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What is more familiar in October than pumpkins and Halloween? Rosanna Battigelli, born in Italy and living in Sudbury, Ont., and Tweed, Ont., artist Tara Anderson have teamed up to produce Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round (Pajama Press, 24 pages, $20, hardcover) for ages 3-6.
Battigelli has written a series of catchy rhyming verses celebrating this beloved autumn icon. With such lines as "pumpkin drawing, pumpkin trace, pumpkin carving, pumpkin face!" and with Anderson’s vibrant illustrations, they take the pumpkin all the way from the farmer’s field to the Halloween doorstep.
Early readers and preschoolers will enjoy this one as they get ready for trick-or-treating.
Winnipeg’s Colleen Nelson has written a new book that will especially resonate with pet lovers.
Harvey Comes Home (Pajama Press, 224 pages, $22, hardcover) features a West Island terrier named Harvey who is adored by his owner, Maggie. But when Maggie leaves on a trip and Harvey is left in the charge of a teenage dog-sitter, his life goes off in an entirely different direction.
Nelson has honed her writing skills on a series of young adult books, notably Blood Brothers and Pulse Point. What makes this novel stand out from most lost-pet sagas is her inclusion of Austin’s story: the young boy who finds Harvey and takes him to stay with his grandfather in a senior’s home, but can’t bear to look for his owner. With Harvey’s help, Austin’s grandfather also opens up to tell about surviving life on the Prairies during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.
Mid-grade readers will enjoy this story of love, loyalty and endurance, in which Tara Anderson shows her versatility by supplying charming black-and-white illustrations.
For non-stop action, unusual and entertaining characters and a bit of history thrown in, readers ages 8-12 can do no better than The Good Thieves by U.K. author Katherine Rundell (Simon and Schuster, 272 pages, $18, hardcover).
Foremost among the unique characters is Vita, who survived polio as a young child but is left with a limp and a deformed foot. She and her mother arrive in New York from England to rescue her grandfather, who has been swindled out of his family mansion by an unscrupulous real estate tycoon. Vita enlists the help of two young members of a local circus troupe plus a juvenile pickpocket called Anna to help her recover her grandfather’s property.
With a boy who can tame any animal, another who can climb any wall and a girl who can pick any lock, they make a formidable team.
Set amid the excitement and splendour of New York in the 1920s, The Good Thieves is a suspenseful if improbable story that will leave any mid-grade reader spellbound.
Kate DiCamillo has won the Newberry Award twice for insightful books and with her latest, Beverly, Right Here (Random House, 256 pages, $20, hardcover), she adds another title to her offering of thoughtful and character-driven stories.
This is DiCamillo’s third juvenile novel in her Three Rancheros series. After Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana’s Way Home, her latest focuses on Beverly, the most abrasive but soft-hearted of the three girls. Only 14, Beverly has run away from her indifferent mother and managed to find a job and a place to stay. When she meets a young man, Elmer, he convinces her that she has a gift for friendship and that she must not throw away the friends who have stood by her all along.
DiCamillo has captured Beverly’s independence and resilience in a story that will resonate with many young women. Written for ages 10 and up.
Helen Norrie enjoys books about independent and resourceful young people.