If you like… Laura Ingalls Wilder (Part 2)

Since Laura Ingalls Wilder has been in the news recently for the upcoming publication of her not-for-kids autobiography, I thought I would revisit her story for reader’s advisory purposes. Here are a few more books that kids (or adults who read children’s books) who like the Little House books might also like:

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  • Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona McDonough is a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder for kids ages 8-12.  There are crafts, games, and other information about the time period included.  It’s a great book for fans of the series.
  • Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill tells the story of a little girl in 1920’s Alaska.  The episodic chapters are full of details that make life in the mining town during the gold rush come alive.  The main character is only five years old, but the book is aimed at 9-12 year olds.
  • What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren takes place during the Great Depression when a family leaves the city for a farm in Wisconsin.  There is no electricity or indoor plumbing, so even though it is set in more modern times than the Little House books, it isn’t so different from the pioneer days.  It is one of my favorite middle grade novels of 2014, so I highly recommend it!

See my my previous Little House reader’s advisory post here. Or check out this episode of Stuff You Missed in History Class all about Laura Ingalls Wilder.

If you liked… Cosmos

downloadI suppose a better title for this post would be “If your kids liked Cosmos” because I really want to share some of my favorite science titles for the families who have been watching Cosmos together and want to keep the awesome science education going now that it’s over.

  • Gravity by Jason Chin – I love the way that Jason Chin’s picture books take an unusual approach to science, and his newest book does that with gravity.  It is very simple and visually striking.  Well worth sharing with young children to talk about what keeps us to the earth, what makes things fall, etc.   (Ages 4-8)
  • Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space by Dominic Walliman – This grand tour of space is guided by Professor Astro Cat in a fun and friendly way.  It’s stylishly designed and easy to understand. Even kids who aren’t as interested in science will likely be drawn in by the infographic style illustrations and funny asides in the text. It is also worth noting that the author holds a PhD in Quantum Physics, so he knows his stuff.  (Ages 8-10 – Though my 6 year-old loves to browse through it too)
  • How to Make a Planet by Scott Forbes – Start with the Big Bang and follow the steps that led to the earth we know today.  This is a fact-filled science book with the twist of being a “how-to book” for kids interested in having a planet of their own.  (Ages 8-12)

Not to mention some of the books I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past. You are Stardust and Older Than the Stars are two of my favorites.

What are some of your favorite science books for kids?

If you like… Mo Willems

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This post is for my daughter and her kindergarten class, who have all fallen hard for Mo Willems.  It is also for all the people who say “Do you know Mo Willems?” when I say I work in children’s books.  I have never met the man behind the pigeon, but I am very familiar with his books.  Mostly, though, this post is for the parents who need something to read with their kids when all the Mo Willems books are checked out of the library (as they always seem to be).  Perhaps one of these alternatives will suffice for the day.

If you like the way that Knuffle Bunny captures a universal childhood moment in a way that appeals to both kids and adults, try Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein.  As a bonus, the book also features a dad/daughter combo.

If you like the interactive nature of the Pigeon books, try Cat Secrets by Jeff Czekaj.  It has been in regular rotation at our house recently since we have a new kitten, but it’s fun even without a feline family member. Other potential titles: The End (Almost) by Jim Benton or You’re Finally Here by Melanie Watt.

If the funny friends in the Elephant & Piggie books are your favorite, try When Elephant Met Giraffe by Paul Gude for another set of animals navigating friendship with a touch of humor.  I also like the dry wit of Maxwell Eaton in The Adventures of Max and Pinky: Best Buds.

Need more suggestions?  Here are a places to find more reading material for your Mo Willems fan:

  • KDL Recommends Mo Willems Readalikes – More books in the spirit of Mo Willems
  • The Geisel Award – Willems has won this award for beginning readers more than once.  Check out some of the other winners and honors.  Might I recommend The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli.
  • Storytime Skit: Mo Willems – Everything you need to know to plan a Mo Willems event for your library, classroom, or whatever.

 

 

If you like… Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

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In fifth grade, I was more likely to be found reading The Baby-Sitters Club than anything remotely “literary.” I was a strong reader, but I was in it for entertainment.  (To be honest, that’s probably still true.) So back in fifth grade, when my friends were all raving about some book they’d just read, the eleven-year-old me was interested but apparently not interested enough to get beyond a chapter of Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt.  It landed squarely in the “did not finish” pile, and I went back to reading comfortable formulaic series novels.

I’m happy to report that eventually my reading tastes up-leveled to more challenging choices–like Homecoming.  To my surprise, the novel I had once dismissed as boring was anything but.  It was an epic search for a home and exploration of family.  Even as an adult, I am still drawn to novels, notably by Joyce Carol Oates and Elizabeth Strout, that take on themes of home and family.

However, one thing I learned doing reader’s advisory on the front lines of a public library is that kids and teens who ask for read-alikes are usually looking for books with similar situations.  Read-alikes for adults may focus on writing style or literary themes, but for young people, it’s all about the main plot element.

In the case of Homecoming, it’s actually pretty easy.  Kids-on-their-own is quite common in children’s literature.  You might direct readers to Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen or Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker for examples of kids making it on their own.  They are both excellent books that I recommend often.

keepingsafetheBut the book that I would reach for is Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O’Connor.  I would choose it for the kids-on-their-own plot and the Northern Minnesota setting, but mostly I would choose it for the family.  The Stars, much like the Tillermans in Homecoming, are a family that will stick with you.  And, really, that’s what I’m looking for in a Homecoming read-alike.  Highly recommended.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

If You Like… Room by Emma Donoghue

A couple of years ago, Room was the book of the season–over a million copies sold, a handful of awards, several starred reviews, and long library waiting lists everywhere.  If you haven’t read it yet, now is a great time.  No waiting list at my library!

If you’ve already read this affecting novel about a kidnapping, imprisonment, and freedom, and you are interested in a similar story, try Asta in the Wings by Elizabeth Watson.  This comparatively quiet novel is narrated by Asta, who is seven.  She lives with her mother and brother completely isolated from the outside world until one day her mother doesn’t come home.  When the two kids set off to find her, they find a world very unlike the one their mother had warned them about.  It’s a fascinating story that is part fish-out-of-water, part survival, and part psychological suspense.

Also recommended: Adult Fiction with a Child Narrator and Fish-Out-of-Water Fiction for Teens

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links. A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog. Thanks for your support!

If you like… A Yellow Raft in Blue Water

I almost never listen to audio books, but I happened to listen to A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris.  It was assigned in my Young Adult Literature class as our example of adult fiction with teen interest, and in my book buying haste, I accidentally ordered the audio version.

I felt like I was “stuck” listening, but I was quickly engrossed in a story of family secrets and generational rifts to the point that I wasn’t stuck anymore.  I was hooked.

I recently read A Grown-up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson, and I was struck by the similarities in the stories.  Three generations of women telling their stories, keeping their secrets, and watching as their mistakes affect the people they love the most.  Honestly, I think I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories.   There’s something like a mystery buried in the bonds of family that keeps me reading as the stories switch from character to character, each revealing a bit more than the last.  I can never really get into detective stories, but give me a family saga with secrets and intrigue at its core, and I am there.

Other books pictured that are also full of family secrets and multi-generational narratives: Learning to Lose by David Trueba, The Invisible Mountain by Carolina de Robertis, and The Favorites by Mary Yukari Waters

Want more reader’s advisory?  Check out previous “If you like…” posts.

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links.   A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog.  Thanks for your support!

If you like… Laura Ingalls Wilder

I’m a midwestern girl through and through.  Sure, I had a couple of brief forays to the West (Colorado and Wyoming) and the South (Kentucky, twice) in my childhood thanks to my dad’s job, but I’m a Minnesota girl (raised in Illinois & Wisconsin).

I fell in love with the prairie while in college in central Illinois, and I started reading everything Willa Cather had ever written.  But I’ve already blogged about that.  This post is about another prairie writer who has influenced midwestern girls for years: Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Two titles, in particular, stick out to me.  Borrowed Names looks at Laura Ingalls Wilder’s influence on her daughter in a novella-in-verse published with the stories of two other women of the time and their daughters.  Jeanine Atkins writes,

“These three women not only shared a birth year but also a devotion to work and motherhood. They raised daughters who lived in a world that changed as quickly as theirs had, and who changed with it. The only child of Laura Ingalls Wilder inherited the family wanderlust and became a world traveling journalist.”

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose is also a novel-in-verse that was inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Rose writes in the author’s note,

“Growing up, I fell in love with the Little House books and talked about Laura Ingalls Wilder as if she were someone I knew personally.  In the late nineteenth century, when Laura was a girl, schoolwork focused on recitation and memorization and favored students able to do those things well. When I became a teacher, I grew curious about what life must have been like for frontier children who found schooling a challenge. Would a girl who couldn’t read well have been kept out of school? “

In the book, May struggles with dyslexia, though it isn’t named, and it is a fascinating look at history through the lens of a strong, intelligent young girl.  Read more about it in Jen Robinson’s Book Page review.

Other books pictured: Addie Across the Prairie by Laurie Lawlor, Prairie Songs by Pam Conrad, and My Prairie Year by Brett Harvey

Want more reader’s advisory?  Check out previous “If you like…” posts.

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links.   A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog.  Thanks for your support!

If you like… Tree of Codes

I have long been infatuated with the possibilities of books as art.  Book artists have created landscapes and origami and all sorts of other interesting pieces out of books that create something new from something old.  Jonathan Safran Foer did this with his book Tree of Codes, which took an already existing book and carved a new story from it.

In I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail, illustrator Ramsingh Urveti brings an old poem to modern audiences by breaking from the usual.  Though this is a picture book technically speaking and it will certainly find a place in classrooms, it is not just for kids.  This is a book for poetry lovers of all ages, for design geeks, for artists.  It is a truly lovely look at what a book can be.

Read (and see) more about the book on Brain Pickings.

Want more reader’s advisory?  Check out previous “If you like…” posts.

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links.   A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog.  Thanks for your support!

If you like… Ender’s Game

After I posted about Hunger Games readalikes, I spent the next weekend devouring both Legend and Divergent.  It was a bit too much dystopia in one weekend for me, but I did enjoy both books.  If you like stories about child prodigies and militaristic training in the future, you might like one or both of these books.  In some ways, the books were like “Ender’s Game lite,” at least that’s how it felt to me.

Ender’s Game has been one of my favorite books for over ten years now.  On the surface, it doesn’t seem like something I’d ever pick up.  Military training for children?  Competitive war games?  Weird insect aliens?  Meh.  Of course, it is also about how we push ourselves to our limits in good and bad ways to accomplish something staggering.

That’s pretty much exactly what happened with Cory Doctorow’s For the Win.  At a quick glance of the back cover, it looks like a book about video games, economics, and China.  None of which really catch my attention.  But then I started reading.  Yes, there is a lot of detail about economics, labor issues, and video games, but somehow the book manages to make even long lecture-like tangents about economics amazingly fascinating by immersing readers in the emotional turmoil of the characters in the story–much like Ender’s Game did.

Give it a chance, even if it doesn’t seem like your thing.

 

Want more reader’s advisory posts?  Look here.

Disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links.  A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog.  Thanks for your support!

If you like… The Hunger Games

I felt like I was the last person in the kidlit/library world to read The Hunger Games trilogy, but at this point it seems everyone in the world has read it–even those who don’t often read teen fiction.  I think this is awesome, of course.  All the better for me to recommend more teen fiction to all my friends who loved the series and need something to read while they are waiting for the movie.

Without further ado, here are my suggestions:

  • For post-apocalyptic weirdness: I liked Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien, which is about a young girl whose parents are mysteriously whisked away into “the enclave.” She tries to find out more about what happens and learns a lot about the realities behind the weird post-apocalyptic system they’ve set up.  The sequel, Prized, is almost better than the first book, in my opinion.
  • For futuristic romance: It doesn’t get better than Matched by Ally Condie.  It is set in a future where young people are “matched” by the government with the person they will marry, who runs pretty much everything in a really creepy way, but a mistake with Cassia’s matching ceremony gets her thinking about what other mistakes they might have made.  It will also be a trilogy.
  • For the stuck on a spaceship with a possibly crazy leader angle: Definitely try Across the Universe by Beth Revis.  In this one, Amy and her parents are frozen on a spaceship traveling to a far away planet they are supposed to colonize, but Amy is unfrozen a bit early–like fifty years early–and things are really weird on the ship.  The sequel is out today, by the way.  And I’m pretty sure this one will be a trilogy as well.
  • For all the action: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is an oldie-but-a-goodie, but everyone is talking about Legend by Marie Lu as the book for Hunger Games fans.  I have yet to read it, but I want to. Here’s the trailer:

There are so many more dystopias for teens (and adults).  What are some of your favorites?