How about that! President Barack Obama and his daughters visited the Politics and Prose bookstore on upper Connecticut Avenue in DC last Saturday and bought 21 books, one of which was Jinx!
I am, of course, stunned, thrilled, and honored. I've voted for several Presidents but this is the first time a President has voted for me.
The news story about this calls the President's shopping list "eclectic." Since that's not terribly informative, I'm going to take a look at each of the children's books the President and his daughters chose. (I'll leave it to someone else to do the adult books.)
Moonday - by Adam Rex
This book, written and illustrated by the author of The True Meaning of Smekday, answers the question "What do you do when the moon lowers itself into your backyard?"
Journey - by Aaron Becker
A lonely girl draws herself out of her room and into an adventure. A New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2013.
Harold and the Purple Crayon - by Crockett Johnson
Classic picture book about a boy who goes for a walk in the moonlight, creating a world as he goes with his purple crayon.
Books for newly-independent readers (grades 1 to 3, ages 6-8)
Lulu and the Brontosaurus - by Judith Viorst and Lane Smith
In this chapter book, a rather spoiled girl named Lulu seeks a brontosaurus for a pet. But when she finds one, things don't turn out quite as she expected.
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat - by Chris Riddell
Ottoline and her silent guardian, Mr. Munroe investigate the mysterious disappearance of several well-to-do dogs. Plenty of illustrations help tell the story.
Middle grade and YA (ages 9 and up)
Heart of a Samurai - by Margi Preus
In 1841, 14-year-old Manjiro and his fellow fishermen are shipwrecked off Japan, rescued by a passing ship and taken to America. This book won a 2011 Newbery Honor.
Flora and Ulysses - by Kate DiCamillo
Sucked into a vacuum cleaner and rescued by a girl named Flora, a squirrel acquires superpowers. This book was chosen as a Best Book of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Amazon, and was on the National Book Awards Longlist.
Jinx - by Sage Blackwood
Abandoned in a sentient forest, a boy named Jinx must cope with wizards, witches, trolls, and his own mysterious powers. This book was chosen as a Best Book of 2013 by School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Amazon.
Half Brother - by Kenneth Oppel
13-year-old Ben bonds with the baby chimp, Zan, that his scientist parents bring home to raise, but his parents seem to regard Zan as just an experiment.
I assume these books are destined for young relatives and the children of friends. Some common threads run through the selection:
- There's a lot of fantasy here.
- Most of the books deal with venturing forth, often in search of something unusual.
- Many of the books have a theme of coming to terms with people or creatures different from ourselves.
- Change is a theme in most of these books, including coping with change, and our ability to bring about change.
Anyway, it's a great selection all in all (if I do say so). I hope the young recipients enjoy them.