November books explore friends, family and being happy with yourself.
The Great Puppy Invasion
By Alastair Heim
Illustrated by Kim Smith
Best for: Ages 4-7
Could you live in a town where cuteness of any sort is considered criminal? Strictville is just such a place. Everything seems to be okay until hundreds of adorable puppies invade the quiet town. The mayor tries to organize the townsfolk to get rid of the puppies. They try throwing sticks at them, but the puppies just bring them back. They try chasing the puppies. (Have you ever chased a puppy? They usually think it’s a great game!) Finally, the courage of one small boy who takes matters into his own hands solves the problem. In this case, he takes a paw into his hand and makes a friend. Strictville may have to change its name.
What’s good: Smith’s cartoonish illustrations add humor to the mass hysteria and cute-apocalypse.
What’s bad: Older children will grow bored with the simple story line very quickly.
Thelma the Unicorn
By Aaron Blabey
Best for: Ages 4-7
We all have dreams. Some are bigger than others. For Thelma, who lives in a nice field and plays with her friend Otis, the dream is to become a famous unicorn. The dream seems forever in coming, until the day a truck carrying pink paint and glitter crashes into Thelma’s field. It just happens that is the same day Thelma ties a carrot onto her head to look like a unicorn. After the pink paint and glitter crash, Thelma looks like a pink, shiny unicorn. She shoots to stardom. She has everything: adoring fans, posh hotels and mean people who throw eggs at her. Although Thelma enjoys the travel and attention, she is lonely without Otis. This cute tale takes a dark turn that most young children won’t understand, but the message of being happy with who you are comes through nicely.
What’s good: Good lesson on being true to yourslf.
What’s bad: A dark turn with fame young children won’t likely understand.
Tentacle & Wing
By Sarah Porter
Best for: Ages 9-12
Science fiction, mystery and intrigue. If these describe what you look for in a book, then Tentacle & Wing may be right for you. A genetic experiment gone wrong is what they call 12-year-old Ada. She was born a chimera, having both human and animal DNA. This means she has special powers, but it also means she is in constant danger of being rounded up and shipped off to a quarantine facility. When Ada is outed and shipped off, she meets other “kimes” and discovers that the science facility is covering a big secret. Ada’s first-person, snarky commentary keeps the story from becoming too dark.
What’s good: Witty and intriguing look at how humans could evolve, with a little scientific intervention.
What bad: Like the “kimes,” this book sometimes struggles with it’s identity, never fully comitting to fantasy, mystery or simply science fiction.