In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer reading

Dear Annie,

I've only read the first Gregor, although we sell a fair amount of all of them.  One of the indications of a good series is when readers keep coming back for more.  I think I read it during one of those intense times in ordering season when I read half a dozen books a week and place orders that will arrive six months in the future.  Gregor hasn't stuck with me.  That said, the one vivid image I hold from the first book is the laundry room, which is the portal to Underland.  In my mind, I see the cavernous laundry room in my parents' -- your grandparents' -- basement on West 77th Street.  So I guess my belief about Underland is that it's beneath the Upper West Side, probably below the Museum of Natural History.

The other element I've held onto is the into-the-rabbit-hole nature of Gregor's fall.  It was my impression not that the cockroaches (great comic relief!) and other animals were huge, but that the humans shrank as they fell.  Am I making this up?

You so deserve some relaxed reading time!  Around this time of year, I start packing some books I haven't read into a going-to-Maine box.  I'll dig through the box when we get there in August and work my way through a number of them while lying in the hammock.  Some are books I've ordered and know I need to read before they arrive.  And others are ones I just really want to read because I hear they're exceptional.

Here are the three YA books that I really want to read by Labor Day:

Ship Breaker
, by Paolo Bacigalupi. It won the Printz Award for best YA book two years ago.  Dystopian future with environmental breakdown in full swing.  About a boy who works mining beached oil tankers for their scrap metal.  Into his world sails a perfect clipper ship.  Sounds dark and fascinating.

Where Things Come Back
, by John Corey Whaley -- the winner of this year's Printz award.  Nothing futuristic or magical.  A high school boy whose brother disappears, and whose town becomes the focus of the search for a rare woodpecker.  I have high hopes for this one.

Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein, which just came out.  It's a World War II drama.  Two young women -- one a pilot, one a spy, each other's friends -- crash in Nazi-occupied France.  The intelligence agent is captured -- her interrogation and confession make up a large part of the book.  The other things I know about this book are that it's full of twists and surprises -- so the reviews are a bit squirrely -- and the writing is riveting.

Anybody out there read any of these?



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