CC recommends: Children’s literature

November 30, 2011

For young adults

Trapped, by Michael Northrop. At first, the snow comes in "small flakes, like grains of sugar." By fourth period every student but Scott Weems is clamoring for a snow day. A sophomore on the Tattawa High varsity basketball team, Weems doesn't want his game debut canceled. But by dinner time, he and his friends are trapped in their school, facing a fierce nor'easter, and scavenging for food and warmth.

Vietnam: I Pledge Allegiance (Book One), by Chris Lynch. Four friends have pledged to do everything together, whether it is waiting to see a movie until Ivan is ungrounded or skipping the Babe Ruth League after Rudi isn't picked. When Rudi is drafted into the Vietnam War, Beck, Ivan, and Morris enlist in separate branches of the military. Through Morris's narration, readers get a vivid, expansive view of the war.

Kick, by Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman. Celebrated author My­ers teams with a 16-year-old writer to tell, through alternating voices, the story of Kevin, a young soccer player charged with kidnapping and grand larceny. Myers creates a likable Sergeant Brown, Kevin's case officer. Workman's youthfulness is evident in the figure of Kevin, who feigns toughness. Filled with brisk dialogue and intermittent soccer scenes, the novel presents a boy who will sacrifice his personal image to guard a promise.

Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt. In 1968, Doug Swieteck (a character introduced in Schmidt's Newbery Honor book The Wednesday Wars) is forced to move with his troubled family to upstate New York. There, Doug lives in a world marked by Apollo spaceflights, the Vietnam War and the New York Yankees. In a quest that begins at the local library, Doug discovers Audu­bon treasures and a host of charming friends.

Revolver, by Marcus Sedgwick. Set in the Arctic Circle in 1899 and 1910, this mystery pits young Sig against a sinister stranger. The hulking man arrives at the family cabin where Sig's father is lying on the table, having died after falling through the ice. A Colt revolver is buried in a nearby storeroom, but Sig is troubled about using it. And the stranger has come seeking not only vengeance but hidden treasure.


Picture books for young children

Oh, What a Christmas! by Michael Garland. When Santa's reins break and his reindeer fly off without him, he and his sleigh fall safely to earth, landing near a snow-covered barn. Presents tumble to the ground as Santa ponders how he will make his deliveries. Then the barn door creaks open, and cows and pigs and goats and sheep step into the magic of Santa's journey.

Neville, by Norton Juster, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Nobody asked the boy in the family if he wanted to move. They just told him. Now forced to live in a new home in a strange neighborhood, he has no friends. When his mother suggests he might meet someone if he takes a walk around the block, he shuffles out the door—and lands on a plan that begins with a deep breath.

Cedric and the Dragon, by Elizabeth Raum, illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden. Little Prince Cedric waited nearly two years before he chose to walk. When he was old enough for school, he found math and reading hard to conquer, and dragon-slaying training was less fun than picking flowers for his mum. Cedric was good at something: he was a terrific hugger. But how can a prince who hugs fight fearsome dragons?

Me . . . Jane, by Patrick McDonnell. Jane and her stuffed monkey, Jubilee, live in "a magical world full of joy and wonder." Whether they are climbing beech trees, collecting eggs from the hen house or reading books about Tarzan of the Apes, they dream of living with and helping animals. So no one is surprised when Jane (Goodall) grows up and finds herself in Africa—hugging a real chimpanzee!

A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka. This enchanting wordless book illustrates a sad day for Daisy the Dog after her favorite toy is stolen by another pooch. When the ball is popped and loses its air, Daisy's owner walks her dejected pet home. Inconsolable on her couch, Daisy eventually returns to the scene of the crime where a surprise from another park patron has Daisy rolling along again.