The View from Monday – New Books Available in October
It’s officially Fall, a big time of year for new releases in the publishing world. Here are just a few of the new titles you’ll find in your favorite bookstore or library this month.
Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
The temperature in the small town of Toby Mills is dropping and it looks like it’s going to be a cold week. What will everyone do? Just as they seem to be losing hope the mayor’s wife comes to the rescue with an idea that brings the townsfolk together and helps everyone to warm up! A fun winter themed story brought to life by charming old-fashioned illustrations by award winner Marjorie Priceman is just the right read aloud for the whole family. –Kate
Alex the Parrot by Stephanie Spinner, illustrated by Meilo So
Most people have associated “animal intelligence” with dolphins, chimps and gorillas. Parakeets and other talking birds were not thought to understand what they were saying, but merely imitating speech. In 1977, this theory was upended by a young biology graduate student named Irene who was studying animal communication at Purdue University. Irene purchased an African grey parrot from a local pet store and named him Alex, an acronym for Avian Learning Experiment. She was fascinated by all sorts of ways animals talked to one another and wanted to find out whether small-brained animals such as parrots exhibited “thinking”.
Alex proved to an ideal subject for Irene’s experiments. Though initially shy and always a little feisty, in short order he became an eager student learning to count, learn shapes and colors and hundreds of vocabulary words. Alex was able to answer questions from complete strangers proving that he wasn’t just responding to particular cues from Irene. Not only did Alex exhibit intelligence on par with, for example, Koko the gorilla, he could go head-to-head with a typical five year old child.
In this fascinating picture book about a real-life parrot celebrity, Stephanie Spinner gives us an inspiring portrait of a dedicated teacher and her feathery pupil who made scientific history. The book is fun to read and informative – perfect too for book reports and curriculum use. Meilo So’s stunning watercolors really capture Alex’s personality and the setting in which he lived. –Tim
Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson, illustrated by Christian Robinson
There are many well known performers who gained fame during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, but one we don’t hear about much is Florence Mills. From her early days this daughter of former slaves knew that she wanted to sing, and sing she did. Her talent for singing and dancing took her from Harlem to Broadway, but along the way she encountered prejudice. Eventually she took a stand against the bigotry by turning down a coveted role in the Ziegfeld Follies and choosing to support all-black musicals instead. Spare, yet visually stunning artwork enhances this story of a woman to be admired for her talents as well as her sense of social responsibility, this is a book for fans of When Marian Sang and Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuoso. You can read more about the making of this book here. -Kate
Middle Grade & Young Adult
Behind the Bookcase by Mark Steensland, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
If you love fun and spooky and heart-pounding suspense than you’ll LOVE Behind the Bookcase from newcomer, Mark Steensland. When twelve-year-old Sarah’s eccentric grandmother passes away and the family goes to clean-up her home, Sarah discovers a secret passage way that leads her down a path that crosses between multiple worlds! You’ll think Alice in Wonderland meets The Shadows (Bk. I, The Books of Elsewhere) as you continue alongside this curious heroine, as she plunges into a fantastic world ruled by a ruthless cat and ends up having to save her family, her friends, and her world from what he seeks. It’s a fun adventure-read perfect for both girl and boy readers (Sarah’s brother and new friend Jeb accompany her through much of the book) that bursts with imagination. Cool line drawings accompany every chapter or so, and adds to the already visual world that Steensland has created for us. I couldn’t put this down and think it’s the perfect title to hand off to a thrill junkie, especially during Halloween-time! –Bobbie
The Red Blazer Girls: The Secret Cellar by Michael D. Beil
In this fourth Red Blazer Girls mystery, it all begins with a fountain pen. That’s all it takes to lead our intrepid four on yet another exciting and sometimes perilous adventure, this time filled with puzzles, hidden treasure, a missing will, a walking stick that doubles as a key, a school Christmas play, a rat named Humphrey and a cranky bookseller. Will they solve this one? You bet they will. And for more information about The Red Blazer Girls and author Michael Beil check out this post. –Kate
Mr. Terupt Falls Again by Rob Buyea
Because of Mr. Terupt was a big favorite of many of us at Random House, so imagine our excitement when we got a sequel! In this chapter in the lives of Mr. Terupt and his quirky classroom we find that they’ve all moved on to sixth grade, together. There are exciting things going on, the biggest being all the nerves and excitement about what will happen to all of them when they leave sixth grade. The year is moving on rapidly and Mr. Terupt is going through some changes and decisions of his own–he’s falling………in love. And when it looks like there will be a wedding, the logical thing is to ask the class to help with the wedding plans. A lovely story about loyalty, forgiveness and how support can be there when you need it most. Don’t miss this one, and share it with everyone you know. –Kate
The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens
Siblings Kate, Michael and Emma who we met in The Emerald Atlas are back! We knew they would be, since as eventful as their adventures in that book were, it was only the beginning in the search for The Books of Beginning. They must continue their search for their parents but they are in danger. Dr. Pym has hidden them in The Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans (of course, they are neither hopeless nor incorrigible). They are discovered by their enemies, Kate goes missing and Michael & Emma are left to harness the power of The Book of Fire, or risk losing Kate forever. If you’re planning a long trip, check out the audiobook version of this story, read by Jim Dale! –Kate
Flutter by Gina Linko
When we meet Emery Land she is in a hospital, she has seizures. All she really wants is to go to school every day and hang out with her friends, but her life is just a bit complicated right now. In addition to the seizures themselves, she seems to be time-traveling when they occur, often to the same place, seeing the same people. At the hospital they are trying to get to the root of her seizures and cure them…..or are they? Emery realizes there’s more going on than just medical research in the hope of a cure for her, there may be something much more sinister at work. So she runs away. Flutter is a heart-pounding adventure filled with science, a little science fiction, a mystery and a little romance. –Kate
All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin
Alex and Thea are gorgeous, rich and popular. But that’s where the similarities end. Alex, the older, “perfect” sister, is hiding a secret and unraveling rapidly, while sexy, spoiled Thea, sensing blood in the water, decides to make her move into Alex’s group of friends and even her relationship. Told in alternating chapters by the two sisters, this is a fast-paced thriller set in a world of wealth and privilege. How far would you go to have everything you’ve ever wanted? And once you start a dangerous chain of events, when is it too late to stop them? Teens and adults will stay up late into the night reading this twisted, literate new novel. –Erin
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab
The author of one of my favorite mysteries All Unquiet Things, brings us a smart, thought-provoking story about family, sisters and trust. Caro’s much older sister left home eight years ago and has been living in a convent. Caro thinks of herself as an only child and her friends don’t know any different. Now her sister Hannah is coming home and this disrupts the family in so many ways. The homecoming isn’t very happy for anyone and their parents are trying a bit too hard. Caro doesn’t want Hannan there and Hannah would prefer to literally fade away, but Caro is determined to find out what really happened to Hannah before she went to the convent and what’s happening to her now. In this remarkable story of a family peeling away the layers of secrets, often unwillingly, we see that life is complicated but that truth and understanding as painful as they may be are the necessary tools of healing. A great book for teens and parents to share. –Kate
Mystic City by Theo Lawrence
In a futuristic New York City, the “haves” live high up in giant skyscrapers, while the “have-nots” live on the ground among ruined buildings and defunct subways. The ground dwellers also happen to be mystics, humans who revealed their special powers to the mainstream only to have them harnessed to keep the city running. Registered mystics are regularly drained of their energy to provide power to the city and keep them docile. The perfect set-up for a rebellion and star-crossed lovers? You bet. This Romeo and Juliet meets X-men story does a great job balancing romance with science fiction and should appeal to fans of both. –Deanna
Thanks for joining us today at RAoReading, we hope you’ve found some new books to add to your to-be-read pile!
Please share your thoughts in our comments section.