The spring and some summer books have come in through the mail. Some in boxes, with dozens of books, and others are delivered one book at a time. The titles that I am most excited about now are Eoin Colfer’s Airman, Grace Lin’s The Year of the Rat, Andy Cutbill’s The Cow That Laid an Egg (illus. by Russell Ayto), Nancy’s Springer’s third installment of the Enola Holmes detective series, The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, Mary Amato’s The Chicken in the Family (illus. Delphine Durand), and Lois Lowry’s The Willoughbys. Of course, many other good or excellent titles are going to be suggested and discovered by my fellow committee members, and I can’t wait for the day in early May when I’ll know what other books I have to read in order to make intelligent selections for the June discussion list during ALA Annual meeting in Anaheim.
I love Airman for its daring escapades and emotional depth, with occasional sprinkling of odd humor. Set against similar time, The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets also features wry humor and plot surprises. The Willoughbys is in itself an entire surprise simply because it is so different from Lowry’s past and well known works. The sardonic humor definitely appeals to me — and might appeal to cynical young readers (do we have more of them these days?) Not at all ironic or cynical is The Year of the Rat and I appreciate this “relief” from the onslaught of trouble-making, sarcastic, and even mean-spirited young female characters in so many recent books. The two picture books from this bunch both have an “inter-species” relationship twist: Henrietta, after being teased of being the chicken of the family, is quite at home WITH the chickens down the road while Marjorie the cow, with the help from her chicken friends, is now the proud mother of a chick that says “MOO.” Both are skillfully illustrated with cartoon-like lines and humorous characters. There is quite a bit of moral consideration that can spark interesting discussion with children.