Sarah is a bookseller by day, a stage manager by night, and a writer by whatever hours are left. She can never resist a fairy tale adaptation or a sassy-but-charming-thief-with-a-secret-heart-of-gold. Her favorite books include passionate friendships and girls who are not always fearless, but who are brave. The highest compliment she can give a book is to call it "devastating." (Photo by Tim Trumble, courtesy of Childsplay)
This book is for anyone who loves stories. Bear loves reading so much he decides to try writing his own story. After sitting in front of a blank piece of paper, he does what any writer would do - he takes a walk. Along the way, he helps his friends with their challenges, and they help him discover a story to tell. Perfect for introducing the basics of storytelling as well as the value of spending time in your community.
When Farmer Ted begins counting his cows, Bessie thinks he's starting a game of Cowhide-and-Seek. But it's difficult for a cow to stay ahead of the game when her hiding places keep moving or calling attention to her. Follow Bessie on her fun and silly race through the town, and see what creative hiding places you can spot.
"What if Buffy went down the rabbit hole instead of Alice?” This is the question McKinney asked and answered as she wrote the book. I loved the tension between Wonderland and the real world as Alice worked to navigate family, friends, and school on top of her monster-slaying gig. I have always been a fan of secret identity narratives especially with high schoolers sneaking out to save the world. This book is the perfect addition to the canon by grounding so much of Wonderland in our present reality.
King Arthur...IN SPACE! I usually meet this premise as the punch line of a bad joke, but here it is executed brilliantly. This sci fi explores the future of the Once and Future King as a teenage Merlin trains the 42nd incarnation of Arthur. Only this version of Arthur is a seventeen year-old girl named Ari who does not intend to follow Merlin's script. She's more invested in undermining the large monopolizing corporation that tore apart her home and her family. The stakes are high from the beginning, both internally and externally, and not even magic can soften the blows. Fresh, funny, familial, and familiar, this incarnation of the Arthurian legend is timeless.
Aru is back! This time without the Spider-Man pajamas and with a lot more Lord of the Rings references. Two new questers join the mission to save the world (as you do) and the fellowship is...strained. Their personalities clash but with gods and monsters to outsmart, they learn to lean on each other's strengths. And, just like the first book, this one is hilarious. I'd like to think that if I went on a magical quest, I would be a lot like these heroes -- that is, very intense and very awkward and prone to using movie plots to escape tight spots.
This adaptation of the Norwegian fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon is embellished with threads of Beauty and the Beast and imbued with the author's musical sense of storytelling. It is wistful, yet gentle. Wrenching, yet comforting. Stinging, yet hopeful, and warm enough to carry you through the bitterest winter. In many ways, it is a story about stories, about the powerful magic of understanding your own mythology. Keep this book on hand for a lazy day because once you start, you won't want to let go.
Eliza's anxiety makes it difficult to connect with people in her day-to-day life. Online, however, she is the center of her own universe as the creator of a popular webcomic. Her two worlds collide when she befriends one of her biggest fans at school - without revealing who she really is. I made the mistake of finishing this book on a airplane. I missed the drink cart and ended up openly weeping in the window seat. So, be warned, it is very emotional but well worth your time. The book deftly navigates the complications of Eliza's double life without diminishing the value of finding one's voice online. Most of all, this is the story of connection, wherever and however it develops.
A single-minded Chupacabra has taste buds for one thing: Goats (or, Cabras, in Spanish). This is a big problem for a little goat, as you might imagine. Determined to talk his way out of becoming breakfast, Goat leads Chupacabra on a quest to find something else for the menu. As a picky eater who wanted the goat to survive, I found this story especially compelling. Could both Cabra and Chupacabra achieve a satisfying resolution? Despite the danger, this tale is completely adorable. Best of all, it features English and Spanish with plenty of repetition in both languages to help kids (and non-bilingual adults) learn new words.
This epic tale of Lion versus Nature shows how a little love can soften the toughest of hearts. In a quiet and peaceful neighborhood, an interloper has put down roots. Lion knows what he must do. He must remove the dandelion that has disrupted his perfect lawn. But before he can make his move, his daughter claims the dandelion as her friend and the task becomes nearly insurmountable. While I sympathized with the lion's struggle to make this impossible decision, I also laughed out loud at his increasingly extreme antics. The text is simple and understated allowing the vibrant and evocative illustrations to speak volumes.
This book is too close. Too possible. What should be a horrifying-but-purely-fictional future where the United States forces Muslims into internment camps feels like something I might see on the news tomorrow. Samira Ahmed writes with considerable courage as she delves into the dark corners of Islamaphobia. She refuses to relinquish her power to prejudice, and doesn't allow her characters to either. As a narrative, it is tightly constructed and well-paced. The moral imperative is clear, yet the story takes into account a broad range of perspectives. Most importantly, the book is a call to action to keep this story in the world of fiction and render the premise implausible.
When V. E. Schwab conceived of Vicious, she asked herself, “Can I take two villains and make you root for one of them?” The answer is YES.
In Vengeful, she deconstructs her own construct -- and then amplifies it as she blends the original characters with a dynamic new cast.
I needed an antihero, and this series gave me all that I dreamed of and more. These books set the standard not just for the antihero but for intricately plotted non-linear timelines. And compelling conflicts. And ambitious women. And, well, all the craft and instinct that goes into creating a novel. This is the series that introduced me to V. E. Schwab, and got me hooked on her writing. Her canon so far is brilliant, and there is a lot more to look forward to.
This whimsical book fills me with warmth every time I read it. I adore how Little Star's midnight snacking has a cosmic effect in this folktale style book. Both the story and the pictures are captivating because of their creative simplicity. One word of caution: This book will tickle your sweet tooth. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a strong urge to bake a cake and go stargazing...
It's hard to decide which is more beautiful: the story or the illustrations. Every page is a work of art as we watch Pearl tend for her grain of sand, transforming something small into something powerful. With the magic of a fairy tale, this book is filled with wonder and delight that you'll want to immerse yourself in again and again.
Here's the best thing about Cynthia Hand: she's a total fangirl for her source material. She layers in tongue-in-cheek parallels to the original, yet makes the story unique enough to be enjoyable--even if you're over A Christmas Carol and all assorted adaptations. I particularly appreciated Holly's snark as the narrator and her determination to avoid unnecessary heroism. What redemption does come isn't a bit easy or trite. So, if you need a touch of escapism at any time of year, this book is an excellent choice.
A YA adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing set in the 1920s. This book was made for me and it exceeded my expectations. McKelle George's debut captures all the fun of the Shakespeare play while making the characters even more vibrant. Beatrice and Benedick--arguably the greatest couple in all of literature--perfect the enemies to lovers trope while Hero steps up to be the bold, savvy, and dynamic hero of her own story. The rest of the cast shines with all the vivacity and merriment of the 1920s making this one of my favorite reading experiences.
This is the story of a compassionate witch, an inquisitive boy, a quixotic dragon, a poetic swamp monster, a grieving madwoman, and, of course, an enmagicked girl who drank deeply from the boundless well of moonlight.
This is the story of the family you choose and the family you don’t. This is the story of hope and resilience which are bound together like the two sides of a coin. This is the story of the full range of human emotions especially the burden of sorrow. This is the story of the consequences of disengaging and the strength of community. This is the story of stories and memory and the way time re-sculpts both. This is the story of magic – the kind that exists only in fantasies and the kind that is accessible in the real world.
This is, without doubt, the greatest love story I’ve ever read.
This is the villain origin story that will do more than make you sympathize with the villain. It just might shift your loyalties. In a Neverland that resembles Lord of the Flies, Jamie was the first lost boy at Peter's side but their centuries-long friendship unravels as Jamie begins to see the calculated darkness beneath Peter's whims. Christina Henry is a master at manipulating language to pack a punch and this book is no exception. Even though I knew there would be a Captain Hook by the end of the book, I found myself hoping, even believing, that Jamie would succeed. That hope made the inevitable so much more devastating. Read this book and decide for yourself who's the hero and who's the villain, but keep in mind: Peter lies.