In last week’s blog post, during my woe-is-me diatribe, I wrote, and I quote:
“I read lots and lots of books. Most of which are YA and PB, and let me tell you, I’ve run across quite a few stinkers in the bunch. How often have you read a book that really sucks and you wonder how on earth this person ever found someone to publish it? How often have you thought, “My stuff is way better than this?” Those are the times that seem to push me under the furthest. Even my children give me similar sentiments after reading a particularly boring or just plain senseless book. “Mom, why can’t you get published? You’re stuff is way better than this junk!”
Afterwards, I had a reader say to me. “You think a lot of what’s published today is junk?”
My immediate response was, “Of course not!” However, looking back, and reading it over, I can see how my comments may have been construed that way. For the record, let me please say there are a lot of really awesome books out there. But yes, I still think there are some that are not quite so stellar. Like with any type of media out there, some are good, some are great, and some just make you go “hmmm”. Look at it this way, I hear people say all the time that there is a lot of crap on TV. these days. And they’re right. But on the flip side, there are some really awesome shows on the air too. It’s subjective. We all see the world differently and that’s what makes us all unique.
So, to show you all that I don’t think the publishing industry is pumping out a lot of “junk” I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about some books I’ve recently come across that I think are impressive. Some of them are widely popular, and some aren’t. But either way, these are the books I’ve read lately and thought, “Yes, outstanding!” These are the books that, in my opinion, captured not just the eye of an editor, but their heart and soul too.
I AIN’T GONNA PAINT NO MORE! Written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow is an amazingly brilliant and fun book. With just enough naughtiness to keep your little one giggling this very cute picture book is one you and your kids will want to read again and again!
ALLEY LOO, Written by C.E. Walz and illustrated by Pamela Wedel is a spooky swamp story told in verse. This colorful story has just enough intrigue to keep your little ones on the edge of their seat and just when you think it might be safe to come out in the swamp again, this author and illustrator have you running for cover!
I’M NOT AFRAID OF THIS HAUNTED HOUSE, written by Laurie Friedman and illustrated by Teresa Murfin. This scary tale of one boy’s journey into a haunted house is written in bloodcurdling verse. Take cute, fun and creepy and roll it all into one and you’ve summed up this delightfully chilling story. The twist at the end lightens the mood quickly and will earn a good hearty chuckle from all.
GONE by Michael Grant takes a good hard look at how life might be if kids ran the world. When every adult over the age of fifteen disappears, chaos reigns. As the children realize their world has shrunk down to a perimeter inside a weird dome-like enclosure they wonder if there is still life outside the FAYZ. Food is running in short supply and there is nobody to take care of the little ones. But the biggest question of all is what will happen when they turn fifteen? (HUNGER is the sequel and is available now.)
THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins is a post apocalyptic thriller which takes reality TV. to a whole new level. When Katniss Everdeen’s sister is chosen to participate in the deadly Hunger Games, Kat quickly volunteers to take her place. But how can someone from the poor twelfth district expect to survive? (CATCHING FIRE, the sequel is due out in Sept. 2009.)
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher is a powerfully moving story you won’t be able to put down. When Clay Jensen receives a strange package from his dead classmate, Hanna Baker, who committed suicide, he can’t help but be drawn in as Hannah’s voice explains the thirteen reasons why she killed herself and the part Clay and twelve other classmates played in her demise.
FLYGIRL by Sherri L. Smith is a realistic look at the life of a colored girl who dreams of getting her pilot’s license. As the war looms upon the United States, Ida Mae Jones answers Uncle Sam’s call and risks her own identity to become one of the elite few who make it into the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program. This historically accurate tale will leave you cheering for the underdog and reveling in her victory.
NATURE’S LULLABY, written by Niki Schoenfeldt and illustrated by Tray Summerall is a sweet story about a boy and his grandfather sharing a warm summer eve. From the familiar chirp of the cricket to the soulful note of the barn owl, the night come alive with song and the soothing melody puts both to sleep. But is there something sinister lurking nearby? (A little shameless self-promotion.)
I could go on and on, but I won’t. However, I have decided to run a regular feature on this blog mentioning great reads from time to time as I run across them. Again, realize “great read” is simply my own interpretation of these works. In the meantime, Kudos goes out to those writers, illustrators, editors, agents and publishers, who work tirelessly to get the AWESOME stuff out there so we readers can voraciously scoop them up. Keep the good “junk” coming!
-Niki Masse Schoenfeldt