Wishtree

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, with illustrations by Charles Santoso

Feiwel and Friends, 2017

What a beautiful, precious, lovely book!! This is the kind of book I want everyone to read and take to heart and live by.

Lily received Wishtree from her Aunt Tricia this year for Christmas. I think Aunt Tricia is the one person in the world, I know personally, who has potentially read more books than I have. She’s as obsessed with books as we are in this house, probably more. And she teaches reading to middle schoolers. Basically, books are her life, and over the years she has introduced me to some of the most beautiful authors ever like, Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, and John Green. Not once has she recommended a book to me that I didn’t like.

So, I knew when Wishtree arrived, even though it was a gift for Lily, I would read it at some point. I should have gobbled it up immediately, because, HELLO! Katherine Applegate of The One and Only Ivan, and Crenshaw.

The book jacket makes this book sound so simple…

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.

And yet this story is anything but simple. As a new family moves into the neighborhood, Red witnesses how unwelcome some people are to the newcomers, and sets out to help them, especially the girl named Samar.

For some reason, I’m a bit obsessed with trees lately. I want an expert to walk with me through my Maine neighborhoods during the seasons and teach me how to identify them all. How to name each tree by the bark or the leaf or the way the trunk branches out. We have the most amazing, crazy, huge, oddly shaped trees in our neighborhood, maybe in every neighborhood I’ve ever been in, but for some reason right now in my life, it’s like they speak to me. I want to know them.

And Wishtree is narrated by a tree. Unique and perfect! Neither Lily nor I have ever read a book narrated by a tree, and Red’s voice swirled around us and drew us right into such a lovely story.

…if you find yourself standing near a particularly friendly-looking tree on a particularly lucky-feeling day, it can’t hurt to listen up.

Trees can’t tell jokes.

But we can certainly tell stories.

And if all you hear is the whisper of leaves, don’t worry. Most trees are introverts at heart.

I felt Red’s special voice. I paid attention. I wanted to take in all her/his (Red is both a he and a she) wisdom. And this book overflows with wisdom.

Lily first read Wishtree to herself, while curled up on the couch next to me. I listened to her giggles, her intakes of breath at crucial moments, and every few pages or so, she interrupted what I was doing to share part of the book with me.

“The skunk’s name in this book is FreshBakedBread,” she said to me at one point.

“How cute,” I replied.

“Yeah, ‘All skunks name themselves after pleasant scents,’” Lily read to me, with a gigantic smile on her face.

I won’t give any more of the names away, but let me just say how clever and wonderful every single word is in these pages. Katherine Applegate thinks of everything, every nuance, every name, every action and inaction, every emotion. I think it’s true genius when an author can use few words to say so much. Applegate takes the reader on a magical journey, paints the most stunning work of art, makes us cry and laugh, and turn the last page knowing that we have been forever changed.

If you adore trees and animals and all kinds of nature, including human nature, if you believe there’s more good in the world than evil, or if you need to believe that, open the pages of Wishtree immediately. I hope this gem finds a place in your heart, like it did ours. And may all your wishes come true!

2018-02-08T09:15:10+00:00 February 8th, 2018|Categories: Ages 7-9, Ages 9-12|Tags: , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Nevermoor

Nevermoor by Jessica TownsendNevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, by Jessica Townsend

Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2017

Lily and I love books with strong characters and beautifully drawn worlds, and Nevermoor is an absolute delight!

Open the pages to Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor and you enter a magical world full of adventure, mystery, secrets, friendships, and so many intriguing characters. The heroine, Morrigan Crow, was born on Eventide which in her world, makes her one of the cursed children. People blame her for everything. Every death, every disaster, every negative thing that happens. She’s miserable and lonely, and waiting to die on her eleventh birthday, as the curse predicts she will.

But just before she turns eleven, she’s rescued by a man named Jupiter North. He spirits her away to the secret city of Nevermoor. In this new magical world, Morrigan learns that she is to compete in four trials to enter the select and highly esteemed Wundrous Society.

As her journey unfolds, Morrigan makes friends and enemies, discovers fascinating secrets of Nevermoor, and learns that she isn’t cursed after all. But being told you’re cursed for eleven years, and suddenly trying to believe the opposite, isn’t necessarily as easy as one might think. Morrigan struggles with the truths she uncovers about herself and others, she struggles with being brave, she struggles with not having all the answers, but throughout, her true nature of curiosity, compassion and strength prevail.

Lily and I felt this book overflowed with amazingness! For fun, we decided to write about it in an interview with me asking her questions.

Tell me what you liked about Nevermoor, Lily.

I like the characters, especially Hawthorne Swift because he was so adventurous. And I like how every character she meets in Nevermoor has a unique personality. Jupiter North, the super smart but mysterious owner of the Hotel Deucalion; Fenestra the enormous, snobby Magnificat; Hawthorne Swift, a joke-playing, dragon-riding friend; Noelle Devereaux, a girl with a voice like an angel who’s also as mean as a wicked witch; Dame Chanda Kali who can sing to animals; a vampire dwarf; and Jupiter’s mysterious nephew, Jack.

Also, I thought it was interesting and crazy that she starts off in an ordinary place as a cursed child, but she gets taken to Nevermoor where everyone has an awesome talent, except for her.

What kind of heroine is Morrigan?

In the beginning, she’s a bit young and naïve, but also a bit negative because she thinks she’s going to die. Morrigan doesn’t know what her knack is, and she doesn’t want to cause Jupiter to lose his job. She wants a family to love; she wants people to like her; she wants to belong somewhere. She’s kind and brave, even though she doesn’t think she is, but being brave isn’t easy, as Morrigan finds out.

What is a knack?

It’s like a talent that people have who want to get into the Wundrous Society.

What is Wunder?

The power source for everything they use, like electricity. You can harvest it. It can also be used in bad ways.

Who is your favorite character?

My favorite character is Hawthorne Swift. He’s a jokester, he’s adventurous and mischievous, he rides dragons. And he makes a good friend to Morrigan.

Were there any parts of the book that made you mad or frustrated?

There were some parts I was kind of mad about, but I like that because I like to be able to feel emotions for your characters. Mostly the part where Jupiter won’t tell her things and it’s frustrating for her and she doesn’t know what to do. Also, the Hunt of Smoke and Shadow was super scary. And the fact that she kept thinking she was going to die because of the curse.

Are you excited to read the second book in the series?

YES! I am pumped to read the next book. There’s so much going on in Nevermoor, that I want to know all of it. I liked this book almost better than Harry Potter.

I’m pretty sure my kids like the Harry Potter series more than any other books they’ve ever read, so for Lily to say she likes a book almost better than Harry Potter, well, that is high praise indeed. If you’re looking for a fantastical adventure with a great heroine in an enchanting world, Nevermoor is the book for you.

The Magician’s Elephant

The Magician’s Elephant

Written by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, Published by: Candlewick Press, 2009

 

This book!!!!!

I can hardly find words to describe how stunning this brilliant piece of art is. Of all of Kate DiCamillo’s wonderful, award-winning books, this one is my favorite.

Although only ten-years-old, Peter Augustus Duchene seems wiser than his years. He lives with his guardian, an old soldier, in a city called Baltese. This charming, old city makes one think of old-world Europe from a long time ago, Prague, Budapest, Paris.

A cold, bleak winter shrouds this city, one to put you in mind of a Dickens’ winter.

“The skies were filled with thick, lowering clouds that obscured the sun and condemned the city to a series of days that resembled nothing so much as a single, unending dusk.”

Cold, hungry and lonely, and trying hard to “be a soldier, honorable and true,” Peter has one wish in his heart. He longs to find out if his younger sister is still alive.

A fortune teller, a magician who calls an elephant out of nowhere, a city full of people longing for something, and the beauty of magic, are all sewn together to create one of the most graceful stories I’ve ever read. It makes me cry every time.

I read this book to the kids aloud, and, if possible its beauty grew. DiCamillo’s words hum like poetry that reaches in and tugs on your heart. Each word, each page, each scene, all are exquisitely drawn. Yoko Tanaka’s gorgeous illustrations add another layer to that mystical old-world feeling.

This book is about being lost and found, longing and family, desire and hunger, darkness and light, grief and love, memories, despair and hope.

And most of all magic. Perhaps the magic of hope, or the hope of magic, that everything is somehow connected with a golden thread. The Magician’s Elephant overflows with magic, and not just the impossible, but the unique magic that lives in all of us, every person, every star. We are all of us stars, shining brightly.

For me the true meaning of this story can be found near the very end with the elephant.

“Sometimes, though, when she was walking through the tall grass or standing in the shade of the trees, Peter’s face would flash in front of her, and she was struck with a peculiar feeling of having been well and truly seen, of having at last been found, saved.”

We all want to be “well and truly seen” don’t we?

If you’re looking for a special book, find somewhere cozy to read, grab a copy of The Magician’s Elephant, and let Kate DiCamillo wave her magic wand over you. And here at Wild for Books, we feel this book is most magical when read aloud with someone you love.

Guest Post by Zoe Henry

Our friend, Zoe, age 9, from Bainbridge Island, Washington is here to write a guest post for Wild for Books on Raina Telgemeier’s awesome graphic novel, Ghosts.

First we want to tell you how crazy we are about Zoe (and her super parents, Shannin and Jason!)

Zoe at the Pumpkin Patch

Zoe was born 9 years ago with CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) at Legacy Emanual Hospital in Portland, Oregon where doctors performed their medical mojo and saved her life.

Attached to a heart and lung bypass for the first two weeks of her life, Superhero Zoe has been smashing obstacles ever since. Surgeries, pneumonia, life flights, g-tubes, central lines, expensive medicines to keep her alive. No matter what this kid faces, she puts on her superhero cape and soars through life with passion, humor, intelligence, kindness and so much compassion!

Because Zoe’s lungs were unable to grow correctly she now has pulmonary hypertension, and boy are we hoping for a cure someday soon!!! (Find out how to donate to the Pulmonary Hypertension Foundation and other great resources at the end of the post!)

Lily and Zoe have been friends since they were babies and we miss her like crazy! And Lily loves Raina Telgemeier’s books too, so when we found out Zoe picked Ghosts for her fist ever book report, we invited her to share her review with Wild for Books. The character, Maya, has cystic fibrosis, and while it’s not the same as pulmonary hypertension, Zoe definitely can relate to a child who has trouble breathing.

Ghosts

By Raina Telgemeier

Review by Zoe Henry, Age 9

Maya and her sister Cat moved to a new town because Maya got sick. They met a boy named Carlos who does ghost walks. Then Maya got sick again from the ghosts taking her air. Then it was Halloween and Day of the Dead. They met the ghost of a little boy. They found out the ghosts are their ancestors’ family.

I like Ghosts because it’s about a girl who needs oxygen but is still strong and determined, and about Day of the Dead and Halloween night.

 

From Zoe’s mom, Shannin

She picked the book Ghosts because she loves that it is about a girl who has bad lungs and needs oxygen. We spent the last few weeks reading through the book together talking about how it feels to be sick, what traditions are, and how family is still with us even after they die, and different customs in different cultures. Heavy topics for a 9-year-old.

She then wrote this report by herself, we baked some Dia de los Muertos marigold and skull cupcakes and she’s bringing an oxygen canula to school to show her class after she recites her report. So freaking proud of this kid and her determination!

I love that Maya is a kid who isn’t scared. She looks for adventure and faces things with courage even when she doesn’t feel well. She’s a little girl having fun!

Dia de los Muertos Cupcakes

 

From Sara at Wild for Books

This graphic novel is such an enjoyable read, and the gorgeous pictures speak words of their own and draw you right into the scene. But it’s so much more than that. There are many heavy topics in this book, and Raina writes about them with such tenderness and compassion and insight. Cystic fibrosis, moving away to a new place and leaving all your friends behind, how siblings deal when they have a sick brother or sister, exploring different cultures, and ultimately, courage.

Currently there are no cures for cystic fibrosis or pulmonary hypertension. Both diseases have great foundations working towards finding cures if you’re interested in donating. I’ll share the links below as well as links to Make-A-Wish and Tiny Superheroes, two additional outstanding organizations for kids who are sick or have special needs.

Thanks for writing for us Zoe!! We miss you and love you!!

Here are 4 great places to donate if you’re interested!

Pulmonary Hypertension Association

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Tiny Superheroes

 

BOO! A Few Tricks & Treats for Your Halloween Library

October is the month for goblins and ghosts and all things creepy, including a few spooky Halloween books for your haunted house.

I’m a tiny bit scared to admit this, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween. Maybe it’s the introvert in me, maybe it’s the trauma from my childhood Halloween costumes, most of which I made myself, maybe it’s just all that black and orange, maybe I just don’t like to be spooked. Who knows! But Lily & Jasper love Halloween!!! They have forced me to engage, even when I just want to hide under the covers.

And, it turns out, we do have some spookily awesome books to share with you that fit deliciously into the trick or treat basket. Here are our 3 Favorite Spooky Halloween Books. We know there are more out there, but please don’t scare me anymore!

 

1. Creepy Carrots

Words by Aaron Reynolds, Illustrations by Peter Brown

This book has been one of our favorites for the last few years!

It’s a fun, silly adventure about a rabbit who’s afraid of carrots because they seem to be haunting him and following him everywhere! The rabbit’s name is Jasper which is an awesome characteristic about it for one particular kid in this house. And the creative, dark illustrations are by Peter Brown, who we adore!

Are the carrots really haunting Jasper Rabbit, or is he losing his mind? And what will he do to solve this frightening problem? Dive in to find out.

If you love this one, the amazing duo of Reynolds and Brown just came out with another adventure for Jasper Rabbit called, Creepy Pair of Underwear.

 

 

2. I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas

Words & Pictures by Kevan Atteberry


Okay, this book is AWESOME!! It’s hilarious, clever, spooky fun for all the little monsters in your life.

Are monsters allowed to be cute? Well these monsters certainly are. The pages in this book are full of super cute “scary” creatures. A parent monster and child monster creep through the forest meeting purple-horned skunks and bloodsucking ducks, creatures hidden and not, while the parent monster describes all the ways he loves the little one.

Come along through the swampy forest as they dance over toe biting stones, encounter mummified bass, and banter their love back and forth. And just try to resist a snuggle with those seriously adorable spiders!

It’s gross and sticky and stinky and so creative! Everything little kids love, including the safe, goodnight-tuck-into-bed at the end. And it’s our favorite Kevan Atteberry book ever!

“Do you love me as much

as the BUBBLING SLIME

that covers our feet

in a THICK GOOEY GRIME?”

“I treasure you more

than the SLOW OOZING MUCK

squished through our toes

as we pull them unstuck.”

 

4. Serafina and the Black Cloak

by Robert Beatty

This creepy book shrouded in mysteries might give me nightmares! Consider yourself warned. Lily and I discovered this book at the same time, and when she said she was reading it at school, and that I “had to read it!” I wondered if it might fit into our Halloween Spook Fest, and IT DOES!!!

12-year-old Serafina lives a hidden life in the basement of Biltmore Estate with her father. No one knows of her existence and her father insists she keep it this way. Nocturnal by nature, not afraid of the dark or long hidden hallways in the underbelly of this mansion, Serafina prides herself on being the CRC (Chief Rat Catcher) for Biltmore. Yes, she catches rats, ewwwwweeee!!! Remember, I said, nightmares are possible.

Like all young heroes and heroines, Serafina finds herself no longer content with her life the way it is. She wonders where she came from, what happened to her mother, why her father doesn’t want anyone to know about her, and her greatest wish is to be seen. When a freaky, disgusting creature in a black cloak starts “disappearing” children from the estate, in an eerie, spooky, nightmarish way, Serafina embarks on a journey into the forbidden forest, full of demons, to save the children and ultimately unravel the mystery of her own life.

Lily says, “There’s lots of spooky, creepy detail in this book so you feel like you are there, and it’s especially creepy when the man in the black cloak is devouring children, because there’s this rattling sound,” Yep, creep factor 1000!

Looking for a strong, unique, and clever heroine for a middle grade reader in your Frankenstein clan, Serafina is the girl for you. And I love that we just discovered her, and that it’s a series so we can read more about her in Serafina and the Twisted Staff, and Serafina and the Splintered Heart.

Have a safe, spooky, haunted Halloween everyone!