Island Readers & Writers, a nonprofit based in Southwest Harbor, strives to instill a love of reading and learning among children living in coastal Maine. The organization shared a few of the many books on its “Light Up Your Winter with Stories” list. To learn more, visit islandreadersandwriters.org.
“Leave Me Alone,” by Vera Brosgol (Preschool-grade 2)
The grumpy grandma at the heart of this story has had it with her umpteen grandchildren making too much noise. So she decides to pack up her knitting supplies and head somewhere — anywhere — for some peace and quiet. But she just can’t quite seem to ever be alone!
From bothering bears, to grazing goats and little green moon men, granny wants to get as far away from everyone as possible. Kiddos will delight in shouting grandma’s oft-repeated request — “Leave me alone!” — (and grown-ups will relate to her plight) in this ultimately sweet story.
— Taylor Mace
“A World Below,” by Wesley King (Grades 3-7)
What starts out as a normal field trip to a large cave system in New Mexico quickly becomes an adventure story involving survival, teamwork, facing fears, and keeping an open heart.
When Eric and Silvia’s class visits limestone caves with their teacher Mr. Baker, an earthquake separates the students from the adults and they must band together to find their way back to the surface. Their obstacles, however, are not quite what they anticipated — bats, and falling stalactites, sure, but also giant lakes and their mega creatures, forests lit by glowing mushrooms, and an unknown world with inhabitants prepared to fight off any Surface People. For a quick-packed, intriguing read, journey to “A World Below.”
— Jenna Beaulieu
“Hurricane Child,” by Kheryn Callender (Grades 5-7)
To be a Hurricane Child is to be born cursed — or so the locals say. For 12-year-old Caroline, it feels that way.
Caroline struggles with the absence of her mother, a father struggling to raise a headstrong child, a school filled with people who hate her, and phantoms that no one else can see.
How is a young girl supposed to navigate it all, while balancing grief, anger, and the new feelings that have arisen for the new girl, Kalinda? With a text and imagery that evokes magical realism, “Hurricane Child” is a journey no reader should miss.
— Matt Cornish
“The War Outside,” by Monica Hesse (Grades 9 and up)
In this wrenching tale two teens, one German-American, the other Japanese-American, pursue a forbidden friendship during World War II in the internment camp where both their families have been sent as “enemy aliens.” Can they trust each other? And should they?
Well-researched and well-written, this complex piece of historical fiction eschews easy answers as it follows the girls from their first meeting as they shelter together from a dust storm, to the aftermath of decisions that affect both families in profound ways.
— Melinda Rice