The Next Great Book: 2014 Preview, Fiction

Posted by on January 10, 2014.

If you missed yesterday’s post on 2014 nonfiction books Jane’s excited about… click here.

 

Moving on to fiction, it won’t take serious convincing to get any child to read Mo Willems’ latest Pigeon picture book, The Pigeon Needs a Bath. (“No. I do not.” says Pigeon.)

The Pigeon Needs a Bath!

 

However, it sounds like Pigeon is going to need serious convincing to get him into that tub. Willems is one of the most agile authors of humorous books for kids. He understands that they respond, almost every time, to serious fun.

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Jon Muth, who brought us Zen Shorts, with its delicate Zen sensibility and the Buddha-like bear Stillwater, is back with Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons, a collection of 26 season-inspired haikus.

 Hi, Koo!

 

Presented by Koo the panda bear, we are again encouraged to see the world through a quietly reflective lens, but not without levity and spark. Muth’s watercolors alone have the integrity of a story, and say so much in their austerity. As Koo is pictured reaching up to catch a falling leaf, we read “Autumn, / are you dreaming / of new clothes?” The haikus are odes to beauty, Mother Nature, and the changing nature of it all.

 

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A standout among the middle grade novels is Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin, in which a boy dealing with the guilt of his younger sister’s death befriends a strange and bird-like orphan living next door with her greedy foster family. Reminiscent of Bridge to Terabithia in its magical quality and portrayal of loyalty and friendship, Loftin does a beautiful job conveying the complexities of grief and redemption.

 

Nightingale's Nest

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And this last YA novel, well, I hesitate to try and fit into a neat and tidy description.

 

Andrew Smith wrote one of my favorite books of last year (and of all time) Winger, which is the book I suggest you read first (yes, you! and your 14 year old, too—they will absolutely love it, like mine did).

 

His new novel Grasshopper Jungle, which comes out this March, will probably make it to the top of every banned book list. Intrigued? Well, if I said this book is about a horny teen boy who is chronicling his history, which is the story of the apocalypse, which includes the discovery of an underground bunker built by a dead mad scientist, which is why the flesh-eating praying mantises show up and, oh boy—I hope you’ll just trust me on this one. Andrew Smith inhabits the minds of teenaged boys like no other author—with laugh out loud humor, pathos, and the biggest of hearts.

 

Enjoy spreading the good word through new stories to your friends and loved ones. The nature of the way we read may be changing, but the hunger for new stories will never die, and as readers and booksellers, we can rejoice in that.

 

And here are some fun Mock Caldecott and Newbery blogs, if you happen to want to join the world of children’s book nerds, like me:

 

Jane Knight is the children’s book buyer at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, VT and a member of CLiF’s Board of Advisors.

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