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.

Stick Cats – Cats in the City

Children's book - Stick Cats: Cats in the City

Published: 2017
Theme: Cats and Kindness
Best for: 7 and up

“Edith sat back on her hind legs and licked her front left paw as she continued to speak. She stopped to examine the placement of each strand of fur every now and then.” A hilarious and profound look at cats, personalities, patience, and courage.

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

The Knight and the Squire

Chidlren's Book - Knight and squire

Published: 1997
Theme: Reality Check and Humor
Best for: Boys 9 to 11
“Now running away from home in the fourteenth century was by no means an easy thing to do. Everyone in the village would know exactly who you were… Nobody would be sitting inside watching television.” A funny book with a serious message- maybe knights are not all they appear to be on the surface, and war is war, never nice.

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

The Sky at Our Feet

Children's book - Sky at our Feet

Published: 2018
Theme: Bravery
Best for: 10 and up

“I’m terrified to see my mother being taken away. I want to pull her out of there, and hold her hand as we run back to our apartment. I don’t do any of that. I’m sacred and angry and sad.” From beginning to end, this adventure in New York City brings us to see the immense courage of immigrant families under threat.

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

Jorie and the Magic Stones

Children's Book - Jorie and the Magic Stones

Published: 2015
Theme: Fantasy, Inner Strengths
Best for: 9 to 11

“Many times we carry our magic within us, an inner magic that takes many forms, such as love, friendship, courage, and tolerance.” . In this lovely children’s book, fantasy has been crafted to suit younger children, without the violence and scare factors.

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

Jasmine Toguchi – Mochi Queen

Children's Book - Jasmine Toguchi

Published: 2107
Theme: Japanese Culture
Best for: 5 to 10

“I just had to be able to help make mochi! I need to think of a way to convince my parents. Good think I had the perfect thinking spot…” Breaking the gender barrier- again, and this time, against the cultural grain.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, First Chapter Book, Inspiring for Girls, Waldorf-Aligned

Smarty Marty Steps Up Her Game

Children's book - Smarty Marty Steps up her game

Published: 2017
Theme: Baseball and Gender-equality
Best for: 9 to 12

“If she didn’t try announcing the game, she knew she’d regret it… Everyone wanted to be the announcer. It was one of the most important jobs in baseball.” Gender equality knows no bounds, and Amy G calls on her real-life experience to prove it.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12, Contemporary, Inspiring for Girls

The Serpent Slayer

Children's book - Serpent Slayer

Published: 2000
Theme: Women Heroines
Best for: 5 to 10

“In the dark time of the year, when the days are short and a cold wind blows from the north, a serpent came to live in an old cave on the mountain of Yung Ling…” From time to time, it’s great to read about a young girl who takes on the challenge of slaying the perennial serpent. This children’s book is a lovely collection of such stories.

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

Flying Lessons and Other Stories

Children's Book - Flying Lessons

Published: 2017
Theme: Multicultural Stories
Best for: 9 – 12

“You plead with the guys standing on the sidelines. “You gotta let me play, man. I can ball. I swear.” But these outbursts of self-promotion will fall on deaf ears.” This collection of short stories is part of the mission for Diversity.org, where every child can see themselves in the pages of a book. A great mission…

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

Third Grade Angels

Children's Book - Third Grade Angels

Published: 2012
Theme: Genuine Kindness
Best for: Third Grade

“I couldn’t believe myself. All of a sudden it was like there was no door between my brain and my mouth. As for Gerald Willis, he was a fifth-grader, a troublemaker, and a bully.” In this well-written children’s book, we find out that being kind is a 24/7 occupation, not reserved for winning points.

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

Mudshark

Children's book - mudshark

Published: 2009
Theme: Humor
Best for: 8 to 10

“I think,” Clyde said to his friends, “that bird is special. He has powers. Maybe…he’s psychic.” By the end of the day the word was all over school. Need some humor to lighten the day? Here’s a quick and lighthearted read…

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

Brian’s Return

Children's book - Brian's return

Published: 1999
Theme: Finding oneself
Best for: boys 11 and up

“It was so beautiful it took his breath and he stood, his arms full of wood, staring at the sky until the sun, the star, and the light were gone, wanting it all to mean more.” A worthy sequel to the best-seller Hatchet, we find out how challenging it is to adapt to civilization that has lost its soul.

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

The Losers Club

Children's book - Loser's Club

Published: 2017
Theme: Being oneself
Best for: 5th grade and up

“Some people had comfort food, but Alec has comfort books–stories so familiar that they made reading feel like coasting downhill on a bike, or water-skiing on a smooth lake…” This is a fabulous children’s book about fitting in, without losing ones own sense of self, and a little bit about coming of age…

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

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

Children's Book - Pet Black Hole

Published: 2017
Theme: Holding Loss
Best for: 9 and up

” I closed my eyes, feeling a point of infinite love and infinite grief, and comfort in knowing, for the first time, that I have infinite space inside for both.” This well-written and creative book takes on the grieving process with skill and courage, and shows the beauty of a life can include both joy and sorrow.

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

Wolf Hollow

Children's book - Wolf Hollow

Published: 2016
Theme: Defending the Truth
Best for: 12 and up

“The year I turned twelve, I learned that what I said and what I did mattered. So much, sometimes, that I wasn’t sure I wanted such a burden. But I took it anyway…” A worthy piece of literature for young readers, somewhat a milder version of Kill a Mockingbird, but with less brutality and perhaps more heart.

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

Ban This Book

Children's book - Ban This Book

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

“All through math I sucked on my braids and imagined all the awful things that would happen if I was caught with all those books in my locker. Every parent…would like up to sue me.” This is a not-to-be-missed book about helping children understand how to speak up against injustices, small and large.

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

Just Dance

Just Dance - Children's Book

Published: 2017
Theme: Content with Life
Best for: 7 to 9

“I remembered a large, fancy poster with a picture of my mother and James, looking happy and famous. How could she leave that behind to live on a farm in the middle of the prairie?” The magic of Patricia MacLachlan comes through again, this time with a young girl wondering how one can give up fame and still be happy!

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

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

Children's book - Curious world of Calpurnia tate

Published: 2017
Theme: Girls and Science
Best for: 9 to 12

” ‘That’s all it took for you to cave in? You’re some kind of lousy negotiator. That’s what we get for sending a dumb girl to do a man’s job. …’ It was so unfair I could have smacked him.” This sequel continues to explore the theme of loving science and holding to one’s own truth…

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

Frightful’s Mountain

Children's Book - Frightful's Mountain

Published: 1999
Theme: The Natural World
Best for: 9 and up

“Frightful awoke as the morning sun brought color to the ops of the trees. Still ravenously hunger, and growing weak from lack of food, she left the pine and circled above an alfalfa field.” This children’s book is written so deftly that we feel like we are hearing about the habits of a dear friend, rather than some dry science about falcons…

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

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
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