Kids Article

Bewitched!

I wasn’t allowed to read books about witches when I was a kid. Perhaps that’s why, as an adult, I’m drawn to any and every book that features witches, wizards, magic...I love them all. Is there such a thing as retroactive rebellion? Let this be a warning to you against censoring your children’s reading materials. (But that’s a different post altogether…)

 

After reading Katherine Howe’s brilliant CONVERSION, I was inspired to write about some of my new favorites and old friends that feature witches and witchcraft in a variety of circumstances: suspected, whimsical, familial, historical, and creepy. 

 

Staff Pick Logo
Conversion Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780399167775
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - July 1st, 2014

Fascinating dual storylines jump between Salem Village post-witch-trials and modern day Danvers, Massachusetts. In Salem, Ann Putnam is telling her version of the events leading up to the infamous witch hunts and dramatic “possessions” of girls in the community. In Danvers, girls at an elite Catholic day school begin to show symptoms of a “Mystery Illness” that throws the community, and the nation, into a frenzy. Ann Putnam’s story of Salem sheds light on (and misleads you in) the search for answers at St. Joan’s Academy. This book hits the pitch of both time periods perfectly, whether it be religious paranoia in early America or twenty-four hour news chaos today. It’s smart, fast-paced, and definitely takes twists you won’t expect.


The Witch's Boy Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781616203511
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - September 16th, 2014

This is one of my big favorites from last year! Kelly Barnhill’s middle grade novel reads like a folk tale about ancient magic, the village witch who controls it, and her son, who is forced to carry it when unexpected tragedy endangers everything. The boy teams up with a wolf and a bandit’s daughter to escape his magic-seeking pursuers and restore his family and life to normal. The girl has a mission of her own, but finds that she can’t trust everything she was raised believing--and maybe doesn’t want to. Adventure, friendship, and fantastical world-building combine to make this really special, can’t-put-it-down, high middle grade masterpiece!


Half Bad (Half Bad Trilogy #1) Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780147511461
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - January 13th, 2015

Fans of gritty, raw, emotional stories, rejoice! HALF BAD tells the story of Nathan, whose mother was a good White Witch and whose father is the most evil Black Witch around. The ruling councils of White Witches see Nathan as a key weapon against his father, so they imprison and abuse him, while training him to kill his father. However, knowing that his survival depends on finding his father and keeping him alive, he escapes and embarks on a mission that challenges all of his community’s darkest taboos. It’s a series and I CAN’T WAIT to find out what happens next.


The Power of Poppy Pendle Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781442449268
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - September 3rd, 2013

The Courage of Cat Campbell (Poppy Pendle) Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781481418706
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - January 6th, 2015

This charming duo about a young witch (Poppy Pendle) who would rather be a baker, and later her daughter (Cat Campbell) who is a late bloomer and desperate to be a witch, will charm and engage young readers. Both books can be read independently, but they really shine as a set. It’s also great fun to see Poppy as a young girl, desperate to escape her witchcraft, and as a mom, learning to support a daughter who loves being a witch. I’m a sucker for a mother/daughter story and think this one is particularly special.


The Witch of Blackbird Pond Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780547550299
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin - January 10th, 2011

A classic! I was actually allowed to read this one as a kid, but probably only because it was historical fiction and not magical magic fiction. It stands out as one of the most immersive reading experiences of my life and one that I can’t wait to share with my kids one day. Sixteen-year-old Kit moves from Barbados to Connecticut in 1687, and creates quite a splash! Bright, floral dresses, undesirable friends in the village, and a sailor boy who seems to keep popping up make her the talk of her small, Puritan town. As suspicion and gossip surround Kit, life becomes increasingly harder and for the island native, much more confusing. This is as close to perfect as you can get when it comes to historical fiction.


The Witches Cover Image
By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780142410110
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Puffin Books - August 16th, 2007

This book is not historical fiction, but oh how I wish it was! Roald Dahl’s classic about a boy and his grandmother who outsmart a group of witches intent on turning the world’s children into mice is hilarious and creepy in equal measure. Need I say more? There’s a reason it’s a classic.


Backlist Boogie: Sara Zarr

We all have those authors whose body of work we have read to near or total completion. This can be especially valuable for kids who are new or reluctant to read--finding a special author who speaks your language can make all the difference. In this monthly feature, one of our booksellers highlights just such a children’s or YA author by burrowing into their backlist titles and contextualizing new releases. Consider this the ‘if the shoe fits, buy it in every color’ principle, except with authors.  

 

This month, I am celebrating one of my absolute favorite authors of realistic teen fiction, Sara Zarr. Her writing is subtle and quietly graceful, the kind that sweeps you up before you realize it and gently sets you down somewhere you never expected to be, but always wanted to go. 

 

Let’s take this in chronological order, shall we?

 

Story of a Girl Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780316014540
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Young Readers - February 1st, 2008

Zarr’s first published novel for young adults was a National Book Award finalist in 2008 and still feels so relevant to contemporary conversations about girlhood, sexuality, bullying, and rape culture. When Deanna was thirteen, her dad caught her in the backseat with a seventeen year old boy, which cemented her reputation as the "school slut." Now, three years later, Deanna is still trying to overcome the rumors and stigma. The book follows her introspective attempts to understand why she and to escape her since-then difficult life at home.


Sweethearts Cover Image
By Zarr
$10.99
ISBN: 9780316014564
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Young Readers - January 1st, 2009

This was my first Zarr experience and probably the one that hooked me for life. Jennifer’s childhood best friend Cameron disappeared when they were still young, leaving her with few answers and the unique void left by a best friend who never said goodbye. So when Cameron shows up in her high school class one day, the old friends shyly reconnect, revisit shared memories, and fill in the gaps of their stories. This book somehow brings to life that sensation of remembering something from childhood and realizing it was scarier/darker/sweeter than we realized at the time. It’s about friendship and growing up and families, it is quiet and beautiful, and it’s everything I love about Zarr’s writing.


What We Lost Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780316232180
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 2nd, 2013

This book wears a lot of hats. It’s a mystery, it’s a portrait of a small town, it’s an exploration of faith questioned, and it’s a story about a struggling family and the difficult dynamics therein. When a local girl goes missing, Sam’s town is thrown into a tailspin of media attention, and fear. In the midst of the mystery surrounding the disappearance, Sam starts to question her faith as both of her parents--mom’s an alcoholic and dad’s a less-than-perfect pastor--complicate her already shaky foundations. I love the care given to Sam’s questions and the way that the action of the story is balanced with the quiet introspection and nuanced relationships. This book is really special and perhaps my favorite on this list!


How to Save a Life Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316036061
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - October 18th, 2011

This is another one in which Zarr manages to present a lot of story elements without letting the characters get lost or bogged down. Mandy is 19, naive, and pregnant. Jill is still mourning her father’s death, and is pretty pissed when her mom agrees to adopt Mandy’s baby. Pissed--and suspicious of Mandy’s story. Told in alternating perspectives, the girls’ opposition balances with a precision I’ve come to expect from this amazing writer. Both girls make sense, both stories are relatable, and both have such distinct voices.


The Lucy Variations Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316205009
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - May 27th, 2014

THE LUCY VARIATIONS is a departure from Zarr’s other work in some ways, but still true to the nuanced, character-driven style that defines her work. Lucy, a super-privileged upper-cruster, gave up her career as a piano prodigy after the sudden death of her grandmother. Months later, she’s still mourning her loss and trying to figure out who she is without the all-encompassing piano to define her. Once again we see balance: Lucy is relateable in her emotional longing, even though she isn’t (for most of us) in her fancy private school or old money. At its heart, this is a book about trying to figure out who you are despite voids of lost people, hobbies, or loves.


Roomies Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780316217491
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - December 24th, 2013

ADORE! I adore this book. I really do. Co-written with (the amazing) Tara Altebrando, ROOMIES is the story of two girls from opposite sides of the country randomly assigned to be each other’s freshman roommates. I’m a sucker for a dual perspective format and love how we see their relationship form over email against the backdrop of their individual last summers before college. I sent a copy of this to my freshman roommate as soon as I finished and she also fell madly in love with it (we always bonded over YA). I can’t wait to see what comes next from the always beautiful, subtle, emotional, relatable world of Sara Zarr!


The Acorn Reading Society

Have a hard time keeping up with that voracious young reader in your life? Want to shower a new baby with books for their first year? Looking for the perfect gift for Brazos fans out of town? Let us do the work for you with the Acorn Reading Society!

Each child with membership to the Acorn Reading Society will receive a new book by mail each month, according to their age, reading level, and preferences. The Brazos kids specialists will select the books and mail them out at the beginning of the month. We have several plans available, so you can find the perfect one for your young reader. After all, a love of reading is the gift that keeps on giving!

Board Books
6 months – $110 | 12 months – $205
A new board book each month! Perfect for new parents, baby showers, and first birthdays.
Recommended ages: newborn – 2 years

Picture Books
6 months – $175 | 12 months – $325
A new hardcover picture book each month! Perfect for families that love storytime, and kids who aren’t quite ready for chapters yet.
Recommended ages: 3 – 6 years

New Paperbacks
6 months – $120 | 12 months – $220
A new paperback release each month! Perfect for beginning young readers, and kids who could use a push to explore beyond a single series and broaden their literary horizons.
Recommended ages: 7 – 18 years

New Hardcovers
6 months – $175 | 12 months – $325
A new hardcover release each month! Perfect for the kids and teens who have read everything.
Recommended ages: 7 – 18 years

Inside each month’s box, your young reader will find:

  • A book, chosen just for them, packaged in a fun and exciting way
  • A personal note saying why we chose that book for them
  • A response card your young reader can send back to Brazos with feedback on the book once they’ve finished it. We’ll cater each choice to their feedback and interests.

Click here to download the complete information and registration form!

$110.00
SKU: ACBB6

A new board book each month! Perfect for new parents, baby showers, and first birthdays.

Recommended ages: newborn – 2 years


$205.00
SKU: ACBB12

A new board book each month! Perfect for new parents, baby showers, and first birthdays.

Recommended ages: newborn – 2 years


$175.00
SKU: ACPB6

A new hardcover picture book each month! Perfect for families that love storytime, and kids who aren’t quite ready for chapters yet.

Recommended ages: 3 – 6 years


$325.00
SKU: ACPB12

A new hardcover picture book each month! Perfect for families that love storytime, and kids who aren’t quite ready for chapters yet.

Recommended ages: 3 – 6 years


A new paperback release each month! Perfect for beginning young readers, and kids who could use a push to explore beyond a single series and broaden their literary horizons.

Recommended ages: 7 – 18 years


$220.00
SKU: ACNP12

A new paperback release each month! Perfect for beginning young readers, and kids who could use a push to explore beyond a single series and broaden their literary horizons.

Recommended ages: 7 – 18 years


A new hardcover release each month! Perfect for the kids and teens who have read everything.

Recommended ages: 7 – 18 years


$325.00
SKU: ACNH12

A new hardcover release each month! Perfect for the kids and teens who have read everything.

Recommended ages: 7 – 18 years


Get Ready for our Alphabet Party with Great ABC Books!

Did you come to our marathon storytime of FORTUNATELY, THE MILK last year? Well, we’re doing it again this January 24, except this year, we’ll be reading Oliver Jeffers’ newest book ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET! This will be just like our normal storytimes, but BIGGER and BETTER! We’ll have a breakfast cereal bar, tons of ABC crafts and, best of all, you can wear your pajamas!! MC and other members of the Brazos staff will regale you with the silly and adventurous tales that span the entire alphabet with alliterative aplomb! Pick up a copy of ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET at Brazos today and start counting down the days til the party! 

Once Upon an Alphabet Cover Image
By Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator), Oliver Jeffers
$26.99
ISBN: 9780399167911
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Philomel Books - October 14th, 2014

I know I don’t even need to say more about this new Oliver Jeffers book, because you’re probably already in your car on the way to the store to get a copy. In case you aren’t, let me tell you more. Each letter of the alphabet is associated with a word and beautiful full color illustration. Then, the following pages feature a delightful, alliterative short story about that object. This book is destined to be a classic! Our staff members have compared it to Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak and Edward Gorey...so let that speak for itself!

In the meantime, check out these fabulous featured titles from the latest onslaught of amazing, special, and super-fun ABC books! Each puts a fun spin on the tried and true genre, and is sure to bring enjoyment to ABC newbies and masters alike.


The Zoo's Grand Opening: An ABC and Counting Book Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9783899557145
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Gestalten - May 8th, 2014

This one is an ABC and counting book all about zoo animals! Between adorable rhyming verses about each letter’s animal and vivid bright pictures, this book is perfect for young animal lovers! The rhymes make it ideal for bedtime stories and the matte illustration style makes it really unique.


Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag: 31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780847843770
Availability: Backordered
Published: Skira Rizzoli - October 21st, 2014

Kalman’s signature illustrations make this ABC book a real treat! Featuring 31 objects from Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum, this book makes highbrow accessible and uses alliteration to great effect! I particularly love how every G on the G page is in bright red, making it exciting for young readers to spot them all!


Alphabetabum: An Album of Rare Photographs and Medium Verses Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781590178171
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New York Review of Books - October 14th, 2014

This newest addition to the New York Review Children’s Collection seamlessly weaves past with present in this singular picture book. Quirky pictures of children from the early twentieth century are captioned by alliterative verses that describe or give invented context to the photos. Read this book together, then look at old family photos to compare!

And here are a few standby favorites that, while they aren’t new, round out my list of favorite ABC tomes.


Bruno Munari's ABC Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780811854634
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Chronicle Books (CA) - March 16th, 2006

Damien Hirst: ABC Book Cover Image
By Damien Hirst (Artist)
$22.50
ISBN: 9781906967635
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Other Criteria - October 15th, 2013

Alphablock Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781419709364
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Abrams Appleseed - August 6th, 2013

Brazos Kids Holiday Gift Guide: For the Budding Mad Scientist

We all know that kid: he blows up the most seemingly innocent concoctions...she excavates every garden in a 3-block radius...they team up to create robots that NASA aims to recreate. They’re bound to be genius scientists one day, and you’re determined to encourage their fascinations (and save your begonias). We’ve got the perfect books and gifts to satisfy their curious minds and keep your counters free of baking soda and vinegar for another day. 

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor (Frank Einstein Series #1): Book One Cover Image
By Jon Scieszka, Brian Biggs (Illustrator)
$13.95
ISBN: 9781419712180
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Amulet Books - August 19th, 2014

This new series from beloved kids author Jon Scieszka tells the story of kid-scientist Frank Einstein and his various forays into scientific discovery. This first book is all about robots and motors, and is full of fantastic illustrations. This book is smart in so many ways.


Robotic Gorilla Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9781607107767
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Silver Dolphin Books - March 25th, 2014

You guys, this is both a book about robotics AND a kit for kids to build an actual robotic gorilla. Are you already driving to the store to pick one up or should I say more? If you’re skeptical, allow me to reassure you that it’s challenging, but very doable for kids and it works really well once it’s finished! A perfect gift!


Animalium: Welcome to the Museum Cover Image
By Jenny Broom, Katie Scott (Illustrator)
$35.00
ISBN: 9780763675080
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Big Picture Press - September 9th, 2014

Prepare to hear a lot about this book, because we LOVE it. This is easily the kind of book that will be scoured over for hours and passed down through generations of your family. It’s the first in a series of books that aim to recreate a museum experience every time you open it. This book explores the animal kingdom in classic detail and with timeless illustrations and quality. An equally suitable gift for kids and adults alike.


Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself Cover Image
$12.95
ISBN: 9781594746482
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - November 5th, 2013

Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself Cover Image
$12.95
ISBN: 9781594746499
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - February 4th, 2014

Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle: A Mystery with Spy Cameras, Code Wheels, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself Cover Image
$12.95
ISBN: 9781594746765
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - May 6th, 2014

Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove: A Mystery with a Blinking, Beeping, Voice-Recording Gadget Glove You Can Build Yourself Cover Image
$12.95
ISBN: 9781594747298
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Quirk Books - October 7th, 2014

This is one of my favorite recommendations for kids and parents in the store. They’re written by an elementary school science teacher from Massachusetts, and let me just say that I would LOVE to be in his class. Each book has an adventure or mystery plot that the kids must solve using experiments and the scientific method. They also include real experiments you can try at home! I can’t recommend this series highly enough.


Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story (Paula Wiseman Books) Cover Image
By Mark Kelly, C. F. Payne (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781442458246
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - October 9th, 2012

Mousetronaut Goes to Mars (Paula Wiseman Books) Cover Image
By Mark Kelly, C. F. Payne (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781442484269
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - October 1st, 2013

Real-life astronaut Chris Kelly wrote these charming picture books about a mouse who goes to space! They’re informative, fun, and especially perfect for Houston kids who love NASA!


365 More Simple Science Experiments with Everyday Materials Cover Image
$12.95
ISBN: 9781579129675
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers - March 11th, 2014

Utterly Amazing Science Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781465414212
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) - February 17th, 2014

Our Kids Science section is bursting with fantastic nonfiction for kids on both broad and specific topics. If your little one is scientifically minded, I’d recommend browsing the full section for hidden gems. These are two of my current favorites that talk about a wide variety of topics, since there’s sure to be new areas of interest and some that they’re already familiar with and want to gain more depth of knowledge.


Cuddly Characters Are Here for the Holidays

Cuddly new friends have just arrived in the kids room! That’s right--new book character plush toys! We’ve got timeless favorites in a squishy, lovable form that will bring kids’ most beloved characters to life in a whole new way. Of course, alongside each toy, we’ve got their signature books available--and in some cases, T-shirts too! So come check out the character corner and make a new friend!

Halloween Books to Give You the Spooks!

For some kids, when it comes to Halloween, the scarier the better. For others, it’s an excuse to load up on candy and enjoy fall weather in costume. For me, the spookiest holiday marks the month every year in which I rant about every business that insists on using spiders as decoration--why is it okay to cover your establishment in the most terrifying creatures of all time?!--but that’s neither here nor there. 

 

On to the books. We’ve compiled some of our staff’s favorite Halloweeny reads for kids! For all these plus costume pump-uppers, activities, and ghoulish trinkets, come and haunt the kids room for a while sometime soon. 

Nightmares! Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780385744256
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - September 9th, 2014

This is the first in a trilogy by Kirsten Miller and, yes, that Jason Segel, of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER fame, among other cool, hilarious things. It’s no surprise then that his first book for middle grade readers is SO MUCH FUN! It’s got super cool illustrations and a story that is just funny enough and just scary enough to fall in a perfectly spooky sweet spot. The story follows Charlie, who just moved into a new house with his dad, stepmom, and younger brother. As you may have guessed, the house is sinister and fills his sleep with nightmares both silly and creepy. He then goes on an adventure exploring the Netherworld, the Land of Nightmares, and a host of creatures you’ve never dreamt of. A great, fun read! --Mary-Catherine


Little Red Riding Hood Cover Image
By Brothers Grimm, Sybille Schenker (Illustrator), Anthea Bell (Translator)
$29.99
ISBN: 9789888240791
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Minedition - October 1st, 2014

Behold the wonders of laser die-cutting! Technically this book has words, but I don’t know why anyone would bother reading them. The incredible, intricate pictures steal the show. Delicate cut-outs show Grandma and Little Red and--my favorite--the woodsmen shearing open the wolf with a giant pair of scissors. So creepy! So wonderful! --Brooke


The Witch's Boy Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781616203511
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - September 16th, 2014

I sat down to read a chapter or two of this book and looked up 150 pages later in a daze! Wow. This is an amazing achievement and one of many middle grade books coming out these days that are complex and engaging picks for kids, teens and adults alike. Barnhill draws on folklore, tales of ancient magic, and the always alluring themes of twinship to weave together the story of Ned, a twin and son of the only witch in a small, isolated village. When his brother dies in an accident he survives, he loses his voice and struggles to engage with townspeople who insist that he was the wrong boy to save. Meanwhile, miles away in the forest, Aira’s mother’s last words are that the “wrong boy” will save her life and she will save his, so when her bandit father goes deeper into the darkness of his own magic, she sets a plan in motion that eventually involves Ned and the fate of two warring kingdoms. This story is earthy, dark without being too scary, and a beautifully crafted tale of family and friendship. I loved it! --Mary-Catherine


The Girl from the Well Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781402292187
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - August 5th, 2014

This chilling, beautiful ghost story, told by the ghost herself, will keep you up late racing to the finish—but don’t worry, you’ll be able to sleep when you’re done! Okiku is the worst nightmare of the guilty: she’s an onryuu, a ghost, who frees the spirits of murdered children by extracting horrible vengeance on their killers. But for the first time in three hundred years, she finds herself breaking from her habits when a tattooed boy with evil trapped in his skin and his kind, brave cousin draw her attention. Okiku’s story is definitely not for the faint of heart (be careful if you find gruesome imagery squicky), but if you can stand the shivers, this book’s phenomenal writing will give you chills of a totally different kind. This gorgeously written story reads like poetry--Okiku sees everything, and her voice is both as wise as her years would make her and as passionate as the teen she once was. A must-read for horror fans! --Liz


The Witch of Blackbird Pond Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780547550299
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin - January 10th, 2011

Okay, maybe this is not officially a spooky, scary book but there is a brief incident involving Jack-o-Lanterns on All Hallow’s Eve that lands Nat in the stocks. Kit’s story of life in the early American colonies (plus friendship, plus romance) is a perfect fall read. I think they might even gather apples or shuck corn at some point. A great choice for fans of historical fiction. Spent enough time with Laura Ingalls Wilder? Meet Kit Tyler, young, feisty and potentially a witch. --Brooke


Through the Woods Cover Image
By Emily Carroll, Emily Carroll (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781442465961
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - July 15th, 2014

This season’s scariest graphic novel tells four seriously eerie tales in startling black, white and red. What’s most creepy here isn’t what’s seen, but what is left unseen and unsaid just off the edge of the page. I still think about one particular image from the novel, not because it was terribly graphic, but because it was weird and unsettling in a way my usual books are not. A beautiful achievement that just might keep teens up at night...to read just one more page, if not because of nightmares. --Mary-Catherine


Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Arnold Lobel (Illustrator)
$17.89
ISBN: 9780688840532
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - August 1st, 1976

This collection of frightening verse for children by the always awesome Prelutsky is single-handedly responsible for engendering my love of poetry. In fact, I love it so much, I've had the same copy since 1989. But more than that, these poems are truly chilling! NIGHTMARES is filled with memorable, blood-curdling odes to goblins, vampires, trolls, will-o'-the-wisps, and other things that go bump in the night. And the intricate black-and-white illustrations by Arnold Lobel that accompany each poem make this the perfect book for parents and children to share as you huddle together in the dark and scare yourselves silly! ---Keaton


Staff Pick Logo
Bunnicula in a Box (Bunnicula and Friends) Cover Image
By James Howe, C. F. Payne (Illustrator)
$55.99
ISBN: 9781442485211
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - August 27th, 2013

Quake with fear and laugh until you cry with the delightfully spooky stories of BUNNICULA, a vampire rabbit who drains vegetables dry, and his family: Chester the high-strung cat, Harold the loyal dog, and Howie, the (maybe a werewolf?) Dachshund puppy. Filled with references to classics like Poe and Shakespeare, this series is the perfect read for a budding horror fan! --Liz


Yer a Wizard, 'Arry!

This school year, our kids specialist Mary-Catherine will reread the entirety of the Harry Potter series and blog about it for our website! Here's her second part of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. 

 

While reading HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE this week, I was struck by how revolutionary it was, not only for kids publishing, but for my generation as a whole! I find myself asking--at what point were those first readers hooked? What was it that turned this from a cherished-by-a-dedicated-few series to a worldwide phenomenon? It was before the rise of social media, so clever tweeting and tumbling weren’t a factor. In fact, the series feels distinctly old fashioned, because it just barely caught the era before computers and phones were ubiquitous. Sure, there was media attention and movies started rolling out, but the series was already well on its way to major success before that. Perhaps the best conclusion is that the books are just really really good, and spoke to something kids were looking for in their reading experiences and lives!

My colleagues (and fellow Potterheads), Liz and Augusta, both had similar answers when I asked them why they thought it was such a global success. Both talked about how exciting it was to find a character who was around their age and having grand adventures. Augusta mentioned how Harry was a normal kid who was actually very special, and that made her feel like she could be magic and save the world, too! Liz was drawn to the “realness” of the series, and the way that Rowling’s world-building convinces you that Hogwarts is out there, and magic is real. We also discussed the books as entry points for cautious and reluctant readers. This series is often credited with setting off the childrens publishing boom that exists now, because it brought a complex, modern story to kids in the tradition of the great adventure series of the past.

*****

In the section I read this week, Harry finds out--via several hundred, magically-delivered letters--that he is a wizard! A famous wizard! Whose survival SAVED THE WORLD! One of my favorite bits of this scene--in which Hagrid, the lovably hairy and very large Hogwarts gamekeeper, tracks Harry down to invite him to Hogwarts--is when Hagrid realizes that the Dursleys haven’t told Harry anything about the wizarding world or his history.

"CAR CRASH!" roared Hagrid, jumping up so angrily that the Dursleys scuttled back to their corner. "How could a car crash kill Lily an’ James Potter? It’s an outrage! A scandal! Harry Potter not knowin’ his own story when every kid in our world knows his name!"

I love it. One of the major themes of this first book--and really, the whole series--is identity: searching for it, finding it, creating it. Harry’s journey really begins here, with a blank slate and an army of unanswered questions. Who am I? Where did I come from? Especially for a child experiencing abuse, as Harry was with the Dursleys, this moment is all the more precious. It’s a moment that all kids, no matter how happy in their life, long for, which is why we find it so often in children’s lit. In Harry’s case, not only is he special, he’s the most extraordinary boy in the entire wizarding world! Who wouldn’t want to escape into that?

Next week: Diagon Alley, and the Brazos staff gets sorted!

Our Kid Experts Review Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde’s CHRONICLES OF KAZAM series combines magic, parody, wit, and adventure to create an irresistible story that’s sure to please every member of the family! This favorite of parents, teachers, and kids is a perfect literary outing, especially for middle grade and teen readers.

In the first installment, THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER, Jennifer Strange is just a normal, non-magical girl working at Kazam Mystical Arts Management, a magical employment agency. Ever since magic began to disappear around the world, jobs for wizards and sorcerers disappeared along with it, leaving a trail of bureaucracy and menial labor in its wake. But, when Jennifer achieves instant fame as the chosen slayer of the Last Dragon, everything changes. Especially when she gets to know the dragon...and finds out he’s a pretty cool guy...for a dragon, you know. The adventure continues in SONG OF THE QUARKBEAST, Jennifer and her gang of magical misfits go up against King Snood IV and make the world safer for all of us! 

The latest addition to the series, THE EYE OF ZOLTAR, picks up with Jennifer as she is commanded by the Mighty Shandar to find the titular Eye of Zoltar or risk a dastardly fate. The world Fforde has created for these novels is a whimsical wonderland with high stakes, but enough humor to keep the reading light and the pages turning at a rapid rate. Kids will be caught up in the action and cracked up by the unexpected twists and characterizations. 

Whether you’re a fan of Fforde’s prolific work for adults or the CHRONICLES OF KAZAM, we hope you’ll join us October 15 at 7pm to hear about THE EYE OF ZOLTAR and pester him for details of the upcoming fourth and final installment! We can’t wait to see you!

Our young readers are buzzing about EYE OF ZOLTAR! Check out their reviews. You can trust them, they’re experts!

 

“Are you a person looking for a very unusual adventure?  Do you want excitement, magical creatures, magicians, and a very dangerous quest? Then you should read THE EYE OF ZOLTAR  by Jasper Fforde, which will be coming out soon.

The backstory is that an ancient magician made a vow to kill all of the dragons in the Un-United Kingdom but never came through on this vow. Therefore, when he meets the main character, He threatens to kill all of the dragons- when the main character has two dragon friends (one likes the Doobie Brothers). He then makes a deal with her- find the Eye of Zoltar, a precious artifact- or he will fulfill his vow. But why would this magician want anything to do with this artifact? Find out in this book! Filled with adventure, near-deaths, lovable quarkbeasts, magic, a corrupt kingdom, pirates, and more, this book is sure to take you on a journey you will never forget. (Also check out the first two books in the series!)”

-Joshua M., age 11

“This book is very funny and unpredictable. Every page, something different happens. It kept me hooked! The characters aren’t all good or all bad, so they’re very interesting!”

-Hannah W., age 10

 

The Eye of Zoltar (Chronicles of Kazam #3) Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780547738499
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Houghton Mifflin - October 7th, 2014

The New Wacky, Weaselly, Walrus-y Canon

I grew up reading a steady dose of warm, fuzzy books featuring stuffed animals bent on some goal or other: Corduroy Bear looking for his brass button, the Velveteen Rabbit longing to be real, Winnie-the-Pooh doing whatever it is he does--mostly stuffing his face with honey and occasionally stopping to chat with Piglet. Dorothy Parker, that acid-tongued critic in leopard print, once said, “To speak against Mr. Milne puts one immediately in the ranks of those who set fire to orphanages.” I’m not suggesting any orphan fires, but it might be time to update the canon--and I think D.P. would agree. Each of these books exemplifies the traits I like best in a picture book: animal protagonists (like the handcrafted mice in I WISH I HAD A PET), minimal words (the wordlessly wonderful WHERE’S WALRUS) and tons of delightful details (those WEASELS are up to all kinds of shenanigans). 

 

Picture books are no longer just for children. In these wacky and wonderful picture books, adults will find as much to love as the kids they’re reading to--making these picture books sure to charm the whole family. Especially if that family likes weird hand-crafted mice and heart-warming tales of friendship between an un-huggable cactus and a lonely rock.

Hug Me Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781909263499
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nobrow Press - September 16th, 2014

Poor Felipe! All he wants is a hug, but his formal, personal-space-respecting family leaves him in the lurch. Watch as this frustrated cactus tries to make his way in the world. Funny and endearing, Felipe’s journey will delight readers young and old.


Where's Walrus? Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780439700498
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic Press - February 1st, 2011

This wily walrus is on the lam from the law. After escaping the zoo, our hero tries to elude his captors by blending in with his surroundings--whether he’s in a shop window, laying bricks with construction workers, or throwing up his tail along with a row of can-can girls. A story without text, these pictures are worth at least a thousand words.


I Wish I Had a Pet Cover Image
By Maggie Rudy, Maggie Rudy (Illustrator)
$15.99
ISBN: 9781442453326
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Beach Lane Books - July 1st, 2014

A charming dollhouse of a book that serves as a guide to responsible pet ownership. Sure, it’s a little creepy, but you’re going to love it! It’s full of funny little details: see that desk? The legs are made of matchsticks. Trying to keep your pet turtle clean? Gussy him up with a can of Turtle Wax. Halfway between stop-motion animation and taxidermy.


Tea Rex Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780670014309
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Children's Books - April 9th, 2013

Endearing and fun, Molly Idle’s TEA REX will make you want to sip a cup of tea yourself and maybe have a crumpet. Formatted as a how-to guide to throwing the perfect afternoon tea, the young host and hostess learn that even armed with impeccable manners and a selection of cakes, a tea party can still go wildly awry.


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780316200639
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 3rd, 2013

Mr. Tiger wants to loosen up, have fun, be wild. He romps from Victorian stuffiness to full blown wilderness only to find out he’s happiest somewhere in between. Brown’s expressive illustrations are full of humor and warmth.


Staff Pick Logo
Weasels Cover Image
By Elys Dolan, Elys Dolan (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780763671006
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Nosy Crow - February 25th, 2014

These weasels are bent on world domination, but something has gone terribly wrong with their machine. Watch as the weasels scurry to and fro, trying to find a solution. Full of hilarious details that reward repeat readings, Weasels is one adults will enjoy as much as kids.


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