I am writing this from my lovely little bubble of Bear Pond Books. I think we can all agree it’s been a busy, distracting fall. I know that my book reading time has taken a precipitous fall because of it. Time to dip back into the well of imagination, inspiration and contemplation. For our kids, reading allows them to dip into the well of empathy and discover the ability to hold the space for paradox and binary thinking. For any person to be able to understand and participate in the complexity of our humanness, reading is an essential (and arguably, even a political!) act.
As I look around me in this bubble of children’s publishing and writers and readers, I see so much good, hard work being done– so many difficult conversations happening, so many thoughtful choices and decisions being deliberated, so much earnestness to make the world a better place, accepting of and accessible to each and every one of us.
Here is a small portion of the wonderful books that are doing the good work of opening our hearts and minds this holiday season and beyond.
We loved, Iggy Peck, Architect, we really loved Rosie Revere, Engineer, and now we sing about Ada Twist, Scientist. The playful text and whimsical illustrations celebrate curiosity and girls spreading their wings through science.
Today by author/illustrator Julie Morstad celebrates the joy of possibility and creativity in the simplest rites of each day by asking young readers what it is that makes them happy. It has a Richard Scarry vibe, and the art is frameable.
The feel-good picture book award of the season goes to A Hat For Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love. Sophia makes it her mitzvah (good deed, as Mrs. Goldman taught her) to use her limited knitting skills to make Mrs. Goldman, her special neighbor, a hat. A genuinely heart-warming story for the giving season.
My holiday book pick this year is a nativity story. Or a story about refugees and the kindness of strangers, which just happens to share the storyline of the Nativity. Any way you look at it, Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher is a gentle reminder that we are all from somewhere else. $1 from the sale of each book goes to aid the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
Two unlikely sixth grade girls find friendship and join forces to make their last year at Odawahoka Middle School an epic (and hilarious) one. Nothing But Trouble by Jacqueline Davies is the first in a series by the author of the Lemonade War books, and is full of unapologetic girl power.
Three cheers for local author (Middlesex, VT) and bookstore friend Tod Olson and his new series of non-fiction books that begins with Lost in the Pacific, 1942— a harrowing and engrossing WWII survival story about a secret mission carrying one of America’s greatest WWII heroes– Colonel Eddie Rickenbacker. Reads like a thriller and will appeal to readers of both fiction and non-fiction alike.
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog is a medieval story set during the Inquisition in France that manages to be both a literary meditation on religion, and a hilarious, adventure-packed romp with minstrels, knights, murderous bandits and farting dragons. One of my favorite kid’s novels of the year.
A young English World War II refugee finds healing tending the winged horses she sees at her sanatorium in The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. This magical story invites the reader into a darkly disturbing but ultimately hopeful world where secret horses live in mirrors and dark forces threaten one beautiful fugitive creature’s existence. For mature readers who loved The Secret Garden or the world of Narnia.