Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Good Reads for Challenging Times

The world is very different from what it was at the beginning of the year when this blog began featuring the authors in the IWSG anthology Voyagers:  The Third Ghost.  We're all trying to adjust to a new reality, which for many of us includes staying at home, perhaps for weeks or months.  My fellow authors and I hope that the world gets through this crisis with the least suffering and death possible.  Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone, everywhere, as the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Every individual has a part he or she can play in mitigating the impact of the coronavirus, no matter where he or she is in the world.  Fortunately the world is filled with countless, selfless people risking their lives to perform essential functions.  Others, who must stay at home, are helping to slow the spread of the virus in an attempt to prevent health care systems from being overwhelmed.  Each of us, by our actions, may prevent the suffering or death of someone else.  That is a profound responsibility and a real opportunity to make a true difference.

For those of us tasked with staying at home, we are the lucky ones.  Yes, it can chafe to feel confined, but so many others are being asked to carry much heavier, more dangerous burdens.  Being unexpectedly at home is challenging, but it is a chance to enjoy being together with the people we love and to spend more time on activities we enjoy or to explore others we haven't tried in the past.

For me, this time under a stay-at-home order is freeing me to indulge in a favorite passion.  I am one of millions of people around the world who love to read.  Good books launch me into adventures throughout space and time and make the real world disappear.  They enrich my mind and feed my curiosity.  I literally can't go a day without reading.  From my earliest memories of my mother reading to me to the fabulous novel I finished last night, books have been my constant companions and friends.  Ask any of my fellow authors in the anthology, and you will find someone who is passionate about reading.

If you are looking for something new to do as a family during this difficult time or if you are a family of avid readers, my fellow authors and I have some great books for you to read together or individually.  Because we have written a collection of short stories for middle-school-age kids, we are sharing some of our favorite books for that age.  Good books are ageless and timeless. There is something here for readers of many ages.

Good Reads for Challenging Times:

Note:  For links to the books and other information, click on the light purple words.

Yvonne Ventresca
"The Third Ghost"

Some favorite middle grade novels that I’ve read recently include Front Desk by Kelly Yang, The Wanderer by Sharon Creech, and The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.

Katharina Gerlach
"Winter Days"

My favorite children's books were the translation of the Wizard of Oz (The Magician of Emerald City) and its sequels by the Russian writer Alexander Wolkow. They were so much better than the originals by Frank Baum, and they continued the adventures of Dorothy and Toto. I loved them as a child, and I love them still.

They have been (re)translated into English as "Tales of the Magic Land" and are still available in three volumes of two novels each:

Tales of Magic Land 1: The Wizard of the Emerald City and Urfin Jus and his Wooden Soldiers

Tales of Magic Land 2: The Seven Underground Kings and The Fiery God of the Marrans

Tales of Magic Land 3: The Yellow Fog and The Mystery of the Deserted Castle

Roland Clarke
"Feathered Fire"

My favorite middle-school-aged book?
A five-star read that was magical.

A story that resonated with me—wolves, Russia, revolution, adventure, and the wolves. Plus, prose that was masterful. An encounter with middle-grade reading with unexpected but amazing results:  The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell.  It was my top 2019 read, and I reviewed it here.

Sherry Ellis
"The Ghosts of Pompeii"

My favorite middle-grade book is The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks. It's an action-packed adventure of two brave kids who outwit some very smart art thieves. I love the twists and turns, and the cool thing is that it's interactive. Readers can scan QR codes throughout the book to see what the Van Gogh masterpieces look like.

Charles Kowalski
"Simon Grey and the Yamamba"

When I first read the Harry Potter books, I thought, "Where were these when I was growing up?" I loved fantasy worlds that I could disappear into, like opening a wardrobe door and stepping through into a magical realm, and I was enchanted with the thought that a nondescript pub, or a pillar at a train station, could be a gateway into a whole other world.

Bish Denham
"The Blind Ship"

It's hard to pick just one book that I liked when I was of middle school age. Here are four. I was into animals and read them because my mother bought me the books:

Call of the Wild by Jack London
Kazan the Wolf Dog by James Oliver Curwood
Rascal by Sterling North
The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat

Rebecca M. Douglass
"A World of Trouble"

Rebecca wasn't able to contribute to this post because she has just arrived home after a harrowing adventure at the tip of South America and Antarctica.

But never fear, Rebecca is the incomparable Ninja Librarian, and she has recommended and reviewed an amazing list of books for kids of all ages.  You must check out her website!

Beth Anderson Schuck
"The Orchard"

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson is my pick for a  favorite book for middle school age readers. The setting and predicaments encountered by Hattie, a 16-year-old girl
who inherits a homestead claim in faraway Montana are riveting. Strong willed females who face difficult challenges always engage me and keep
me turning those pages. It's a classic!

L.T. Ward
"Return to Cahokia"

My favorite middle grade book was and is "The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes." The adventures, creativity, and loving support inspired me to strive for a life filled with weirdness and excitement.

Louise MacBeath Barbour
"Dare Double Dare"

One of the great pleasures in my life has been reading aloud to many, many kids during my teaching career. The books I shared with my students are like friends to me because of the laughter, the tears, and the adventures we experienced as we read and learned together.

These are middle-school-aged favorites that I will never forget:
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry,
Kokopelli's Flute by Will Hobbs,
The Prince of the Pond by Donna Jo Napoli,
and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

Take care!  Stay healthy!
Until next time ...
Fundy Blue

* * * * * * * * * *

Upcoming Blog Interviews and Virtual Tours:

1. March 16 - Yvonne Ventresca

2. May 4 - June McCrary Jacobs

3. May 6 - C. Lee McKenzie, Author

4. May 6 - Literary Rambles – Natalie Aguirre

5. May 11 - Juneta Key

* * * * * * * * * *

The release date for VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost 
is May 5, 2020,
but purchase links are available,
and you can preorder a copy now.

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99
Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure / Fantasy & Magic
Dancing Lemur Press/Freedom Fox Press

Amazon - Print

Barnes & Noble -

ITunes -

Kobo -


L. Diane Wolfe said...

What a wonderful thing to do - recommend books. Thank you for doing so.

Fundy Blue said...

Thanks, Diane! I can't wait to read the books that my fellow authors have recommended. Take care, my friend!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Can't go wrong with Calvin and Hobbes! Now is the time to read and put our thoughts elsewhere for a while.

Sherry Ellis said...

Great bunch of books to check out!

Fundy Blue said...

You're so right, Alex!

Fundy Blue said...

No kidding, Sherry! I'm enjoying indulging in reading.

Bish Denham said...

Nice batch of books!

Fundy Blue said...

Definitely, Bish! I must reread "The Dog Who Wouldn't Be." Have you read Farley Mowat's "Owls in the Family?" I almost added that to my list. It's a funny book. Take care!

Roland Clarke said...

What an inspiring post, Louise - and such enticing reads. I'm off to check some out, starting with: The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks.

Fundy Blue said...

Thanks, Roland! I loved that this book includes codes readers can scan to see the Van Gogh masterpieces. I now read with my iPhone at hand so I can google and see all kinds of things that I'm reading about. It's the coolest thing! All the best to you, my friend!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Some great books listed here, including some that would be on my list, had I been able to get one to Louise. I swear I wrote an email for her with my choices, but somehow it didn’t get sent (or maybe I sent it and it was eaten by the uncertainties of the wifi). Anyway, thank you Louise for finding a way to include me!

Fundy Blue said...

Thanks, Rebecca! I'll go through my email. When something goes wrong, I'm usually at fault because I'm technologically challenged ~ LOL. If I find it, I'll add it in. Take care! I'm happy to see you here!

Katharina Gerlach said...

As if my TBR pile wasn#t way too big already... :D

Fundy Blue said...

LOL! That's a good and optimistic thing, Cat! Take care!

Anstice Brown said...

Some wonderful recommendations here-thank you!

Fundy Blue said...

Thanks, Anstice!

Himawan Sant said...

If books from the work of talented writers are in my country, I will look for them.
Thank you for your recommendation.

Stay safe

Fundy Blue said...

Thank you, Himawan Sant, and thanks for visiting! May you have happy reads in whatever books you have!

baili said...

sounds like amazing read :)
glad you shared your favorite with us my friend!