It’s time for another posting of fiction I’ve enjoyed recently.
As I mentioned on Monday, today’s mix contains a mix of vintage and contemporary. There’s some fantasy, a bit of humor, and one graphic novel.
Hope you find something grand!
Voyage of the Frostheart, written and illustrated by Jamie Littler
published in 2019 by Viking
This rip-roaring fantasy is set in a frozen world populated by human-kin plus a host of odd creatures and Aggressive Toothy monsters!
A young boy named Ash is exiled from his community when his unusual powers as a Song Weaver become too threatening for the neighborhood’s peace of mind. Ash seizes his chance to hitch a ride on the Frostheart, an enormous, technologically-strange sleigh run by a motley crew of Pathfinders as they venture from one weird port to another, dodging super-nasty Leviathans along the way. His yeti guardian, Tobu, loyally accompanies him, seeking to steer Ash in the right paths in his search for his parents who disappeared many years ago.
This breathless voyage on a fantastical ice ship, popping with heroes, villains, and enticing illustrations, ought to be the perfect wintery read for many, ages 9 and up.
Stig of the Dump, written by Clive King, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone
first published in 1963; this edition 2016 by Open Road Media
How have I never read this classic British children’s novel?
Meet Barney, a young boy spending his holidays at his grandmother’s home just a short wander away from an ancient chalk pit, now turned into the village dump.
Though Barney is warned to keep clear of the pit, he — of course! — ventures there at the first opportunity, steps too close to the edge, and takes a wild tumble to the bottom where he discovers an ancient cave boy named Stig.
Despite the difficulties inherent in such a friendship, Barney and Stig proceed to have a host of lively adventures including stopping some robbers and catching a leopard that’s escaped from the circus. It would make a terrific read-aloud for ages 5 and up; independent readers will encounter a few tricky expressions and dialect.
The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue, written by Karina Yan Glaser
published in 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
This is the third of the Vanderbeeker stories, a delicious amalgam of old-fashioned and contemporary family-based children’s literature.
The Vanderbeekers are a warm, bustling, bi-racial family living in Harlem. They share their brownstone building with several neighbors whom they’ve met and charmed in earlier episodes. This installment sees the usual, extraordinary amount of mayhem occur when the kids attempt to help their mom push her baking business to the next level.
Naturally, disaster dogs their every step including mysterious animal appearances, house-painting catastrophes, and major fines from the city. The friendly, humorous Vanderbeeker stories harken back to Elizabeth Enright’s Melendy family stories, but with a fresh new look. They’re excellent choices for ages 8 and up.
The Rhino in Right Field, written by Stacy Dekeyser
published in 2018 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
It took me awhile to give this book a try, but I’m so glad I did. It’s a funny baseball-centric story sure to exactly fit the bill for some of you.
Set in post-WWII Milwaukee, rich with period details and the atmosphere of immigrant communities in working class neighborhoods, the whole wonderful story sparkles with humor, kid-sized problems, and chummy camaraderie.
Nick Spirakis is a 12-year-old boy, the son of hard-working Greek immigrants, and an avid if unexceptional baseball player. When Nick hears of a swell batboy-for-a-day contest run by the new owner of the local baseball team, the Mudpuppies, he’s determined to enter and win. There’s one major glitch, though: the contest is on a Saturday and he has to work every Saturday in his dad’s hat and shoe repair shop.
Secret plans, discomfiting lies, an ace new baseball-playing friend…who’s a girl!!, one pesky bully, and a 2000-pound rhinoceros all figure into this warm, gee-whiz-great story for ages 9 and up. It would make a great read-aloud for a wide age range, as well.
Sunny Rolls the Dice, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, color by Lark Pien
published in 2019 by Graphix, Scholastic
This is book #3 in the graphic novel Sunny series and I have been eagerly looking forward to it! I am a big Sunny fan!
We are in the thick of the groovy Seventies now with Sunny navigating the ups and downs and ins and outs of middle school. Sunny’s friend, Deb, takes the tried and true route of shopping, boys, and coolness.
Sunny doesn’t really fit that mold however. For her, happiness is playing Dungeons and Dragons with some boy pals. Wobble through life with Sunny as she burns herself on hot rollers and finds the way to her true self. Take it from me, who was also in middle school in the 70s — the Holm team bats it out of the ballpark as they reconstruct the era. Sunny is a complete delight for ages 9 and up.
Find gobs more terrific fiction titles via the links at the top of the page!