The days are growing shorter, but the books have never better. These titles will bring you a bit of spooky, some autumn leaves, a zombie prince, and other great ideas about how to find a place for yourself in the world.
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, by Linda Bailey and Julia Sarda
About the book: The inspiring story of the girl behind one of the greatest novels—and monsters—ever, perfectly timed for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. For fans for picture book biographies such as I Dissent or She Persisted.
How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on the tombstone of her famous feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of 16 runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. Two years later, they travel to Switzerland where they meet a famous poet, Lord Byron. On a stormy summer evening, with five young people gathered around a fire, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. Mary has a waking dream about a monster come to life. A year and a half later, Mary Shelley's terrifying tale, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, is published—a novel that goes on to become the most enduring monster story ever and one of the most popular legends of all time.
A riveting and atmospheric picture book about the young woman who wrote one of the greatest horror novels ever written and one of the first works of science fiction, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is an exploration of the process of artistic inspiration that will galvanize readers and writers of all ages.
Why we're taking notice: This is a book with something for everyone—monsters, feminist history, incredible art, a spooky atmosphere, and an exploration of the creative experience and that mysterious place where stories come from.
The Zombie Prince, by Matt Beam and Luc Melanson
About the book: When a classmate hurts his feelings by calling him a fairy, Brandon turns to his imagination and his two best friends, who rally to his side. Brandon informs his pals that he is now a zombie who will destroy his enemies with his tears. They respond by turning into a ghost and a vampire, ready to protect him from the mean words being thrown at him during recess.
What starts as a bullying moment ends in a creative and empathetic exchange between the boys. Brandon is able to smile again—especially when the friends come to a decision on his new nickname: the Zombie Prince.
Luc Melanson’s graphic illustrations bring humor to this sensitive story about kindness and imagination healing the hurt left by unkind words.
Why we're taking notice: We shared this one on our Back to School Books list last month, but The Zombie Prince is the kind of book that needs to be returned to again for its subtle depths to be appreciated. There are lots of books about the challenges of being a sensitive boy, but Beam frames his in a compelling and non-didactic way that will draw kids in and leave them asking questions.
The Reptile Club, by Maureen Fergus and Elina Ellis.
About the book: There are lots of clubs for Rory to join at his new school, but none seem quite right for him. So when his parents suggest he start his own club about something he loves, Rory knows exactly what it will be: a Reptile Club! He's positive that there are other kids out there who share his passion. He sets up his first meeting and then waits and waits for students to show up. Just as he is about to give up, Rory hears whispering in the hallway and hurries over to see who it is. To his astonishment, it's not his schoolmates who have arrived to attend the first meeting, but a crocodile, an anaconda and a gecko!
Popular, award-winning author Maureen Fergus's playful picture book is perfect for story time, with its laugh-out-loud appeal and clever twist on the meaning of “Reptile Club.” Loads of intriguing reptile facts are tucked into the story (for example, a gecko has to lick its eyeballs to keep them clean and moist!), making this an excellent choice for a life science lesson on the characteristics of reptiles. The details in Elina Ellis's lively, colorful illustrations encourage children to spend time examining each page. This is also a terrific book for a character education discussion about initiative, or for lessons on personal development and confidently pursuing one's own passions.
Why we're taking notice: Maureen Fergus is an unsung genius—her books are such a pleasure to read aloud and their humour amuses parents and children alike. This is also a great book to pick up now that the novelty of the academic year is wearing up and some kids might be struggling with finding a place for themselves at school.
The Walking Bathroom, by Shauntay Grant and Erin Bennett Banks
About the book: It's Halloween and Amayah doens't have a costume to wear to school. She dressed as a ghost for the last three years in a row, witches are overdone, and fairies are not her style. She wants to be something different, something creative, something no one else in the world has ever been in the history of Halloween.
A sweet story of standing out and fitting in, The Walking Bathroom is the from award-winning author and spoken-word poet Shauntay Grant (Up Home). With fun, vibrant artwork from Erin Bennett Banks (Change of Heart), this imaginative tale is bound to inspire some unique costumes and become a Halloween favourite!
About the book: Grant's latest book, Africville, is incredible and has just been nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award—but do check out this one from last fall as well, a refreshing and creative take on Halloween costumes.
Pinny in Fall, by Joanne Schwartz and Isabelle Malenfant
About the book: On a crisp fall day, Pinny decides to go for a walk. She packs a sweater, her rain hat, a book, a snack and her treasure pouch. Set for adventure, Pinny’s day includes a windy game of tag with her friends, an exciting call for help from the lighthouse keeper and a surprising encounter with the falling autumn leaves.
From Joanne Schwartz, author of the acclaimed picture book Town Is by the Sea, illustrated by Sydney Smith, comes a story of friendship, resourcefulness and the beauty of fall, all cast in the gentle light of Isabelle Malenfant’s soft pastel palette. The four short chapters in this book, suited for newly independent readers, capture the exhilarating feeling of a perfect fall day.
About the book: We are HUGE Pinny fans. This latest installment is just the perfect ode to October and all its goodness.
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