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.

I Dissent – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Illustrated Children's Book - I Dissent

Published: 2016
Theme: Biography, Equality
Best for: 6 and up

“Boys were expected to grow up, go out in the world, and do big things. Girls? Girls were expected to find husbands.” This very appealing illustrated children’s book is perfect because it can spark important family conversations about justice…

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

The Poet’s Dog

Children's Book - Poet's Dog

Published: 2016
Theme: Children, Poets, and Dogs
Best for: 7 to 10

“I’m a dog. I should tell you that right away. But I grew up with words. A poet named Sylvan found me at the shelter and took me home. He laid down a red rug for me by the fire…” Prepare to have your heart strings plucked by master storyteller MacLachlan, as a dog and two children comfort each other.

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

His Majesty, Queen Hatshepsut

Historical Fiction Children's Book

Published: 1987
Theme: Historical Fiction
Best for: 9 – 12

“The title ‘Joint Reign’ is a foolishment and emphasizes what I have always contended: that men are more fortunate than women. Joint reign! It is I who inspects, examines, weighs and wrings her brain …” Coming on the heels of an historic election, it is interesting to go back in history and understand more about the obstacles women faced hundreds of years ago.

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

The Children of the King

Children of the King - Children's book

Published: 2014
Theme: Bravery
Best for: 14 and older

“We’d never been through a war, so we didn’t know what war was like. We thought it would be an adventure. Later of course, we realized the truth: that war is almost the opposite to an adventure…” This is a complex, serious book about a very serious topic: war. It asks the question, What is bravery? What does it take to show one’s bravery?…

Posted in Ages 12-14, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Sita’s Ramayana

Sita's Ramayana for Children

Published: 2011
Theme: Graphic Novel- Ramayana
Best for: 9 and up

“War, in some ways, is merciful to men. It makes them heroes if they are the victors. If they are vanquished, they do not live to see their homes taken, their wives widowed. But if you are a woman, you must live through defeat…” No matter how you categorize this children’s book, it is a wonderful addition to the re-telling of the Ramayana, from Sita’s point of view.

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

The Best Man

Children's Book - The Best Man

Published: 2016
Theme: Middle-school life
Best for: 11 and up

“We all need goals,” he said. “Here’s one: Stay away from people who don’t know who they are but want you to be just like them. People who’ll want to label you. People who’ll try to write their fears on your face.” This terrific, humorous middle-school story covers bullying, teachers, cliques, change, parental divorce, and gender identity, just to name a few…

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

The Iridescence of Birds – Henri Matisse

Children's Book Iridescence of Birds

Published: 2014
Theme: Biography Henri Matisse
Best for: 4 to 6

“If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray, and you wanted color and light and sun, what might you become?” The images and wonder of Matisse’s imagination come to life in a beautifully crafted children’s book.

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

Talking Leaves

Historical Fiction Children's Book - Talking Leaves

Published: 2016
Theme: Historical Fiction Biography
Best for: 9 to 12

“He passes the hammer to me, and I heft it in my hands. It fits my palm perfectly, and it feels good…It seems to be speaking to me, begging to be used, ready to be of service.” So many themes in one book – father/son, developing a written language, Native American struggle. Yet it all holds together beautifully.

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

Red – The True Story of Red Riding Hood

Children's Book - Red

Published: 2016
Theme: Coming of Age Fairytale
Best for: 9 to 12 girls

“The first time I tried my hand at magic, I grew roses out of my nose. This was not my intention… Magic is unpredictable, finicky, and dangerous, especially in the wrong hands.” This children’s book is best thought of as a modern-day Grimm’s fairytale. It has all the elements of Grimm stories, including the grim part…

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

A Week Without Tuesday

Children's Book - A Week Without Tuesday

Published: 2016
Theme: Imagination
Best for: 8 to 10

“Inside the world of humans is the world of imagination, and the only way you can get there is through the door of your mind.” In this very imaginative children’s book, the second in a series, we journey with the main character, a young girl, into the world where stories live…

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

Finding Serendipity

Children's Book- Finding Serendipity

Published: 2013
Theme: Power of Imagination
Best for: 8 to 12

“The power of the imagination is a magnificent thing. Here, whatever you can imagine, you can make real.” If you ever wished to have a children’s book which is fun yet compelling page-turner, this is good place to start…

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

One Riddle, One Answer

Children's Book - One Riddle, One Answer

Published: 2001
Theme: Math Riddle
Best for: 5 to 8

“Aziza learned all there was to know. But her favorite subject was numbers. And her favorite game was riddles.” This is a simple and enjoyable way to present numbers and riddles to young children who are already showing signs up interest in numbers.

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

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
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