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Children's Books

Finding their way

Four middle-grade novels

Louisiana’s Way Home 

Kate DiCamillo

Louisiana Elefante, whom Kate DiCamillo fans will remember from Raymie Nightingale, is on the run with Granny, a questionable caregiver battling demons from her past. They land in a small Georgia town where Louisiana soon discovers she’s not who she thought she was. As she struggles to come to terms with her unfolding life, trustworthy new friends help her see that amid a lifetime of lies she can still choose forgiveness and decide who she wants to be in this world. This poignant story of loss echoes with themes of hope and redemption and hints at how we find belonging and true identity in Christ alone. (Ages 10 & up)


Cynthia Rylant

Rosetown, the latest release from Henry and Mudge author Cynthia Rylant, is a slow-paced story set in 1972 that chronicles the everyday life of 9-year-old Flora Smallwood. As the tumultuous Vietnam War drags on, sensitive Flora is looking for confidence and consistency after her fourth-grade year begins a bit chaotically. Although the book opens with Flora’s mother and father separating, it portrays engaged parents and strong friendships and happily ends with a restored family. Along the way, Flora learns that even though life will be marked with unexpected disappointments and uncomfortable changes, it can also produce surprising delights. (Ages 8-12)

Survivor Diaries: Lost! 

Terry Lynn Johnson

Survival expert and conservation officer Terry Lynn Johnson weaves survival tips with zoology and ecology in the fourth installment of her Survivor Diaries series. When Carter and Anna get lost while hiking in the Costa Rican jungle, they must rely on each other and their survival smarts to make it out alive. Although the story suffers from poor plot development and forced dialogue, it displays teamwork and shows how one character overcomes anxiety and fear. The book, which will likely appeal to boys who are reluctant readers, also includes tips for creating your own survival kit. Note: The plot mentions Mayan legends and spirits. (Ages 7-9)

Black Rock Brothers 

S.J. Dahlstrom

Book 5 of the Adventures of Wilder Good series opens with 12-year-old Wilder making plans for a quest into the wilderness to find and replace a family heirloom. Wilder sees a solo journey as an opportunity to prove his manhood, but his parents require that he take along his best friend and a foster kid who’s struggling to fit in. Although the trip gets off to a rough start, by the end the boys have proved—to themselves and each other—that they are stronger and more resourceful than they knew. The story will hook adventure-loving boys while delighting parents with its character-building plot. (Ages 9-14)

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Children's Books

Safe and secure

Read-alouds for little ones

Yellow Kayak 

Nina Laden

A young boy and a giraffe set off in a small wooden boat anticipating a pleasant day trip. But they face a crisis as a squall appears, they lose a paddle, and night descends. Hope revives, though, as help comes from a slew of sea creatures, including whales that prod them to shore where “home comforts.” The story, told in rhyme with four two-word lines per scene, portrays calm courage and trust in the face of unforeseen difficulties. Illustrator Melissa Castrillon’s vintage-style drawings and colors convey movement and tranquility, making this a journey children will want to take again. (Ages 3-5)

Everything You Need for a Treehouse

Carter Higgins

Building a treehouse involves lots of time and “looking up,” along with a hearty imagination. With these ingredients, delightful and elaborate possibilities unfold—such as gigantic multistory forts, spiraling stairs leading to tree-canopy platforms, and old boats nestled between branches. But treehouses are just the backdrop for this book’s nature and friendship themes, which Higgins and illustrator Emily Hughes capture seamlessly for young observers. Most readers may find these wonderland treehouses far-fetched—but that will make the story’s unexpected ending relatable and delightful, especially for city and suburbia kids. So much is possible with an imagination to see it. (Ages 3-5)


Sally Lloyd-Jones

“Hello Daddy!” begins this board book, offering a simplified rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. The rest flows with a similar conversational tone, each page a reassurance for little hearts of God’s goodness and sovereignty—and our need for Him. Young readers will enjoy illustrations that follow a diverse group of children frolicking in the countryside: One pulls a wagon, others carry a stick to a baby sister, some climb trees or swing on branches. When two children encounter conflict, forgiveness and amends follow. Adapted from Jones’ and illustrator Jago’s best-selling Jesus Storybook Bible, this book and last year’s Found, based on Psalm 23, well deserve to stand alone. (Ages 2-3)

Psalms of Praise 

Danielle Hitchen

The Psalms contain many active verbs, and this book is a perfect introduction for squirmy toddlers who are just beginning to learn about God. Plan to get up and move around: Each scripted Psalm entails action, like dancing, clapping, and kneeling. Vibrant watercolor illustrations bring these actions to life. With bedtime in mind, this board book ends with “lie down,” and a comforting Psalm 4:8: “You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” This second book in Hitchen’s “Baby Believer” series teaches little ones that everyday movements are actually postures of praise. (Ages 2-3)

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Children's Books

Visionaries and victors

Four picture book biographies

The Shape of the World: A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright 

K.L. Going

As a baby Frank Lloyd Wright gazed from his crib at pictures of cathedrals hanging from his nursery walls. As a young boy he arranged and rearranged geometric blocks into designs of all kinds. As a farmhand he studied the shape of the world and decided he wanted “to build buildings as amazing as the world around him.” Author K.L. Going’s picture book serves as a simple introduction to the American architect who pioneered a movement blending architecture with nature. She steers clear of Wright’s muddied personal life and focuses on how a boy who marveled at the world became a marvel of the world. (Ages 5-10)

Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code

Joseph Bruchac

Chester Nez as a young boy attended a boarding school where teachers forbade him from talking in his native Navajo, a language they called worthless. Chester, though, loved his Indian heritage and secretly continued to speak his native tongue. Then the United States entered World War II, and what was once considered worthless became essential as the military recruited Chester and other Navajo to create a native-language-based secret code that helped win the war. Parents may need to discuss with children certain topics in the book, such as Navajo religious beliefs and the lingering trauma of war. The endnotes include a Navajo Code chart. (Ages 7-9)

Remembering Vera 

Patricia Polacco

Polacco was a fresh high-school graduate when her path first crossed with Vera, an old yellow dog living at a U.S. Coast Guard base in the San Francisco Bay. Where the stray originally came from no one knew, but over the years Vera endeared herself to the servicemen and made headlines for her lifesaving exploits. Several decades later, when Polacco returned to the base in search of Vera’s grave, she discovered it was nearly forgotten over the passage of time. In writing Remembering Vera, Polacco set out to honor the memory of a remarkable canine and honorary member of the U.S. Coast Guard. (Ages 4-8)

The Boo-Boos That Changed the World

Barry Wittenstein

Earle Dickson had a problem: Cuts and burns covered the hands of his accident-prone wife Josephine, but in 1917 there was no simple way to protect her wounds. So Earle, who providentially worked for medical supply company Johnson & Johnson, developed a prototype for adhesive bandages that the company agreed to manufacture. The story didn’t end there: The Boo-Boos That Changed the World reveals that marketing Band-Aids to the public required perseverance—and a little boost from the Boy Scouts. Endnotes offer more details about the Dicksons, a timeline, and helpful web links to additional info about the advent of Band-Aids. (Ages 4-8)

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