I started a project this summer where I read one book from each bookshelf of the Children’s (Juvenile Fiction) section of the library. The book I choose has to be one I’ve never read before – and I can’t read a book in a series I’ve read part of. After I read each book, I write a short review and post it where I post all the other books I read, on my reading blog. I’m enjoying this project so much, it’s fun to pick a book I’ve never heard of and find a treasure, or to pick one I’ve glanced at but never picked up. I find myself nearing the end of the section now, and I’m all exited to start at the beginning again – but maybe I should pick an entirely new section in the library? Or maybe I should just take a break? Probably not.
Here are the first five books in the tour of the Children’s Section:
#1: Baby Island (Carol Ryrie Brink)
This was the first book. I picked it because of the ridiculous cover, the hilarious premise (two little girls who love babies are shipwrecked on a desert island with a bunch of babies!), and the fact that there is a local band I like called Baby Island.
The book takes place almost wholly on the island, and the sisters have lots of adventures with the babies. It’s pretty improbable. I mean, can you imagine being 12 and shipwrecked and being able to keep 5 younger kids alive for months? I donno. But it’s fun. And I can see that this is probably a story I would have loved as a little girl in this dreamy sort of way. It’s an older book, published in 1937, and I remember I noticed some racist language in it as I was reading, but I already returned it to the library, so I can’t say what it was for sure. That always makes me like a book a little less.
#2: The House With a Clock In Its Walls (John Bellairs)
This was awesome. I’d heard John Bellairs’ name before and it was connected to Edward Gorey in my head somehow, but I’d never read any of his books. After this one, I’m planning to read more in this series.
This story about Lewis Barnavelt, his uncle Johnathan, and their neighbor Florence is wonderfully gothic, funny at times, and had just the right amount of creepiness and magic. Lewis is sent to live with his uncle in the town of New Zebedee after his parents die. As he settles in he learns about the magical history of his uncle’s house and begins to get involved with the strange mysteries that surround it.
#3: Anything But Typical (Nora Raleigh Baskin)
This wasn’t great, but it was a pretty good depiction from the point of view of an autistic boy. I liked that Jason (the narrator) was less mature than Taylor (of Beverly Brenna’s Waiting For No One series). Seeing the events in the story through his perspective was eye-opening, and his struggles with school, family, and girls seemed real. Overall though, the story didn’t keep me very interested.
#4: The Various (Steve Augarde)
When Midge goes off by herself to stay with her uncle on his farm for the summer, she falls immediately in love with the place. Soon though, she becomes involved in the lives of The Various, who live in the wild, impenetrable forest overlooking the farm. Maybe her involvement is not by chance.
This book was amazing. I put the next one in the trilogy on hold as soon as I finished reading it. I really enjoyed Augarde’s portrayal of The Various, their culture, tribes, and especially their speech. It was very well-written.
#5: The Lace Dowry (Andrea Cheng)
In The Lace Dowry, Juli is a 12-year-old girl in 1930’s Budapest who yearns to have adventures like the explorers she reads about in books. Her mother though, has different plans for her, and commissions a lace tablecloth from the famous lace-makers of Halas for Juli’s dowry. Juli’s world grows larger as she gets a glimpse of the rural poor countryside and becomes friends with the lace maker’s daughter.