If it's got spaceships, dragons, wormhole generators, wands, or any kind of flying—I'm on it! I love sci-fi and fantasy (for any age), but I'll read anything, particularly the satirical, unconventional, bold, thought-provoking, historically accurate, geek-related, or tech-oriented.
Zazu's Staff Picks:
(See more of my Staff Picks here.)
Title: Seamus's Short Story
Seamus is short!
But he finds a fun & creative way to get tall!
I love that this story challenges gender norms without making a big deal of it - it's not a heavy-handed "message" story.
Light, sweet, funny - this is a great family romp!
Title: The Fog
The fog crept up on the animals on the Island. It was terrible-they couldn't see anyone or anything! But what could they do? They got used to it and pretty soon, they all forgot there had ever been a time before the fog. Except for one little bird...
This is one of those perfect stories that teaches something valuable without hitting you over the head with the message. A smart, fun, sweet story, whimsically illustrated with hidden details, this is a book to treasure and re-read over the years.
Title: The Nowhere Girls
This is the book I wish everyone would read, regardless of their age or personal interests.
It's about three girls, whose stories don't often get told, but it is also about a whole school, and a whole town, who don't want to hear them, yet it is also about all girls, everywhere, and all boys, and all kids, and all humans who so often feel invisible, unheard, and powerless.
It is also a story superbly written, an un-put-down-able page-turner, a breath-taking, heart-soaring, fist-pumping kind of a book that will have you cheering and crying, often all at once.
If you only read one book this year, let it be this one.
Title: Young Jane Young
If you read only one book this year, let it be this one!
It will fulfill both your “fun, easy, page-turners” and your “smart thought-provokers” quotas. How many books can do that??
On the surface, this book is about a few women and their connection to the story of a political sex scandal. Just as is true of the media frenzy and the public shaming that ensues (both in the fictional story and how it often happens in real life), it is not about the man who causes it. In this, Zevin is brilliant--she flips the table on this female-vilifying narrative, and CHOOSES to focus on the women, not to blame them, but to dig deep into their hearts and souls. We get to know them, and love them, for all their bits and pieces.
I rejoice in the existence of this book. It is not one-sided, it revels in the complexities of issues pertaining to sexism and does not shy away from asking the questions we've all asked, even if only to ourselves. This book, so easy, so readable and so entertaining, is also invaluable--for lifting us up, teaching us better, and giving us, somehow, a breath of fresh air and a taste of our own medicine at the same time.
Title: At the Edge of the Universe
This was a deliciously engaging book, with a premise so wonderfully unique you won't know where it's going until it's there. I love these characters from the bottom of my heart--not just because they represent people with identities and issues that are so often either overlooked or even belittled, but also for their warmth, their humanity, their love and hate, triumphs and hurts that feel so utterly real and important. I dare you to try to put this book down once you've picked it up. (I finished it in 2 days flat.) Your heart will never feel the same again.
Title: Leave Me Alone!
Sometimes... we just want to be LEFT ALONE!
This is a hilariously witty and sly tale with great illustrations that will help kids understand that it's okay to want some time to yourself.
Brosgol plays expertly with the interaction between words and illustration to giggle-inducing effect.
Fun (and relatable, I'm sure) for the whole family!
Title: The Geek Feminist Revoution
Award-winning fiction writer and essayist, Kameron Hurley, turns her attention to the issues that have plagued her and countless women this century. Part memoir and part critical sociological commentary, this collection of essays is a satisfyingly unabashed examination of how pop culture fails women of every kind.
Anyone who reads stories, watches television/film, uses the internet, and plays games, and gives a damn about the power structures that undermine diverse groups within this society, should pick up this book. For those who have missed issues like gamergate, Hurley's words will teach with searing honesty; for those who know of these problems all too well, her earnest words will inspire and comfort; and for everyone in between, be ready to be enraged, enlightened, and motivated to keep fighting the good fight.
Title: Real Friends
For fans of Raina Telgemeier!
This is an HONEST portrayal of what makes being a kid so hard--the ups and downs of friendship and "fitting in".
These characters and story will be relatable to everyone--whether you've ever felt like the outcast or the popular kid or anywhere in between.
Title: Short Stories for Little Monsters
Slyly humorous, sweet, rich in detail, yet simple and approachable, this book is a perfect merging of everyday kid scenarios with imaginative kid fancies.
Pure imagination food!
A great keepsake to gift as it will entertain for hours and many ages.
Perfect fuel for little budding writers, artists, and pretend-players!
Title: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Admission - I'm not really a person in a hurry. But I just can't seem to ever get myself to read those longer nonfiction books, even if I'm SO interested in the topic!
Neil deGrasse Tyson here blends his hard facts with an engaging and often humorous narrative style - perfect! An information-packed book I can actually enjoy - and get through!
Highly recommended for every kind of inquisitive mind!
P.S. For a taste of N.D. Tyson's style, check out the YouTube video "Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains The Universe While Eating Spicy Wings" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Da8-QfGemgo