review: Marla Cantrell
Books make great Christmas gifts, and those who receive them will think of you as they devour these stories. Here are several, for all ages, that could be the perfect gift for those on your Nice List. (A special thanks to my great friend, Tara McCleod, who helped with the selections for kids and young adults.)
The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt (K-2nd grade) is absolutely hilarious! And the illustrations are great. There’s even a glow-in-the-dark illustration. Imagine if crayons could talk. Well, in this book they do, and they have plenty to say. This is a great book to read aloud.
Edisto Jinx by C. Hope Clark, a fast-paced mystery set in the beach town of Edisto, South Carolina, follows former Boston PD detective Callie Morgan, as she is pulled back into the world of crime solving. A young woman dies, but is it murder? Before that question is answered, another mysterious death occurs. The locals have their opinions. Some think the small town is cursed, and at least one resident says she’s being visited by ghosts. But Callie suspects something even more sinister, and with every passing day it appears as if she’s right. This is one of those books that will keep you up late into the night trying to figure out “who done it.”
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (grade 7 and up) is an adventure story with strong female characters. Set in 1849, it follows Samantha, a Chinese-American, and Annamae, a runaway slave, as they flee an impossible situation and head out on the Oregon Trail. Along the way they face adversity, befriend a trio of cowboys, and discover the power of friendship.
For those who love literary fiction, it doesn’t get much better than Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg. The story begins the night before a big wedding. Lolly, June Reid’s daughter, is getting married, and the house is full of friends and family. It should be a time of great celebration; however, tragedy strikes and everyone but June is gone in a flash.What happens next takes June on a journey to trace the last happy travels of her lost daughter. Along the way she finds unlikely heroes who refuse to let her fall. This book is elegant and heartbreaking and absolutely beautiful.
My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South by Rick Bragg is as comforting as biscuits and gravy on a cold winter morning. This book of non-fiction contains essays about being southern that Bragg wrote in the span of about ten years. Want to love this book even more? Get the audio version to hear Bragg read his words. His voice is full of the music of the South.
Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee (grades 3-5)
The Marvels by Brian Selznick (grades 5-8)
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff (grades 4-8)
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (grades 6-9)
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen (grades 4-7)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (teen and young adult)
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (grades 9-12)
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (grades 8-12)
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (grade 10 and up)
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (grades 6-9)