Susan K., our children's book buyer, really knows what kids like to read. She's on top of all the latest excellent titles for kids and young adults. Here, she shares some of her selections
A young girl and her brother escape a life of poverty and abuse when they sneak onto a train full of children being evacuated from London to the country before World War II. Ada, born with a club-foot, has never been allowed to leave the single room where she lives with her abusive Mam, never learned to walk, and never known love or security. Boarding with Miss Smith in Kent, Ada’s world opens up in slow and painful steps as she learns to ride a pony, to trust, and to speak up for herself. Meanwhile, the larger world is sinking into war, and the realities of the British home front in wartime—bombs, rationing, and women’s auxiliary services—are wonderfully drawn.
In his old school, Miles was famous as an ingenious prankster, so he is not happy about moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy little town famous for its cows, and even more unhappy to learn that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster. When the principal’s car is found parked sideways at the top of the school steps, blocking the front entrance, even Miles has to admit that this guy’s top-notch. A prank war ensues, until the terrible two team up to attempt the greatest prank ever seen.
Glamourpuss has it all. She has style, she has charm, and she knows how to strike a pose. Glamourpuss loves being the center of attention. So when an unwelcome guest (a dog, no less!) steals the spotlight with some tasteless bow-wowing and undignified tail-wagging, Glamourpuss worries that she’s going to fall out of fashion. Is there room for only one superstar in this mansion?
Ages 14 up.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
The author of Out of My Mind turns to her own family history, inspired by the stories her grandmother told on long, firefly-litevenings. Stella lives in the segregated Southern town of Bumblebee, North Carolina. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community—her world—is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.