October Book Highlights

October has been a wonderful month of books! Thank you to everyone who has invited me to read their books this month; it has been a pleasure to read them. Below, you'll find the stories separated by target age group and alphabetized within that segmentation. I hope you'll find your next great read!

Also, if you aren't already, make sure you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, which goes out on the 15th of each month, so you don't miss another blog. These emails are a digest of great stories and include tidbits about reading and books for young people. And now, on to the highlights!

Kids (Picture Books and Early Readers)

Adventures of Emma Danger: A Tale of Two Tigers

By: Bryan Paijit

(Reedsy) - Picture Book

Emma Danger is a brave young girl who travels the world in search of adventure. In this story, she finds herself at a village in Bengal, India. The villagers are upset because tigers have been eating their sheep; luckily, Emma has some ideas up her sleeve that might help resolve the issue without conflict or injury. This picture book reads as though it could be part of a series, especially one designed as a modern-day fable. Though it could use some improvement in design and presentation, it is an interesting addition to the canon of literature for elementary school-aged children. Please see my full review here.

Chipper Makes Merry

By: Kimber Fox Morgan

(Reedsy) - Picture Book

This is the story of an Arctic Fox named Chipper who sees how challenging the winter season has been for his friends, and he is determined to do nice things for them to make their days better. Though his gifts aren’t always delivered exactly as planned, he manages to add some light to the dark winter months and unite his friends over helpful acts of kindness. While this book feels disjointed at times in the narrative, the overall approach is one that preschool-aged readers will enjoy. Please see my full review here.

Chubby’s Tale

By: Carola Schmidt

(Independent Request) - Picture Book

Chubby is a teddy bear who wants nothing more than to be purchased by a child and brought to his forever home. When he begins to feel unwell, though, Chubby decides to see a doctor to determine what might be going on. Unfortunately, he is diagnosed with Leukemia, and Chubby must bravely face the necessary treatment in order to be prepared for a child to adopt him. This homage to Corduroy blends the classic story with a childhood Leukemia diagnosis, incorporating complex science into a presentation that is accessible to children. Please see my full review here.

Halloween Eve

By: Richard Reese

(Reedsy) - Children’s Poem

Though this poem does not utilize any pictures, it is a spooky and unique inclusion to the canon of stories written for Halloween. On the day before Halloween, a decorative jack-o-lantern notices witches, ghosts, and goblins descending upon his home for a party. The humans in the home are nervous, but they are more familiar with their unexpected visitors than one might think. Due to its lack of visuals, this poem could be an interesting campfire read for elementary school-aged children who are not afraid of the things that go bump in the night. Please see my full review here.

Halloween is Coming

By: Cal Everett

(NetGalley) - Picture Book

Halloween is on its way! Shorter days, pumpkins in windows, and adventures through corn mazes all signal the upcoming arrival of Halloween. Three young friends prepare for the holiday together, carving pumpkins, collecting candy, and assembling their costumes for the big night. An inclusive cast of characters adorns the illustrations of this story as rhyming couplets form the accompanying narrative, making this a delightful Halloween selection for young readers and their families. Please see my full review here.

How are You Today?

By: Jegors Paltovs

(Reedsy) - Picture Book

Humans around the world experience emotions, from happiness to fear, anger, shyness, and more. While these emotions are neither good nor bad, it is important for people of all ages to be able to appropriately communicate their emotions to others. This picture book introduces young children to emotions with limited, intentional text and bright, colorful illustrations. Best read with a mirror, readers will enjoy copying the facial features in the book as they learn the appropriate reactions to them. Please see my full review here.

Mira Monkey's Magic Mirror Adventure

By: Once Upon a Dance

(Reedsy) - Picture Book

This latest in the Once Upon a Dance canon of stories introduces readers to Mira Monkey, a gorilla who wears a tutu and is ready for carnival day. Accompanied by playful fairies, Mira enjoys the feeling of the sand between her toes and the many sights, sounds, and tastes of the carnival. An unexpected turn of events changes the course of her day, though, causing her to wonder if she will ever be the same again. I love how these stories encourage children to move and imagine no matter whether they are reading at home or with others. Please see my full review here.

My Pandemic Diary

By: Vedika and Kunal

(Independent Request) - Picture book

This picture book reflects on the myriad effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children around the world. Featuring a young girl and her family, this story depicts the initial joy of being able to watch movies and be away from school. As time goes by, however, the girl becomes increasingly bored and distressed at not being able to venture out into the wider world. Together with her family, they do what they can to remain healthy and happy despite the challenges brought about by this difficult time. Rhyming passages and accompanying activity pages help young readers connect to both the story and COVID-19 in a productive way. Please see my full review here.

North’s Pole

By: Lindsay Yacovino

(Reedsy) - Picture Book

North is Santa’s right hand elf, and it is her responsibility to ensure that every young elf finds their ideal role in Santa’s Christmas Village. When a new arrival named Tess does not have a job already assigned to her, North takes her around Santa’s village in order to find where she truly belongs. The first several attempts come up empty, but through patience and perseverance, Tess discovers and embraces her place within this new community. Rhyming couplets and a balanced meter makes this holiday story a joy to read aloud. Please see my full review here.

That’s Coola, Tallulah

By: Cheryl Chase

(Independent Request) - Picture Book

Stella Bella and her lovey Tallulah are best friends. When rainy weather forces their playtime inside, they try to make the most of their time together by playing games they both enjoy. Tallulah suggests activities that are initially fun, but ultimately are not behaviors that Stella Bella’s mom would appreciate. Even though she is just a lovey, Tallulah has a strong influence over Stella Bella, and one bad decision ultimately leads the two to be separated for a break to consider the results of their actions. This cheerfully illustrated story investigates decision-making and friendship in a playful way. Please see my full written review here and my video review here.

Treasure Isle

By: Catherine Corcoran

(Reedsy) - Picture Book

A young boy and his parrot are ready for adventure with their treasure map in hand as they board a ship built for two. Together they travel the vast sea, struggling initially to locate the isle they seek. When a tempest builds around them, they must hang on to their dream and their hats in order to complete their mission. I loved this rhyming story about a boy with a dynamic imagination. The illustrations are as delightful as the text, and this book is a joy to read aloud and share with young children. Please see my full review here.

Tweens (Middle Grade)

Rosemary and the Book of the Dead

By: Samantha Giles

(NetGalley) - Middle Grade

This is the second novel in Rosemary’s collection and, even though I haven’t yet read the first book, this story made sense and pulled me in anyway. Rosemary is a young girl who cares deeply about others and misses the witches who are no longer residing with her family. When the Book of the Dead goes missing from the British Museum, however, she finds a way to reconnect with those she cares for, increasing both her independence and her problem-solving skills while on an adventure through space and time. I’ll definitely be looking to read more in this series! Please see my full review here.

The Slug Queen Chronicles Season One By: S.O. Thomas

(Independent Request) - Middle Grade

This is the story of Cricket, a twelve-year-old girl who has always been able to see her senses in colors and has never believed in fairies. However, when she receives an unexpected gift for her birthday, she discovers more to be true than she ever realized before. Setting out on an epic adventure, she must navigate an unfamiliar world to set her own back to rights again before it is too late. I enjoyed the delivery of this story, especially as I could easily imagine it being adapted to a video game. Please see my full written review here and my video review here.

Thursday’s Child

By: Noel Streatfeild

(NetGalley) - Middle Grade

This is a re-release of a story written by the late Noel St…… about a young girl named Margaret Thursday whose tenacity and sense of self propels her from life as a girl with no parents to someone whose name everyone knows. Written much like The Secret Garden, turn of the century phrasing is used throughout this book as Margaret navigates her unpredictable life. Though slow moving at times, this story emphasizes the importance of friendship and standing up for oneself and is a good fit for middle grade readers with an interest in England in the early 1900s. Please see my full review here.

Teens (Young Adult)

Badgerblood: Awakening

S.C. Monson

(Reedsy) - Young Adult

Kor has spent most of his life in the Borwood Timberland, avoiding trouble as best he can as he is wanted by King Leon for tax evasion and murder. When he meets a girl called Len and must battle a dreaded borlan in order to protect her, though, their lives become inextricably entwined. Plagued by recurring nightmares, Kor’s primary solace is in a story he was told as a child—one that has shocking similarities to his own life. This young adult fantasy adventure is filled with action and intrigue and is an especially good fit for newer readers of this genre. Please see my full review here.

Childish Things

By: Thelonious Legend

(Independent Request) - Young Adult

Eve, Gwen, and Ana are back in this second installment of The Parker Sisters series. A new school year is upon them, and they are getting more and more comfortable with their fantastic skills, even if those skills do cause unforeseen problems at times. New friends and enemies enter this mix this year, and as Eve enters high school, romance begins to make an appearance, as well. Engaging dialogue and an action-packed narrative connect readers to these young girls as they navigate the inordinate amount of responsibility thrust upon them. Please see my full review here.


By: Q. Imagine

(Independent Request) - Young Adult (mature content)

Seventeen-year-old Jane MacKenzie is a typical teenager in her senior year of high school in Brooklyn, New York. She enjoys spending time with her friends, often smoking marijuana or hooka together as they converse about life. When a frightening event takes place after a party one night, Jane’s reality takes a sharp turn, giving her the rare opportunity for profound reflection in the wake of tragedy. Intriguing and visceral details make moments of this story particularly memorable, and the narrative shows promise in both its intent and design. Please see my full review here.

Remarkable Women in Verse

By: Julia Stebbing

(Independent Request) - Young Adult

This unique book is relatively short, but it includes a wealth of information about important women in history and is presented in a memorable way. Through rhyming, measured stanzas, the lives of Rosa Parks, Florence Nightingale, Anne Sullivan, and Helen Keller are shared, inspiring further investigation while enhancing engagement and understanding. Intelligently crafted, this book serves as a compelling foundation especially for reluctant readers who might not otherwise engage with written depictions of historic events. Please see my full written review here and my video review here.

Sins of the Father

By: Thelonious Legend

(Independent Request) - Young Adult

This is the first book in the Parker Sisters series, and it introduces readers to Ana, Eve, and Gwen, the three girls for whom the series is named. At approximately the same time, the sisters all begin experiencing unusual behavior that sets them apart from their peers in strength, speed, and intelligence. When they learn exactly why this might be the case, they must combine their abilities to protect one another from nefarious forces while searching for a way to survive. Young adult readers will appreciate both the strong protagonists and the well-written delivery of this book. Please see my full written review here and my video review here.

The Star of Atlantis

By: Tricia D. Wagner

(Reedsy) - Young Adult

This book continues the story set up in The Strider and the Regulus, following thirteen-year-old Swift in his quest to discover the famed Star of Atlantis. Even as his research brings him closer to his goal, his former best friend Ash is jealous, and he does everything he can to thwart Swift’s efforts. In one final attempt at uncovering the lost treasure, Swift sets out to explore the unforgiving Pembrokeshire coast with his brother Caius, neither of whom is fully prepared for what they find. I enjoyed the complexity of the narrative and the way the last several chapters unfold; this is a memorable story for readers who enjoy fantasy and maritime adventure. Please see my full review here.

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