My son loves to read. When I say “read” what I really mean is that he’s not quite two but loves to look at books, get books, have books read to him or pretend to be a grown-up and sit in his little easy chair curled up with a book. So when I got “Flippy and Toadpole” written by John Mese and Dawn Kelsey and illustrated by Chanler Holden, I was excited (Part of the Flippy and Friends network of awesomeness). New book, new chance to get cute kid reaction– good or bad. So I put the reviewing of the book in little Ben’s hands. I got it out, he grabbed it, examined it and handed it back to me. After the first reading, he said “Again!”— three times. The book was a hit. It’s quirky, sing-songy and with adorable, friendly, wide-eyed characters with poppy names. Big hit. Then I broke out a review copy of “Flippy Goes on a Road Trippy” (coming out in January) and Ben, well, flippy-ed out. This one was long, with lyrical rhymes describing an exciting cross-country road trip with friends including Crawdaddy, Eartha and others. He actually paid attention through the whole book, which reads for kids a little older than him. He loved scanning the pages filled with exciting animals, landscapes and cars and wanted me to read it to him twice more. Success! I love these books and they’re very cool and hip but with the mind of a child at the center of the narratives. Flippy Fantasteriffy.
JK Rowling: Hello?
Me: Hey JK– its JH
JK: Why hello, Jennifer! How’ve you been?
Me: Actually, I’ve had a bad throat infection the last few days and I’ve been coughing up the grossest stuff.
JK: Sounds awful.
Me: Yep… sorry my voice is so hoarse. It’s sexy, though, don’t you think?
JK: Definitely. You’re getting enough tea, then? Just hot herbal tea and lemon and a splash of honey. Does wonders.
Me: Oh yeah. I’ve been doing that since last week.
JK: Good girl. Right, so I got Benjamin’s birthday party invitation in the post just yesterday. It was adorable! Little animals with party hats. Brilliant.
Me: Yep– I printed them out myself. But, of course, you have people to do that sort of thing for you right?
JK: You’re mad.
Me: OK, OK, Sorry. I won’t start. (pause) So how’s the castle?
JK: It’s NOT a castle!
Me: I’m just KIDDING, geez. So, anyway, can you come? I have an opening for a storyteller for the kids and you’d be the obvious choice.
JK: No, I can’t make it. I’ll be in Japan and…
Me: Oh, sure, that’s OK.
JK: No, really, I want to be there it’s just that…
Me: You don’t have to explain.
JK: OK… sorry.
Me: Look. I’ve been meaning to tell you something for the longest time and now is as good a time as any.
JK: What is it?
Me: I just don’t even know how to say it.
JK: C’mon, then. Just spit it out.
Me: Promise you won’t get mad.
Me: Well… OK… here goes. I’ve never actually read any of your books. There I said it.
Me: I mean, I have them all. Well, most of them. And I saw the first two movies, but I never actually got around to reading the books.
JK: I am absolutely gobsmacked. May I ask why?
Me: Um… the thing is is that there was just SO much hype, it really rubbed me the wrong way.
JK: Uh huh.
Me: Then I started noticing that all my friends on Livejournal and at the office were huge fans, and I was impressed. These are smart people.
JK: Well, they have compared me to Lewis and Tolkien, Jennifer. That might not mean anything to you, but…
Me: See. Now you’re mad.
JK: No, I’m not mad. I’m just a little confused. I mean, you’ve read all the classics, and those were wildly popular. How do you explain that?
Me: I don’t know. I just started to seeing all the marketing and the hoopla and it just made me angry. I rebelled.
JK: That’s so juvenile.
Me: I know. I know. I’ll just say it outright. I’m jealous.
JK: Of course you’re jealous. You wouldn’t be a human being if you weren’t a little jealous of my success.
Me: OK, now you’re just being arrogant.
JK: No I’m not. Let me ask you this. How is your young adult trilogy coming along? Are you EVER going to send me pages?
Me: Yeah, right.
JK: Well, have you written anything?
Me: Yes… I mean when I can make the time I…
JK: You’re pathetic.
Me: I know. Listen, you know what I’m going to do?
Me: I’m going to give Benjamin a Harry Potter birthday party. And I’ll even read, like, the first two books if I have time and then I’ll send you my pages next month. Oh, and you do NOT have to feel guilty about Japan. We’ll just call it even, OK?
JK: Deal. That all sounds lovely.
Me: Yes, quite. Well, have fun storming the castle…
JK: Very funny.
My friend Jana Christy, an awesome and accomplished illustrator, is one the coolest, smartest ladies I know. She loves books and recently shared with me her ultimate Young Adult/Young Reader reading list. Either she or her wonderful twins, Harry and Hugo, have put their seal of approval on these reads. I’ve read some of the classics, but now I’m interested in plunging into some new worlds!
The Letter, The Witch and the Ring by
The Boggart by
by Madeline L’Engle
Only You Can Save Mankind by
I Was A Rat by
The House With a Clock In Its Walls by
The 13th Floor by
The Black Pearl by Scott O’Dell
Count Karlstein by
Crispin, The Cross Of Lead by Avi
TheOf Fire by
Knight and The Squire by
The Firework Maker’s Daughter by
Strange Happenings by Avi
Skellig by David Almond
The Anybodies by N.E. Bode
The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald
Woods Walk by Henry W. Art and Michael Robbins
Crispin at the Edge of the World by Avi
Robots Rising by Carol Sonenklar and John Kaufmann
Devil’s Storybook by
Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
Science Behind Superheroes by Bode
The Sand Walk Adventures by Jay Hosler
The Scarecrow’s Servant by Phillip Pullman
Clan Apis by Jay Hosler
Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards: A Tale of, Othniel Charles Marsh, and the Gilded Age of Paleontology by Jim Ottaviani, Zander Cannon, Shad Petosky, and Kevin Cannon
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Jack Plank by Natalie Babbitty.com