Miss Megan’s Five Star Favorites, Part I

I’m a pretty critical reader. I guess that’s because I read a lot of things, so inevitably I start to feel a little jaded. But when a special book crosses my path, one that jolts me out of my stupor with its originality or voice or what have you, I get very excited.

For this reason, I love Goodreads. Not only can I keep track of what I’ve read, but I can organize books based on how I rated them. And at the tippy-top of the list is my handful of five star picks, the books that I think are just plain extraordinary.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen; Candlewick Press; 15.99; Ages 3-adult

Opening line: “This hat is not mine. I just stole it.”

For fans of: I Want My Hat BackI’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean

Also, it’s this year’s Caldecott medalist.

Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illus. by Adam RexHyperion (HarperCollins); 16.99; Ages 3-8

Opening line: “This is me, Mac. I’m the author of this book.”

For fans of: The Three PigsOh, No!: or How My Science Project Destroyed the World

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland by Catherynne M. ValenteSquare Fish (Macmillan); 6.99; Ages 9-adult

Opening line: “Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog.”

For fans of: The Chronicles of NarniaAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Breadcrumbs by Anne UrsuHarperCollins; 6.99; Ages 9-adult

Opening line: “It snowed right before Jack stopped talking to Hazel, fluffy white flakes big enough to show their crystal architecture, like perfect geometric poems.”

For fans of: Peter PanLiesl and Po

Okay for Now by Gary SchmidtClarion (Houghton Mifflin); 16.99; Ages 10-adult

Opening line: “Joe Pepitone once gave me his New York Yankees baseball cap. I’m not lying. He gave it to me. To me, Doug Swieteck. To me.”

For fans of: The Wednesday WarsAl Capone Does My Shirts

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy SchlitzCandlewick Press; 17.99; Ages 10-adult

Opening line: “The witch burned. She tossed in a sea of blankets, dizzy with heat. It was fever, not fire, that tormented her, fever and the nightmares that came with it.”

For fans of: Charles DickensCatherine, Called Birdy

And it’s a 2013 Newbery Honor Book!

Want to read more from any of these awesome titles? Call us and we’ll put them on hold! (703) 548-4092.

Read on, readers!

Miss Megan

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Okay for Now is an NPR Backseat Book Club Pick!

OkayforNowWe loved Gary Schmidt’s Okay for NowYou can read Miss Megan’s glowing review here. And now it’s going to be the next pick for NPR’S Backseat Book Club!

Schmidt will be featured on All Things Considered at the end of February. You can submit questions and comments about Okay for Now on this page.

If you haven’t read Okay for Now yet (it really is as wonderful as everyone says), give us a call or shoot us an email! We’re always happy to put a copy on hold. (703) 548-4092 or info@hooray4books.com.

And if you’re on twitter (follow us @HFBooks!), share your favorite moments, quotes, and musings to @hmhkids and @NPRBackseat using the hashtag #OK4NOW!

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Ages 10-adult

Miss Megan’s Favorites of 2011

Each of us here at Hooray for Books has our favorites that we’ve fallen in love with throughout the year. Today, Miss Megan shares the books that became her favorites over the past 12 months.

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness; Candlewick Press, $16.99, ages 12+

Okay for Now, by Gary Schmidt; Clarion Books, $16.99, ages 10+

Chime, by Frannie Billingsley; Dial Books, $17.99, ages 14+

I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen; Chronicle Books, $15.99, ages 3+

Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu; Walden Pond Press, $16.99, ages 10+

Everybody Sees the Ants, by A.S. King; Little Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99, ages 14+

If you would like us to reserve  a copy of any of these titles, call us at 703-548-4092 or come on in! We would love to show you more of our favorite books!

Stop What You’re Doing and Read: Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt

Because I was away at school in the spring, I missed the release (and advance reader’s copy) of Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now. I didn’t think anything of it until it started to get buzz from the blogosphere. Big words started getting thrown around, words like “must read,” “National Book Award” and “Newbery contender.” Everyone, it seemed, was head over heels for this book. I figured it was high time I read it, but I wondered if it had been built up too much. Really, could any book stand up to all this hype? The very fact that I’m writing this blog should answer that question. (Yes.)

When Doug Swieteck’s family moves to stupid Marysville, he’s sure that he’ll hate it. After all, how much can possibly happen in a tiny town in upstate New York? You guessed it: a whole lot. For starters, there’s a book in the library full of pictures of birds that he can’t seem to get out of his mind. And a librarian who is determined to teach Doug to draw those birds. And a girl with attitude who shows him the best way to drink a really cold Coke (big gulps followed by a giant belch). And a science teacher with a tiny rocking horse named Clarence on his desk, a horse that rocks enthusiastically whenever a student gets something right. And a reclusive playwright who shares ice cream when Doug makes the Saturday grocery delivery.

But then, of course, there’s Doug’s family: his mother, with the most beautiful smile in the entire world. His father, with a quick temper and quicker fists. His middle brother, who is possibly a criminal mastermind. And his oldest brother, who is returning from Vietnam with mental and physical injuries that Doug’s not sure will ever heal.

It’s the worldview used in creating the characters that is the deciding factor here. I hope I’m not spoiling anything by telling you that every single person introduced in the plot–good, bad, and ugly–is redeemable. Even Doug’s abusive father, who, like any reader with half a heart, I was predisposed to utterly despise, gets a shot at forgiveness and rebirth. It’s the sort of hopeful, lovable novel that is often lacking in our cynical society of ambiguous endings and anti-fairytales. It’s refreshing and joyful and heartbreaking and unpretentious and thoroughly enjoyable.

I am not lying when I tell you that I laughed and cried while reading this book (on the metro, as it happens, which may have been slightly awkward for the people around me). As I said, the awards blogs are atwitter with predictions for this title (it’s already a National Book Award finalist), so don’t be surprised if you hear more and more about it as the countdown to Newbery begins. It’s an excellent choice for gift giving, too–it’s definitely on the top of my holiday suggestions list for this season!

The title of this blog is a little bossy, so I’ll tone my demands down a bit and just say that if you read this book (and I really, really, really hope you do!), you’ll be extremely grateful that you did.

Happy reading,

Miss Megan G.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, Ages 10+, Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin)