Kids Article

Gift Guide for the Anti-Princess

For those of you with little girls who aren’t into the princess thing (or perhaps are too into the princess thing) we’ve got a great selection of books and gifts that will empower and inspire! Maybe your daughter gags at the sight of dresses or takes jiu jitsu instead of ballet. Perhaps you’ve participated in your fair share of “Let It Go” singalongs, but want to teach her there’s more to life than tiaras and waiting to be rescued by a prince. Either way, these choices are sure to delight anti-princesses of all ages!

 

The Worst Princess Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780385371254
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - April 22nd, 2014

Our favorite book of the year and an instant classic! This princess isn’t content to live in a tower all her days, so when the handsome prince turns out to be a dud, she takes matters into her own hands. With sneakers and a dragon best friend, she fights injustice right and left, making the world a better place for everyone, especially feisty princesses. The rhyming text of this book make it perfect for read-alouds, and the vibrant illustrations will delight readers young and old. Maybe a perfect book.


Magic Marks the Spot (Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1) Cover Image
By Caroline Carlson, Dave Phillips (Illustrator)
$6.99
ISBN: 9780062194350
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - September 9th, 2014

The Terror of the Southlands (Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2) Cover Image
By Caroline Carlson, Dave Phillips (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062194367
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - September 9th, 2014

Finishing school just won’t cut it when you’re desperate to be a pirate. Hilary Westfield, along with her magical gargoyle best friend, run away and take to the high seas! The characters in this series are so charming and the humor is quite sophisticated, so parents and kids will enjoy it in equal measure. I was hooked by page 3 and laughing out loud from page 5! We’ve also got a great pirate dress up kit that perfectly complements this whimsical series!


Pennyroyal Academy Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780399163241
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - October 7th, 2014

This book has it all: scary witches, princesses who battle them, and a fairy drill sergeant that will have young readers cracking up! This was the biggest hit of the fall with our kid review team, so you can’t go wrong with this wild romp in which princesses get to save the day for a change!


How the Library (Not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel Cover Image
By Wendy Meddour, Rebecca Ashdown (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781847804327
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Frances Lincoln Children's Books - November 11th, 2014

Another book about a princess doing her own thing and being awesomely independent! Rapunzel’s life is dreary until a job at the library gets her out of the house and doing what she loves. Rapunzel has curly hair AND loves to read--how could this be bad?


DC SUPER HEROES: MY FIRST BOOK OF GIRL POWER Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9781941367032
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Downtown Bookworks - October 21st, 2014

It’s DC Comics’ lady superheroes in a board book!! You can’t go wrong.


I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316327930
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - August 19th, 2014

Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery Cover Image
By Jeanette Winter, Jeanette Winter (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781481422949
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Beach Lane Books - November 4th, 2014

Dear Malala, We Stand with You Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780553521207
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown Books for Young Readers - October 28th, 2014

Malala Yousafzai, this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is an amazing role model for girls around the world! We have several great books for kids and teens about the 16-year-old advocate for girl’s education and her inspirational work.


Harriet the Spy: 50th Anniversary Edition Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780385376105
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Books for Young Readers - February 25th, 2014

What better anti-princess is there than Harriet the Spy? In this new collector’s edition of the book, some of my favorite women share what makes this book so special. Perfect when paired with our Spy Kits from Seedling, which have a magnifying glass, notebook and invisible ink pens for clues, mirror glasses, and mustaches--the perfect disguise! This set is the perfect way to blend a classic story with new discovery and creativity!


Spirit's Chosen (Princesses of Myth) Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780375873164
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ember - April 22nd, 2014

Deception's Princess Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780449818633
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - April 22nd, 2014

These historical princess tales are great for teenage fans of historical fiction and stories about strong girls! Esther Friesner has drawn from real settings and cultures to construct engaging and exciting characters who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and the freedom and wellbeing of their people.


My Childhood Classics--Now in New Editions!

I devoured books as a kid, but they were very rarely new books. I loved to reread my favorites. I dog-eared pages so often, it’s more common to find my childhood books missing corners than not! They were my classics: ones that I came back to time and again; ones that I still come back to, when I need a happy touch of familiarity; ones that I can recommend and lend, wholeheartedly. So many of my childhood favorites have been rereleased in new editions lately--here are my favorites to introduce to a new generation!

Catherine, Called Birdy Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780547722184
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Clarion Books - June 19th, 2012

CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY is the most destroyed book I own. The spine is cracked. Corners have been torn from nearly every page. The clear laminate on the cover has peeled up in multiple pages. Child fingerprint-sized water stains mark the middle edges of pages from multiple trips to the pool (I needed SOMETHING to do on those mandatory five-minute breaks). I could not have been happier when Houghton Mifflin issued a 20th anniversary re-release. Catherine, called Birdy for the songbirds she keeps in her room, keeps a daily diary of her life as the child of a minor lord in 1290 England. Her diary tells of the goings-on of her manor and her ongoing efforts to thwart her father’s plans of marriage for her.

Birdy’s life in 1290 is full of things I’d never heard of--Michaelmas, bearbaitings, Christmas celebrations that last TWELVE WHOLE DAYS--but I felt such a kinship with her. She devours every book she can get her hands on, paints murals on her walls, and wishes for a life beyond the tedium of daily chores that being a highborn manor lady entails. Her fear of being caged and trapped like one of her birds, in a loveless marriage arranged solely for her father’s gain, made me corner my father in several very demanding and undoubtedly confusing (for him) conversations. Birdy’s compassion for the poor of her village and the downtrodden of medieval times instilled a caring in me that I’ve only just started to comprehend as an adult--and her voice is wry, charming, and funny like you wouldn’t believe. I’ll never forget this book.


Number the Stars 25th Anniversary Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780544340008
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - October 7th, 2014

Someone probably made you read NUMBER THE STARS in elementary school. Did you hate it? It’s okay if you did; this is a pretty heavy book. And I remember resenting this book at first; I never liked someone TELLING me what to read. I was that obnoxious child who assumed her own book selections were far superior than my teacher’s. NUMBER THE STARS, when I finished it, was the exception to my general rudeness. This amazing book took my breath away. Recently re-released in a 25th anniversary hardcover--with a new introduction by Lois Lowry!--NUMBER THE STARS tells the heartbreaking and thrilling story of Annemarie, a a girl who joins the Danish Resistance in World War II to save her Jewish best friend from being arrested, deported, and sent to a concentration camp. Annemarie’s family hides Ellen as part of the family to sneak her to safety, and they weren’t alone--historically, the Danish Resistance smuggled nearly the entire Jewish population of Denmark, almost seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden.

Annemarie’s courage awed and humbled me as I read this book--I loved my friends, but would I be able to stand up to soldiers, to death, for them? The danger and constant fear is very real in this book--but the love and courage is, too. I couldn’t believe this was a true story as a child--these acts of everyday heroism simply couldn’t have been real. As an adult, now, I know these things did, and still do, happen--and they give me the same chills they gave me when I was ten.

 


The True Story of the Three Little Pigs 25th Anniversary Edition Cover Image
By Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780451471956
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - October 2nd, 2014

I devoured everything Jon Scieszka touched when I was a child--he’s probably single-handedly responsible for my sarcastic sense of humor and oddly specific knowledge of certain historical periods (thanks, TIME WARP TRIO). His longtime collaborator Lane Smith’s iconic mixed-media art illustrated my dreams for many years. Their classic THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES brought a delightfully real and ridiculous touch to the classic stories I’d been read sanitized and sterile versions of, and as a slightly offbeat child, I loved any silly takes on fairy tales and folk tales. I was ecstatic when I found out Scieszka and Smith had issued an invitation to revisit A. Wolf and his tragic tale--he’s still sticking to his story after twenty-five years in the Big House. THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS made me laugh until I had a stomach ache as a kid--and five minutes ago, just now, as I flipped through it to refresh my memory and write this corner. Poor Al just wanted to borrow a cup of sugar from his piggy neighbors--he just wanted to bake a cake for his granny! Was it his fault he had a terrible cold and couldn’t stop sneezing? And hey, if you saw a ham dinner just sitting there in the middle of a destroyed house, you’d eat it, right? C’mon, cut a wolf some slack.


Little Women (Puffin in Bloom) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780147514011
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Puffin Books - August 28th, 2014

I’m delighted that publishers are creating a renaissance in classic books. Re-releases and new editions of classics bring a time-honored touch to a modern kid’s bookshelf, or for the collector who can’t pass up the perfect new edition of that old favorite. Puffin Books just released the Puffin in Bloom series, an absolutely GORGEOUS re-release of classic titles, with cover art by renowned stationery brand Rifle Paper Co.’s lead artist, Anna Bond. Not only are these loopy, lovely covers absolutely enchanting, but these editions feature supplementary materials I would have obsessed over as a child--character glossaries, background historical information, even recipes! We’re going to have them all for the holidays, so treat your young readers to a collection of these classics: LITTLE WOMEN, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, A LITTLE PRINCESS, and HEIDI.


Fall Indie Next Favorites

Each quarter, the American Booksellers Association publishes the Indie Next list to highlight the best upcoming kids releases based on reviews from independent booksellers across the country. I'm excited to announce a new permanent, rotating display in both the kids room and YA corner to celebrate these amazing books! We have the books displayed alongside their reviews, as well as copies of the full list available for you to take for free! I'd encourage you to check out these resources, because you and I both know that indie booksellers give great recommendations. Who knows--you might even see a review from Brazos sometimes! (Like this fall...or summer...I'm not bragging...but if I were bragging...I'd recommend you check those for a Brazos review). Check out some of my favorites from the autumn list below, and come into the store to see all the titles and bask in review-y goodness!

The Eye of Zoltar (The Chronicles of Kazam) Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780547738499
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - October 7th, 2014

Jennifer Strange cannot catch a break! She's already saved the world twice, but now the mot powerful sorcerer in the land is challenging her...and the stakes if she loses are dire! We are so excited for this book, not only because we can't wait to find out what happens next with Jennifer and the gang, but also because Jasper Fforde will be here at Brazos on October 15th at 7pm! Whether your kids are fans of the series already, or fans of fantasy, witty humor, and adventure (what kid isn't?), this is a great event for them! The series is appealing for middle grade and YA readers, and hearing a successful author speak can be a great opportunity to inspire, encourage, and empower young minds! We hope you'll join us on the 15th, and we certainly hope you'll pick up a copy of THE EYE OF ZOLTAR.


The Farmer and the Clown Cover Image
By Marla Frazee, Marla Frazee (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781442497443
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Beach Lane Books - September 23rd, 2014

I love a good wordless picture book and this is a GREAT wordless picture book! Look for a lot of buzz about this heartwarming tale of a tiny clown who falls off the circus train and lands in the field and safekeeping of an old, spindly farmer. This book reminds me of the fantastic silent film shorts by Pixar--so much heart and such clear storytelling that words become unnecessary.


Julia's House for Lost Creatures Cover Image
By Ben Hatke, Ben Hatke (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781596438668
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: First Second - September 2nd, 2014

Oohh I love this one. Julia decides that her house is too quiet, so she puts up a sign inviting lost creatures to join her. Before long, they show up in droves and make the cozy house a home. Julia is an adorable character and the creatures are all fully characterized--there's a particular troll that has won the hearts of several Brazos employees! The illustrations reward repeat readings and the message of friendship and working together despite differences is always a good thing!


Brown Girl Dreaming Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780399252518
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Nancy Paulsen Books - August 28th, 2014

This novel in verse was just longlisted for the National Book Award, and it's easy to see why. Woodson tells the story of growing up African American split between South Carolina and New York in the 1960s-70s with heartwrenching honesty. She explores the various influences that made her who she was, and takes readers on an emotional, geographic, and historical journey. The poetry lends itself to the dreamy, contemplative tone, and the emotional heft of the story will be accessible and meaningful to young readers.


Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062289575
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - September 23rd, 2014

You guys, these are feminist poems for girls inspired by fairy tale characters! I WANT 16 COPIES! Seriously, these poems draw on well-known fairy tale tropes to explore how girls are taught to think about their bodies, their futures, and themselves. The free verse poetry is a perfect venue for the message of the book, and keeps it from crossing into didactic territory. A really special little volume that also includes some creepy/cool photographs. Not for young girls, but perfect for older teens and college-aged readers.


Afterworlds Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781481422345
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon Pulse - September 23rd, 2014

I'm still reading AFTERWORLDS, so I won't go into much detail, but I couldn't resist writing about it because all I want to do with my time is READ it and FINISH it because y'all, I have to know what happens. I'm obsessed with it right now, and your older teens will be too, especially if they're at all into writing or the YA Tumblr/Twitter/Nerdfighter community.


Tales as Old as Time, Brand New Again

Retellings of fairy tales and classic stories are one of the biggest trends in YA fiction right now. I’m a huge sucker for them and will read anything that you tell me “is based on [story you know], except this version has [new cool thing like cyborgs or steampunk or zombies or high school].” From Shakespeare to Austen, the Brothers Grimm to Gatsby, the breadth of source material and the number of ways to remix it ensures there’s something for everyone. Plus, multiple retellings of the same story can have different emphases: they can highlight different sides of characters or comment on problematic elements (sexism, homophobia, racism, and so on) in the original source material. Retellings throughout history are fascinating commentaries on the evolution of discourse around a certain topic, work, or author. Or, if you’re not interested in all that academic stuff, they’re also just plain fun to read.

Here are a few of our favorites! Come to the store and check out the YA wall for all that the wild world of retellings has to offer.

Cruel Beauty Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062224736
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - January 28th, 2014

For as long as she can remember, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her village as part of a deal her father struck. She grew up training to kill him on her wedding day without a second thought. But, now that the day is here and she lives in his castle as his wife, the cruelty of the family she left behind and the confusing behavior of her new husband leave her questioning everything. This vivid retelling of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will keep you guessing as you move through fantastic settings and emotional peaks and valleys alongside Nyx, her husband, and a mysterious new friend.


Dorothy Must Die Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062280671
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - April 1st, 2014

When a tornado sweeps Amy Gumm away from her tiny Kansas town to Oz, she's thrilled to escape the drudgery of life at home. But the Oz she lands in differs significantly from the movies and the books. As Amy makes her way down the famous yellow brick road, she learns that the heroes of the book have become twisted versions of themselves: the Scarecrow performs terrible operations, sewing magical creatures together; the Tin Man now runs the Emerald City's secret service, terrorizing all who come across his path; and the Cowardly Lion is now a vicious animal feeding on the fears of his prey. And why have they changed? To serve the great and terrible Dorothy, who is using the ruby slippers to steal all the magic in Oz. To save them all, Amy must join the forces of wickedness and Dorothy must die. Fast-paced, clever, and addictive, the first book in this new series will excite young and old readers.


Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781250007209
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Square Fish - January 8th, 2013

If you're a fan of the fairytale jumble of ABC's Once Upon A Time, this series is for you. The first book in the wildly popular Lunar Chronicles introduces us to Cinder, a half-cyborg, half human girl who makes her living as a mechanic and handy-woman for her wretched stepmother and sisters. In a world stricken with plague, under constant threat of Lunar invasion, and with a very handsome and single prince, Cinder’s story is action-packed on all fronts. Will her sister fall victim to the plague before an antidote is discovered? Will Prince Kai find out she’s a cyborg and reject her? Will the evil Lunar Queen Levana use her powers of persuasion to take over the world? Not if Cinder has anything to do with it. Each book in the Lunar Chronicles brings in a different classic fairy tale: check out SCARLET for a fresh take on Little Red Riding Hood and CRESS for a hacker version of Rapunzel.


OTHER NOTABLE TITLES


The Chaos of Stars Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062135926
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - September 10th, 2013

Tsarina Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781595146939
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Razorbill - February 27th, 2014

Man Made Boy Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780670786206
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - October 3rd, 2013

In Defense of Quiet Books

It will be no surprise to anyone who keeps up with kids’ literature these days that there are a lot of LOUD books on our shelves. When I say loud, I mean that there’s a lot going on: Mysteries! Magic! Creatures! Adventures! Exploring! Bright colors! Snark! Trilogies! Sagas! Loudness in and of itself isn’t bad. However, I hope that the popularity of these books doesn’t halt the demand for quieter books; reads that focus on saving a friendship, not saving the world. It’s easy to assume that reluctant readers will only be captivated by plots laden with bells and whistles and explosions, but sometimes a simpler book with which your child can deeply identify will make a stronger impact. I’ve read several quiet kids’ books lately that captivated and refreshed me after reading about the apocalypse and complicated treasure hunts for months. Here are some of my favorites:

Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780544259003
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Clarion Books - March 4th, 2014

Here’s the story of a chicken named Peggy who, thanks to a particularly strong gust of wind, is blown from her quaint life on the farm into the bustle of the big city. The book illuminates her explorations with beautiful, gentle watercolor illustrations integrated with soft-focus photographs. You’ll want to read this one all the way to the end for maximum enjoyment of Peggy’s story, which doesn’t feature twists or puns or gimmicks. She’s just a chicken exploring a city, captivated by the people, and finding her way home. This is the kind of book I would have requested day after day during mom-snuggle-book time, a staple in my house when I was growing up.


The Battle of Darcy Lane Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780762449484
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Running Press Kids - April 22nd, 2014

I picked up this book because of my love for Tara Altebrando’s collaboration with quiet book champion Sara Zarr, ROOMIES. THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE is Altebrando’s first middle grade novel and it is a gem! I read it in one day, and when I wasn’t reading, I was complaining to my coworkers about all the feelings this beautiful little book induced in me. It’s the first day of summer and with a new girl on the block, Julia and Taylor’s friendship just isn’t what it used to be. I felt for Julia in her confusion at the other girls’ mean behavior, her innocent crush on the boy around the corner, and the tension she feels between the things she loved as a child and mysterious grown-up things that she knows that she “should” like. Altebrando captures something ineffable about being twelve that reminds me of none other than middle-grade master Judy Blume.


If I Stay Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780142415436
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - April 6th, 2010

Where She Went Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780142420898
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - April 17th, 2012

This duo of books are not as new as the other two books featured here. However, I think you’ll be hearing a lot about them in the coming months thanks to the upcoming movie version of IF I STAY, which will be released in August. The novel largely takes place while the main character, Mia, is in a coma following a car wreck that killed the rest of her family. The title refers to her choice about whether to stay on Earth and heal or to let go and be with her parents and brother. Despite the morbid direction in which this book could have gone, it depicts a charming family, young love, and the complexity of relationships through a series of flashbacks. Like THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE, this book features parents whose relationships with one another and with their children is a major inspiration. Forman’s sequel, WHERE SHE WENT, is an even quieter book, and I believe my favorite of the two. Without the drama of hospital scenes, this book is reminiscent of the deceptively simple film BEFORE SUNRISE, only it’s set in New York during a meeting between estranged lovers, not in Paris with two strangers. Both books explore grief and the unexpected directions life can take.


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