We hope you enjoyed our last list of colorful children's books. We love picture books, and stock a lot of different sorts. Here, though, is a list of some for older readers - some for older elementary/middle school ages and some for YA, teenaged students. So many good ones!
By the way, if you order soon, we can most likely still have them delivered to you by Christmas, without additional cost. And then don't miss the CDs we mention, rare finds, great stocking stuffers. Ho, ho, ho.
These first two entries, by the
way, could have been shown with the previous list as they, too, are colorful
and quite visual, with a fabulous blending of words and images.
Alice's Adventure in Wonderland Lewis Carroll illustrated by Yayoi Kusama (Penguin)
$35.00 I have rarely seen a book design that offers
such a fresh and vivid look for an old familiar story! Kusama is a renowned modern Japanese designer
and here offers her signature dots (and dots and dots) and hipster
graphics, catapulting this wild Victorian tale into the contemporary
world. This is a solid, square size,
heavier pages, and tons of brightness. Check out some of the artwork, here.
The Action Bible Doug Mauss
& Sergio Cariello (Cook) $26.99 There have been other attempts at comic
book and graphic novel versions of the Bible (including one in the hip Manga
style) but none have pulled it off as well this one has. For those who are attracted to this cartoon
format (dare I say, often, young boys, from 6 to 16) this is a truly tremendous gift, colorfully re-telling 215 stories. Sergio Cariello is a master of the genre, very renowned; it
is large, hardback, with typical comic blocks - perfectly done.
It also comes in a paperback 52 week The Action Bible Devotional version ($17.99) and a
less hefty hardback, The Action Bible New Testament ($16.99.) Way cool.
And, while we're at it, we just got in the graphic novel version of The Book of Revelation as illustrated by the master of creepy graphic art, Chris Koelle. The translation of the text is by Fr. Mark Arey and Fr. Philemon Sevastiades, with adaptation by Matt Dorff. (You can read about these Greek Orthodox scholars who did the translation a bit here.) Published in high quality paperback, the art is both black and white and sometimes bright, fiery color; kudos to the publisher Zondervan ($19.99.) Visual editions of this apokalypsis are not uncommon, as they've been done by Michelangelo, Hieronymus Bosch, Durer, Blake. So this is a great idea, powerful, exciting, rendered from the orginal Greek in edgy comic style, perfect for those who may not typically be interested in Bible reading. Know any heavy metal kids? Awesome, dudes.
What Comes From the Stars Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books) $16.99 You probably know our fondness for the work of this author (for instance, his Newberry Award Winning Lizzie Bright or the wonderful, funny, rich Wednesday Wars or its sequel, All Right for Now.) In this new one a sixth grade boy whose family is in considerable turmoil finds a necklace in his school lunchbox. It has been hurled from another world, which has terrible consequences, his own town now implicated in the battle for the cosmos. Besides fighting this evil plot, there is a more realistic question below the surface: can a troubled family re-define itself? Can a child lead the way? This is classic fantasy literature (with a map and helpful glossary of the epic-sounding names and places.) Schmidt is a much-loved English professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids and is a remarkably prolific author, good at so many genres. A great book not only for fans of Mr. Schmidt but for anyone who likes YA fantasy.
The Mysterious Benedict Society Trenton Lee Stewart (Little Brown) $6.99 This came out in hardcover a few years ago and became a sensation for middle school readers, and others who love suspenseful fantasy stories. It is smart and clever. The main character sees an odd ad in the paper ("Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?") and soon joins dozens of other children who have signed up for mysterious mind-bending tests. What is going on here? This would appeal to those who like Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl, or even Harry Potter --- it is a guaranteed page-turner, laden with interesting lessons about life, big questions about ethics and things that matter.
The Halflings and Guardian Heather Burch (Zondervan) $14.99 each Youth paranormal fantasy (think Twilight)
is so popular these days, many parents are looking for books that will appeal to those taken with that style but written within some Christian context. These two stand
out, the first two in a series called The Halflings. (The third is to be released in Spring of 2013.) They are nearly addicting, says USA Today and
Publishers Weekly assured us that kids will "gobble up and seek more." The mysterious tag line for the second one reads: "They chose to
protect her but forgot to guard their hearts." Guardian is the new one, book two; the first is simply called Halflings. They involve, angels, sort of... check out their cool fan 'zine here.
Right Where I Belong Krista McGee (Nelson) $9.99 Okay, romance fans, put that tongue in your cheek and get ready for a campy, feisty, very Christian teen romance story. I'll admit this isn't quite my style, but there are young ladies who need a fun reminder that dating is a part of life that needs to be explored with care and faithfulness to spiritual principles. Natalia is the main character here, whose father just divorced his third wife, and she finds herself cynical and in culture shock in a new school in a new place. She has given up on love but, yep, there's an adorable pastor's son and, well, you know. Sweet and edifying; one reviewer said it is about finding one's place in the world.
Katelyn's Affection Kirsten L. Klassen (Herald Press) $11.99 This is several years old, but recently
re-issued by the excellent Mennonite publishing house, and I recommend it here
as perhaps a more serious read on the same topic - teen romance - than the rather
formulaic one listed above. In this
story, Katelyn's boyfriend moves away to college and she finds herself in a
relationship with an outgoing, non-Mennonite classmate. It raises the big
question of friendship, dating between those of different faith traditions, and
this complicated problem of having two special relationships at the same time.
There is some joy and some intensity to the plot -- it
is a strong story, about this particular slice of teenage life. That her anabaptist faith tradition is unique and distinctive gives this a texture and interest unlike many typical teen romance stores, even of the Christian variety.
The Theory of Everything J.J., Johnson (Peachtree) $16.95 It may be a stretch to call this postmodern, but it is certainly a cleverly construed story with Venn diagrams and charts and all manner of self-aware (ironic?) sidebars and smart-mouthing from the lovable protagonist. Sarah can't "move on" after her best friend Jamie died in a freak accident, even though some people tell her she should. She wrestles with guilt, she questions the very meaning of life. Her grades are plummeting and "her normal voice seems to have been replaced with a snark box." This isn't from a Christian perspective, but it honors the way one comes to understand the threads that connect us all, the benefit of giving people a chance, and the power of love. This is a bit edgy, very interesting, a fine bit of writing and some doodles. Yay.
Wonder R.J. Palacio (Knopf) $15.99 I raved about this moving story when it arrived last summer, and we wish our customers would get behind it, sharing this one-of-a-kind middle school age novel with book clubs, young readers, teachers... It deals with a heavy subject with wit and joy --- a boy with a terrible facial deformity decides to show himself unashamedly in public school. As the famous youth novelist Patricia Reilly Giff puts it, Wonder is "a beautifully told story about heartache, love, and the value of human life. One comes away from it wanting to be a better person." It is rare that a youth novel has the array of endorsements from so many prestigious novelists and writers, all raving. From adult writers like Julia Alvarez and Nicholas Sparks to Newberry winners, all agree. As Rebecca Stead says of it, "Full of heart, full of truth, Wonder is a book about seeing the beauty that's all around us. I dare you not to fall in love with Augie Pullman."
Son Lois Lowry (Houghton Mifflin) $17.99 You most likely know of the powerful, controversial, and essential youth Newberry winner, The Giver. The sequel was also highly regarded, called Gathering Blue and then there was The Messenger. Here is the long-awaited and thrilling conclusion to the quartet, although one could read it as a stand-alone, or without the middle two. It only comes in hardback, and it is nice that HM released uniform hardbacks of all four. The Giver in hardback would make a special gift, no? These are extraordinary (dark) fantasies by one of the great writers of our time. By the way, Son centers around Claire, birth mother of baby Gabriel, whom Jonas risked his life to try to save at the end of The Giver. Some have wondered if it is a bit autobiographical, since Ms Lowry herself lost a son in an Air Force accident. Serious, sad, and ultimately redemptive...
The Enchanted Attic: Saving Moby Dick and The Enchanted Attic: Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame L.L. Samson (Zonderkidz) $7.99 each These are short, clever, mystery/fantasy novels for younger readers that use a very clever device (think, maybe, The Indian in the Cupboard.) In the first, yep, you guessed it, bookworm siblings Linus and Ophelia enter the world of Quasimodo; in the next one, they come face to face with Captain Ahab, realizing he is crazier then they realized. These fun reads give new meaning to "bringing the story to life." What fun. Look for a third in January 2013 where the kid's attic takes them to the swashbuckling in Dumas' The Three Musketeers. By the way, this is the Lisa Sampson who has penned excellent adult novels and the edgy and very useful book with her husband Will, Justice in the 'Burbs. Yay.
Lysbeth: A Tale of the Dutch H. Rider Haggard (Christian Liberty Press) $13.99 Historical fiction is important to some readers, and we stock many stories from many eras. Here is one that should be considered a classic (first written in 1900 in Holland.) It is a great way to learn about an aspect of church history of which many simply are unaware. This author -- the writer of the truly classic King's Solomon's Mines -- dedicates the book to the memory of William the Silent, the leader of the struggle for Dutch independence (from the Spanish in the sixteenth century.) The protagonist is a brave Reformed girl facing the perils and persecutions of the Spanish Inquisition, facing episodes momentous and tender. Recently abridged a bit and newly translated for modern readers.
Coal Train Railroad, Coal Train Swings and Rain for Roots
We are especially eager to tell you about some very, very cool children's music, little indie projects that we happen to stock on behalf of acquaintances of ours. Coal Train Railroad and Coal Train Swings are two very nifty CDs made by Katy Bowser and Chris Donohue. (These are a bargain at just $10.00 each and with our 20% off discount, you should get 'em both.) As the playful Coal Train moniker implies, this is a nod to the famous jazzman, John Coltrane. So, yep, this a righteous way to introduce little ones to real jazz -- and it is fun, upbeat, informative, and just tons of fun. If you want to check it out, first, visit www.coaltrainrailroad.com and sample the fun.
You may find it interesting that Katy has also sung on the lovely, profoundly moving Indelible Grace recordings (old hymns put to new, cool neo-folksie tunes.)
And, she is one of the four gals who recently released what is our favorite young children's album in quite a while -- it is called Rain for Roots: Big Stories for Little Ones, with lyrics by Sally Lloyd Jones. The four very talented mommy singers who comprise RfR are the aforementioned Ms Bowser, Sandra McCracken, Ellie Holcomb, and Flo Paris. The album was produced by Sandra and engineered by Sandra and her husband, Derek Webb. The whole delightful project is described and shown in action at www.RainForRoots.com. If you like what you hear, and know any young children, or know any Sunday school or preschool teachers who need some light-hearted, down-home, lyrically reliable tunes, do send the order our way. It sells for $12.99 before our 20% discount, so we offer it at $10.39.
These Bible songs allow the gospel to shine through. They do not moralize about the characters ("be brave") or merely play off the drama of the tales, but always point us, as the best reading of the texts should, to God's redemptive work as His Kingdom comes in Christ. Sally is renowned for offering this "historic-redemptive" approach in her lovely early readers Bible storybook, The Jesus Storybook Bible (Zondervan; $16.99.) Her somewhat similar rhyming story Bible (which comes in a cover that feels and looks like soft lamb's wool) is for even younger ones and is called the Baby's Hug-a-Bible (HarperFestival; $15.99,) It is the volume that inspired Rain for Roots to put Sally's work to lyrics. It is a perfect supplement to the cool, folksy kids album, truly offering "big stories for little ones."
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