September 15 marks the birthday of renowned author Agatha Christie. To celebrate this esteemed writer, who penned 82 mystery novels, we have a hunch that you’re in the mood for some mysteries as well! From the classic whodunit to riddles of a stranger nature, mysteries offer great ways to spark curiosity in readers of all ages, encouraging them to find out what could happen next and if they can guess correctly. So, grab a magnifying glass and a handy notebook as we take a look at some of our favorite mysterious titles.
Will You Help Doug Find His Dog?
An interactive picture book title from Barefoot Books, Will You Help Doug Find His Dog? keeps readers guessing the answer to the very last page. Doug has lost his canine companion at the dog park and needs help finding him. After describing his four-legged friend to readers, Doug asks his audience to whistle, clap, and tickle their way through a group of dogs until the missing pup is found. Written by Jane Caston, and illustrated by Carmen Saldaña, this story encourages a playful response and will have little ones wanting to read it again.
There’s a Walrus in My Bed!
A young boy who is spending his first night in a big boy bed has a large problem in this picture book from Andersen Press, written and illustrated by Ciara Flood. Flynn keeps coming downstairs when he’s supposed to be asleep, claiming that the walrus needs food, blankets, or a glass of milk. In this case, the mystery is for the readers themselves to solve. Is the walrus just an excuse Flynn created, as his parents suspect, or could there really be a giant walrus in Flynn’s bed?
Detective Gordon: A Case in Any Case
Ulf Nilsson and Gitte Spee’s beloved series follows Gordon, a toad detective, and his enterprising assistant, Buffy the mouse, as they take on curious cases. In the latest illustrated chapter book installment, published by Gecko Press, Buffy seeks out Gordon’s help to solve the mystery of strange noises coming from outside the police station each night. Once this mystery is solved, they can get back to what they love best, which includes drinking tea and stamping important papers.
The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: The Gravediggers’ Club
Robert J. Harris’ middle grade series harkens back to a different monumental mystery writer. The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries from Floris Books imagines that the Sherlock Holmes stories were based on adventures that their author, Arthur Conan Doyle, had when he was a boy growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the first installment, Artie and his best friend Ham follow the clues of a ghostly lady in grey and the pawprints of a gigantic hound to discover the secrets of the spooky Gravediggers’ Club.
The Theory of Hummingbirds
Alba has her eyes set on running in the sixth-grade cross-country race as soon as the final cast comes off her “directionally challenged” foot. She’s counting on support from her best friend, Levi, but he is consumed by his latest science obsession—wormholes. Is Levi just dreaming, or does the librarian really have a wormhole in her office? Written by Michelle Kadarusman and published by Pajama Press, this middle grade novel is about friendship, big challenges, and even bigger questions.
One season can change your life, a concept that twelve-year-old Eliot is learning daily as he spends his summer in a place he absolutely detests—Point Aconi, Nova Scotia. As Eliot learns how to perform the mundane tasks well-known to other residents of the small fishing town, he begins to realize that there is more to this seaside village than meets the eye. Why is Mary-Beth always reluctant to go home? How does Miss Gifford always know when trouble is brewing? What’s hidden in the pages of Great-great-grandfather Steen’s diary? Eliot wonders if he’ll find the answers to these prodding questions before the summer’s up. Written by critically-acclaimed author and artist Frank Viva, this work of graphic fiction is about broadening perspectives is published by Toon Books.
When Marion and her mother inherit an old family house, complete with its own private beach, they see it as a wonderful opportunity for a new life. This graphic novel from Lion Forge, written by Mathieu Reynès with art from Valérie Vernay, follows Marion’s exploration of her new town as she begins to uncover unanswered questions and local legends haunting the surrounding area. What secrets are hidden away in the nearby lighthouse, and why does she feel an eerie tie to the lighthouse watchman? As time passes, Marion begins to wonder if this idyllic place isn’t nearly as peaceful as it first appeared.
Five suburban children must fight to keep their world from tearing apart after they discover the body of the world’s most powerful superhero, Plutona, laying discarded in the woods near their school. As they wrestle with how to handle this weighty secret, their personal lives spin dangerously out of control. The real question—who killed Plutona?—lurks in the back of everyone’s mind, but the group of five might not be alive to uncover the whole story if they can’t solve their own problems soon. This dark coming-of-age tale from Image Comics is written by Emi Lenox and Jeff Lemire, with striking art by Emi Lenox and Jordie Bellaire.
How are you celebrating National Grandparents Day, this Sunday, September 10? Grandparents can be amazing! As the caretakers of decades of wisdom, trusted perspectives, and tested values, they share great human riches with their families. Grandparents can be the keepers of communities. Daily, they nurture younger generations to encourage authentic and thoughtful people. Grandparents sometimes create communities under their own roofs, too, opening their homes and hearts to relatives who need a place to stay, whether it be for a short or extended amount of time. Grandparents can also be nurturing, adventurous, inspiring, and make lovable books to share across generations, and we want to celebrate them today.
Here are some books from our publishers for you and your little ones to enjoy for Grandparents Day.
I Love You, Grandma
This lyrical board book from Tiger Tales Books, with illustrations by Rory Tyger, pays tribute to the tender relationship that youngsters have with their grandmothers. Simple text on each page combines with soft illustrations to compose a beautiful poem about the undying love a grandmother has for her grandchild.
Melena’s Jubilee: The Story of a Fresh StartThe morning after a particularly bad day, Melena awakes with a new song in her heart. At breakfast, she shares the song with Gramma, and Gramma, in turn, shares some songs of her own. A story about forgiveness and second chances, Melena’s Jubilee is written by Zetta Elliot, illustrated by Aaron Boyd, and published by Tilbury House.
Ossiri and the Bala Mengro
After her parents explain that they can’t afford to buy Ossiri a musical instrument, the determined Traveler girl decides to create her own musical contraption. She calls it the Tattin Django, and despite the cacophony that emanates from its rustic body, Ossiri’s grandparents encourage her to keep practicing and playing what she feels is in her heart. Published by Child’s Play, this picture book is written by Richard O’Neill and Katharine Quarmby, with illustrations by Hannah Tolson.
How Nivi Got Her Names
Written by Laura Deal and illustrated by Charlene Chua, this story from Inhabit Media introduces traditional Inuit naming and Inuit custom adoption. Nivi’s mom tells her stories of the people for whom she is named, including the grandmother of one of her moms, the grandpa of her anaana (her other mom), and the grandmother of her puukuluk, or birth mother.
Waiting for Sophie
Liam relies on the creativity and carpentry skills of his grandma in this illustrated chapter book from Pajama Press, written by Sarah Ellis and illustrated by Carmen Mok. While Liam impatiently waits for his baby sister to grow into a playmate, Nana-Downstairs teaches him the basics of building and helps him to create a very special machine.
Where Is Grandma?
This story of one boy’s odyssey through the hospital is written and illustrated by Peter Schossow and published by Gecko Press. While his nanny is distracted taking a phone call, Henry sets off on his own in search of his grandmother. He interacts with all kinds of people and overhears all sorts of conversations on his journey, but he won’t let anything stop him until finds his grandma.
Top-Secret Grandad and Me: Death by Tumble Dryer
Middle grade readers looking for a befuddling mystery and a good laugh can delight in a new series by the ever humorous David MacPhail and published by Floris Books. Eleven-year-old Jay Patel is off to solve the hilarious (no, really!) and wacky murders with the help of his (top-secret) ghost sidekick—who is none other than Jay’s grandad, Sanjeev!
Take a moment today to encourage children to spend time with their grandparents. Reading would be a great activity for them to do together. Make sure to snap a photo and post it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Feel free to tag us (@pubspotlight) and make sure you use #grandparentsday to show off your favorite intergenerational moments with books!
We’re looking forward to seeing all our library friends later this week at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, in Orlando. Here’s an overview of what we’ll have to share with you, and an invitation to visit us at Booth 2239, where you know that, no matter who you are, we have smiles and good wishes to share with you.
The exhibits open on Friday, at 5:30. come join the festivities during this ribbon cutting reception! Our booth will be fully staffed all exhibit hours, which are are 9-5 on Saturday and Sunday, and 9-2 on Monday. Ellen, Jackson, and Claire Myrick, Along with Mary Burkey and Sharon Grover,will be on hand, with Francisca tweeting from various corners of the conference and booth events.
Oh, and booth events! We have in-booth signings scheduled throughout the weekend, and staff will be participating in other exhibit happenings as well, including the Paizo
program in the Gaming Parlor, Saturday at 10:30, and a program focusing on diversity at 3 that afternoon.
Oh, and the books! We’ll be showing and talking about new titles from AMMO, Two Little Birds, Scotland’s Floris from Steiner, Flying Start, and Free Spirit Press; from Gannon& Wyatt, New Zealand’s Gecko Press, and Karadi Tales, Canada’s Pajama Press, Dutch publisher Lemniscaat; from No Starch Press, Phaidon, Tilbury House, and Tiger Tales. Then there are the audio publishers: L. A. Theatre Works, Live Oak Media, and Brilliance Audio, along with the Sound Learning literacy program from the Audio Publishers Association. Amazon imprints Thomas & Mercer, Lake Union, and Montlake Romance Authors, all for adults, and Two Lions, for kids, will also be at our fingertips–and could be at yours.
Follow us on Twitter @pubspotlight throughout the conference. Our first tip as you pack is to be sure to bring rain gear as showers and thunderstorms are predicted, right now, for every day of the conference.
And bring a smile and a hello! We know Orlando needs both right now and we always enjoy them ourselves and bet you do, too!
Cathy Forde, who’s both popular with readers ages eight to twelve, and with literary critics, may be best known in the US for Fat Boy Swim and The Drowning Pool. In 2001, she published Think Me Back, which I frankly can’t remember happening across here across the pond.
Instead of living a life of reader regrets, however, I’m delighted to discover The Blitz Next Door, which is a revision and republication of that 2001 title, wonderfully immediate and so gentle in its updating of details marking the present that I know it had to be Floris Books behind this 2015 Kelpies edition. Let me share it with you:
You can visit our Activities pages to find some discussion and engagement support for including this novel in book discussions and other programs.
The Blitz Next Door, by Cathy Forde, for readers 8-12
Pete is far from thrilled to arrive in in Clydebank, Scotland, far away from home in London: he’s had to leave his best friends, his baby sister is cranky and colicky, his mother is depressed, and Dad seems way more interested in pleasing his new boss than making sure his family gets comfortable.
The house is nice, though: way bigger than their London flat, and Pete gets his own room. However, it’s not enough, apparently, that Pete’s sister is crying; on the other side of the wall in Pete’s new room, there’s another crying girl, too, only she talks as well, telling her mum that she really won’t get packed and ready to move. And sometimes she plays the recorder.
When Pete’s dad shows him the old air raid shelter in the garden, and tells Pete he can have it for his own den, Pete’s thrilled. Looking back at his new home, above the crater near the air raid shelter, however, he realizes that … there can’t be a girl next door because there is no next door. The bomb that made this crater 75 years ago demolished that house. So where is that weeping girl? And who is she?
Soon enough, Pete has a new friend, a neighborhood boy named Dunny who shares his passion for football. He seems to have another new friend as well. The girl in the house that isn’t there any longer next door appears in the air raid shelter, come to write in her journal, which Dunny himself found before Pete’s arrival in Clydebank, or to play with the boys’ football figurines when they aren’t around. But Pete sees her, and even talks with her.
How can that be? How can there be a house where there is no house, a girl who would have to now be an old woman, if she survived the bombing?
Pete’s story is vivid and studded with just enough historical facts to send readers scrambling to read more about the World War II bombing known as the Clydebank Blitz, on March 13, 1941, and other events that truly do echo into the 21st century. Pete and the girl, Beth, do have a connecting point in the present as well, and that allows them to bring her haunting of her old and ruined home to rest.
A note about the second edition: This story easily works 15 years after its original publication. Gentle editing to add such details as Pete’s preoccupied father as texting when he might better be conversing with his wife or his son make it feel very much of the moment. With this being the 75th anniversary of an event that killed over 500 Scottish civilians, damaged or destroyed about 12,000 houses, and left 35,000 homeless, yet still escaping much notice except locally even today, it offers a great opportunity to jumpstart studies of local history.
The Blitz Next Door, by Cathy Forde, is published by Kelpies, a Floris Books Imprint, 2015. Originally published 2001 as Think Me Back and available in paperback and e-book. It’s 172 pages.
We’re traveling to Boston today and looking forward to seeing all of you attending the American Library Association’s 2016 Midwinter meeting there! You’ll find us at Booth 1917 in the Exhibits…and why would you want to find us? Because:
We’re bringing cool new picture books, comics, and books for older youth from a variety of quality publishers, including Pajama Press (Canada), Leminscaat (Netherlands), Gecko (New Zealand), Floris Books (Scotland), Karadi Tales (India), Udon Entertainment (Canada/Hong Kong), and, from the United States, Diamond, Tilbury House, Gannon & Wyatt, Namelos, No Starch, and Two Lions.
We’re hosting signings by Rebecca Emberley, Bill Thomson, Licia Morelli and Jennifer E. Morris, and Susan Schwake.
We have a librarian staff who know books, audiobooks, and kids.
Plus, we are a lot of fun and generous, too…hmm, prizes anyone?
One of our wonderful publishers has a holiday book we hope you’ll find time to share next weekend. And to make that easier for you, Jessica has designed some activities to go along with reading and looking at the wonderful illustrations in Tom’s Christmas Fish, from Floris Books.
Set in Prague, this is a story combining both the sweetness of the season with the very real bittersweet need to recreate holiday rituals when we lose family members. This is a book to read again and again, and although it’s a Christmas story, neither the season nor the specific cultural system is necessary to appreciate how Tom and his grandfather celebrate together what they once they celebrated with others.
Midwinter holidays offer children’s book authors, illustrators, and publishers many opportunities to share wonderful traditions from around the world. This year, KidLitTV shared a dozen or so new and traditionally favorite stories in their first Holiday Special (which, host Rocco Staino promises, will itself become a tradition). First up was Floris Books’ delightful new The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits (author Ulf Stark, illustrator Eva Eriksson; translated by Susan Beard), itself a smorgasbord of traditions to discover and repeat.
First, what’s a tomte? Floris Publishing is Scottish. But, the tomte is…Swedish. Tomtes, Floris explains in their own blog, are akin to little gnomes and make their homes in the woods and in Scandinavian mythology.
Yuletide traditions are abundant in both Scandinavian and British cultures. One such tradition that has made its way into many North American homes is that of the Advent calendar. And, in a nod to that anticipatory time-keeping, this picture book is told in 25 short chapters. Now there’s another tradition in the making: a chapter a night from December 1.
Thanks Floris, for sharing this delightful holiday story, and thank you Luann Toth (managing Editor of School Library Journal Reviews), for sharing it with KidLitTV fans!