler Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2020.
Gina’s mind is always racing. Always observing the world around her, noticing details other people miss. But she often feels alone. Until Antonio moves next door and Miss Lightstone becomes her new homeroom teacher
“Who are you?”
“What could you be?”
Those are the questions asked in this easy-to-read novel highly recommended for readers 10 to 13 years old. (Also recommended for teachers who enjoy being inspired by new ideas.)

Of course, all novels by Sharon Creech are recommended for readers who wonder about life’s mysteries.  Find more here!

Read Allen Say’s stories, too.

And if you like words, also read…

Knight, Mary. Saving Wonder. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016.
Twelve-year-old Curley Hines lives in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Most of his relatives have died, his father in a coal mining accident and his mother and younger brother in a mud slide caused by the mine. So now he lives with his grandfather who – every week – gives him a new word to learn: 26 letters x 2 = 52 weeks and 52 new words every year.

Right from the first sentence, this debut novel is full of the joy of life: love, hope, and determination. And the power of words! Which is exactly what Curley needs to use when the mine announces their plans to blow the top of Red Hawk Mountain. Coal is needed and a new mine manager is resolute in his decision to expand operations. Curley and his best friend Jules – with the help with her new boyfriend, the mine manager’s son –  get together to oppose the destruction of their beloved home.
Each chapter in the story emphasizes one of Curley’s words and ends with a definition. The humour in the format is delightful and never feels overbearing or didactic, probably because of Curley’s spunk and his grandfather’s loving wisdom. This novel is highly recommended for readers 10 to 14 years old. [Appalachian Region; Coal mines and mining; Environmentalism; Friendship; Grandfathers; Kentucky; Orphans]   

More books about imagination

Exuberant life…

Cuevas, Michelle. Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2017.
Smoot’s tiresome life of being a shadow ends when he decides to leave his boy and strike out on his own. Running, dancing, singing, he embraces all the excitement of his new life. Other shadows watch him and bravely follow suit. What will happen? Smoot looks around and has an idea. Maybe all of them – all of the shadows – could go back where they came from and still live with excitement. Will it work? Can life hold joy even in ordinary circumstances? This marvellously designed picture book – illustrated by Canadian Sydney Smith – will appeal to readers of all ages of appreciate fables. 

More fables

“Freedom lies in being bold.” Robert Frost

More picture books

Galloping to the rescue…

Hoban, Russell and Quentin Blake. Rosie’s Magic Horse. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2012.
What a silly story! A little girl dreams of a horse – Stickerino – that helps her find a treasure chest full of gold, which she presents to her parents the next morning.
What a brilliant story! The worries of bill-paying parents, after all, do affect their children. This not-unusual family situation is depicted with insight and sensitivity.
What a beautiful story! The lively illustrations and flowing text seem to be dashed off in a flash. But, of course, only exceptional creators such as Hoban and Blake can make it look and sound so easy.

Highly recommended for almost anyone who likes to laugh and loves language.

For analytical readers: note how sentences do not end with ‘said’ but rather with a character’s name: e.g. not “Rosie said.” but rather “…said Rosie.”Stories flow better visually when the final word of a sentence has that kind of weight.

More tips on critiquing stories HERE.

More picture books HERE.

Who will be my friend?

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.

More stories of individual creativity HERE.

More stories to make you laugh HERE.

More picture books HERE.

Are you my friend?

Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2015.

Charlotte and Wilbur.
Frog and Toad.
George and Martha.
Snake and Lizard.
Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin.
And now there are Buddy and Earl: a dog and a hedgehog.

(Warning: the style and size of the font unfortunately do not enhance the humour of this story. But the evocative illustrations by Sookocheff and the endearing quality of the story make this a recommended picture book for children up to 8 years of age.)

More picture books HERE.

More dog stories HERE.

 

Explore!

Perkins, Lynne Rae. Frank and Lucky Get Schooled. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2016.
Frank and Lucky – a boy and a dog – have fun learning together. Botany. Entomology. Chemistry. Astronomy. Taxonomy. Reading. Math. History. Art. Geography. Foreign Languages. And Hospitality. Together, they discover that they are learning inside, outside, everywhere they go. A joyous story for all ages to enjoy together.

More dog stories HERE

How I Learned Geography

Shulevitz, Uri. How I Learned Geography. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008. 
A young boy uses his imagination to travel the world in this picture book recommended for readers 8 to 14 years old. An afterword that provides historical details about the acclaimed author’s life including his childhood as a refugee.

More picture book memoirs HERE

Moving House

Stead, Philip C. Lenny & Lucy. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2015.
Peter and his dog Harold move to a new home. How can they feel safe in a new house? How can they find friends in their new neighbourhood? Another wonderful collaboration between Philip and Erin Stead, author and illustrator of A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Highly recommended for imaginative readers of all ages.

More stories about moving HERE.