The esteemed children’s literature journal Horn Book has released their Fanfare list that features their picks for the best books of the year. Here are the titles:
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Dear Substitute by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Chris Raschka
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
The Field by Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara
Fox + Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
I Really Want to See You, Grandma by Taro Gomi
Julian Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes
The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke, illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd
Pie Is for Sharing by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard, illustrated by Jason Chin
They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
Love to Everyone by Hilary McKay
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Price and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Rebound by Kwame Alexander
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam by Elizabeth Partridge
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown
Water Land: Land and Water Forms around the World by Christy Hale
Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr (9781536200171)
Astrid loves living in her tiny village in the mountains. The only problem is that no other children live nearby. She does have a best friend, Gunnvald, a neighbor in his seventies who loves to play the fiddle and can be rather grumpy. Astrid spends her time playing outside, building prototype sleds with Gunnvald, and bothering the owner of the wellness retreat nearby. When some children do come to the retreat (where children are forbidden) Astrid becomes friends with them despite having a fight first. Astrid’s world is idyllic, but something is about to change. When Gunnvald has an accident and has to have surgery, the secret he has been keeping from Astrid is revealed. Could it be that nothing will ever go back to normal again?
This Norwegian book has been translated into languages and sold around the world. It’s wonderful to see it on American shelves. Parr writes with a delightful sense of merriment throughout her book. She speaks to the importance of children having freedom and an ability to make choices in their life (even if one of those choices can’t be missing school all the time). She also demonstrates what a life lived outdoors looks like and the importance of loving a place and identifying with it.
The book uses the story of Heidi as a central plot point, which is very interesting since I had been thinking of how much this tale was like Heidi from the start. It is partly the setting itself of a mountaintop with an older man who is grumpy yet warm. But another large component is the character at the heart of both stories. Astrid, like Heidi, is fiercely independent and loves with all her being.
Richly told, this book is a delightful wintry read that feels like a long-lost classic. Get it into the hands of fans of Heidi and Pippi Longstocking. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Candlewick Press.