Posts Tagged ‘juvenile’

A utopian future on a planet with lowered gravity, psychic abilities, and naturally abundant food – what could be better?  I read these books repeatedly as a kid, and still love them today.  Of course, the utopia cracks under the pressure of the secrets it is keeping, and courageous children must save the day.  The trilogy is a surprisingly sophisticated analysis of utopian ideals, for books aimed at children.  The cultures that evolved on this planet are well-reasoned extensions of their histories, and the overall story is believable, given the premise.  Plus, people get to fly and sleep in nests.

Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Order: Below the Root; And All Between; Until the Celebration



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In a world just a little unlike our own, truly exceptional children go on truly strange adventures.  While each of these books could be read separately, they are definitely a series, as the kids all end up at the same crazy school in the end.  As always, Stewart and Riddell have created a world full of odd inventions, odder people, and strange beasties of different shapes and sizes.  The kids are spunky and resourceful.  The characters would make great fun for make-believe play.  The illustrations are amazing.  Riddell has a style I would recognize anywhere, which complements Stewart’s odd brain.

Authors/Illustrator: Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

Order: Fergus Crane, Corby Flood, Hugo Pepper

Not sure whether the series is still being written.


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Authors: Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

I blasted through all of these the first time I read them.  Stewart and Riddell created an amazing world, where rocks float and there are a bunch of different humanoid beings running around, each with their own outlook on life and way of living.  You can read them in published order or reorganize them into internal chronological order, as some of the characters turn out to be the grandparents of other characters.   Either way, a good rollicking read with characters you might actually care about.  The pen-and-ink illustrations top it off – interesting, complex, and perfect for the story.

Order: Beyond the Deepwoods, Stormchaser, Midnight Over Sanctaphrax, The Curse of the Gloamglozer, The Last of the Sky Pirates, Vox, Freeglader, The Winter Knights, Clash of the Sky Galleons

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When Gregor falls through the hole in his laundry room, he ends up in a world under New York, populated by giant cockroaches, rats, bats, and very pale humans.  Collins says she set out to write an urban Alice in Wonderland, and she generally succeeded.  The series is fairly formulaic – Gregor gets a prophecy at the end of each book that gives us a hint for the next book.  Not to be a spoiler, but the ending is fairly predictable and a little disappointing.  But the characters are great (even the roaches!), and the adventures are real and engaging.

Author: Suzanne Collins

Order: Gregor the Overlander; Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane; Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods; Gregor and the Marks of Secret; Gregor and the Code of Claw

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Title: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

Author: Paul Fleischman

Newbery 1989

Having got it out of the library originally, I actually went and bought a copy of this book.  I love it!  The concept of poems written to be read by two people simultaneously is really cool, the poems are so much fun to read aloud, and the illustrations are beautiful – anthropomorphized insects that manage to be still buggy and not too cute.  Some of the poems are quite a challenge to read aloud – you need good rhythm, some practice, and a sense of humor.  He did two other books of poems for two voices, and I want them, too.

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HittyTitle: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

Author: Rachel Field

Illustrator: Dorothy Lathrop

Newbery 1930

Ah, books of a certain era – I recommend this one with a ‘but…’ similar to Dr. Dolittle – there is rampant American/European superiority throughout this book, which is not surprising, but needs to be addressed nonetheless.  Hitty is an engaging character, and her story is also a nice gloss over American history from the early 1800s to early 1900s.  The conceit of a doll who is able to control her limbs enough to write is nice – as a child, you always suspect that your toys are able to do things when you’re not looking.  A sweet, if odd, story.

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21 BalloonsTitle: The Twenty-One Balloons

Author: William Pène du Bois

Newbery 1948

I ended this book with a very large question mark over my head.  It made very little sense, and was not even a good enough ‘rollicking adventure’ to make its nonsensical nature okay.  An American ex-pat community on Krakatoa is based on a socialist restaurant system whose premier technology is hydrogen balloons and steam engines?  This community is saved from the eruption via balloon?  You see my problem.  If you like imagined cultural systems with strange provenances, read The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder – his is pretty strange, but a lot more fun and a lot better thought out.

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