Part-time bookseller and full-time mom, you can find Amanda at Carmichael’s Kids. Check this page for her latest children's book recommendations as well as her personal favorites. Amanda was also featured in Reading is Magic: A Book Log for Families.
A quirky time-travel story filled with 90’s nostalgia and delightful descriptions of New York City that is ultimately about the love shared between a parent and child. I’m so glad I read this hopeful tale.
Barb is back and stronger than ever! She leads her motley crew to the monster capital of Maug Horn where they hope to reunite the Wise Wizards so that they may use their power to defeat the evil Witch Head. This story is hilarious, exciting, and action-packed. Readers are going to love exploring Bailiwick and cheering for Barb!
Real-life besties Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris have created an epic graphic novel based on their popular IGTV cartoon. It has everything: action, drama, a heroic cat, a courageous queen, and a toenail clipping robot! The story of these unlikely heroes trying to save the moon from being eaten by rats is both wacky and thrilling. Don’t miss this one- it’s fun for the whole family!
This charming picture book for children ages 4-8 explores mindfulness through the eyes of a dog. Shake, sniff, wag, or even bark and growl if you need to! And then let it go. “Let the wind ruffle your fur.” What an ingenious way to explain to children (and probably some adults!) how to become aware of what they’re feeling or sensing in the moment.
This YA historical fiction about the Communist regime in Romania and its citizen spy network is gripping and unsettling. Told in the point of view of seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu, the reader learns of the abysmal conditions and fear Romanians were living with during this time and their inevitable revolution. The author’s short but effective chapters will have you flying through this book and rooting for Cristian, who yearns to be free and protect his family. Skillfully researched, this won’t be the last Ruta Sepetys book that I read.
I finally read this book after having it on my TBR list for awhile and I am kicking myself that I didn’t read it sooner! It is easily one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. I really enjoyed following Linus, a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, as he travels on assignment to observe the caretaker and magical children of Marsyas Island Orphanage. I fell in love with the children and the story. Klune’s writing is enchanting, uplifting, and comical. I can’t wait to read it again!
“Since the day he hatched, Owl had one wish. To be a knight.” Knight Owl is a powerful story about a valiant and bright little owl who works hard to become a knight. Although several knights have recently gone missing, Owl bravely accepts his position on the Knight Night Watch. What will he do when he comes face-to-face with a very intimidating intruder? A sincere story about the power of kindness, Knight Owl is an uplifting and sweet picture book that has lots of fun playing with words.
In this informative graphic novel for younger readers, the author expresses her love for bugs with quirky illustrations and fun facts and descriptions. It is a lot of fun and interesting for any age!
One of my reading goals for 2022 is to read more books that make me feel good, and Love & Saffron warmed my heart and inspired me. Told in epistolary format during the 1960’s, two women begin a correspondence that leads to adventures in food, travel, and love. In these times, it is nice to read a book that reminds us that human connection can heal. The added treat of recipes and delectable descriptions of global cuisine and flavors didn’t hurt either!
I am big fan of Deborah Marcero's gorgeous bestseller In a Jar, so I was very excited to read this follow-up and see what our little bunny friend Llewellyn has been up to. In Out of a Jar, Llewellyn is overwhelmed by his colorful and intense emotions so he bottles them up in jars. When he runs out of room to store his feelings something extraordinary happens! This picture book gives the reader a simple explanation of mindfulness alongside striking illustrations. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to have a conversation about emotions with their young child.
Jessamine Chan’s debut is a shocking novel that explores topics such as mothering, mass surveillance, isolation, judgement, race, class, and more. The story of one woman trying to get her daughter back by attending a new experimental program by the state is chilling. Provocative and also extremely creepy, Chan has created a page-turner that is ideal for fans of narratives like The Handmaid’s Tale.
Barb is one awesome kid. She is the last of a group of warriors known as The Berzerkers and in possession of a magical sword called The Shadow Blade. Spooky villain Witch Head is after the sword so he can take over their world. Following Barb as she joins up with a yeti named Pork Chop and establishes a motley team to save Bailiwick and the captured Berzerkers is exciting, hilarious, and sometimes a little gross (but what kid doesn’t love that?). Barb is strong, clever, sensitive, creative…basically- I wish I was Barb!
For fans of Sima’s precious picture book Not Quite Narwhal, Perfectly Pegasus will not disappoint! It tells the story of a little Pegasus named Nimbus who finds herself alone among the clouds and constellations wishing for some company. With sweetly soothing illustrations, this tale about companionship is a charming feel-good story that children will adore.
My two-year-old can't get enough of the Stanley series. Their padded covers, simple illustrations, and short but sweet stories make them perfect for transitioning from board books to picture books. Each book teaches preschool concepts. In the latest installment, our favorite little hamster has stocked his bookmobile to take to the park and organized an author reading at the library. I think children and their caregivers will fall in love with Stanley and his friends!
This little novel is wonderfully weird and puzzling. Piranesi exists within a labyrinth whose lower floors are flooded with the sea and upper levels are filled with clouds. He is surrounded by an endless number of marble statues and knows of only one other human, The Other. More information reveals itself to Piranesi at the same time it is carefully revealed to the reader. It is a story unlike any other that I have read. The writing was dreamlike and the unraveling of the mystery keeps the reader captivated until the very end.
The newest addition to the Questioneers series is about a second-grade boy who struggles with reading and writing but finds his voice through his art. It is a powerful and heartwarming read that will encourage children to understand learning differences. Perfect for ages 5-8.
This creative new picture book from Oliver Jeffers is a must-have for any child’s collection. Follow a young girl who lives in a haunted house but can’t seem to find the ghosts that live there. With interactive transparent pages, the reader is able to spy these cheeky ghosts and have a laugh with them. It’s fun for anytime of the year, not just Halloween!
Sally Rooney’s latest novel is an intimate look at the lives of four thirty somethings during the present day. While the characters reflect on current affairs, climate change, beauty, art, etc. they also struggle looking within themselves and within their relationships to one another. It is brilliantly written and gives the reader PLENTY to relate to and think about. I am looking forward to revisiting it again someday in the future to see how it stands the test of time.
The enchanted vegetables who live with a witch in this middle grade graphic novel are adorable. The unlikely heroine, Garlic, musters up all her courage to confront a vampire that has moved into their village. Garlic, and her friends, learn a valuable lesson about not judging a book by its cover. I love this debut by Bree Paulsen. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is a delight. It is a great book for fans of spooky but not scary.
The award-winning duo of Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson have created a picture book that is vibrant, complex, and inclusive. This book encourages understanding by letting us see the world through Milo's eyes as he travels on the subway with his sister to visit his incarcerated parent. What I love most about this book is that it will prompt many different conversations on a variety of topics between children and their caregivers. It is a truly exceptional.
DaVinci's Cat is an exciting historical fiction fantasy for middle graders featuring two unlikely friends, The Big Three of the High Renaissance, and a time-travelling cat. It is well researched and filled with vivid descriptions of the characters and settings. You will feel as if you also stepped back in time to watch Raphael and Michelangelo at work in Rome. This a great choice for fans of fantasy, adventure, and history!
All's Well is a bizarre trip with an erratic narrator and I loved every bit of it. Miranda Fitch is in pain. A pain that has affected every aspect of her life, including her job as a theatre professor and director. One night following rehearsal, she meets three suspicious men in a seedy bar and things begin to take an otherworldly turn. There's a lot to unpack about being a woman in pain that weaves in Shakespearean elements. Awad's writing is dark, unique, and brilliant. It's like a dream, or was it a nightmare?
This memoir about a therapist, her patients, and her own personal crisis took me on an emotional journey. It is truly transformative. Gottlieb explains the process of therapy in an honest and gentle way. The stories she shares about her patients and herself are relatable and enlightening. Sitting in on these sessions inspires the reader to reflect on themselves and what it means to be human. (A companion workbook will be coming out in November 2021!)
This story about a young Japanese American woman, Izumi, who discovers that she is a princess is so much fun! Discovering Japan along with Izumi is a treat for the reader. Of course there are comparisons to Princess Diaries, but I think Tokyo Ever After is a unique princess tale that holds its own by also exploring race and identity.
I absolutely love this picture book. It has adorable illustrations, quirky characters, a valuable lesson, and glitter! What more could you want?
Press Start is my most recommended early chapter series. In the latest installment, Super Rabbit Boy must learn how to work together with Mega Mole Girl to defeat King Viking and Miss Business. This is the perfect series to introduce to video game lovers who are ready to begin chapter books because it is exciting, silly, and has colorful illustrations on every page. My six year old loves it!
In this thoroughly researched book, Dr. Michaeleen Doucleff travels with her three year old daughter to observe and study the parenting practices of Maya, Innuit, and Hadzabe families. The beginning of the book is particularly eye-opening as it examines and sort of blows the lid off of modern Western parenting. Following this, Dr. Doucleff shares the parenting practices she has learned from the families she observed that gave her immediate results. It is filled with advice that parents can use right away for children of any age, and will have many parents (myself included) reevaluating their current methods.
Horse Girl is a charming story about a seventh grade girl, Willa, who begins riding lessons at the prestigious Oakwood Riding Academy. It is like a middle grade Mean Girls but with horses. I especially enjoyed the footnotes that explain horse and riding terms for anyone not familiar with that world. It perfectly captured the awkwardness of middle school and establishing yourself in a friend group. I think Babysitter's Club fans will love this one!
I am a huge fan of Jon Klassen, and he has done it again with The Rock from the Sky! He is able to hit that sweet spot of making both children and parents giggle at his sometimes cranky, sometimes oblivious, but always charming characters. The Rock from the Sky gives us these familiar characters with a little bit more story than we're used to from Klassen. It has the same deadpan humor, simple illustrations, and an ending we never saw coming.
This beautiful novel exploring the past and present of a Colombian family that is seperated by deportation is timely and impactful. The Andean myths sprinkled throughout are significant to the narrative and really make the book special. Engel's writing is magnificent. She says so much in few words.
The main character in this graphic novel for ages 8-12, Maggie, is struggling with some changes in her life. She loves animals and thinks that a new puppy for her birthday is the answer to all her problems. When Maggie discovers she is highly allergic to animal dander she is crushed, will she be able to find the perfect pet?
This book is heartwarming and informative. As a mother to a child with allergies, I appreciate the way allergies were presented and explained. Maggie's reactions and treatment were presented with care through the dialogue and the illustrations. I highly recommend this book for children with allergies or who want to learn more about allergies and I appreciate this representation for the allergic community.
David Arnold's haunting postapocalyptic novel takes place after a deadly Fly Flu has wreaked havoc on the world. The story follows a few survivors as they navigate the woods of New England to new desinations, avoiding swarms of infected flies and other violent people along the way. The writing is exceptional and the characters are complex and fully rounded. The Electric Kingdom presents many profound questions about humanity and touches your heart. As soon as I finished reading it, I flipped back to the first page.
The Beast and the Bethany is a very clever book about a vain man, a greedy beast, and an extremely disagreeable little girl. The story is equally as hilarious as it is dark. It is getting lots of buzz as a children’s version of The Picture of Dorian Gray and drawing comparisons to Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl. I felt like it was a middle grade version of Little Shop of Horrors and I wasn’t surprised to find out that the author has a theatrical background. The illustrations were a treat, and there are many important lessons to be learned from this story. This is the first in a series that I can’t wait to continue!
This is a story about idiots (according to the author’s own words) that will restore some of your faith in humanity. Yes, these are fictional characters, but they moved me so deeply that they reminded me of myself and people from my own life. I am in complete awe of Backman’s writing. Most of the time I was either laughing, gasping, crying, or rolling my eyes along with the characters. The transitions between hilarious and tender moments happened so seamlessly that they blew my mind. I think one of the biggest takeaways from this novel is that none of us adults really know what we’re doing, but we should keep on doing the best that we can.
This inspiring and affirming picture book written and illustrated by Christian Robinson is delightful. The simple, bright, and inclusive illustrations are accompanied with the valuable message that no matter what - you matter. I think that this would be an excellent gift for any child age 2-6 that they would cherish for a very long time.
The Guest List is a fast paced mystery that gave me lots of And Then There Were None vibes. It is atmospheric, filled with sketchy characters, and keeps you guessing right until the very end. If you need a juicy beach read, this is it.
I have become a fan of historical fiction fantasy mostly due to the writing of Alix E. Harrow. In her latest work, The Once and Future Witches, the reader is introduced to the three Eastwood sisters during the suffragette movement. The sisters become involved with the suffragists but also delve into the will, the words, and the ways of witchcraft. I appreciated reading about the sisters' sibling dynamic and their emotional journey to repair their relationships with one another. The spells that mark the beginning of each new chapter were a treat. Fans of Erin Morgernstern and Gregory Maguire will enjoy this “witchy as hell” tale.
A funny and fascinating graphic novel for children ages 6-10. Arlo, a crow, has crowned himself the king of the birds. Over the course of the story, Arlo shares crow facts with his new friend Pips to prove that he is one special bird. Fans of Narwhal and Jelly are going to love this book!
A cast of characters including a pipe-smoking female detective, a seven-foot tall maid with a lovely baritone, a dead boxer with living tattoos, a young girl and her one-eyed doll, plus more await you in this Gothic mystery novel by Jess Kidd. Set in Victorian London, Bridie Devine has been tasked with finding a kidnapped young girl who may have supernatural abilities. The tale is told by a gifted storyteller who expertly combines hilarious, heartbreaking, and horrific moments. I didn’t want it to end.
Cozy up with the first book in this new early chapter series by Caldecott Honor winner Lauren Castillo. Recommended for ages 5-9, this sweet book is about making new friends and being a good friend. It is a peaceful story accompanied by lovely illustrations that will make it an instant bedtime favorite.
In this YA dystopian thriller, sixteen year old girls are banished to the wilderness for a year to release their “magic” and return purified and prepared for marriage. Tierney James realizes that her greatest threat may not be the elements or poachers of the wilderness; it may very well be the other girls. This fierce page-turner is a timely examination of women’s relationships with one another and survival in a fragmented society.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January took me on an adventure through generations, continents, and worlds. It is a beautiful mix of genres but ultimately a coming-of-age story about exploration, change, family, and true love. I was lost in January's world and fascinated by the book-within-a-book that had a completely different tone. If you need a magical escape, this is the book for you!
This true crime story about the fall of Silicon Valley startup, Theranos, and its CEO and founder, Elizabeth Holmes, is expertly researched and told. The details are so insane, I couldn't put it down. I'm fascinated by this story and the fact that Holmes was so magnetic she could sell a technology that never worked. Bill Gates also recommends this book!
The exceptional imagery used in this novel sets it apart from other historical fiction placed in Word War II. I felt as if I arrived at the marsh alongside the young orphan Virginia and felt the decay of the home in her later years. The events that haunt the elder Virginia are revealed in an unforgettable way.
From the author of The Day the Crayons Quit, this picture book for children ages 4-8 is about the three warriors who inspired the classic game. It is laugh-out-loud fun for the whole family and filled with lively illustrations by Adam Rex. It was an instant favorite at my house!