Sue's Picks

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Sue's Picks Page

Sue's Picks


I am life long reader who is dyslexic. I consider myself lucky to be selling and talking about children's literature for a living. I enjoy a wide variety of literature especially children and adult fiction and non-fiction. My picks will travel the spectrum of children's picture books to graphic novels, and from beginner reader levels to the high school and beyond, and every range in between. During the months of June/July I will be discussing historical books.

I enjoy and love to discover new authors and their books for readers, at all different levels and abilities, including us adults.To see more historical picture book recommendations click on picture book. My Picture Book and Board, and poetry recommendations are at the end of this page. However for the months of June & July, it will be historical book recommendations only. I believe we need to understand our past to realize a better future for ourselves. I will be out of town during the monthAugust due to family concerns.

Historical Picture Books for Everyone

Dr.Seuss biography picture book cover

CoCo Channel book coverCoCo Channel Picture Book Biography, Different Like CoCo by Elizabeth Matthews & Dr. Seuss's boyhood Picture Book Biography,The Boy on Fairfield Street by Kathleen Krull-

I truly enjoyed both of these books and so will children (ages 5-10). Historical picture books are wonderful way to discuss and process difficult times in our history and an insightful way to introduce inspiring people and their choices in life. Usually these books never sell enough in numbers to make it into paperback editions and often go out of print more quickly too. Be sure to read a few historical picture books this summer, please.

Different Like CoCo by E. Matthews is from Candlewick $16.99 and The Boy on FairField Street is from RandomHouse $16.99

Historical Graphic Novels for EveryoneTinTin book coverasterix book cover

Asterix series by Frenchman, Rene Goscinny & TinTin series by Belgian with no first name, Herge.

Both of these series were written after WWII by Europeans dealing with post World War II economies, difficulties, and massive societal changes. These two series are a wonderful way to teach history, especially the points of view and the opinions of its people of an earlier period of time,(50 years ago in TinTin or much older, 2000 years ago in Astertix). Both series have more ten books but less than twenty books of each, and are publish in almost all languages. These books once loved by the child, and then read in another language besides English is a lovely way to learn to read another language. It seems to be painless for many children to learn other languages, via Asterix or TinTin books. (4th-5th reading levels, higher for historical references)

Asterix series by Goscinny from Orion, $9.99 each and TinTin series by Herge from Little Brown $10.99 each

Second to Third Readers- matchlock gun book cover

The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmond

First published in 1941, Newbery award winner, The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmond is set in 1756 during French and Indian Wars in the New York colony. Young Edward is left to protect his family, as his father joins the colonial milt ia. The family's only gun left at home is an old spanish matchlock musket which is twice as tall as Edward. I know some parents shy away from these olde stories because of issues of gun violence, racial discrimination and family discipline problems. However, I believe we owe it to our children to put their history into a realistic context, and many historical novels are wonderful way to do so in family friendly-safe environment. Then the history lessons taught are slightly less offensive because it all happened so long ago: its history! (this story, and the Biggest Bear was one of my son's favorites, when he was only 6 years old.)

$6.99 in paperback from Putnam (80 pages)

Clyde Robert Bulla's A Lion To Guard UsA Lion To Guard Us by Bulla book cover

Clyde Robert Bulla has written over 100 books and many are wonderful historical books as this one is; a 1981 children's notable award winner. This book is set in 1609. Three orphan children left alone in London, England must travel to the Virginia Colony in search of their relatives. The children's struggles and triumphs are realistically done, and Bulla's language is a joy to read aloud. Please try his other historical novels too, because I think they are the best: Shoeshine Girl, or Riding the Pony Express.

$4.99 from HarperCollins (126 pages)

Robin Price's Spartapuss series- Boudicat Robin Price's book cover

Robin Price has written a five book series about ancient Rome and its many different rulers and conflicts with cat and kitten characters playing out their roles and lives. Done with simple satire, which is often beyond the second grade reader, but if read aloud is often much more comprendable. If Asterix (the graphic novels by Goscinny) is part of your family's reading list, these books are for your family. Other book titles in this series: I am SpartaPuss, or Catligula, or Die Clawdius.

$5.99 paperback from Mogzilla (145 pages)

Fourth to FiAl Calpone shines my shoes book coverfth GradBud, Not Buddy book covere ReaGreen Glass Sea book coverdersKaren Cushman book coverGemini Summer book cover




These five books and its authors, are my favorites for historical novels for this reading level. They are:Gennifer Choldenko, Christopher Paul Curtis, Karen Cushman, Ellen Klages and Iain Lawrence. All four writers have won numerous awards for their books and been honored with young people's readers choice awards too! All five authors have two or more historical books to their credit. Please read them all if you enjoy historical books as much as I do! Usually the following authors have main character who are boys: Christopher Paul Curtis, Thomas Hoobler, and Iain Lawrence. And the the following authors usually have girl characters in their books are: Karen Cushman, and Ellen Klages. Meanwhile, Gennifer Choldenko has both boy and girl characters have important roles and are featured equally.

the average paperback price is $5.99 to $8.99 each


Sixth to Eighth Grade Readers

Avi's Iron Thunder book coverPrimavera book cover by MJ BeaufrandEsther Friesner's book coverGary D. Schimdt's book coverHattie Big Sky book coverEleanor Updale's book cover

Prominent main female characters are in the books by the following authors: MJ Beaufrond's Primavera, Esther Freisner's Nobody's Princess, and Kirby Larson's Hattie Big Sky. The main characters are male in the books by the following authors: Avi's Iron Thunder, Gary D. Schmidt's Wednesday Wars and Eleanor Updale's Montmorency:Thief, Liar, & Gentlemen.

The above mentioned books have been great favorites with my book groups at a local school, even with kids who think they don't read historical fiction.

the average paperback price is $5.99 to $8.99


High School and Up Readers

ancient Greece book cover by Michael Curtis Ford

Michael Ford, British, author of Ancient Greece novels- (Spartan Quest series)

So far, it's a four book series from well established British writer of short stories fantasy and books about Ancient Greece and Ancient Roman times. Fast paced, well developed characters based on historic facts: your teenager will learn a lot more about these civilizations and truly enjoy the journey,especially after reading the Rick Riordan's five book series about Percy Jackson and The Olympians.

$6.99 paperback orgininals from Walker Books


Christian Jacq, author of ancient Egypt novels-




My Favorite Historical Picture Books in Alphabetic order by Author.

David A. Adler's Mama Played Baseball

Eve Bunting's So Far From the Sea

Jen Bryant's River of Words-story of Williams Carlos Williams

Ellie Crow's Surfer of the Century

Patricia Reeder Eubank's Seaman's Journal- on the Trail with Lewis & Clark

Deborah Hopkinson's Abe Lincoln crosses a Creek- a tall thin tale

Katherine Kirkpatrick's SnowBaby-Arctic Childhood of Admiral Robert E Peary's Daring Daughter

Ted Lewin's Horse Song- Naadam of Mongolia

Kadir Nelson's We are the Ship-the story of Negro League Baseball

Patrick O'Brien's Mutiny on the Bounty

Robert A. Parker's Piano Starts Here- Young Art Tatum

Louise Peacock's At Ellis Island- a history of many Voices

Sharon Robinson's Promises to Keep- How Jackie Robinson Changed America

Susan Goldman Rubin's The Yellow House-Van Gogh & Paul Gaugauin side by side

Pam Munoz Ryan's Amelia and Eleanor go for a Ride- based on a true story

Allen Say's Grandfather's Journey

Peter Sis's The Wall, and Voyage of the Beagle

Charles R Smith,Jr.'s Twenty Rounds to Glory- story of Muhammad Ali

Jill Walsh Paton's Pepi and the Secret Names

Jeantte Winter's Wangari's Trees of Peace- a true story from Africa

Judith Young's Minnow and Rose- an Oregon Trail story








For years now, you have treasured A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, do you know the poetry of our local poet laureate Jack Prelutsky?

Jack Prelutsky's newest poetry book is "The Swamp of Sleethe: poems from beyond the Solar System", out now.

Jack Prelutsky's poetry is available in audio format and is an excellent choice for travel and rainy day afternoons. Jack Prelutsky is a wonderful poet and narrator because he is so young hearted and never grew up!! (I mean this in the bestsense of its expression). If you ever can experience Jack Prelutsky live please do so, you will never regret that opportunity!

My favorites are: My Dog May Be A Genius (61 minutes), It's Raining Pigs & Noodles,(69 minutes) and The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders,(47 minutes).

see www.audible.com for $$