Marian's Picks

The things She's Seen by Ambelin ans Ezekiel Kwaymullina

The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina isn’t my usual kind of book—I’m a giant wimp, so I tend to avoid murder mysteries and ghost stories, and Things She’s Seen is a mix of both. But it was described to me as being part dark fairytale, and I was intrigued enough to give it a chance. And I’m so glad I did—once I started, I couldn’t put it down. The Kwaymullina siblings weave magic and horror and history into a story that isn’t quite like anything else I’ve read. Ages 14+.

Beast Player by Nahoko Uehshi, translated by Cathy Hirano

Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano, has two of my favorite things: interesting world-building and a genuinely likeable main character. Elin can communicate with magical creatures—and while that seems harmless enough at first, using her ability might be what saves or destroys an entire kingdom. Beast Player is fantastic for ages 12+, and I absolutely recommend it for grown-up fantasy readers as well.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl in Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale

I might be behind on the movies, but I’m forever a Marvel fan. And The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale was a pure joy to read. Between moving across the country and finding new friends and keeping her squirrel powers under control, Doreen Green has a lot on her plate—but that’s not enough to stop her from becoming a superhero, too. Also featured: numerous Avengers wondering just how some random teenager has their phone numbers and why she keeps texting them for advice. If you, like me, are all about awesome heroines and terrible puns, this is definitely the book for you. Ages 10+.

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin is absolutely perfect for kids who are just starting to learn how to read. There aren’t many books like this out there—it manages to stick to the very basics without ever becoming boring, combining simple text with funny, gorgeous illustrations. It doesn’t matter what’s gone missing—pizza, jewels, or even his mother—Baby Monkey will solve the case! Ages 4+.

Sideways Stories From Wayside School by Louis Sachar

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar has been a favorite of mine for decades—I read the entire series more time than I can count as a kid, and at one point even willingly braved a Wayside School math activity book.
Wayside School was accidentally built sideways—thirty floors with one classroom on each. The books follow the class on the thirtieth floor, and their new teacher, Mrs. Jewls. Each student is distinct, each chapter hilarious and ridiculous, and every day an adventure. (But remember: there is no nineteenth story.) Ages 8+.

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