Children’s Book News – May/June 2024

Voting for a child’s favorite Land of Enchantment book ends May 15.

Hopefully, your child has had an opportunity to explore the nominees for this year and have read (or have read to them) some of the selections.  The desk by the Reader’s bookshelf has information concerning this event along with some of the nominated books. (Others will be found shelved in our collection.)  As a last motivation, three of the nominees are presented below.  Happy enchanted reading!

Where Butterflies Fill the Sky, by Zahra Marwan

A book nominee in the Roadrunner group – Grades K – 3

A young girl recounts her story of leaving her homeland along with her family and immigrating to a new country in Where Butterflies Fill the Sky.   She describes her daily life and those who are a part of it in her homeland – the sky is filled with butterflies and the calm sea is a comforting constant. But due to circumstances she does not understand, her family must leave for a new home.  Her father describes the new land where they will live as “magic”, but that magic seems a distant image as she adjusts to a new life – new surroundings, new words, new traditions.

With time the girl begins to sense a new beauty – hot air balloons fill the sky and the river along which she walks is lined by green cottonwood trees.  Even though she senses her differences she feels the warmth of others reaching out to her.  She will always carry the memories of her homeland and those she left behind, but she has also found a home in the high desert of New Mexico!

Marwan, who immigrated here with her family from Kuwait, adds end notes at her story’s end which tell the “Story of My Family” along with insight into her art, “About the Art.”  Her illustrated pages evoke detail that is not only personal but often symbolic.  This is a lovely book to share with children – to pour over the detailed pictures together and to share an empathy with others.

The Ogress and the Orphans, by Kelly Barnhill  ( author of the 2017 Newbery Medal winner, The Girl Who Drank the Moon)

A book nominee in the Coyote group – Grades 3-5

Stir together a kindly Ogress, a lost Orphan,and a self-promoting town mayor with a tinge of mystery and one is pulled into the story of The Ogress and the Orphans. 

A small town, Stone-in-the-Glen, once a happy, thriving community, is going through a bleak period. Due to numerous disasters, its residents are without a library, park, and school.  Community members have turned inward, not reaching out to help their neighbors as they once did. They instead rest their hope on their flashy mayor, a self-proclaimed dragon slayer. He focuses the town folk’s misery and fear upon a lonely Ogress who lives on the town’s outskirts.  

Meanwhile, the Orphans of the Orphan House are contending with little food to feed themselves. But, as the days pass by, mysterious gifts of food begin to appear on the Orphan House doorstep followed by one of their own suddenly missing.  The precocious Orphans are determined to find answers.  In so doing, they discover many of life’s guiding principles.  What is true happiness?  What is genuine wisdom?  And most importantly, all discover that “Goodness begets more goodness.”

Miss Quinces, by Kat Fajardo

A book nominee in the Lizard group – Grades 6-8

Sue, the star of Fajardo’s first graphic novel, loves to read and create comic strip art. She often feels out of sync with her contemporaries partially due to her strict mother’s reluctance to permit her joining in on get-togethers at her friends’ homes.  Still, she has the hope that she can join them at camp for a week during the summer.  However, summer plans begin with an unexpected family trip to Honduras where they will spend time with Sue’s extended Latino family.  Life in the country, without internet, along with rambunctious younger cousins, proves to be challenging.  In addition, Sue learns that her mother plans to have a quinceañera for her while there.  The thought of this event overwhelms her.  She will be in the spotlight having to wear a fancy, puffy dress, along with dancing and the expectation of a speech.

Sue’s days in Honduras encompass introduction to new foods, new traditions and most importantly an opportunity for the development of a tender relationship with her abuela.  Her summer is painted with feelings of rebellion, laughter, and tears along with a sudden loss.  Through it all, Sue gradually accepts her individuality and gains a renewed love for her family. 

Fajardo’s colorful, dynamic art successfully conveys the events and emotions of Sue’s summer.  Fajardo ends the book with her own author’s note providing an insight into her motivation for creating Miss Quinces along with separate notes on various aspects of a traditional quinceañera.