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.

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

A Whale in Paris

Children's Book- Whale in Paris

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

“No one knew where the Mona Lisa was hiding. Chantal made a fist. How she hated the war. It had scared all the art way from the city.” A truly uplifting story about hope even during the direst of times, this will make your heart smile.

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

The Lost Books

The Lost Books - Children's BOok

Published: 2018
Theme: Fantasy Adventure with Books
Best for: 10 and up

He’d been trained as a solider, after all. He knew how to fight. The same rules applied, if you thought about it, to books and to swords. For one thing, you didn’t run away from a challenge. You met it head-on. This is a non-stop, action packed books about libraries and librarians, and if you thing that’s an oxymoron, you’ll need to read this yourself…

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

Stories for Being – A Mindful Children’s Book Series

Children's Book - Mindful Series

Published: 2019
Theme: Mindfulness
Best for: 5 to 8

Laying down before I sleep / I visit every part /Of my soft animal body… What a wonderful way to go to sleep – thanking every part of our body. This is the beginning of a mindful practice of gratitude…

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

The Wild Book

Children's Book - The wild book

Published 2017
Theme: Books and Readers
Best for: 9 and up

“Books are the external memory of mankind–a warehouse of memories.” Translated from Spanish, this excellent children’s book leads us into the investigation of the value and power of books and how to befriend them.

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

My Family Divided

Children's Book - My family divided

Published: 2018
Theme: Immigration and Survival
Best for: 14 and up

“Behind every one of the headlines on deportation there is a family. Innocent children. True stories that are rarely told. At last, I found the courage to tell you mine.” This is best for parents and children to discuss how to deal with the current inhumane immigration policies, and realize the impact on children.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary

A Calf Named Brian Higgins

Calf Named Brian Higgins - Children's book

Published: 2019
Theme: Adventure in Rural Kenya
Best for: 12 to 14

“Yeah, no one here has food allergies.” Hannah’s eyes shifted and narrowed. How is that possible? We’re worried about what food to let in our schools and here they’re worried about having food at all.” In this semi-fictional children’s book, we are inspired to extend ourselves to other cultures, to learn more about them, and to help when we can

Posted in Ages 12-14, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary

The Griffin’s Feather

Children's book - The Griffin's Feather

Published: 2018
Theme: Protection of Endangered Species
Best for: 9 to 12

“This story is for all who have the courage to protect instead of dominate, to save instead of plunder, and to preserve instead of destroy.” A sequel to Dragon Rider, this action-packed adventure with fantasy animals, is all about protecting all living beings.

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

The Boy Who Saved Baseball

Children's book: Boy who saved Baseball

Published: 2003
Theme: Valuing Community
Best for: 9 and up

“Tee ball is killing baseball… They’re killing the ability of kids to learn the most important part of the game- to follow a ball with their eyes. And to swing and hit a moving target..” This is a lovely children’s book for kids who love their hometown baseball, played on their own local field, worth more than money can buy…

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

Little Cat’s Luck

Little Cat's Luck - Children's book

Published: 2018
Theme: Animal Kindness
Best for: 7 to 9

“When you are expecting the moon, it can be hard to know what to say to a small red squirrel. But still, the little cat gathered herself quickly. She was a polite cat.” In this poetic prose children’s book, we see the world through the eyes of a little cat looking for its own nesting place.

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

Scarlet Ibis

Scarlet Ibis - Children's book

Published: 2014
Theme: Resilience and family
Best for: ages 10 and up

“We don’t look much like brother and sister. Sometimes I reckon that might even be part of the problem. Maybe if we looked a little bit like each other, it might help” This book is transformative; we start out in despair, and end up in acceptance and love.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary

Have Sword, Will Travel

Children's Book - Have Sword, Will travel

Published: 2017
Theme: Knights
Best for: 9 and up

“They may be young, but Sir Odo found me and awoke me. The mighty quest is his,” said Biter the sword. “By the same token, your daughter is small but seems valiant and my knight must have a squire.” A great fantasy adventure about two young children and their enchanted sword on a quest…

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

How Oscar Indigo Broke the Universe

Children's Book - How Oscar Indigo Broke the Universe

Published: 2017
Theme: Integrity, Time-travel
Best for: 8 and up

“Try keeping your eyes on the ball when you swing,” suggested Miss Ellington. She had a habit of sneaking up on him and giving him batting tips.” This children’s book has a little bit of everything, including profound lessons and lightheartedness.

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

The Parker Inheritance

Parker Inheritance - Children's Book

Published: 2018
Theme: Overcoming Discrimination
Best for: 9 and up

“It wasn’t surprising that Siobhan Washington became a librarian. She grew up surrounded by books, spending just as much time in her school library as she did on the tennis courts. ” This authentic peek back in time to the struggles of African-Americans to be accepted is well-done, written in the form of a puzzle-solving adventure.

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

Stick Dog Crashes A Party

Stick Dog- Children's book

Published: 2018
Theme: Humor
Best for: 6 and up

“Now, under normal circumstances, Poo-Poo’s request to lick Karen’s nose would be quite bizarre. But these were not normal circumstances…” Humor is humor, silliness is silliness, and Tom Watson delivers both, regardless of whether it’s about dogs or cats…

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

Sisters of Glass

Children's Book: Sisters of Glass

Published: 2017
Theme: Courage, Fantasy
Best for: girls 11 and up

“We will rise. We will not, cannot, be controlled through fear or hatred, for we have hope. Those who greedily hoard their power will find it slips through their fingers like sand. We are free.” This is a very dramatic fantasy, with two fabulous heroines leading us to right some wrongs…

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