What New England Children’s Booksellers Are Reading

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 8, 2010

There’s not much that an independent bookseller enjoys more than getting together with colleagues to discuss business and books. When New England Children’s Booksellers Advisory Council (aka NECBA) members gather, we end most meetings by sharing favorite recent reads. Depending on how many of us there are (15-50) and how many books we’re each recommending, we can go home with quite a list.
Occasionally, people will share books that disappointed them, but for the most part, we’re proselytizing. We can’t help ourselves; it’s what we do. It occurred to me that people might be interested in the list compiled during Tuesday’s NECBA meeting in Portland, Maine. All of the books below were enthusiastic recommendations. A few will probably do better in paperback than hardcover, but that’s a reflection of the economy, not the book quality.
There are several books here that have jumped high on my reading list now that my esteemed colleagues have recommended them. Thanks, NECBA folks!
Happy reading, everyone.
Carol Chittenden, Eight Cousins
Night Fairy
The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz, illus. by Angela Barrett (Candlewick)
Library of Congress (LOC) description: When Flory the night fairy’s wings are accidentally broken and she cannot fly, she has to learn to do everything differently.

Kenny Brechner, DDG Booksellers
Dark LifeDark Life, by Kat Falls (Scholastic Press)
LOC description:¬†When fifteen-year-old Ty, who has always lived on the ocean floor, joins Topside girl Gemma in the frontier’s underworld to seek and stop outlaws who threaten his home, they learn that the government may pose an even greater threat.
MiddleworldMiddleworld: The Jaguar Stones, Book 1, by J & P Voelkel (Egmont USA)
LOC description: When his archaeologist parents go missing in Central America, fourteen-year-old Max embarks on a wild adventure through the Mayan underworld in search of the legendary Jaguar Stones, which enabled ancient Mayan kings to wield the powers of living gods.
Janet Bibeau, Storybook Cove

Conspiracy of Kings
A Conspiracy of Kings, by Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow)
LOC description: Kidnapped and sold into slavery, Sophos, an unwilling prince, tries to save his country from being destroyed by rebellion and exploited by the conniving Mede empire.
Mimi Powell, Baker Books
Wolves, BoysWolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me, by Kristen Chandler (Viking)
LOC description: Two teenagers become close as the citizens of their town fight over the packs of wolves that have been reintroduced into the nearby Yellowstone National Park.
BoomBoom, by Mark Haddon (Random House/David Fickling)
LOC description: When Jim and Charlie overhear two of their teachers talking in a secret language and the two friends set out to solve the mystery, they do not expect the dire consequences of their actions.
Nancy and Plum, by Betty MacDonald, illus. by Mary GrandPre (Knopf, 2011) (Reprint of the 1952 classic by the author of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. No cover image available.) LOC description: Two orphaned sisters are sent to live at a boarding home run by the cruel and greedy Mrs. Monday, where they dream about someday having enough to eat and being able to experience a real Christmas.
Betsey Detwiler, Buttonwood Books & Toys
Wolves, Boys
Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me, by Kristen Chandler (Viking)
(a second recommendation for this book)

Pat Fowler, Village Square Books
CrunchCrunch, by Leslie Connor (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen)
LOC description: The oldest Mariss brother, fourteen-year-old Dewey, attempts to be the “embodiment of responsibility” as he juggles the management of the family’s bicycle repair business while sharing the household and farm duties with his siblings after a sudden energy crisis strands their parents far from home.
Natacha Liuzzi, Brown Dog Books & Gifts
UninvitedThe Uninvited, by Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick)
LOC description: After a disturbing freshman year at New York University, Mimi is happy to get away to her father’s remote Canadian cottage only to discover a stranger living there who has never heard of her or her father and who is convinced that Mimi is responsible for leaving sinister tokens around the property.
Ellen Richmond, Children’s Book Cellar
Night FairyThe Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz, illus. by Angela Barrett (Candlewick)
(a second recommendation for this book)
Finnikin of the RockFinnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta (Candlewick)
LOC description: Now on the cusp of manhood, Finnikin, who was a child when the royal family of Lumatere was brutally murdered and replaced by an imposter, reluctantly joins forces with an enigmatic young novice and fellow-exile, who claims that her dark dreams will lead them to a surviving royal child and a way to regain the throne of Lumatere.
Henry Aaron's DreamHenry Aaron’s Dream, by Matt Tavares (Candlewick)
This is the tale of a kid from the segregated South who would become baseball’s home-run king, Hank Aaron.
Touch BlueTouch Blue, by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic)
LOC description: When the state of Maine threatens to shut down their island’s one-room schoolhouse because of dwindling enrollment, eleven-year-old Tess, a strong believer in luck, and her family take in a trumpet-playing foster child, to increase the school’s population.
Jan Hall, Partners Village Store
Body FinderThe Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (HarperTeen)
LOC description: High school junior Violet uses her uncanny ability to sense murderers and their victims to try to stop a serial killer who is terrorizing her town, and although her best friend and would-be boyfriend Jay promises to keep her safe, she becomes a target.

Vicky Umenowicz, Titcomb’s Bookshop
Before I Fall
Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver (HarperTeen)
(Note to publisher: the Library of Congress lists this as If I Should Fall, so it doesn’t show up via title search.)
LOC description: After she dies in a car crash, teenage Samantha relives the day of her death over and over again until, on the seventh day, she finally discovers a way to save herself.
Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, by Joseph D’Agnese, illus. by John O’Brien (Henry Holt)
(No LOC description yet, but the subtitle gives enough of a clue.)

Nancy Felton, Broadside Books
Red Umbrella
The Red Umbrella, by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Knopf)
LOC description: In 1961 after Castro has come to power in Cuba, fourteen-year-old Lucia and her seven-year-old brother are sent to the United States when her parents, who are not in favor of the new regime, fear that the children will be taken away from them as others have been.
NumbersNumbers, by Rachel Ward (Scholastic/Chicken House)
LOC description: Fifteen-year-old Jem knows when she looks at someone the exact date they will die, so she avoids relationships and tries to keep out of the way, but when she meets a boy named Spider and they plan a day out together, they become more involved than either of them had planned.
Nomansland, by Lesley Hauge (Henry Holt)
LOC description: Living under a strict code of conduct in an all-female community 500 years after the earth’s destruction, a sensitive teenaged girl raised to be a hunter discovers forbidden relics from the Time Before.

Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books & Music
Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly (Delacorte)
No LOC description yet for this new novel by the award-winning author of A Northern Light, so ask Suzanna for more info!
Heist Society
Heist Society, by Ally Carter (Disney/Hyperion)
LOC description: A group of teenagers uses their combined talents to re-steal several priceless paintings and save fifteen-year-old Kat Bishop’s father, himself an international art thief, from a vengeful collector.
Fat Vampire
Fat Vampire: A Never-Coming-of-Age Story, by Adam Rex (Balzer + Bray)
(No LOC description yet, but don’t you love it already, just from the title and cover??!)
Several booksellers also recommended adult trade books, too. Josie Leavitt, Flying Pig: Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman. Betsey Detwiler, Buttonwood Books & Toys: The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell, and Stuff by Randy Frost & Gail Steketee. Suzanna Hermans: The Passage by Justin Cronin, and The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel. Katherine Osbourne, Kennebooks: The Passage, by Justin Cronin (Ballantine). Mimi Powell, Baker Books: Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield (adult, but good for high schoolers), and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. Ellen Richmond, Children’s Book Cellar: The Gates by John Connolly. Emma Pouech, Brown Dog Books & Gifts: Clean Food by Terry Walters. Kenny Brechner, DDG Booksellers: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson.
What book(s) are you currently raving about? Please feel free to share in the comments field below.

8 thoughts on “What New England Children’s Booksellers Are Reading

  1. Rachel

    I just finished The Night Fairy, and every little girl between about 5-8 years old should have this book! Such a treasure. Also loved Heist Society & Can’t wait for the next book. Kat is a great character.

  2. Spellbound

    “Blockhead” is wonderful. We’re hosting the author this weekend and we’re very excited about it. A great book for kids who are interested in how math appears in nature, or for kids who may need some inspiration to appreciate how cool math is.
    “The Uninvited” is one of my favorite recent YA books… very suspenseful.
    I’m seeing some books I need to move up my reading list here, too.

  3. K. Laughlin, who loves Island Books in Middletown, RI

    Kathleen Duey’s Resurrection of Magic books (Skin Hunger and Sacred Scars) stole three days of my life while I absorbed myself in them and neglected all but the bare essentials of my duties. I’d describe it as Harry Potter noir. With a LOT of noir.
    Then I lost another day to Tales of the Madmen Underground, by John Barnes, which has so much cursing that the jacket flap is redacted, but is the best book I’ve ever read about growing up without functional parents. Set in the 70s, it’s got a Holden Caufield meets the Outsiders kind of thing happening.

  4. Amy Goldman Koss

    Wow! Nancy and Plum was a HUGE HUGE favorite of mine when I was little! The horrid daughter of the horrid headmistress. The dolls! The two girls (Nancy & Plum) left alone… I’m almost afraid to read it again.

  5. shelftalker elizabeth

    Amy, I started it this morning and will let you know if it is magical to an adult reader who somehow missed it as a child. I thought I had read (and adored) every plucky-orphan-triumphing-over-pinchy-slash-villainous-guardian book in existence. Am SO pleased I get to sink my teeth into another!


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