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.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

Children's book - Vanderbeekers

Published: 2017
Theme: Kindness
Best for: 8 and up

“The five kids started exchanging ideas for winning over the man on the third floor. Operation Beiderman had officially begun.” Each of the five siblings in this story have to dig deep to find out how to be kind to someone they don’t know…

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

Ahimsa

Children's Book - Ahimsa

Published: 2017
Theme: India’s Independence fight
Best for: 12 and up

“Ma handed Anjali one of the two prasad trays as they headed into the hall. Anjali gave a ladoo to her father and bowed to him in pranaam. He raised his hand over her head to bless her…” We journey to a village in India during the struggle for independence, and live with freedom fighters, including a young girl and her mother…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Sir Cumference – Math Adventures

Children's Math Books

Published: 2002-2017
Theme: Math
Best for: 4th to 8th grade

Each illustrated children’s book in this large collection focuses on one math principal, develops it, ends with a witty comment, and helps illustrate and explain something mathematically important…

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

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth

Children's Book- Sputnik's Guide

Published: 2017
Theme: Values, Humor, Science
Best for: 9 and up

“Now that I have proved that Earth does exist,” said Sputnik, “I have to prove that it should exist. Every planet has to have a reason…Useless planets are being shrunk all over the sky…” This book has a wonderful mix of good science, deep thought (Why are we here?) and sensitivity to the difficulty of aging…

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

The Many Worlds of Albie Bright

Children's Book - Many Worlds of Albie Bright

Published: 2016
Theme: Science and Heart
Best for: 9 and up

“You’d think that going to your mum’s funeral on Tuesday would get you the rest of the week off, but not according to my dad. “We need to get back to normal,” he says when I try to protest.” This children’s book is a terrific merging of heart and mind, sincere feelings and contemporary science…

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

Oddfellow’s Orphanage

Children's Book - Oddfellow's Orphanage

Published: 2012
Theme: Kindness and Friendship
Best for: 7 to 9

“The little girl peered out of the carriage and saw two bears lumbering quickly ahead, pulling the carriage through patches of twisting trees and over hills dotted with early blooms.” This book weaves the magical and unreality together in a way that you begin to feel you are reading an old-fashioned fairy tale, which in some ways it is.

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

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre

Children's Book - Lost Kingdom of Bamarra

Published: 2017
Theme: Resisting Prejudice
Best for: 10 and up

“I’d been taught that our Bamarre were lucky to be ruled by us. Otherwise they would have been conquered by others, who would have killed them all. With us, they were safe and had duties and food.” A great and timely fantasy children’s book exploring the injustice of nations dominating nations, and the ill consequences of prejudice…

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

Kensuke’s Kingdom

Children's Book - Kensuke's Kingdom

Published: 2003
Theme: Survival
Best for: 9 and up

“Until now, except for occasional gut-wrenching pangs of homesickness and loneliness, I had by and large managed to keep my spirits up. But not anymore. My beacon stayed obstinately damp.” I was immediately struck with the clarity, simplicity, and beauty of the writing, and wondered how the tale would unfold…

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

Odd and the Frost Giants

Children's book- Odd and the Frost Giants

Published: 2009
Theme: Norse Myth
Best for: 9 to 10

“He clambered onto the bear’s back, holding his crutch with his left hand and clutching the bear’s fur with his right. The bear stood up slowly, making sure the boy was on, then set off at a fast lope…” It’s wonderful to see contemporary authors make good use of imagination and the wealth of possibilities from the Norse stories…

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

Genevieve’s War

Children's Book - Genevieve's War

Published: 2017
Theme: WWII Resistance and Courage
Best for: 9 to 12

“A few days later, I was one my way to meet Katrin for school when the German office cornered me at the end of the path. “Where’s the dog, Fraulein?” Meme and I should have decided to what to say to him…” It seems important for children to know that resistance is not just for history, or adults, but is something that even young people can participate in.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

The Inquisitor’s Tale

Children's Book - Inquisitor's Tale

Published: 2016
Theme: Religious Tolerance
Best for: 12 and up

“Louis of France is not yet thirty, and already he is the greatest king in Europe. His armies have never been defeated. This war is different… He is fighting three children. And their dog.” I don’t know how he pulled it off, but along with the historical description, Gidwitz adds contemporary outrage, and humor as well, giving perspective on the bizarre behavior of the human race!

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Book Scavenger

Book Scavenger - Children's book

Published: 2015
Theme: Puzzles and Books
Best for: 10 to 13

“Garrison Griswold here to welcome you to the wonderful world of Book Scavenger. We are a community of book lovers, puzzle lovers, and treasure hunters. Are you, too?” This is a very well-written children’s book, which combines literary information, puzzles, and a bit of a mystery to solve…

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary

Seasons of Joy

Illustrated Children's Book- Seasons of Joy

Published: 2017
Theme: Illustrated Book
Best for: 2 to 5

In this very unique children’s book, the author has placed images of her exquisite needle-felted scenes that really invite the children to live into the pictures, as they listen to the words.

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

Heroes and Villains

Children's book - Heroes and Villains

Published: 2016
Theme: Heroes and Villains
Best for: boys age 10 and up

“My name is Danny Daley, but no one calls me “Danny” anymore. These days, I’m know as “Stink.’ Before you laugh, let me tell you how I got that nickname, because it’s not what you might think.” Three cheers for a children’s book series called Guys Read, a fabulous way to grab the attention of middle-school boys.

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

Kepler’s Dream

Kepler's Dream - Children's book

Published: 2012
Theme: Healing Relationships
Best for: 10 and up

“I felt like I was speaking a part in some out-of-date play. Who in the world calls their grandmother “Grandmother?” But “Grandma” didn’t seem to fit.” This children’s book is about relationships – between parents, children, grandparents, and friends, showing the way that misunderstandings can create distance, and communication can create love and warmth.

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

The Fourteenth Goldfish

Children's Book - Fourteenth Goldfish

Published: 2014
Theme: Be yourself
Best for: 10 – 12

“Sometimes I wonder if I was born into the wrong family. Being onstage makes me nervous, and I’m not a fan of working backstage either.” There are two themes interwoven here: responsible science, and finding your own way…

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary

Backyard Witch: Jess’s Story

Children's Book: Backyard Witch: Jess's story

Published: 2016
Theme: Self-acceptance
Best for: Girls 7 – 9

“Did Mom know she hired a witch as a babysitter?” In this second children’s book in the Backyard Witch series, we watch a young girl grow into her own qualities, which are different from her mother’s expectations.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Contemporary, First Chapter Book, Inspiring for Girls

Posted

Children's Book - Posted

Published: 2017
Theme: Words as Weapons
Best for: 10 and up

“It was that moment. That terrible, blood-freezing, ashy-mouthed moment when you suddenly realize that sixty eyeballs are fixed on you, deciding what to do about you, where you fit in.” Bullies, abusive words, cliques, middle school – a realistic look at what our children may face, unless we change our cultural norms and say no to bullying.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary

The Lost Island

Children's Book - The Lost Island

Published: 2006
Theme: Adventure
Best for: 11 and up

“This adventure really began on early spring morning when I was fourteen years old. I remember it all so clearly, from the moment I stepped out into the still dark yard and went to unlock the stable door.” Written like a page out of the Celtic past, the adventures of two young lads searching for their dad on a lost island is exquisitely crafted…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, Waldorf-Aligned

The Bat-Poet

Children's Book - Bat-Poet

Published: 1996
Theme: Curiosity
Best for: 5 to 8

“Once upon a time there was a bat–a little light brown bat, the color of coffee with cream in it. He looked like a furry mouse with wings.” This poetic little fable about animals, and one bat in particular, will be a sweet bedtime story.

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

Hug Time

Children's Book - Hug Time

Published: 2007
Theme: Love the World
Best for : 5 to 8

“The boat docked in Africa, and Jules kissed the ground; the earth so precious, so fragile, so round” A simple, beautifully illustrated children’s book, that gently reminds us that all the creatures on earth need our protection and love.

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

Good Night, Good Knight

Easy Reader Children's Book - Good night, Good Knight

Published: 2000
Theme: Easy Reader Bedtime
Best for: 5 to 8

“Once there were three little dragons. They lived in a dark cave. The cave was in a dense forest. The forest was in a faraway kingdom. The poor little dragons were very lonely in their deep dark cave.” A must-have, read-aloud bedtime story that’s perfect for every child…

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

Strictly No Elephants

Children's Book

Published: 2015
Theme: Welcoming Diversity
Best for: 5 to 7

“The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in.” A simple children’s book like this begins the process of opening hearts and minds to the beauty of diversity at an early age.

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

Threads

Children's Book - Threads

Published: 2016
Theme: Child Labor, Doing Good
Best for: 12 and up

“The sounds of the sewing machines that masked the constant grumbling of my belly would surely mask the sound of ripping paper. The guard now had his head tilted back, his eyes shut…” This recently-published children’s book takes on child labor directly and dramatically, and how one person can make a difference for others.

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

Thor’s Wedding Day

Children's Book - Thor's Wedding Day

Published: 2005
Theme: Norse Myth
Best for: 8 to 11

“I had never been in the Great Hall of Asgard before. Even from outside, it was the most amazing building I had ever seen, vaster and grander than I could have imagined possible…” This children’s book is very easy to get through, and would make a nice complement to the third graders after they work with the original Norse myth…

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

The BFG

Children's Book BFG

Published: 1982
Theme: Overcoming Bullies
Best for: 8 to 10

“Dreams,” he said, “is very mysterious things. They is floating around in the air like little wispy bubbles. And all the time they is searching for sleeping people.” If you are in need of a cheerful happy ending story, as a children’s book BFG is perfect…

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

The Hired Girl

Hired Girl - Historical Fiction Children's Book

Published: 2015
Theme: Historical Fiction Coming of Age
Best for: 12 – 14

“I have escaped! I have achieved the first stage of my emancipation! In a little while I will go on to Baltimore–and from thence I will begin my new life.” This beautifully written historical fiction children’s book is quite hard to put down.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Biography, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Inspiring for Girls

A Diamond in the Desert

Historical Fiction - Diamond in the Desert

Published: 2012
Theme: WWII- Japanese Internment
Best for: ages 10 to 12

“Gila River was where I would turn thirteen, and live with my mama and my sister, while waiting for my papa to be brought bak from Fort Lincoln, North Dakota, where the FBI had sent him…” This historical fiction children’s book adds yet another new piece of history and humanness to the story of the internment of Japanese citizens after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

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

Number the Stars

Children's Book - Number the Stars

Published: 1989
Theme: Heroism
Best for: 10 – 13

“…The dream for you all, young and old, must be to create an ideal of human decency, and not a narrow-minded and prejudiced one. That is the great gift our country hungers for…” This children’s book is first and foremost about the courage of ordinary people to do the right thing, even in the worst of times…

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

Gifts from the Gods

Children's Book - Gifts from the Gods

Published: 2011
Theme: Greek and Roman Myths
Best for: 9- 12

“Humans have always loved telling stories, and to use them we tell words. Sometimes, however, the words themselves have stories to tell.” This children’s book is a delightful collection of brief stories from Greek and Roman mythology to illustrate the origin of common words and phrases in our vocabulary,

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