Book Reviews For Category: Contemporary

Children’s books by current writers which are both well-written and captivating. We use 1975 as the cut off date for calling something ‘contemporary’ or classic; however, contemporary generally means today’s kids can identify with the characters.

Searching for Lottie

Search for Lottie - Children's book

Published: 2019
Theme: Holocaust and Family Memories
Best for: 9 and up

“When Charlie asked how many of the people in the photo album had survived the Holocaust, Mom simply looked away.” A down-to-earth children’s book about the importance of sharing and remembering the past.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

The Wind in the Willows – A Fine Welcome

Wind in the Willows Easy Reader

Published: 2013
Theme: Easy Reader
Best for: 5 to 8

Mole took up the oars. “Just this once, I’ll try,” he said, and he began to row. An easy reader version of the classic Wind in the Willows, done with care and beauty. What a great idea.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Contemporary, First Chapter Book, Illustrated Books, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

Say Something!

Children's Book - Say Something

Published: 2019
Theme: Making a Difference
Best for: 5 to 8

“If you see someone lonely, say something by just being there for them.” In another wonderful children’s book from Peter Reynolds, children learn they too can be a positive change in the world, very simply.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Contemporary, Illustrated Books, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

Daughters of Steel

Children's book - Daughters of Steel

Published: 2018
Theme: Fantasy; Courage
Best for: Girls age 11 and up

“I’ve been looking for a way to find out more about my powers, about my destiny. This is the sign I’ve been waiting for, I’m sure of it. This is where I need to go.” She pointed at her rough drawing of the shrine…” A sequel to Sisters of Glass, and every bit as dramatic and compelling. Fantasy genre.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Inspiring for Girls


Children's Book - Skellig

Published: 2000
Theme: Power of Love
Best for: 9 to 12

“I put my hand beneath his should to steady him. I felt something there, something held in my his jacket. I reached across his back and felt something beneath his other shoulder as well. Like thin arms, folded up.” Children have the ability to see the miraculous, and to hope… and this book brings it home in a well-told story.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

My Name is Mina

Children's book - My name is Mina

Published: 2011
Theme: Children’s Creativity
Best for: 9 to 12

“My name is Mina and I love the night. Anything seems possible at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep.” The best thing to say about this children’s book is …read it. It will uplift your spirit and inspire creative teaching.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned


illustrated Children's book

Published: 2017
Theme: Courage; Monarch Butterflies
Best for: 6 and up

“It took Kibble a few moments before he was ready to let go of that trunk again, but soon enough, he carefully walked over to me….” In this informative illustrated children’s book, Kibble overcomes his fear with the support of good friends…

Posted in Contemporary, Illustrated Books, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

Pay Attention, Carter Jones

Pay Attention Carter Jones - Children's book

Published: 2019
Theme: Fathers and Sons
Best for: 9 and up

“I decided to revolt. I mean, wiping up dog vomit, nearly drowning in an Australian tropical thunderstorm, drinking tea with mild and sugar, and I haven’t even told you about the forty-five minutes of Mr. Barkus’s word problems.” A great coming- of-age book, as well as dealing with family drama, with lots of humor.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

Finding Orion

Children's book - Finding Orion

Published: 2019
Theme: Father and Son reconciliation
Best for: 9 to 12

“It’s hard, sometimes, reconciling the difference between what you really feel about something and what you think you’re supposed to feel.” A slow-starter with a very unconventional ending worth staying with.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary

The Lost Words

The Lost Words - Illustrated Children's book

Published: 2018
Theme: Nature’s Wonders
Best for: 5 to 8

“Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children…You hold in your hands a spellbook for conjuring back these lost words. To read it you will need to seek, find, and speak.” A gorgeous, oversized illustrated children’s book that weaves magic of language, art, and nature.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Contemporary, Illustrated Books, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg

Illustrated Children's Book - Henry Hikes to Fitchburg

Published: 2000
Theme: Thoreau’s Simplicity
Best for: 5 to 7

“I’ll walk,” said Henry. “It’s the fastest way to travel.” “I’ll work,” Henry’s friend said, “until I have the monty to buy a ticket to ride the train to Fitchburg. We’ll see who gets there first!” A very simple, sweet illustration of a passage from Walden about the benefits of walking rather than high-speed travel.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Contemporary, Illustrated Books, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

Beavers – Superpower Field Guide

Beavers - Children's book

Published: 2018
Theme: Beavers (Natural History)
Best for: 6 and up

“This is a beaver. Just an ordinary beaver. But even ordinary beavers are extraordinary. In fact, even ordinary beavers are superheroes.” A great way to present facts of natural history to young readers; enjoyable yet fact-filled.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

Tree Castle Island

Children's book- Tree Castle Island

Published: 2002
Theme: Nature Adventure and Adoption
Best for: 9 to 12

“I felt unbound. I was free as the wind. And I wasn’t in just any old canoe, but one I had made myself. She floated, she sped, she was unreal.” A great book by a classic children’s book author, about adoption, and self-sufficiency in nature.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

The Sun is Also a Star

Young Adult Book - The Sun is also a Star

Published: 2018
Best for: mature 12 and up
Theme: Mixed-race Love

“My mother, the pacifist, would kill me dead if she knew what I’d just done. I rescheduled my interview. For a girl. Not even a Korean girl, a black girl. A black girl I don’t really know., …who might not even like me.” Get ready for a ride on the hormones of a couple of teens who fall in love…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary

Gooney Bird Greene

Children's Book - Gooney Bird Greene

Published: 2002
Theme: Storytelling
Best for: 6 to 9

“The class stared at the new girl with admiration. They had never met anyone like Gooney Bird Greene…Her clothes were unusual. Her hairstyles were unusual. Even her lunches were very unusual.” This fun first-chapter book explores how easy it is to tell a good story, with imagination.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Contemporary, First Chapter Book, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

Edison: The Mystery of the Missing Mouse Treasure

Illustrated Children's Book: Edison

Published: 2018
Theme: Thomas Edison
Best for: 5 to 8

“Behind the shelves lay the University of Mice. Here any inquisitive mouse could learn everything there was to know about the history of mice: mice who had traveled the world, mice who had made great discoveries…” A beautifully illustrated, large-size children’s book with a fanciful story about Edison’s invention.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Contemporary, Illustrated Books, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

The Lacemaker and the Princess

Children's Book - Lacemaker and the Princess

Published: 2007
Theme: Historical Fiction; French Revolution
Best for: 11 and up

“I know how to make needle lace and sew and hem and build a fire and tend it and clean the ashes out. I can make tea and toast and cook a chicken if I have to. I can empty chamber post and scrub floors…” This very well-written historical fiction about the French Revolution is based on a true incident…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Inspiring for Girls, Waldorf-Aligned

The Night Diary

Children's Book - Night Diary

Published: 2018
Theme: Historical Fiction, India’s Partition
Best for: 11 and up

“We would go somewhere fresh and new where people were happy. All kinds of people practicing all kinds of religions..[where] nobody would mind that you were Muslim and Papa was Hindu….” This is a no-holds-barred experience of the tragedy that ensued from the Partition in 1947 into India and Pakistan. For 11 and up.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Be a Perfect Person In Just Three Days

Children's book - Be a Perfect Person

Published: 1982
Theme: Self-acceptance
Best for: 8 to 11

“Milo wondered how in the world wearing a stalk of broccoli around his neck could possibly help make him perfect…” This children’s book is perfect medicine for any young person thinking they need to be perfect! Silly but convincing…

Posted in Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary

The Jamie Drake Equation

Children's Book: Jamie Drake Equation

Published: 2017
Theme: Light-weight Science Fiction
Best for: 9 and up

“I’ve got a doctorate in astrophysics and a black belt in karate,” the woman replies, poking me hard in the chest with her telescope. “So sit down before I knock your block off.” This book does a great job of making both space and science fiction, very readable and enjoyable.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary

Fox Walked Alone

Illustrated children's book

Published: 2009
Theme: Community
Best for: 4 to 7

“Night after night/Fox walked alone,/came home to a bed made of feathers and stone/” A very sweet and simple illustrated children’s book, blending independence with sharing with others. Nicely told in rhyme.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Contemporary, Illustrated Books, Read-Aloud, Waldorf-Aligned

Ellie Engineer: The Next Level

Children's book - Ellie Engineer

Published: 2018
Theme: Breaking Stereotypes
Best for: 8 to 11

“Ellie hated it when her friends got in trouble in front of her, especially when she had something to do with it. She thought about what her dad said – that engineering was supposed to help people- and her stomach went squiggly.” . Let’s hear it for books that let girls be engineers, boys like dolls, and old people doing more than just drinking tea…

Posted in Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World

Children's book - Ivy Aberdeen

Published: 2018
Theme: Sexual Preferences
Best for: Girls 11 and up

“In the end, this was about me, not them,” Robin said, tapping her chest. “And the people in my life could either accept that or they could live without me.” Ivy swallowed hard. “Did anyone choose to…well…” “Live without me?” An excellent peek in the confusion that a young gay teen experiences as her preferences begin to emerge…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Inspiring for Girls

Totally Joe

children's book- Totally Joe

Published: 2005
Theme: Gay Teens
Best for: 9 and up

“I took one of the pins Aunt Pam had given me and put it on my shirt. It said Celebrate Diversity. Then I took it off, thinking I’d give it to Addie, because it’s one she’d really like, and I put on another one: Being Who You Are Isn’t A Choice.” A superbly written, sensitive and humorous children’s book dealing with being gay as a teen.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary

Dragons in a Bag

Children's book - Dragons in a bag

Published: 2018
Theme: Magical Fantasy
Best for: 8 to 12

“Something must have hatched inside that box! And the mysterious creatures must be strong enough to have rocked the box as they were being born. Yet they’re small enough to fit inside the empty mint tin.” A delightful and lightweight fantasy with witches, time travel, and baby dragons, set in Brooklyn.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary

Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment

max einstein

Published: 2018
Theme: Saving the World
Best for: 8 to 11

“Max didn’t have a mother or father to tell her when it was time to wake up, go to bed, do her homework, eat her vegetables, turn off the TV, or hurry because she’d miss the subway. Max was completely on her own.” An odd and quirky book that tries to have children solve the mess of the world, with a bit of adventure thrown in.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

Finding Langston

Children's book - Finding Langston

Published: 2018
Theme: Healing through books
Best for: 9 and up

“It’s better to read in the library. Sitting at my favorite table… reading and listening to the sound of other folks turning pages makes me feel I’m in a house full of company I don’t have to talk to.” A beautiful and lyrical small book set in 1946, exploring the loneliness that comes from being uprooted from South to North.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned

Gandhi – My Life is My Message

Gandhi - Graphic Novel

Published: 2013
Theme: Biography
Best for: 10 and up

“We must melt the hearts of the Government with love… Remember, we can only win the opponent over by love, never by hate. Hate is the subtlest form of violence. Hatred injures the hater, never the hated.” This very thorough biography of Gandhi in graphic novel form is a pleasure to read.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Biography, Contemporary, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned

The Eleventh Trade

Children's book - Eleventh Trade

Published: 2018
Theme: Refugees, Compassion
Best for: 9 and up

“The middle school cafeteria always makes me wish for the school in Istanbul. We often shared meals there, seated on the ground, with little to give. But most important, it was quiet.” It is time, past time, to bring our children into the conversation about religious tolerance, and immigration. This book is a start.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

Nowhere Boy

nowhere boy

Published: 2018
Theme: Moral Courage; Refugees
Best for: 10 and up

“Ahmed–he had a name, Max reminded himself–was just a boy, a boy who liked soccer and comic book heroes. He had lost his parents, he was alone, and he seemed far more frightened than dangerous.” All I can say is – read this to crack open your heart with compassion for the plight of refugees.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Contemporary
Share this
Free Subscription to Book Reviews
Your email address will not be shared with anyone else. New book reviews are sent once a month.
Click Here to Subscribe

Click to view our newsletter archives.
Support Your Local Bookstores
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit
Social Media Sites
Follow Me on Pinterest
Literature for Kids