A homeschooling innovation brings opportunity and danger
Culture Children's Books
A Fever, a Flight, and a Fight for the World
Dr. Mujuni awakes weak and feverish on a deserted island with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. A young girl, Nyakato, nurses him to health and reveals that they are the lone survivors of an Ebola-like virus that has wiped out their African village. As they journey to the mainland, Mujuni learns he is at the center of a government cover-up. A friend advises, “Safety is not our goal; … move into danger if it is the only way to move into good.” Myhre’s compelling fourth installment of the Rwendigo Tales stems from her and her husband’s experiences as physicians in Uganda during an Ebola outbreak. (Ages 8-14)
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow has only a hat and a strange lump of charcoal to remember the Sweep, her beloved mentor who took her in as an infant and taught her his trade. But when a fiery near-death experience releases her from an abusive master, the lump of charcoal magically awakens, becoming a protective golem she names “Charlie.” Set in Victorian-era London, Auxier’s story intertwines themes like class exploitation, anti-Semitism, and gruesome child labor conditions with charming characters and Dickensian villains. With Charlie by her side, Nan gains strength and purpose, learning what the Sweep exemplified: “We save ourselves by saving others.” (Ages 10-14)
Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead
Livy was 5 the last time she visited her Gran in Australia, and she has forgotten about many things, including a short greenish creature wearing a chicken suit that has been waiting in a closet for her to return. “Bob” knows little about who he is and where he comes from, and Livy determines to keep him hidden while she hunts for clues to help him find his origins. Told in alternating voices, this winsome story contains themes of friendship, identity, and belonging. Mass and Stead infuse humor into a quirky tale while capturing the magic and mystery that children savor. (Ages 8-12)
The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden
Karina Yan Glaser
It’s summertime in Harlem, and the eldest of the five Vanderbeeker children is away at orchestra camp, leaving the others bickering and bored. When their beloved upstairs neighbor Mr. Jeet ends up in the hospital after suffering a stroke, the children set out to turn an abandoned church lot into a beautiful community garden as a welcome-home surprise. The countdown begins, but as the children enlist the help of neighbors and friends and cultivate the garden, a wealthy developer seeks to turn the lot into condominiums. A companion to Glaser’s The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, this book is an equally endearing tale of an urban, biracial family with tenacity and neighborly love. (Ages 8-12)
Anne of Green Gables remains a beloved classic even among new generations of readers. Now early-elementary schoolchildren can whet their appetite for L.M. Montgomery’s Avonlea through Kallie George’s Anne Arrives (Tundra Books, 2018). The 64-page chapter book, the first early-reader in a new series adaptation of Montgomery’s novels, introduces Anne as a spirited orphan who finally finds a home with the Cuthberts at Green Gables. Its simple chapters and vivid illustrations capture an imaginative and brash Anne, a prickly Marilla, a shy but kind Matthew, and a bossy Mrs. Lynde.
For 3- to 7-year-olds, George has released a picture book, Goodnight, Anne (Tundra Books, 2018). This bedtime story artfully weaves in characters and situations from Montgomery’s first novel as Anne bids goodnight to the people and things she loves in Avonlea—except Gilbert, who is pictured pulling her braids. —M.J.