Kids Blog

Dystopian Fiction

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Most kids have to read Brave New World or 1984 at some point before they graduate from high school, but lately the success of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games (soon-to-be) trilogy has blown open the market for dystopian fiction written specifically for young adults. This week’s New Yorker features a thoughtful article by Laura Miller on this genre’s appeal to younger readers, and how these books differ from their adult counterparts. After reading the New Yorker article, you might be inspired to explore the genre yourself. Below are are couple of our favorite we recommend your start with.

Hunger Games and its sequels are at the center of Miller’s analysis and probably the most popular books in the genre right now. Miller’s discussion of the games as high school allegory is apt and a satisfying perspective from which to approach the books, but many readers devour them simply because the plot moves breath-takingly quickly and Collins has created the epitome of a book that you can’t put down. The second installment, Catching Fire is currently available, and the final book, Mockingjay, will be available August 24th. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

The Giver is wildly popular with teachers and taught in countless 5th and 6th grade classrooms across the country, and with good reason. At turns a classic coming-of-age story and an indictment of over-regulation and conformity, it’s a 1984 for the 10-year-old set. The Giver is widely enjoyed by adults as well. At the bookstore we’ve encountered several parents who rain praises on the book, even though they never read it as children. The story of Jonah’s society actually continues in the books Gathering Blue and The Messenger, Neither quite lived up to the poignancy and urgency of the first book, but are an interesting exploration of future utopia/dystopia and the genre. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

TWO great events this weekend!

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Most Sundays, if you stop by BookCourt in the morning you can catch a great reading from a new kids’ book by the author. This Sunday, May 16, there are TWO wonderful author events!

At 11am Darren Farrell will be joining us to read from his first book, Doug-Dennis and the Flyaway Fib, about a sheep, an elephant, their trip to the circus, and what happens when you tell a lie. Farrell’s quirky illustrations perfectly compliment the sometimes silly story with a valuable moral. Perfect for kids 3 to 8, great for everyone else too.

Then, at 1pm we’re celebrating the release of a new book by Cathleen Davitt Bell (Slipping). Little Blog on the Prairie is the story of Gen, whose mother thinks that Frontier Camp is a great idea for a family vacation. Gen disagrees. She does manage to sneak around one of the Live Every Day Like It’s 1890 rules, though: she sneaks in a cell phone so she can text her best friend to fill her in on grueling life on “Little Hell on the Prairie.” The book is perfect for fans of young adult fiction and the book release party is open to everyone. Join us for drinks, snacks, and maybe some bonnet-wearing!

Both events are free, open to everyone, and no RSVP is required. See you this Sunday!

Harry Potter and the Chinese Bootlegger

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Anyone who has worked their way through the seven Harry Potter books is familiar with that bittersweet disappointment that comes with finishing Deathly Hallows. That’s it! All there is left to do is reread (or pick up The Tales of Beedle the Bard but that doesn’t last long, and leaves a little something to be desired).

However, the black market in China has taken matters into its own hands. In China Harry lives on: riding dinosaurs, joining forces with the obviously superior Chinese wizards, saving children from being turned into wooden stools by a giant funnel (?), teaming up with Flick from A Bug’s Life, or simply reliving the entire plot of The Hobbit.

More brilliantly ridiculous covers and plots can be found here. [via coudal]

Kids’ Reviews

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

The Children’s Choice Book Awards aren’t the only way to let people know about great books. Kids at BookCourt can recommend books to other families by leaving reviews on the shelves. In the past year many talented kid book reviewers have filled the kids’ section with their recommendations. Here’s a sample:

Alice, age 9 says “When You Reach Me was and is too good to explain.”

Alex, age 9 says “The Alex Rider series are about a 14-year-old boy. When his uncle dies, Alex found out he was a spy! Wow! Now Alex has to take his place. Yow!!”

Michaela, age 9 recommends The Name of This Book is Secret: “It’s a great book for kids who seek adventure and activity. It has tons of code making and breaking but takes place in the real world. (It’s more convincing that way!) With obstacles of avoiding the thieves and figuring out the code it has weird jokes about secrets which makes the book yet more enjoyable!”

And by far our most-recommended book or series is The Lightning Thief and the rest of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Stella says “One of the best books I’ve ever read! It has clever and outsmarting characters and incredible Greek gods and goddesses! They have amazing adventures and do the most fantastic things on the way!”

Eliza, age 10 says, “The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is funny, exciting, and suspenseful. I recommend them!”

And Alex, age 9 says “Meet Percy Jackson, the 12-year-old kids who ADHD. Does your best friend have goat hooves? Or do you have a dad that ‘drowned’? Either way, read the books!”

If you would like to add a review of your favorite book (or any book you’ve read and enjoyed) just stop by the kids’ desk at BookCourt and ask for a pen and a review card! When you’re done we’ll stick it on the shelf next to the book you recommended. Or you can just come by and read the reviews other kids have posted to find your new favorite book!

Celebrate Children’s Book Week!

Monday, May 10th, 2010

May 10 kicks of Children’s Book Week! It’s sort of always Children’s Book Week at BookCourt, but we will welcome any excuse to celebrate great kids’ books.

One fun thing you can do to celebrate Children’s Book Week is to vote in the Children’s Choice Book Awards. Students in all grades can cast votes for books appropriate for their grade level, and teachers, librarians, and (lucky for us) booksellers can cast votes for the whole pool. Here are our picks:

Kindergarten-2nd grade:
The Odd Egg is a beautifully illustrated, adorable, quick little story that recalls classics like Steven Kellogg’s Mysterious Tadpole and other tales of mistaken pre-identity. Emily Gravett is relatively new to the picture book scene, but her delicate drawings and paintings and brisk writing style are carving her a comfortable, welcome niche on our shelves.

3rd-4th grade:
Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange and illustrated by Kadir Nelson is a beautiful biography of the civil rights wife and leader, and Oceanology by Ferdinand Zoticus is a popular choice among middle grade boys in the store, but we can’t resist voting for The Book That Eats People, especially when you pair it with Oliver Jeffers’s The Incredible Book Eating Boy and watch them fight to the death (or just read them).

5th-6th grade:
By a landslide, our favorite book on the 5-6th grade list is Moonshot by local author Brian Floca. It’s a poetic and exciting retelling of Apollo 11th’s flight alongside Floca’s stunning illustrations. The book isn’t just great for older kids, though. Many toddlers and early-elementary-aged kids have become Moonshot fans. The text is mutli-layered and can be enjoyed at several different stages in readers’ development and the illustrations are gorgeous for readers of any age.

It’s hard to talk about great Young Adult literature these days without mentioning Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. The exciting, fast-paced, sometimes terrifying post-apocalyptic world of Katniss Everdeen and her family has been wildly popular with both teens and adults and does what a lot of teen literature has a hard time doing: attracting both male and female readers. Collins’s themes of individuality, family and romantic love, and government power aren’t new to literature by any means, but she presents them in such a remarkably readable package that we have to cast our vote for the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire in the teen category.

Author of the Year (all ages):
We might have to cast our vote for Suzanne Collins, for reasons stated above, but we’re pretty sure that if we put it do a vote of BookCourt kid readers, Rick Riordian and his Percy Jackson series would win hands down (with Jack Kinney and his Wimpy Kid books in second). Exciting tales of Greek gods in New York is hard to argue with.

Illustrator of the Year (all ages):
We think both BookCourt employees and families will agree that local author and illustrator Peter Brown is the obvious choice in this list. His Curious Garden is delightfully detailed and celebrates a new New York favorite, the High Line. The book has hopped on and off the BookCourt best seller list since its release, and we’re sure it hasn’t made its last appearance yet.

Check back all week for more celebrations of Children’s Book Week!