Whatcha Reading? October 2022By: Sally White
The spooky season has come and gone, and we're happy to say we read some wonderfully spine-tingling stories during our favorite month of the year, as well as some powerful non-fiction. Let's take a peek at what the team read and loved in October!
Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega
This was such a lovely middle grade novel about friendship, second chances, and teamwork. I absolutely adored the setting, magic system, and main characters. I'm super excited to see that this is going to be a larger series where we can continue to follow not only a diverse cast of characters but also powerful female leads. This book should be a major hit with it's target middle grade audience as well as anyone else who enjoys witchy-themed worlds!
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Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani
As someone who's read more fairy tale re-imaginings than she'd like to admit, Beasts and Beauty took me by very pleasant surprise. This upper middle grade anthology takes twelve renowned magical stories and transforms them into something entirely new, yet strangely familiar. From Cinderella to Rumpelstiltskin, Jack and the Beanstalk to Peter Pan, Soman Chainani (author of the School for Good and Evil series) expertly re-spins these tales in such a way that though you may think you know where this path will lead, a sudden fork in the road will take you on a journey to somewhere strange, dark, and rewarding.
I do want to emphasize that this anthology is intended for readers 10+ and with that upper age range, you can expect the tone, style, and content to veer slightly more Brothers Grimm than Disney. Delicious, wonderful, and sometimes heartbreaking, this is how you write a fairy tale.
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The 1619 Project: Born On the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith
I have another picture book this month, but while last month's was a light and silly pick for all ages, Born On The Water is an example of how effective the visual form can be in explaining big, heavy, real life topics. The story opens with a young Black girl turning to her grandmother after being assigned a family tree project at school. She isn't able to trace her family back for generations like many of her classmates, because ancestors were stripped of that information when they were enslaved and brought to America.
While the story does not shy away from the horrifying, dehumanizing reality of slavery, it is also hopefully, triumphant, informative, and absolutely beautiful both in its lyrical storytelling style and the stunning paintings that guide the reader through history from present day to 1619 and back again. This book is recommended for ages 7+. You can find a very helpful educator's guide here, courtesy of Penguin Random House.
What did you and your readers enjoy this month? Let us know in the comments!