It has been more than a decade since Anita Diamant burst on the scene with her now famous “Red Tent” (audio from Macmillan, 2002), a book that brought alive the ancient Biblical world of Jacob’s wives.
Adam Rex is one of the craziest writers in children’s books. He has a tickle-your-funny-bone sense of humor, flavored with a bit of the ridiculous. His humor shines in picture books and middle grade novels, but my all time favorite was The True Meaning of Smekday (book from Disney-Hyperion and audio from Listening Library, 10 hours, 38 minutes, read by Bahni Turpin).
The recent snow and ice shut everything down, except my mind. I kept that active with two engrossing new mysteries.
Isabel Quintero’s “Gabi, a girl in pieces” won the William C. Morris award for best young adult debut novel (book from Cinco Puntos Press; audio from Listening Library, approximately 8 hours; ages 14 and up).
I have listened to all Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective books, including the newest, “The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café” (Recorded Books, 9.75 hours). This is his 15th about Precious Ramotswe, the “standardly built” lady detective from Botswana. I count on the audios’ consistencies and never tire of the samenesses. This one, however, surprised me.
Gayle Forman is coming to Flyleaf on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. where she’ll appear with local young adult superstar author, Sarah Dessen. They will be celebrating the release of Gayle Forman’s fifth novel, “I Was Here” (book from Viking, audio from Listening Library, ages 14 and up).
I am writing this on the longest night of the year, or the shortest day, depending on your perspective. The composition process will span both the day and the night. As I sit here I can feel, in some deep place, the shift in the tilt of the earth -- that cosmic return from darkness to light.
Columnist Susie Wilde picks her top books of 2014.
Recently I taught a professional development class for teachers that yielded fascinating discussions about books that best serve learning disabled students.
As school begins, I always think of how my children as teenagers, gave up reading for pleasure because of coursework demands. Many of the books they were assigned were existential reads that they cared little about and didn’t care to discuss. I’ve been remembering this often as I’ve listened to some incredible new YA audios, many of which would engage adults as well.
John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” (Penguin Books, Brilliance Audio read by Kate Rudd; ages 13 and up) won fans of all ages when he courageously wrote about two teens dying of cancer who fall in love. Probably the factor that skyrocketed this book to fame (and into movie theaters) is that it provides equal measures of tears and laughter. It will undoubtedly send teens looking for another book that’s similar.
For years I’ve sought out Native American books, mostly because they are some of the least-published children’s books of diversity. I’ve seen these books develop, and recently listened to two incredible coming-of-age stories by people from within the culture.
Active middle-graders want action-packed reading. Here are two book/audio titles that will grab them and hold them:
As Ellen Hopkins was “finding herself as a writer,” she published hundreds of articles, wrote 20 non-fictions and picture books for children and escaped into poetry and short fiction to feed her creative soul. She had no intention of writing for teens until the idea for her first novel “Crank” (McElderry) came to her.
Chapel Hill writer, Randi Davenport’s “The End of Always” (book from Grand Central Publishing; audio from Hachette, approximately 10 hours) plunks readers down in the immediate and intense world of 17-year-old Marie Reehs. Life is harsh enough in 1907 Waukesha, Wisconsin, but Marie recounts the sudden illness and death of her young brother, too abruptly followed by the death of her mother from “an accident” that Marie believes was a murder committed by her father.