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AARP The Magazine, September 2009
We've teamed up with the editors of Publishers Weekly to scour the latest titles, from books for babies to cutting-edge fiction and nonfiction for teens, to help you find that just-right book for your grandchild.
How Do You Wokka-Wokka?
By Elizabeth Bluemle, illus. by Randy Cecil (Candlewick Press, $15.99; ages 3-5)
A cheerful, diverse group of city-dwelling kids demonstrate their distinctive walks ("I wokka-wokka/ like flamingos/ in a flocka," declares one). The catchy rhymes will have kids showing off moves of their own.
The Big Elephant in the Room
By Lane Smith (Disney-Hyperion, $16.99; ages 3-7)
When a donkey wants to discuss "the big elephant in the room," his defensive friend tries to narrow down the offense in question. Turns out there's plenty to choose from: sharing embarrassing secrets and "going" in the pool, not to mention a super-glue "accident." Smith's perfectly timed sight gags will have kids in stitches.
Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales
By Lucy Cousins (Candlewick Press, $18.99; ages 3 and up)
Cousins' mouse heroine Maisy is a familiar friend to kids, and the author's artwork for this collection of fairy tales—from Goldilocks to the Three Little Pigs—is brash and bold. It also gets to the (sometimes dark) emotional core of these classic stories.
By Heather Henson, illus. by Ross MacDonald (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $16.99; ages 4-8)
The young narrator of this story is initially loath to visit his gruff "Grumpy Grandpa." But a trip to the grandfather's favorite spot—his childhood fishing hole—helps the boy see his relative in a new light.
By Eden Ross Lipson, illus. by Mordicai Gerstein (Roaring Brook Press, $17.99; ages 4-8)
Members of a close-knit family take part in a beloved tradition—making pots upon pots of applesauce. With apples starting to show up in farmers’ markets nationwide, this story may inspire families to have a go themselves (a recipe for applesauce is included).
FOR THE ELEMENTARY SET
The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors
By Chris Barton, illus. by Tony Persiani (Charlesbridge, $18.95; ages 7-10)
Brothers Joe and Bob Switzer, the inventors of Day-Glo paint, may be unlikely subjects for a picture-book biography. But their story—one of American ingenuity and determination—is as illuminating as the neon hues they developed.
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute
By Jarrett Krosoczka (Knopf, $5.99 paperback; ages 7-10)
Kicking off a funny series of graphic novels, Krosoczka introduces us to a seemingly ordinary school-cafeteria worker, known simply as "Lunch Lady." In reality she's a crime-fighting hero (think banana boomerangs and fish-stick nunchucks). Unlike "mystery meat," this will get gobbled up by kids.
By Mary Ann Hoberman (Little, Brown, $15.99; ages 8-12)
In this coming-of-age story set during the Great Depression, 10-year-old Allie and her family move to a street called Strawberry Hill—where, to Allie’s dismay, not a single strawberry bush can be found. Themes of poverty and prejudice interweave this tender account of Allie’s quest for friendship and acceptance.
When You Reach Me
By Rebecca Stead (Random House/Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99; ages 9-14)
Set in New York City in the late 1970s, this haunting and brilliantly constructed novel (with a tinge of science fiction) follows 12-year-old Miranda as she puzzles out some strange occurrences involving mysterious notes, a homeless man in the neighborhood, and a changing relationship with a lifelong friend.
The Word Snoop
By Ursula Dubosarsky, illus. by Tohby Riddle (Dial, $16.99; ages 10 and up)
A witty and accessible choice for those interested in language and history, this clever guide to the English language is entertaining and thorough. It covers everything from nicknames and Internet slang to punctuation and silent letters (the latter likened to "stray cats that wander into the house").
Secrets of Truth and Beauty
By Megan Frazer (Disney-Hyperion, $15.99; ages 12 and up)
In this inspiring debut novel, overweight teenager Dara seeks out her estranged older sister, now living on a goat farm. The reunion doesn't go as planned, but Dara's journey of self-discovery—and a cast of memorable characters—will grab readers.
Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
Edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (Little, Brown, $16.99; ages 12 and up)
From science-fiction conventions to feuding academics to LARPing (Live Action Role-Playing), these entertaining stories from authors including John Green, Scott Westerfeld, and Kelly Link highlight the passions and obsessions of those happy to dub themselves geeks.
Nothing but Ghosts
By Beth Kephart (HarperTeen, $17.99; ages 12 and up)
Kephart's gorgeous writing carries this story of 16-year-old Katie and her father—both coping, in their own way, with the recent death of Katie's mother. The moving story of their recovery runs parallel to a pair of mysteries centered on secrets from the past.
By Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press, $17.99; ages 13 and up)
Teenager Grace has always been fascinated by the wolves near her home—in particular, a yellow-eyed one who, she learns, is a human named Sam (so long as the weather stays warm). This intense tale of werewolves and first love will captivate fans of Twilight and Wicked Lovely.
By Daniel Nayeri and Dina Nayeri (Candlewick Press, $16.99; ages 14 and up)
Five children disappear from their homes, only to reappear years later as the enigmatic Faust siblings, each with supernatural powers. This gothic thriller turns the "elite private school" trope on its head, as truly Faustian bargains fuel the ambitious social climbing.
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