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.

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

Children's Book - Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

Published: 2015
Theme: Mystery
Best for: Girls 9 – 12

“Leila breathed in the heavy scent of masala, nicked with the sharp undercurrent of gobi and war my oily parathas. She knew most of the dishes on her plate, and was determined to try everything…” The best part of this children’s book is the ending, where the resolution unfolds so skillfully, that only then did I realize the mystery … .

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

Dragon Masters

Children's Book - Dragon masters

Published: 2014
Theme: Dragons
Best for: 6 – 9

“Drake looked over at his friend Bo. he could tell Bo was thinking the same thing he was: How did the king know one of the dragons was sick?” Our school librarian gets a high demand for books about dragons, especially from the lower grade students. So she and I were delighted to find this one.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, First Chapter Book

A Dragon’s Guide to Making Your Human Smarter

Children's book - Dragon's Guide to Making your Human Smarter

Published: 2016
Theme: Self-confidence, Dragons
Best for: 8 to 12

“It was Vasilisa’s doll that did all the cleaning, dusting and laundry at night while Vasilisa slept in her room here. A couple of times, I tried to stay up long enough to catch the doll at it…” Dolls that clean houses, a dragon that lives in the basement, and a school for humans and magicals… a perfect recipe for delight.

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

Blue Jay Girl

Children's Book: Blue Jay Girl

Published: 2010
Theme: Be Yourself
Best for: 6 to 9

“Blue Jay Girl had a good family who loved her, and a little dog of her own. He was called Kiyu. Until now, her life had always pleased her. But today she was the very saddest girl in the village.” This small children’s book is a great addition to Native American folk literature. It reads like an oral story that has been converted to a children’s book.

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

Tales from the Perilous Realm

Tolkien Children's Book- Tales from the Perilous Realm

Published: 2008
Theme: Tolkien Fantasy
Best for: 7 and up

“Faerie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold…” This collection of shorter stories by Tolkien has something for all ages, including adults who love Tolkien’s fantasy worlds.

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

Ruffleclaw

Children's Book - Ruffleclaw

Published: 2015
Theme: Monsters
Best for: 7 to 8

“Yes, he had to admit, Ruffleclaw had been quite a pest. Always hungry. Always tired. And he spat absolutely everywhere. And still… Tommy missed him.” Let’s start by admitting that this children’s book is aimed at being gross, and aimed at young boys who like to be gross…

Posted in Ages 5-8, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, First Chapter Book

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

Jeremy Fink- Children's Book

Published: 2011
Theme: Meaning of Life
Best for: 11 to 13

“After five years, he has sent me a message with one instruction, to open this box on my thirteenth birthday. Somehow, no matter how impossible it might seem, I am going to do exactly that.” If you want an uplifting, somewhat philosophical children’s book, for a child who is wondering about the meaning of life, this is it…

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

Saving the Griffin

Children's Book - Saving the Griffin

Published: 2007
Theme: Imagination
Best for: 9-11

“With a pleased yowl, the griffin chased after the ball again, catching it a few feet from Kate and Michael. Then it came forward and laid the ball at Kate’s feet like a cat presenting a dead mouse..” There’s a real gentleness about this children’s book that actually doesn’t need additional drama or hype…

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

Dodsworth in Paris

First Chapter Children's Book - Dodsworth in Paris

Published: 2008
Theme: First Chapter Book
Best for: 6 to 8

“They sat down for lunch at a cafe. “Bonjour,” said the waiter. “That means ‘Hello'”, Dodsworth told the duck. “Oh well then, ‘banjo’ to you, too,” said the duck.” As a first chapter children’s book, this little book is more than meets the eye, with lovely illustrations, and authentic information about Paris.

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

Wonder

Children's Book: Wonder

Published: 2012
Theme: Accepting Differences
Best for: 11 and up

“I’m kind of used to how I look by now. I know how to pretend I don’t see the faces people make. We’ve all gotten pretty good at that sort of thing: me, Mom and Dad, Via. Actually, I take that back: Via’s not so good at it.” Let’s get right to the heart of the matter: this is a stunning, daring, heart-opening children’s book.

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

Annika Riz, Math Whiz

Annika Riz - First Chapter Book, Children's Book

Published: 2014
Theme: Being yourself
Best for: Third graders

“It was all new and fascinating to Annika. She had never know that baking had so much math in it–so much tasty math!” Here’s a lovely addition to those hard to find interesting first chapter books, which, uncommonly, focuses on the early grade student’s relationship to math.

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

Blockhead – The Life of Fibonacci

Children's Book - Blockhead,

Published: 2010
Theme: Math Biography
Best for: 6 to 9

“You can call me Blockhead. Everyone else does. One day when I was just a boy, Maestro wrote out a math problem and gave us ten minutes to solve it. I solved it in two seconds.” If you have any young children who love numbers, this is definitely a children’s book they should read – a superb biography about Fibonacci.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Biography, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Illustrated Books, Waldorf-Aligned

Will Sparrow’s Road

Will Sparrow's Road - Historical Fiction Children's Book

Published: 2012
Theme: Coming of Age
Best for: 11 and up

“Will Sparrow was a liar and a thief, and hungry, so when he saw the chance to steal a cold rabbit pie from the inn’s kitchen and blame it on the dog, he took it – both the chance and the pie…” First and foremost, this is a beautifully written piece of children’s historical fiction literature. The fact that the story and characters are interesting as well is icing on the cake..

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

Listening for Lions

Historical Fiction for Children: Listening for Lions

Published: 2005
Theme: Power of Kindness
Best for: 11 and up

“Africa was hurrying by as if someone were turning the pages of a book too quickly. I was miserable at what I was leaving behind. Even the railway itself has a sad story…I felt my own future would be no better.” This historical fiction for children is full of unexpected turns, and dramatic turnabouts, from living in Africa to exile to England.

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

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail

Children's Book - Mouse with Question Mark Tail

Published: 2013
Theme: Pluck
Best for: 8 to 10

“Every time a human walks out of a room, something with more feet walks in. Mice, of course, who are only a whisker away. It’s true of the room where you are sitting. It’s truer still of Buckingham Palace.” This lovely tongue-in-cheek children’s book will definitely bring smiles to readers, especially those who can grasp some of the satire.

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

Harriet Bean Mystery Series

Children's Book: Harriet Bean series

Published: 1990
Theme: Light Mysteries
Best for: 8 to 10

“I did not write a long letter to Aunt Veronica. All I did was introduce myself and tell her that the only reason why I had not written before was that my father had never told me of her existence.” The earliest writing of Alexander McCall Smith, this series of mystery books for children is easy to read, silly, and good entertainment.

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

James to the Rescue

Children's Book:: James to the Rescue

Published: 2015
Theme: Trust
Best for: 6 – 9

“Marvin sees crumbs under the table, but those are nothing special. The beetles find crumbs all the time. But then he sees something else. Something shiny. Something silver.” My criteria for an good children’s book for emerging readers is that it is not too daunting, and not too dull. This book meets both criteria.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, First Chapter Book, Waldorf-Aligned

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics

Children's Book: Mr. Lemoncello's library olympics

Published: 2016
Theme: Freedom of Literary Speech
Best for: 8 and up

“The hover ladders were floating platforms with handrails, book baskets, and ski-boot safety locks that allowed you to float up and retrieve any book simply by entering the book’s call number into a keypad.” The reason I found this particular children’s book compelling is that it offers a very strong message about the importance of books, libraries, and freedom of press.

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

The Dragon of Lonely Island

Children's Book - Dragon of Lonely Island

Published: 1998
Theme: Gentleness and Bravery
Best for: 6 to 10

“‘A tridrake,’ the dragon repeated. ‘A three-headed dragon.’ Only then did the children notice that the dragon had two other necks, branching off on either side of the first neck, and two other heads… both sound asleep.” This book reads like an old fashioned tale, as each head of the dragon tells of an earlier encounter with a child who trusted and helped the dragon.

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

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

Children's Book

Published: 2015
Theme: Raising Chickens
Best for: 9 and up

“Mom says she has no intention of ever being a farmer, even though she knows how to drive a tractor and prune grapes.. But if I’m going to live on a farm, I guess I might as well be a farmer…”This is a totally lovable book, and a very likable heroine, who is trying her best to learn all about chickens, one chicken at a time.

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

Diva and Flea

Children's Book - Diva and Flea

Published: 2015
Theme: Friendship
Best for: 5 – 8

“Diva was the gardienne’s dog, which mean that Diva was practically responsible of the whole of 11 avenue Le Play, including the courtyard. It was a very big job for a very small dog.” Hooray! An enchanting first chapter book for children that delights, amuses, is readable, and even stretches our reading muscles to read some French words.

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

Will in Scarlet

Children's Book: Will in Scarlett

Published: 2013
Theme: Robin Hood
Best for: 10 and up

“Killing wolves is supposed to teach me to be a great lord of men? Aren’t there any books on the subject?” This children’s book is full of action. While it’s not written as a historical fiction, it gives a good view of the class disparity, and why one would rob the rich and give to the poor.

Posted in Ages 12-14, Ages 9-12, Appeals to Boys, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Crenshaw

Children's Book - Crenshaw

Published: 2015
Theme: Homelessness
Best for: 9 and up

“Robin asked what is a keepsake. My mom said it’s an object you treasure. Then she said things don’t really matter, as long as we have each other.”The most interesting part of this children’s book is that it allows us to see that perhaps homeless people are just the same as you and me, but having a very difficult financial time.

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

Firefly Hollow

Children's book - Firefly Hollow

Published: 2015
Theme: Following a Dream
Best for: 7 to 9

“Firefly didn’t know if she should zoom straight up into the air or take shelter behind Cricket. There was no time to think, because with one step of his huge legs, the miniature giant was there.” If you are looking for a message about staying in one place where you belong, this is not the children’s book for that. This is adventuring, a la Wind in the Willows.

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

All The Answers

Children's Book - All The Answers

Published: 2015
Theme: Overcoming Worry
Best for: 9 and up

“The pencil didn’t look magic. It looked the opposite of magic. It was the kind of pencil a parent might bring home from some boring financial-planning convention.” This very clever and heart-warming children’s book offers a novel approach to knowing the future… a pencil which can answer any factual question.

Posted in Ages 9-12, Contemporary

Backyard Witch: Sadie’s Story

Children's Book - Sadie's Story

Published: 2015
Theme: Self-confidence
Best for: girls 8 to 10

“Sadie imagined Jess and Maya calling from the road and asking what she was up to. ‘Oh Nothing much. Just doing magic with a friend. Nobody you know.'” With a little imagination, and the help from the Backyard Witch, “a most magical and mysterious visitor, who always appears just when you need her,” Sadie’s summer, and her own sense of self-worth is transformed.

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

Half Upon A Time

Children's Book: Half Upon A Time

Published: 2010
Theme: Fairy Tale adventure
Best for: 9 to 11

“It’s a Story Book. It’s actually pretty rare… My grandfather got this one when he rescued an old woman who used to ride a giant goose… The book writes down any stories you tell it…” First, the recommendation and review by a fifth-grade reader that led me to this children’s book: “I liked how funny May was.”

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

Escape from Baxter’s Barn

Children's Book - Escape from Baxter's Barn

Published: 2015
Theme: Value of Community
Best for: 9 and 10

“Burdock knew perfectly well he was strictly a barn cat. A barn cat, not a house cat, not even a sometimes-allowed-in-the-house barn cat. But Burdock loved warmth more than just about anything…” The banding together of the animals for a common cause – to save themselves from an impending fire- is the heart of this newly published children’s book.

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

Truckers – Bromeliad Trilogy 1

Bromeliad Trilogy Book 1

Published: 1998
Theme: Science Fiction
Best for: 11 and up

“Be quiet! You know the words of Arnold Bros. (est. 1905)! Everything Under One Roof. Everything! Therefore, there can be no Outside. Therefore you’re from some other part of the Store. Corsetry. Or Young Fashions…” The first children’s book in The Bromeliad Trilogy is filled with humor, puns, social commentary, and a clever plot. I admit to laughing out loud …

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

Leprechaun in Late Winter

Children's book - Leprechaun in Late Winter

Published: 2010
Theme: Irish Fairies
Best for: 7 to 9

“Strange, sweet music came from the whistle. The music was both sad and happy. It was full of beauty and hope, pain and sorry. Like the fog over the river, the music seems to blend everything together.” I personally learned a lot more about leprechauns and Irish fairytales after I read this delightful children’s book.

Posted in Ages 5-8, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Waldorf-Aligned
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