Books We Love: Jinx

Jinx coverJinx” is a juvenile fiction book that was first brought to my attention when participants in DBRL’s own Heavy Medal: Mock Newbery program decided it their winner last year. Its win nudged me into giving it a read, and I am so glad I did.

Jinx” is the story of an orphan (of course he is an orphan, you have to get those pesky parents out of the way so that our young characters can have any sort of adventures, right?) who lives in a magical world with fantastical facets presented though humorously matter-of-fact narration. The story kicks off with a stepfather attempting to leave young Jinx in a dense and dangerous forest, called the Urwald, that surrounds all of the cities in Jinx’s world. After an unlikely rescue by a grumpy old wizard named Simon, Jinx finds himself a wizard’s apprentice and gathers some sidekicks along the way. Adventure naturally ensues, and the story does a lovely job of examining the fact that “good” versus “bad” is not always a black-and-white concept. Jinx’s internal ruminations on the subject are particularly touching. Continue reading

Classics for Kids: The Secret Garden

The Secret GardenWhen I was a little girl, I must have read Francis Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden” at least ten times. I was absolutely fascinated by almost everything about it. The old house with a name (Misselwaithe Manor? Why didn’t I think of this, let’s name our house! Suffice it to say, whatever title I dreamed up didn’t catch on in my childhood home) that was gigantic enough to make it hard to know who all lived there, the overgrown garden that had been locked up for mysterious reasons, the way the British lived in India, the sensory descriptions of how bringing the garden back to life felt and smelled…I ate it all up. It was like a fairy tale that could actually happen, and the story felt both nostalgic and exotic at the same time. I had never heard of a moor, and I had certainly never encountered phonetic spelling of a thick Yorkshire accent like that of the the undermaid, Martha. Continue reading

Fantastic and Frightful Fall Reads

Fall brings with it longer nights and more opportunities for reading while surrounded by the dark. When I was a preteen, I loved and hated being afraid. When the theme song for the television show “The Twilight Zone” came on, I would unsuccessfully implore my mom to change the channel. Of course, I couldn’t help myself – I always stayed in the room and watched the episode.

When “The Twilight Zone” wasn’t airing, I could always count on books to provide me with that jolt of adrenaline. The Goosebumps series (which is still being published) was a reliable provider of horror. But I also remember being terrified by the child-loathing antagonists of the Roald Dahl classic “The Witches” and the seemingly sentient dolls in Betty Ren Wright’s “The Dollhouse Murders.” Here are some recent scary titles for preteens (more recent that my childhood, anyway):

The Book of Bad ThingsBook cover for The Book of Bad Things” by Dan Poblocki
12-year-old Cassidy Bean is a city kid in the suburbs for the summer. After the neighborhood hoarder dies, ghosts and monsters start appearing. Cassidy and her new summer friend investigate the eerie happenings.

The Night Gardener: A Scary Story” by Jonathan Auxier
A Victorian ghost story with the requisite orphans, forbidden rooms, and an evil gardener. The book has several fantastically creepy illustrations and a lesson about greed that stays with you long after you finish the book. Continue reading

Children’s Authors Visit Barnes & Noble

Contrary to popular opinion, libraries love bookstores and bookstores love libraries. And we at DBRL are excited to hear that Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen will be visiting Columbia’s Barnes & Noble store on October 18th at 10 a.m. as part of their national book tour. Their new book, “Sam & Dave Dig a Hole,” will be published on the 14th, and you can contact the store to reserve an autographed copy.

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What Rhymes with October?

adora_6m00Happy October, everyone! I have no idea what rhymes with “October,” but rhyming is essential to early literacy skills and practices at all times of the year. So get out there and show your kids all the wonders of autumn, and then teach fun rhymes to make fall even more fun. Some of the rhymes below are action rhymes, so the corresponding actions are in parentheses.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin

Pumpkin, pumpkin sitting on a wall.
Pumpkin, pumpkin tip and fall! (Lean over.)
Pumpkin, pumpkin rolling down the street. (Roll hands.)
Pumpkin, pumpkin on your feet! (Stand up.) Continue reading