As much as I enjoy summer, fall is definitely the best season for book lovers. Beginning right after Labor Day, I try to stop by Buttonwood every Tuesday afternoon – after they’ve had time to display that week’s new releases. I seldom leave empty handed.
Here are six of the best new books for young readers:
New in Town by Kevin Cornell
The town of Puddletrunk has a problem. Their bridge keeps falling thanks to termites – or maybe it’s due to a devious resident named Mortimer Gulch. Picture the Grinch, both in looks and style, and you’ll have Mr. Gulch. He slyly gets the residents to fork over their cash and jewelry to his “Clock Tower Repair jar,” but there’s a new guy in town, the traveling clock repairman, who is not falling for Gulch’s scheme. Of course the bad guy loses, but the way forward is filled with bright, comic-style illustrations, and lots of fun details.
Negative Cat by Sophie Blackall
A young boy has been asking for a cat – for 427 days – without success. After many reminders that he will have to feed a cat, and clean a litter box, and make sure the cat does not have fleas, the protagonist wins! He gets his treasured cat, but as it turns out Max (the cat) does not want to do anything his enthusiastic caretaker dreamed about. No interest in playing, using his scratch post, or even listening to jokes. There is one thing Max likes to do though and all ends well. To see what makes Max the pet of everyone’s dreams, check out this delightful story!
See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat by David LaRochelle
One of my favorite early chapter books of 2020 was See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog. Now David LaRochelle returns with a very cute cat in the starring role – ostensibly filling in for a sick dog. There are three vignette style stories in each book, and direct sentences and word repetition make the stories accessible for new readers. The full-color illustrations are cartoon-like, and the format is similar to Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books. Funny and clever, both books are winning combinations of words and pictures.
Maybe…by Chris Haughton
If you’re looking for a picture book to share with a group of young children, this is an awesome choice. Haughton is a master at pacing and illustration – with eye popping contrasts and vivid backdrops on every page. Based on a well-known cautionary tale, Haughton’s story centers on three little monkeys who have been warned: “not to go down to the mango tree.” Braving the threat of tigers, the monkeys are tempted by the juicy mangoes below and decide it’s worth the effort. They make it back up the tree just in the nick of time, but then the mischievous little monkeys learn there are bananas below!
Starla Jean by Elana Arnold
The first installment in this new early chapter book series was published in January, but I’m including it in this list of new books because #2 will be release on November 9. Perfect for new readers. Starla Jean includes four short chapters, lots of white space on every page, and delightful illustrations by A.N. Kang. In the first book, Starla Jean finds a chicken – actually, she catches it, much to the surprise of her dad! Starla Jean narrates her adventure with Opal Egg, the name she gives her new pet. Of course, the problem is that Opal Egg may belong to someone else.
The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor
I had read about this new graphic novel, ordered it for our middle grade collection, and added it to the “to read” list. But when I saw it on the National Book Award’s long list for Young People’s Literature, I took it home to read over the weekend. The book is kind of a mash up: part folk tales, part historical fiction, and part coming of age story. At the center of the story is Mei who, with her father, works long hours at a busy logging camp at the end of the 19th century. At the end of their long work days, Mei tells adventurous and magical stories about Auntie Po, a Chinese version of Paul Bunyan, to her camp friends. Mei also struggles with the Anti-Asian racism at the camp and her romantic feelings towards Bee, the foreman’s daughter and one of her closest friends. A book for readers ten and up about the power of stories to change our lives. I loved it.
Two more notes…
First, I think we have a winner in the “most overdue book” category. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel was out for 1,110 days! I won’t give this treasured library patron away, but she clearly recognizes special books. They All Saw a Cat is a good one to keep around for a while.
One of the library’s current displays is a tribute to Inly’s long-time office manager, Debbie Haug, who retired at the end of last school year. Many families contributed to a set of books about animals in Debbie’s honor. We had to be careful though – no animals could be sick or “expire” in anything we selected. Debbie loves stories about animals, but only animals that live happily ever after!