Hey, girls! The theme for this month’s book recommendations is “weird and wonderful” — and I admit that it was HARD to narrow down my picks. Not only is there a lot of weird and wonderful stuff out there in the real world, but a lot of authors also have weird and wonderful imaginations. I’ve included a mix of both the real and the imagined, both equally wonderful.
Real Weird and Wonderful
- Did you know that some fish can live up to 250 years, or that scientists have injected jellyfish genes into cats to make them glow in the dark? For real! I had no idea until I read Random
Illustrated Facts: A Collection of Curious, Weird and Totally Not Boring Things to Know by Mike Lowery. Each fact includes a fun illustrated cartoon to drive home just how wacky or amazing it is!
- So, time travel may still be something that we can only imagine … but the places you might want to visit from the past were very real. In the “Thrifty Guide” handbooks for time travelers by Jonathan W. Stokes, you can visit the past without leaving your favorite chair. Each book is set up like a travel guide including maps, stories, and tips for your next ancient adventure. So far, the thrifty guides can take you to the American Revolution, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Greece!
- What happens when you get a bunch of writers and artists together to exchange story inspiration? Something wonderful … and maybe sometimes a little weird. Check it out for yourself in The Creativity Project, edited by Colby Sharp. In it, Colby asked writers and artists to come up with story prompts, or inspirations, which they they swapped with other writers and artists. This book collects the stories, artwork, and comics that came out of the experiment, by authors such as Kate DiCamillo, Sophie Blackall, Naomi Shihab Nye, and more. But that’s not all — the book includes prompts and inspirations for YOU, too, so you can join the fun!
- Feel like getting creative (and maybe a little weird) with some yarn and knitting needles? Then check out Monster Hats: 15 Scary Head Warmers to Knit by Vanessa Mooncie. From cyclops to skulls to aliens, these hats can add a dash of weird and wonderful to any outfit! Some of the knitting techniques used are advanced, so if you are a beginner you might want to tackle the projects with a more experienced knitter.
The Weird and Wonderful World of Imagination
Fantasy is one of my favorite types of books, so I had fun hunting down some fantastical books for this column! This is just a small sampling of all the weird and wonderful fiction that is out there.
- What if you could SEE when another person was lying? In Melinda Beatty’s Heartseeker, Only has such a gift — she sees colors around people when they lie. But her gift has another side, too — it makes it impossible for her to TELL lies. When the king finds out what she can do, he wants to use her power to weed out traitors in his dangerous and power-hungry court.
- Ada has a secret — she was born with both human and animal DNA as a result of an experiment gone wrong. When a test reveals the truth about her, she is shipped off to a special school for “chimeras,” or others like her. Soon, she is surrounded by kids as different as she is, with scales, wings, tentacles, and other oddities in Tentacle & Wing by Sarah Porter. As they deal with their families’ mixed feelings about chimeras and regular school problems like bullying, they also must face growing tension between humans and chimeras.
Tracey Baptiste, author of The Jumbies, which New Moon Girls featured in 2015, is back with a sequel, Rise of the Jumbies. In it, you can return to Trinidad for another adventure with Jumbies, the wicked spirits from Afro-Carribean folktales. This time, your adventure will also take you under the sea to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea, and travel all the way to West Africa with mermaids to the place where the jumbies legends originated. If you’re looking for even more adventure, pick up The Unicorn Rescue Society books by Adam Gidwitz, featuring friends Uchenna and Elliot on their quests to protect the world’s mythical creatures. Start with the Creature of the Pines, due out in April, and follow up with The Basque Dragon, which will be available this summer!
- A story doesn’t have to include imagnary creatures to be fantastical, though. In Jessica Day George’s The Rose Legacy, orphan Anthea learns that her long-lost uncle secretly breeds horses, which have been forbidden in her kingdom for centuries. But that’s not all — Anthea has an ancient gift called The Way, which allows her to talk to them. Can she learn to embrace her terrifying gift w hen her family and her kingdom need her?
- Are you ready to take a trip on a flying ship? Then board the cloudship Orion in Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour, where you’ll meet Nadya, who tends the “cloud garden” that keeps the ship afloat. When the ship is attacked by pirates, Nadya and the other orphans aboard escape, but the rest of the crew is captured. Now it’s up to Nadya and her friends to rescue them, and to find out what the pirates were after in the first place. Beautiful illustrations help bring this fantastical story to life!
Have you read any of the books listed above? Leave your recommendations for some weird and wonderful reads in the comments!