Welcome to Barbara's recommendations! Barbara is a true treasure here at Boswell with over 30 years of experience in children's bookselling. Her vast knowledge and expertise will guarantee a great read!
Check out what Barbara has been reading below!
This high energy fantasy is a real page-turner! Packed with adventure, friendships and betrayals, this is the story of Byx, a dairne, who is on a journey to discover if she is the last survivor of her species, or an "endling." Unique and well-drawn characters, like Tobble, a feisty and loyal friend, and Khara, a smart 14-year-old girl, are some of Byx's travel companions. Katherine Applegate creates a memorable world filled with intrigue and danger, but also with characters who have an abundance of courage and kindness.
What can Arfy the dog do? He is homeless and wants a forever home. Arfy decides to write a letter to everyone on Butternut Street giving reasons why he should be adopted. When Arfy receives negative responses, he is dejected. The surprise ending is both emotional and perfect. Told entirely in letters, this is a funny and heartwarming story. Bright, colorful illustrations are filled with humorous details. At the end of the book, suggestions are given for how to help homeless animals. Arfy's story would be great to read out loud and could lead to readers writing their own letters. Arfy's inspirational tale will be a forever favorite!
Barkus, a very smart, enthusiastic large brown dog stars in this early chapter book. While spending time with seven-year-old Nicky and her family, Barkus has some gentle adventures. For example, Nicky tells how Barkus goes to school, has a very noisy birthday party, and finds a "baby." Readers will laugh at the plentiful humor both in the text and action filled illustrations. A special treat is the retelling of the book in rebus format! Barkus is a memorable character who will warm readers' hearts.
"Pax takes a powerful look at the consequences of war on both people and animals. In beautiful prose, the book is told in alternating chapters between Peter, and the fox, Pax, who he raised. Tension builds as Peter goes on a three hundred mile quest to find Pax and bring him home, while Pax strives to find Peter. Heart-stopping adventures await Pax and Peter, as both change and mature when they meet other memorable characters. Pax provides compulsive reading and much to think about." --Barbara
"This is a beautiful book about imagination. When the words disappear from a special book, a little girl has to make up a story for each picture. Clever fox, who caught the words in his net, asks her for a surprising favor after he returns the words. The breathtaking detailed mixed media illustrations are a perfect match for the story. As a bonus, readers can look for a fox, rabbit, bees and a crown on each page! This is a unique and very special book for all ages!" --Barbara
Pull the tab and watch alligator chomp his way through animals 1 to 10! This super fun book includes counting the animals and insects on each page, touching different textures on the animals (like a sticky snail), and noticing different colors on the animals. A spectacular pop-up comes at the end, when all the animals appear! The infectious refrain on each page will invite kids to chime in. This is an interactive book with pizzazz!
"In this striking and beautiful book, Wisconsin's own Kevin Henkes and his talented wife, Laura Dronzek, celebrate the coming of spring. Breathtaking pastel-colored acrylic illustrations explode with spring color, compared to drab winter pictures. The varied sizes of illustrations, from full page to several small ones on a page, perfectly enhance the text. Interactive questions, like ‘Do you like mud? Do you like puddles?’ and alliterative sentences such as ‘There will be buds and bees and boats and bubbles’ make this a great book to read out loud. Listeners will smile throughout the book, and especially at the surprise ending to this perfect book." --Barbara
Ingredients for a great mystery: Take 1. An unsolved murder mystery from 1936 involving the wife and daughter of the founder of the exclusive Ellingham Academy, 2. The Ellingham Academy today, still a private school for gifted junior and senior high school students, 3. The remote school setting high in the Vermont mountains, 4. Seventeen year old Stevie Bell, a student at the Academy today, who excels at solving murder mysteries, 5. Stevie's quirky classmates, who each have their own secrets, 6. Quick pacing, as the story swings back and forth from events in 1936 to today's happenings, 7. Many twists and turns, as the excellent writing will leave readers breathless. Will something alarming happen today at Ellingham Academy? First in a trilogy, this book is not to be missed.
Can an ancient golden alligator named Munch help twelve-year-old Blue Montgomery escape his fate of losing at everything he does? Set in Murky Branch, Georgia, Blue resents being left for the summer at his grandmother's home. His new neighbor, Tumble, wants to be a hero, and her mission becomes helping Blue overcome his "fate". Filled with quirky characters, and descriptive language, Tumble & Blue is a unique mix of real life and supernatural happenings. Is there such a thing as having a fate, or can one's actions lead to a different destiny?
Written by a prize winning Chinese author and translated from Mandarin, Bronze and Sunflower is set in the 1960's during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Seven-year-old Sunflower lives with her artist father who is being re-educated in the countryside. After he dies in a tragic way, she is taken in by the poorest family in a nearby village. There she lives with her best friend, Bronze, and his loving family of Mama, Baba (father), Nainai (grandma), and their water buffalo. Even though Bronze can't speak, he and Sunflower communicate and are loyal to each other. Beautiful lyrical writing creates a powerful, heartwarming book about surviving difficult times with hard work, dignity and hope.
This is a poetry book unlike all others. Original poems are written by award winning poet, Kwame Alexander and two other respected poets. The authors celebrate twenty famous poets from around the world who lived from the 1200's to the present. In one section, the poems copy the style of poets such as Nikki Giovanni and Robert Frost, while another section highlights feelings and themes of authors such as Pablo Neruda and Emily Dickinson. The last section thanks many poets for their talents. Breathtaking multi-media collages enhance each poem with vibrant colors and dramatic compositions. More information about each poet is at the end of the book. Children and adults will be motivated to read each poet's work and even write their own poems. This is a stunning book to treasure!
Readers will laugh out loud as they follow a young boy astronaut's adventures on Mars. While he is looking for life on Mars, readers will see what he doesn't - a huge creature is following him! Visual jokes are on each page, as the creature's expressions are the same as the astronaut's. Gentle sly humor throughout the book extends to the last page, when the astronaut, and readers, get a big surprise! This captivating book is sure to become a favorite!
Soar into the imaginations of ten of the best writers for children and young adults in these ten short stories. From Matt de la Peña's heartwarming story of a teenage boy who learns more from just watching basketball than playing, to Grace Lin's inspiring story of how a life of hardship can lead to surprising good fortune, each story is thought provoking and memorable. Written by a diverse cast of authors who feature characters from many ethnic backgrounds, the stories would be great for discussions. This stellar collection is for readers from ten to one hundred!
"Lina Winterbock is hiding an unimaginable secret deep in a mountain tunnel underneath her mountain home of Ortana. Set in the same magical world of Solace as the author's first book, The Mark of the Dragonfly, The Secrets of Solace has different characters and can be read independently. Although Lina thinks she is removed from the Iron War that is raging, when she meets a mysterious boy named Ozben, everything changes. This exciting book is filled with wonderful characters who show great courage in trying to bring their secret back to its rightful home. Amazing adventures plus caring characters make this a book readers will always remember." --Barbara
Gertie Reece Foy is a force to be reckoned with. She is determined to become the best Fifth Grader ever, so her mother will stay in town and appreciate her. Tension builds when a new student, Mary Sue Spivey joins Gertie's class and wants to be superior to Gertie. Filled with humor, expressive language and perfect illustrations, characters leap off the pages into readers' hearts. With a never to be forgotten heroine, Gertie's Leap to Greatness has elements of a modern classic.
"Filled with imaginative characters such as the Lightbender, and Chintzy, the often crabby messenger parrot, Circus Mirandus is a magical place. Can anyone in the circus provide the miracle to cure ten year old Micah's beloved Grandpa Ephraim, who is very ill? This is a unique story of love (between Micah and Grandpa), friendship (between Micah and his friend, Jenny), villains (Micah's Great Aunt Gertrudis) and believing in possibilities. The story will warm readers' hearts." --Barbara
"Like a whirling soccer ball, twelve year old Nick's life is spiraling out of control. Tough spins in his life include how his dad wants him to love words and books the way he does, and how his mom and dad don't get along anymore. Nick's bright lights are a girl named April, his best friend Coby, and a book loving rapper school librarian. Told in verses, soccer and books weave through Nick's days. Readers will cheer as Nick gradually starts to go along with the twists in his changing life, and comes to see the value in books and words." --Barbara
"With a tap,
tap, and a
this book scores BIG in a tale of two twin teen brothers LOVING basketball and how their lives face different crossovers." --Barb
"Striking black and white illustrations highlighted by bold splashes of color on each page create this beautiful alphabet book. Each letter of the alphabet has from one to eight objects readers can look for and identify, like H for hedgehog, hat, hinges and hearts. Readers could easily tell a story for each letter, as for example, M: a mouse looks into a mirror while standing near mountains and is under the moon. Plenty of white spaces on each page highlight the bold graphics. This is a special and unique book!" --Barbara
"What a dilemma! Appleblossom the possum has been well trained by her Mama to stay away from possum enemies, like humans and dogs. Now the unthinkable has happened, and she is in a home with humans and a dog! Two of Appleblossom's brothers are on a quest to save her--or can she save herself? Told in a charming conversational style (great to read out loud), this book celebrates the special bond between siblings. Filled with humor, theatrical happenings and perfect expressive illustrations, this book is super special!" --Barbara
"The stakes are high! The fact is that Baxters' Barn will burn down! When that happens, what can a one-eyed cat, two horses, two goats, a pig, a cow and a sheep do to escape? Eventually, each animal must use his or her own special abilities to help solve their dilemma. Written with much warmth, and illustrated by the author with charming pen and ink illustrations reminiscent of Garth Williams, this is a tale of different animals coming together to become a family. This future modern classic would be great to read out loud!" --Barbara
"In this smart and spectacular conclusion to Marissa Meyer's five-book series, all of the many plot lines are woven into a most satisfying conclusion. The saga goes back and forth between the main characters---Cinder and Kai, Thorn and Cress, Wolf and Scarlet, Winter and Jacin and Iko as they try to start a revolution against the evil Lunar Queen Levana. Love, fairy tale motifs and edge of your seat drama prevail as these unique characters fight to survive. This is a memorable book!" --Barbara
"Can Camy (with cerebral palsy and talking through a voice box) and Matthew (with his own problems) ever become friends? Readers will care for these characters and cheer for their determination to open themselves up to life." --Barb
"Readers can anticipate a treat coming when they view the striking cover of Home and see its bright red endpapers. The large pages feature many homes, such as the artist's home on the front and pack pages, a bus home, and even a shoe home! Bold illustrations done in gouache and ink feature muted colors accented with bright red and yellow. Small details in each picture create a story for the reader to imagine. Fun touches include a bird appearing throughout the book, and surprises in the artist's studio. This beautiful book invites readers to interact with it, as they think about other homes and also answer ‘Where is your home? Where are you?’" --Barb
"Take four adopted boys, ages 6 (Frog), 10 (Jax), 10 (Eli), and 12 (Sam) of different nationalities and religions, two wonderful fathers (Papa & Dad), add adventures and misadventures taking place in a school year, including Eli going to a new school for "brains", a crabby new neighbor (Mr. Nelson), a Halloween party in the rain: toss together and enjoy a lively and heartwarming story of a special family." --Barb
This small book grabs readers' emotions as they begin to know Clayton Byrd. Playing the blues harp (harmonica) with his beloved grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd and the Bluesmen band is the highlight of Clayton's life. When Cool Papa Byrd dies suddenly, Clayton is devastated, and has to face his mother, who seems not to understand Clayton or his grandfather. Running away to find the Bluesmen, Clayton goes underground to the New York subway, where he finds TROUBLE! Written with beautiful rhythmic language, the complex dynamics of a family comes to life. Rita Williams-Garcia has crafted a powerful and exceptional book!
Why are students backing away from 8th grader Chase Ambrose as he walks down school corridors? Chase has a problem: he doesn't recognize his family or friends since he fell off his roof and developed amnesia. Short chapters alternate between Chase and six classmates' point of view, as readers learn that Chase is a very different person after the fall! He begins to realize the impact he had on classmates' lives before falling, when perhaps he was a bully. Restart is filled with memorable characters, humor, and surprising twists and turns in the story. Can Chase make amends for his previous bad behavior and re-invent himself? Will he make the most of the second chance he has been given?
Down. . . down. . . down. Fifteen year old Will is descending on the elevator from his eighth floor apartment. His older brother Shawn has been shot and killed. Will has a gun and is going to get revenge, because the rules of the neighborhood are: 1)No crying, 2)No snitching, and 3)Get revenge. On each floor the elevator stops, and one person Will knows steps in. Each is already dead, killed by gun violence. Told in free verse from Will's point of view, each person's story is revealed. What impact will their stories have on Will? Will he get revenge? This excellent book would be great for discussions. It is filled with emotions and packs a powerful wallop.
The animals on Farmer Brown's farm are wild with excitement when they are invited to accompany him to school the next day. The cows "stomped and clomped and MOO, MOO, MOOed" with delight. Then Farmer Brown explains that "there will be no stomping, clomping, snapping, clapping, hooting, or hollering" in school. The next day when they quietly arrive at school, recess begins, and the children are "wiggling and giggling, chirping and chattering, zooming and giggling." The animals become themselves and stomp, clomp, oink, holler, and hoot. The humorous rhythmic text invites kids to chime in with the refrains and also mimic actions of the animals. Funny, lively illustrations perfectly fit this joyful school romp!
Journey with Sally Jones as she seeks to prove the innocence of her best friend, the ship Chief, who is falsely accused of murder and imprisoned. Sally Jones is very talented, as she is the ship engineer, and can repair musical instruments, play an excellent game of chess, read, and type. Also, she is a gorilla who wears overalls. Exciting, sometimes dangerous adventures ensue, as Sally Jones travels from Lisbon to India, meeting unforgettable characters and forming lasting friendships. Translated from Swedish and winner of the 2018 Batchelder Award for best translated children's book, the author's striking black and white illustrations enhance the heartwarming story. This highly imaginative book, with Sally Jones at its heart, will amaze and thrill readers.
Readers are transported into the Battle of Okinawa in this remarkable book. The year is 1945, and 183,000 American soldiers are heading for the tiny Japanese-controlled island of Okinawa to fight in the last battle of World War II. Hideki, a fourteen year old Okinawan boy and his classmates are each given two grenades, one to kill an American soldier, and one to kill themselves. Based on true events, the chapters alternate between Hideki's story and that of an eighteen year old American soldier, Ray. Harrowing events occur to both boys, as "both sides turn into monsters when they're afraid." Both Hideki and Ray do heroic acts to survive. This fast paced, stunning story shows that there are human beings on both sides of a war, and they are more alike than different.
This exceptional story tells of two high-school girls who normally would have nothing to do with each other. Callie's life is consumed by being on the dance team and wanting to be dance captain. Millie is fascinated by broadcast journalism, but each summer has to attend "fat camp." How the lives of these two girls intersect due to dramatic circumstances makes for compulsive reading! Told in alternating chapters from each girl's point of view, Puddin' is filled with heart, humor, and dashes of romance. A companion book to the popular book, (and now movie) Dumplin', Puddin' can easily be read separately. It is a stand-out book about the power of kindness and friendship.