Friday, May 18, 2007

Of course we're all super excited about the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! The end of the series (supposedly), the release party (you can still come, and get 10% off your copy, if you pre-pay with us) and the thousands of kids eager to read all heighten our anticipation! But we shouldn't let our Harry-craze make us overlook all of the other marvelous books available for young readers. I scanned the shelves in our kid's section, and pulled a few of my longtime favorites, perfect for summer reading.

Miss Hickory, a Newberry Medal winner written in 1946 by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, is a sweet and simple story. The title character, a doll made of an apple twig and a hickory nut, must fend for herself through the winter after her young owner leaves her in the country. If any of the children you know are fascinated by miniatures and dolls, this book will strike a chord and inspire their imagination.

Along similar lines, Mary Norton's beloved series about the Borrowers has enchanted readers since the 1950s. Personal favorites of my own mother, they were staples of my childhood as well. The ingenious uses to which the Borrowers (no taller than a pencil) put our everyday items such as pins, spools, game pieces and more, are inspiring to anyone who still plays make-believe. The series, a total of four volumes, are perfect reading for lazy summer days. Books include: The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, and The Borrowers Aloft.

For slightly older audiences, Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown, a Newberry Medalist, and its sequel The Blue Sword will thrill and excite. Set in the land of Damar, both stories feature strong young women who deal with the challenges of not fitting in, until they find their unique place in the world.

Goody Hall, by Natalie Babbitt, is one of the strangest and most delightful books that I've read. With a famous outlaw, a missing fortune in jewels, an oddly heavy ottoman, and an aptly named (though he doesn't think so at first)actor/tutor, the book captures and keeps you through twist after twist. One of the few books that I cannot recall the ending of when I re-read it, it delights me anew each time!

Finally, I suggest two books by the marvelous Ellen Raskin. Her Newberry Medal winner The Westing Game is a marvelous introduction to the mystery genre, with full-fleshed lively characters, and plenty of mistaken/assumed identities. It is one mystery that you can gladly read again and again - knowing 'whodunit' won't ruin the book for you! Her book Figgs & Phantoms, a Newberry Honor book, is absurd realism at it's very best. The heroine is the only normal person in her circus-like family aside from her adored uncle. When he passes away, she begins a journey of self-discovery and learns that she may not be all that normal after all - fortunately!

Whatever your reading tastes (even if you don't think you like to read at all) we have something in the store to capture your imagination this summer. And even if you're just counting the days until Harry comes back, we have stories to make the time fly by!

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