Lower Grade Fiction
Ivan is a silverback gorilla who lives in a little zoo attraction inside a shopping mall. His best friends are the other beasts, and he spends his days in observation of the people who come and go. When a baby elephant named Ruby comes to live there, too, Ivan suddenly has to face the reality of his world and find some way to make it better. Adorable and funny and sweet and hopeful, this is going to be an award contender in 2012 for sure.
Be forewarned: if you are in any way drawn to creepy, atmospheric mysteries of the uncanny and the occult, John Bellairs will become a lifetime addiction.
The Ferrante of kids' lit - really that good. Read them now, read them all.
I am delighted to add Butter the pony to the ever-growing stable of favorite fictional horses in my mind.
This is a book about a Minecraft villager who wants to be a warrior. It is very funny and you must read it. MUST!
— Sam (Age 9)
The most twisted, surreal, hilarious, disturbing book in Roald Dahl's body of work includes no magical powers or strange creatures. Boy, Dahl's nonfictional memoir, leaves the reader as wide-eyed and slack-jawed as his fiction. What this account of Dahl's actual childhood demonstrates is that his great achievement as a writer is the precision of his memory. He remembered vividly what the fear of a spanking or the anticipation of a licorice bootlace was like for a child; it would take fantastical stories of impossible worlds to capture them accurately.
I can still remember reading The Little Prince for the first time: where I was, how much I cried, how much I thought about it afterward. Reading it as an adult was a similar experience, but with different thoughts and different tears. Much like The Phantom Tollbooth, this becomes a slightly different book each time you read it, but I promise you will never look at roses or the stars the same way.
After the first time I read Half Magic (and I read it many, many times), I remember carrying around a special coin for a while...just in case.
If you are currently in a fight with New York City this book will help you remember why you loved it in the first place.
— Katie Fee
Read or re-read it if you have ever wondered about what it means to be a writer, a creative person, or a person in general. If you have ever hated your friends, loved your friends, wronged them, been wronged by them. If you have ever felt gross and been mean. If you have ever felt smart but still confused and lost and misunderstood and abandoned and annoyed. Harriet gets through it, and we get through it with her.
The funniest children's book ever written.
The tale of a monk, a Jewish kid, a prophetic peasant girl and the recently raised from the dead and possibly holy dog that brings them together, as told by the patrons of a tavern in 1242. Hilarious and brilliant; includes a farting dragon.
What if The Da Vinci Code was significantly less terrible? What if it was, in fact, wonderful? And written for children? Dare to dream.
Beneath these cozily domestic scenes from the life of a tight-knit family of hippopotamusesque creatures runs an eeire current of melancholy that called to me as a child.— Maddie
A middle school con artist and a crack team of kid geniuses come together to, of all things, ensure a fair election for student council president. Fast-paced and fun (plus--let's face it--probably our kids will need these skills).
Holds its own against similar, but more widely recognized classics (think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wind in the Willows, and The Little Prince). This is a great book to introduce young readers to the concept of wordplay, and is especially good for visual thinkers with short attention spans. This was the only book my brother would read when we were little. Now he makes special effects for infomercials and bad movies that air on the SciFi Channel. This is still his favorite book, though he has also come to appreciate Cormac McCarthy. I guess that about sums up getting old.
Although someone does get trapped in a well, this book features a pet guinea pig named Gulliver instead of a sheepdog named Lassie and is better for it.
— Katie Fee
Two kids run away from their suburban home and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This book is 100% perfect and 95% of the reason why I live in New York City today.
— Katie Fee
A young girl who's grown up on her grandmother's tales finds herself on an adventure of her own when it falls to her to save her kidnapped grandma. Full of achingly beautiful art and even more beautiful storytelling. It's technically the third in the series, but since each is a standalone, you can safely start here.
I am a complete sucker for folklore-driven fabulism. This book hits all the notes you want from a cracking good epic fantasy--including the promise of more to come.
Read it to your girlfriend, your roommates, your dad, your child - before bed, at breakfast, over the phone. You think you know Winnie the Pooh but you don't until you've shared it, laughed and cried and tried to hum one of his hums, out loud with someone you love.
No other book is so mysterious, or makes a more compelling case for rosebushes as desirable housing.
Born with a facial deformity and entering school for the first time, August isn't sure what to expect, but he knows it's not all going to be good. What transpires, in alternating points of view, is a subtle but profound transformation -- in his family, in the school, but most importantly, in Auggie himself. This is a simple but important story about the bravery of one boy and the community that accepts him, no matter the consequences.
One of my all time favorite books. Sixteen strangers discover they are heirs to millionaire businessman Sam Westing's fortune, if one of them can discover which among the group took his life. But are they really trying to catch a murderer, or are they caught in Westing's last and most dangerous game?
By the author of the better-known "The Westing Game," this melancholy murder mystery set in Greenwich Village is a perfect novel for kids who prefer art and poetry to wizards and vampires.