This post is part of a weekly series of synopses of children’s books, written by First Book staff members.
Kites, written and illustrated by Hitz Demi. This is a beautifully illustrated story about the traditions of kite flying and kite festivals in China. The book includes directions for making and decorating your own kite! Grades K-2.
Toad Rage, by Morris Gleitzman. Limpy leaves his family and heads off on a cross-country quest to learn why humans seem to hate cane toads. Risking life and limb, he desperately searches for a solution to stop people from running over his relatives on the highway. Through his hilarious, high-stakes escapades, Limpy learns a little more about different species, discrimination, injustice, and life itself. Told in vivid detail from an Australian perspective, this rollicking story gives young readers a toad’s-eye view of the world. Grades 3-4.
Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray. Sixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle wants to leave her life in Victorian India, where she lives with her family. Her mother refuses to send her to England, but after Gemma has a terrible, mystifying vision and witnesses her mother’s strange suicide, she winds up getting what she wished for — she’s sent to England to attend Spence, a school for Victorian young ladies. Mysteries and more strange visions abound as Gemma struggles to fit in with the snobby schoolgirls and at the same time dodge Kartik, a mysterious and handsome spy who is watching her because he suspects she holds a power even Gemma is not fully aware of. Victorian spiritualism, the occult, and mythology all combine in this unusual young adult novel. Grades 5-6.