Category: Children’s Books

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

In this exceptional book, Woodson tells the story of her own family and growing up years in the crux of the civil rights movement, and she tells her story in a series of free verse poems. Her writing is lyrical and lovely – a very accessible read for young people and adults who don’t normally consider reading poetry. We meet her father, who leaves their family early; her South Carolina grandfather, who steps into the father’s role in her life; her siblings; her extended family; her Latina best friend when they move to Brooklyn. The chapters are almost short stories, and they evoke the era and the world around young Jackie. A gem. For age 10 and up.


Just Ella, by Margaret Peterson Haddix

A terrific take on the aftermath of the Cinderella story, which finds Ella in a castle taking princess classes and engaged to a man she barely knows. In this tale, Ella got to the ball with her own gifts and skills ( no fairy godmothers involved) and she has to get out of a bad situation using her brains as well. Rousing and empowering, for ages 9 and up.

Mairelon the Magician, by Patricia C. Wrede

Good story, set in 1800s London, of a girl, disguised as a boy, who works as a thief and takes up with a traveling magician, who turns out to be more magical than she expected. (The writing also makes nice use of period thieves cant.) There are many characters introduced in an info dump in the latter half of the book, and it takes longer than it should to delineate them, but the story moves along nicely, and you’re always interested in what Kim and Mairelon are up to. Good book for younger YA readers, and has a sequel, The Magician’s Ward, which is also quite good.