Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Grown-up's Guide to Reading Children's Books for fun and pleasure: Part 1

If you missed my Summer Reading Challenge yesterday, you might want to check out some great reasons I think adults should read more children's books. As promised, I am here with some reading suggestions for you, my adult readers. I've linked to the Goodreads reviews, if you'd like more information on each book. Check back soon for Part 2.

If you like historical fiction:
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
Sixteen-year-old Hattie inherits her uncle's homestead claim in Montana and moves there by herself to attempt to prove up. This book is set during World War I, so along with the difficult conditions of homesteading, it also deals with wartime prejudice against German neighbors. Hattie is such a memorable character, you may want to follow this up with the sequel Hattie Ever After.

Fair Weather by Richard Peck
Richard Peck's trademark humor and rich characters. Three country kids and their grandpa get a chance to visit the 1893 Chicago's World Fair. Listen to this on audio book if you can. If you enjoy this book, you will love Peck's Grandma Dowdel series, which includes A Long Way from Chicago, A Year Down Yonder, and A Season of Gifts.

If you like Science Fiction:
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi
Eva Nine has lived her whole life in an underground sanctuary raised by a robot. Always taught to trust technology first, she struggles to find a new way to live in the strange world above ground. As she goes on a journey to find other humans, she finds herself caught up in a battle that threatens the future of the planet. The first thing you'll notice about these books are the amazing illustrations throughout. If you are a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, you will find a lot to love in these books. The sequels are A Hero for Wondla and The Battle for Wondla.

Larklight by Philip Reeve
If you prefer your scifi with a side of steampunk humor, Larklight and the sequel Starcross are for you. Art and his sister Myrtle live in a 1850s Victorian house that happens to be orbiting the moon. Funny, imaginative and a little absurd.

If you like Clever Mysteries Set in Art Museums:
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Definitely worth rereading the classic. Claudia and her little brother Jamie decide to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Living inside the museum, they solve a mystery about a piece of art at the museum.

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
I just finished this new book and really enjoyed it. When Theo Tenpenny's artist grandfather dies, she discovers that he has been hiding an ancient painting in their home. Is it a Raphael and did he steal it from the museum where he worked? How is it connected to his secret work as a soldier in World War II and the Nazis?

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet
An intriguing mystery set in Chicago. Two sixth-grade friends Petra and Calder are able to piece together disconnected events to find a Vermeer painting that was stolen on its way to Chicago's Art Institute. Balliet's books always leave me wanting to know more about famous artists.

If you are interested in social and environmental issues:
Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Kentucky author Silas House is well-known for his adult fiction. Here he tells the story of River, a young boy in Kentucky whose family is threatened by mountain-top removal near their home. The book is told in two voices through River's pen pal letters to Meena, an Indian immigrant living in New York City. The interweaving of the issues in their lives, commonalities and differences is really well done and thought-provoking.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
This is not your average princess tale. When the king divines that Miri's remote, mountain village is the home of the future princess, he sets up an academy for all of the local girls to learn to be princesses. When the academy is attacked, the girls must work together to save themselves and their mountain town. In the sequel Palace of Stone, Miri is in the big city, attending university and hearing whispers of revolution. Political intrigue and rural/urban issues make this much more complex than the title would suggest.

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