Tag Archives: juvenile fiction

Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne M. Valente (2011, Feiwel and Friends, New York)

Don’t even read this review beyond this first sentence:  Get away from your screen right now and go pick up a copy of this book.  I’ll wait here.

Okay, are you back?  Have you read it all?  If you haven’t, get on it.  I’ll stick around.

Now you know what I’m talking about when I say this may be the greatest fantasy novel written in the past decade.  September’s first journey into Fairyland and the adventures she undertakes with her companions, A-Through-L, the Wyverary, and a captive Marid (sea genie) named Saturday, are perfectly, spectacularly wrought.  To say this is an imaginative and creative story isn’t enough – this first book of the “Fairyland” series is absolutely brilliant.  The language and style are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and I may be the teensiest bit enamoured/jealous/filled with awe.   I can’t thank the friend who recommended these books to me enough…and now it’s my turn to do the same for you.

Lemony Snicket – “When Did You See Her Last?”


 “When Did You See Her Last?”:  All the Wrong Questions Book 2 – Lemony Snicket (2013, Harper Collins Publishers Limited, Toronto)

Lemony Snicket’s younger self keeps on asking the wrong questions in book 2 of this mystery series, as he and his ragtag friends – a savvy journalist named Moxie, two taxi driver brothers nicknamed Pip and Squeak, the mysterious sub-librarian Dashiell Qwerty (which may be the coolest name for a librarian EVER), and the dashing teenaged cook Jake Hix try to rescue a kidnapped chemist and restore order to the town Stain’d-by-the-Sea, which is fast approaching ghost status.  Given Snicket’s playful writing style and dark humour, this is almost more fun for adults than for the preteen reading audience it’s geared for.

Annabel Pitcher – My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.


My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece – Annabel Pitcher (2012, Little, Brown and Company, New York)

You have to know going into this one that you’ll need a box of tissues at hand – it’s obvious by the title.   Told from the point of view of ten year old Jamie, who barely remembers his dead sister Rose, killed by a terrorist bomb five years earlier, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is a heartbreaking account of a family broken apart by tragedy and Jamie’s relationships with his sister Jas (Rose’s twin), their alcoholic father and absent mother.  It’s also an important story about bullying and racism – and the lengths Jamie, his friend Sunya, and Jas go to make things right in a mixed-up world.   Powerful stuff, beautifully and sensitively written.

Lemony Snicket – “Who Could That Be at This Hour?”


“Who Could That Be at This Hour?”:  All the Wrong Questions Book 1 – Lemony Snicket (2012, Harper Collins Publishers Limited, Toronto)

Lemony Snicket is as delightfully dark as ever as a teenaged version of himself sets out to solve a complicated mystery involving a hideous statue, a peculiar girl and her kidnapped father, a young reporter for a defunct newspaper, and a half-empty town on the shores of a drained ocean.   It doesn’t matter that this book is geared to a preteen reading audience – I couldn’t stop giggling and marveling over the absolutely riotous use of the English language.

Kevin Sheehan and Rob Dunlavey – The Dandelion’s Tale.




The Dandelion’s Tale – Kevin Sheehan and Rob Dunlavey (2014, Schwartz & Wade Books, New York)

Working in a library means I get to see and handle a lot of books…and some of my very favourites come from the children’s section. You don’t need to be a child to delight in the illustrations and stories of the great picture books I’ve come across recently…and The Dandelion’s Tale is at the very top of the heap for me. This sweet little tale of a dandelion gone to seed and her wish to leave her mark on the world quite frankly brought a little tear to my eye – it’s just that touching. The illustrations by Rob Dunlavey are soft and lush, and perfectly match Kevin Sheehan’s gentle story.

Lost on Brier Island.

Lost on Brier Island – Jo Ann Yhard – 2011, Nimbus Publishing Ltd., Halifax

Spending the summer on a beautiful island with her loving, free-spirited aunt isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be for young Alex – guilt-ridden and mourning, her parents’ relationship crumbling, she’s got a lot on her mind.  Full of sorrow and anger, Alex initially rejects the care and concern of her aunt’s friends, Gus and Eva (and Gus’ niece, Rachel) and refuses to come out of her shell.  But the island and the ocean surrounding it is spellbinding, full of wonder and whales, and Alex becomes particularly interested in the movements of a baby whale she names Daredevil.  Continue reading