Some of the most poignant literature and rich narrative take place in novels written for the young. I have picked five books that are superbly written with creative plots. There are many books that will never get the full credit or voice they deserve. Some of these titles you may have read, some you may have never heard of. Please give each a chance; they are wonderfully written and quality literature for young and old alike.
Four Rubbings (The Stone Witch Series) by Jennifer L. Hotes
This is the debut novel by a local Seattle area author. There were many things I appreciated about this young adult novel. It takes place in Seattle, so she had me at chapter one. It incorporates the history of the Seattle area, so she had me hooked.
Four Rubbings tells the story of four childhood friends and their relationship with a local cemetery. The grounds keeper for the cemetery and the lives of these four friends collide one Halloween night. Josie, the main character is wrestling in adolescence, having lost her mother. Grace, the care-taker has separated herself from life and lives among the stones of Lakeview Cemetery. Josie and her four friends enter the cemetery on Halloween and encounter the super-natural. Four Rubbings made me think about healing, and feel moved by Josie and her longing for answers and peace. This book is perfect for a rainy fall; and a good pick for a lover of mystical books with a backdrop of spook. What I loved about this book is that it is the story of four life-long friends, there is no tacky romance, no zombie love, but just authentic friendship told well with a little fright. Four Rubbings makes you want to walk through the head stones and ponder life, death, and everything in between. The next book in the series comes out this spring.
Give it a try and click on the link to order it from amazon:
Herbert by Chadwick Gillenwater
A fly that wants to make honey, how sweet of a premise is that? It is a wonderful premise that makes a more wonderful story. Little Herbert is a fly that lives in the dump with his filthy family. He does not like garbage and does not fit in with his slop loving siblings. Herbert literally carves out a nice life for himself in the center of an old peach pit. This is his sanctuary and place of refuge where he studies the art of honey making and perfects his recipe. Herbert goes on a great journey in search of his dreams and a new life. He meets many funny characters along the way and battles many enemies trying to find the Queen Bee. This is a lovely little tale that will make you feel good, believe in your dreams, and cheer for those that follow where their heart leads. It is a great grown up read, but also meant for children. If I had a child or a classroom of children age 5-8 I would read this out loud with them. It is also a safe choice for your 2nd– 5th grader to read (depending on their reading level). Children will find it fun, it is clean, and a fine tale.
You can only find this self-published book on amazon, please click here to order it.
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny- Detectives Extraordinaire! By Mrs. Bunny
Translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath
Madeline is a motivated whip smart young girl with earth loving hippy parents in a community of home-schoolers. She wants desperately to go to school, so she takes the ferry every day from her home on Vancouver Island to the public school. Madeline is seeking out her dreams one day at a time until her parents go missing. Luckily, she meets a pair of bunnies who have purchased new fedoras in hopes of becoming detectives. Together they set out on a journey to find her parents and solve the islands latest mystery. This book is so full of delightful oddities and quirky banter; you will adore the story and eccentric characters. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny display the quintessential long term relationship, children will laugh, but adults will truly find the humor in their daily problems and discussions. Sophie Blackall did all the illustrations; they are beautifully detailed and add to the story. I loved everything about this funny little story. It is fantastic to read aloud but adults will love it as well.
To Order it on Amazon, click here:
Wildwood by Colin Meloy
I have a deep adoration of the Pacific Northwest. My soul grows green and mossy and takes comfort in the drippy days of our winter rain. Wildwood is set in Portland in the large wooded park outside of the city. Prue, a young girl takes her baby brother on a walk one day and he is snatched by a murder of ruthless crows. Prue must go into the wood to save her brother. The magical land of Wildwood inhabits a witch, talking animals and battles of good and evil. You will weep with Prue as she carries the burden of not being able to protect her baby brother. Even adults need to get lost in worlds of magic, and this is the perfect novel to escape in through the winter. The language of this book is melodic and written in superb prose. Colin is a master story-teller and the illustrations, drawn by his wife are breath-taking. Both are remarkably talented and Wildwood is a fantastic book.
After reading Wildwood I saw Colin Meloy and his wife do a book talk about creating the book. She knitted while he talked, they bantered and out-witted each other as they told stories of their childhoods that led them to the writing of Wildwood. They each showed photos of writing or drawing they had done as kids. The focus of their talk was on how the work of children leads to the work you do as an adult. Their talk has stuck with me, and this book has as well.
To Order this Book on Amazon, click here:
The Odd Fellows Orphanage by Emily Winfield Martin
Odd children attend the Odd Fellows Orphanage, but the joy of this book is the life they get to lead because of the kind hearted headmaster who started the orphanage. A boy with an onion head, a tattooed girl, and other children with oddities get to live and make friends at the most unique place for children you will ever find. They attend school with classes on fairy tales and take field trips to view sea monsters. They have magnificent holiday parties and creatively solve problems of how to make home-made gifts for your best friend bunk mate without them knowing. The Odd Fellows Orphanage is so full of whimsy and delight, my only sadness in reading it was when it came to an end.
To Order this book on Amazon, please click here:
Finding this book felt Serendipitous for me. I had ordered a print from Etsy years ago of two children in a quaint glass dome. This summer I stumbled upon a beginning chapter book with familiar illustrations. It was the very same artist Emily Winfield Martin. She turned her small illustrations and vignettes of imagined orphaned lives and made them into a unique novel for children.
Here is a picture of the print that hangs in my bathroom: