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With a toddler on the loose, Heather is reading a few more picture books and science-based parenting books and few less dark fiction novels, but she's always up for a good story and atmosphere is key. Cat Valente and Neil Gaiman will always float to the top of her to-read list. She is more likely to be caught in the middle-grade books than YA and will forever be an advocate of genre fiction and comic books. She'd read those stuffy literary classics, too, if there weren't such a huge catalog of important sci-fi classics to go through instead.
Badass ladies slaying demons, defying conventions, saving the world on their own terms? Count me in. The Tiger's Daughter is something truly special, it is an honest-to-goodness sweeping epic fantasy unlike any I have read. I don't remember ever being so excited for a new series. The characters in this book are so fully realized, the landscapes so vivid, I didn't even realize I'd been so swept away until I turned the last page and mourned it's passing. I endured with O Shizuka, princess, the divine made flesh, and finest blade in all Hokkaro; I raged with Barsalai Shefali Alsharyaa, demon slayer, horse whisperer, and infamous Qorin warrior. I didn't want to leave them and I can't wait for the next installment.
Sometimes people fall into the gritty, grimy cracks and crevasses of the world and some people go looking for them. They revel in it, they wallow in it, believe it's all they deserve, or they believe that's all the world truly is. Otessa Mosfegh opens up those cracks and crevasses and lets us peer inside. I've never read longing and denial so clearly and devastatingly written. These stories are populated by characters on the fringe, some because they went looking and some because it's all they've ever known, but all of them with an overwhelming sense of displacement, captured in a moment teetering on the edge of tragedy. Homesick for Another World hits all the right notes. It may be the best book this year.
My 2 year old has this book memorized. He reads it aloud with me every night. It is his very favorite book. And why not? With a beautiful color palette and clever rhymes Bitty Bot is so much fun to read. It's the first book in our nightly rotation and sometimes also the last because we both want to read it just one more time. It is also, coincidentally, how I convince him to "activate (his) bot pajamas" when it's time to get ready for bed.
"Leo was a gentle knight / in thought and word and deed. / While other knights liked fighting, / Leo liked to sit and read." From the husband and wife team who created The Snatchabook comes another gentle tale of bookish adventure. Leo is a small knight who'd rather be left in peace to read than to go and tame dragons, but at his parents insistence he leaves home, with a brand new sword and shield, to do just that. Along the way he meets many foes and "defeats" them all by reading them a story in which they are the star. He then returns home a hero with a promise from his parents that he need't fight anymore and they'll let him read in peace. This is such a lovely story for instilling a love of books.
This brilliant little picture book made my entire day when I first read it and I can't stop talking about it. It tells the story of a shy little boy who wears costumes to feel brave but can't quite find the right costume. Along comes Camille on the day he's been chased by a dog while wearing a cat costume and helps him find the perfect costume: a frog. Camille is a little different too, she loves math so much that sometimes she only speaks in numbers; 23 is yes, 17 is no, and he knows it's time for lunch when she starts singing her 6 times tables. This book is perfect for any kid who feels a little different or shy and especially great for kids who may be on the Autism spectrum.
This is the book you're looking for. Shrill is an absolutely essential read. The way Lindy West writes about feminism, and grief, and love, and comedy, and family is so human and so relatable it feels like one of those 2am existentialist conversations that leaves you exhausted and energized, melancholy but hopeful all at once. I am insisting that everyone I know read this book.
I LOVE THIS BOOK! OMG UNICORNS! READ IT! I swear I have put this book in the faces of all of my coworkers. I may not have read every picture book in the universe, but I say this with certainty: This is, hands down, the cutest picture book in the universe. Not only is it a faithful and adorable riff on the beloved classic, there is a handy Unicornology Guide for the Unicorn enthusiasts in your life. (Also, you'll notice, the kid in this book about Unicorns is a boy. Take that gender stereotypes.)
I'll admit that I cry a lot more now as parent than I ever have, but it doesn't lessen the sentiment when I say that Tell Me a Tattoo Story made me tear up as I was reading it. Being a tattooed parent, heck, being a tattooed person, I know that people see me in a different way when my skin is exposed, but this little book makes tattoos special as a dad tells his little boy the story behind all of his art, leaving the very best for last. I am so excited to take this book home to my son who is still small enough that he points to my skin and says "Tattoo? Tattoo." and wants me to tell him all about it.
Jess Moulson has just been convicted of a murder she may or may not have committed. One thing is certain: a young boy is dead and Jess was so high the night he died, she's not convinced of her own innocence. Fellside is a ghost story on the surface, but beneath that is a story of loyalty, guilt, and forgiveness with a bit of an unexpected love story on the side. Reading this book often left me tense with fear and at the same time breathless with wonder at some of the most beautiful bits of prose I've encountered in literature, let alone in any ghost story. M.R. Carey is a master storyteller and if you enjoyed his first, The Girl With All the Gifts, you'll love Fellside.
Pick up this book and turn to page 58. There, if that doesn't sell this book, well, maybe we just don't run in the same geek circles but you should definitely still buy this book. You can flip to any page and find your favorite pop culture reference and learn a little something about what it has to say on the subject of family and growing up. From the Power Puff Girls to The Walking Dead, from E.T. to Fringe our geeky heroes (and sometimes villains) have a lot to teach us. Isn't that why we love them? I was already preparing to share my love of All Things Geek(tm) with my kiddo and now I'll be even better prepared to use Geek as a learning tool. Even if you don't have and/or don't want kids Geek Parenting is a hell of a fun read just because. Who doesn't want more excuses to talk about Buffy and the Scoobies?
As a lover and advocate of comic books and visual literacy, I had a huge nerd out when I found these books. How amazing that someone else thinks comic books are so important that they're writing them for the littlest readers! I'm so excited to get to share my love of comic books with the next generation. As it says on the back of the book, learning to read pictures is the first step to learning to read words. And what a great message both of these books have! I'm Grumpy and I'm Sunny! are all about how being nice to others makes us feel better about ourselves. Gosh, I just can't say enough good stuff about these wonderful little books!
"Horn went Beep!/Engine purred/Friendliest sounds/you ever heard" and with that starts the greatest book ever written (if you ask my toddler). Little Blue Truck and it's companion Little Blue Truck Leads the Way get multiple nightly readings in our house and they are such amazing books neither Dad nor I mind. The art is gorgeous, the rhymes impeccable, and the morals so appreciated that it is one of the rare picture books you won't tire of reading over and over and over again. In Little Blue Truck we learn the importance of being nice to people just because while also getting make super fun animal sounds. In Little Blue Truck Leads the Way we learn the importance of waiting our turn and being patient while making super fun vehicle sounds.
WOW! There is so much to see in this gorgeous little book. My toddler and I can spend half an hour pointing things out, making animal noises, learning new words to go with the pictures, and giggling all the while. We can read the text or make up our own fun stories for each letter. You'll definitely want to share this smart little book with every small child you know. It makes a great gift for a baby shower or first birthday too!
There's definitely not enough self-doubt and worry when it comes to being a new parent and Sara Given is here to assure us that Parenting is Easy (You're Probably Just Doing Wrong). Here she'll teach us that white couches make the best feeding surface for your infant and young toddler, teenagers are always respectful and never difficult, and your toddler will love brushing her teeth and playing quietly while you take an important phone call. Filled with real stock photos and inspired by her wildly popular blog "It's Like They Know Us", Sara Given has brought us a hilarious and utopic vision of parenting.
This year Alice turns 150 years old and to celebrate there have been numerous collector's and special editions published. This is the one you *need* to own. Just pick it up, feel the weight of it, the texture, go ahead, smell it. This book screams COLLECTOR. The text is the same story you've always known and loved, but this is Alice as you've never seen her before. Illustrated by the beloved surrealist Salvador Dali, this book is sure to delight the artist, the bibliophile, and somewhat surprisingly, the mathematician on your list.
Speaking with empathy to the fear and mistrust felt by the anti-vaccination crowd, Eula Biss gives us an impassioned defense of science and medicine. On the surface this is a call to vaccinate, but it is also a reflection on race and class and sex and how we came to fear what should protect us. Without invalidating those fears, Biss makes clear that our health as a body of people depends on the protection of our bodies as individuals. On Immunity gives us much needed context in one of the most important conversations of our time. Written in beautiful prose, this book is a joy and a comfort to read.
Chances are, if you're reading this recommendation in our store, your kid already has a leg up on loving to read. If you're anything like me, you'll still want to do everything you can to make sure that happens. In Born Reading, Jason Boog has put together a fantastic resource for interactive reading with your child from birth to middle school. Boog name checks some amazing kids book authors and illustrators with great advice on bringing up readers and offers plenty of his own. One of the greatest things about this book is Boog's ability to stress his opinion on tech and kids (limit, limit, limit) without being judgmental and also offers great recommendations for companion apps for kids and books and tips on finding more apps that are both educational and fun without being loaded down with advertising. Even if you know your child will be a reader this book is worth picking up for the lists of recommendations at every age level.
Read this book. I mean it. I don't do zombies, they're just not my thing. I think they are an over-played, cheap, marketing gimmick. At least I thought that before I read The Girl With All the Gifts. If this is the new wave of zombies, count me in. It's smart, it's scientific, and it's both sad and ultimately hopeful. M R Carey has written a horror book for those of us who believe that 'genre fiction' can be more than just pulp. But if you're in to that sort of thing, there plenty of gross out moments too.
"It isn't about denying that children are girls or boys. It's about children not being defined by gender." This summation comes in the penultimate paragraph and it's the reason I read this book. I'm not what anyone would consider militant, but gender stereotypes are definitely something I'd like to minimize and that's not easy. Try finding 'gender neutral' newborn clothing--you have about 15 options, all of which are green and yellow. Go to any toy store and just try to avoid the Pink Aisle. Beyond that, even when they don't mean to, people treat little girls and little boys differently, which leads to the old Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus mentality. Brown has written a handy guide for checking those impulses and an informative, scientific, argument against raising your kids in a pink and blue world. I would also recommend this book for anyone who works with kids, teachers, caregivers, pediatricians, anyone at all who regularly influences children
I picked up Beautiful Darkness expecting something entirely different from what its cover contained. Drawn in by the gorgeous watercolor illustrations by the husband and wife team, Kerascoet, I believed this would be a fairly typical fantasy story. Boy, was I wrong. Only a couple pages in we are dragged into a grotesque and cruel world ruled by insincerity and casual disregard for life. While the images remain dreamy and lighthearted, the story only ever gets darker. It's obvious that Vehlmann is a bit of a cynic, but I get the sense that his goal is to remind us that we don't have to be like the characters in his book. Suggestion, don't read until you are yourself feeling optimistic
Mouse Bird Snake Wolf is an original and inspiring creation tale by David Almond and breathtakingly illustrated by Dave McKean. It tells the story of lazy, self-satisfied and disinterested gods looking down on an incomplete world and congratulating themselves on a job well done. It is after all a rather marvelous world filled with marvelous things, but Harry, Sue and Little Ben have noticed holes in the world where things should be. Deciding that they can create just as well as the gods, they do just that and fill the holes while the gods sleep. When things get scary, it is up to Little Ben to fix things because it's obvious the gods don't care. The moral here is that the creativity of children can make and unmake the world and they need no one's permission to do so, even the gods. This is a book for bright, inquisitive children and adults who enjoy mythology. It doesn't hurt that it's also a visually beautiful book.
Having no kids of my own, it's pretty rare that I find a picture book and think “I NEED this book in my life,” but that's exactly what happened with The Journey of the Noble Gnarble. I'm buying this book for every kid I know. It is written in a way that easily recalls both Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll and tells a heartwarming story of a little Gnarble determined to follow his dreams despite being told by everyone he knows that it's impossible. The fantastical world of the story is beautifully illustrated by Tiffany Turrill in amazingly detailed, bright, full-page illustration. If you like this one you should also pick up The Journey of the Marmabill, another gorgeous picture book by this duo about a Marmabill finding the courage to take back her home.
Catherynne Valente is a master at her craft. From the first word to the last The Melancholy of Mechagirl is a rich and textured experience. Valente never makes you wait for the hook, not a single story or poem in this book drags you along. I promise you will volunteer for the ride. Her Locus Award winning, Hugo nominated, short story Silently and Very Fast is included in this collection and that alone is reason enough to take it home. It is a near perfect example of science fiction at its very best. Every reason I've fallen in love with her writing is brilliantly on display in this collection of science fiction stories dedicated to Japan.
I could say so many wonderful things about North American Lake Monsters without telling you how much it's going to hurt just to get you to open the cover, but you deserve better than that. Nathan Ballingrud's first collection of short stories is brutal. I read most of the stories in this book stomach clenched in horror and breath catching in my throat. There are no happy endings and there are certainly no heroes, though the last few stories do have a touch of sweetness. These are stories about the down-trodden and damned that bare no sentimental ideas of redemption–just folks being folks hardly phased by the sometimes horrific supernatural because real life has already treated them so terribly. The thread that ties this book together is monsters and I can tell you there are plenty here, and as uncomfortable as I was reading it, I loved every second of it.