I just read two GREAT BOOKS that aren’t quite right for their “target” audience. Don’t worry, nothing scandalous, but just a bit off the mark.
The first is called I Want My Hat Back by John Klassen. It’s a hilarious picture book about a bear who has lost his hat. There is a subtlety to it that may be lost on little ones. Also, at the very end, some particularly sensitive children might get sad, if they even pick up on what happens at all. That being said, I was laughing so hard at the end! If you appreciate a good picture book, see if your local library has it. There are other great reviews on the web, like this one from Wired‘s Geek Dad, or this one from the Calling Caldecott blog. Great story, but might not be right for the tiniest children.
The next is a young adult book called The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. The premise is this: It’s 1996, and the Internet is not in widespread use yet. Josh goes next door to his best friend Emma’s house with an America Online CD-ROM that came in the mail. Emma loads it onto her new desktop computer, and when she logs in, she finds herself and Josh on Facebook fifteen years in the future. I thought it was a clever concept, but no teen actually remembers getting those AOL CD-ROMs, or even what a CD-ROM is. I’m 28, and so I was 13 in 1996. I clearly remember using a dial-up modem, not being able to use the phone while online, not having a cell phone, and all those details that are essential to this book. They are pointed out clearly in the text, but I think it will go over the heads of most teens. Give this book to someone my age or a bit older and the connection to both the old and new technology is there. That being said, the story of being able to see into one’s future was cool, especially when Emma and Josh make slight changes to their current lives that make big waves down the line. Try this review from the LA Times for more.
It’as getting quite autumn-y here in the Northeast. I stomped in a pile of crispy leaves the other day, there are pumpkins on the porch, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween. I was never a horror fan, although I can deal with small doses of Stephen King thanks to Amanda. I just read two odd-and-good-but-not-scary YA books: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Peculiar Children centers around a guy named Jacob who grew up with bizarre tales and photographs from his grandfather. Once Jacob sees something unnatural and terrifying attack his grandfather in the woods, he knows he must go to Wales to find the orphanage where his grandfather grew up– Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The book is peppered with photographs of the peculiar children, borrowed from vintage photograph collectors to illustrate the story. I got the chills in several places and was afraid to turn the page lest I see something scary. There is a SMASH-BANG twist near the end, and the book ends with no finality, which I liked. Ransom Riggs, please do not write a sequel– let that uncertainty lie!
The Name of the Star is the latest from Maureen Johnson. The main character, Rory, is from Louisiana but is spending a year in London at boarding school. Unfortunately, she arrives just as a serial killer starts killing women in much the same way as Jack the Ripper did in the 1800s. One night, Rory sees a man that no one else can see, and suddenly, her life and view of the world change drastically. This book has a great climax and will be part of a series. I am so looking forward to find out what happens next. The library-centered comic Unshelved reviewed The Name of the Star recently, won’t you take a look?
Finally, since it’s almost Halloween, it’s also almost time for All Hallows’ Read, brainchild of the awesome Neil Gaiman. Why give candy when you can give books?