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January: The ‘Door’ into the New Year

Elisabeth Padjen
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Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

Flora books by Molly Idle

All the Flora books by Molly Idle show little Flora dancing with exotic birds such as flamingos.

January is a month synonymous with so many traditions and images. January is derived from the Latin word for door, as it was considered the door into the New Year. Days begin to lengthen once again and many people view it as a time for a fresh start and new beginnings. New Year’s Resolutions will be made and the stress of the holidays melts away. I challenge you this year to push your reading, try genres you have never read or discover an author you never knew!

My first recommendation is a fairly new series of picture books, the Little Elliot series by Mike Curato. This series features an adorable little polka dotted elephant named Elliot who loves cupcakes and finds friendship (and someone to share cupcakes with) in a small white mouse. The illustrations are a mixture of the austere 1940s era world Elliot lives in but he himself, is whimsical and fanciful. You will fall in love with the endearing Elliot. Perfect for lovers of Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, was born in January.

January holds two famous author birthdays - Edgar Allan Poe (Jan. 19) and Lewis Carroll (Jan. 27) so in honor of Poe I recommend Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Madness illustrated by the grotesque and unorthodox Gris Grimly. This is a must-read for any Poe fan both young and old! Grimly perfectly captures Poe’s beautiful bedlam. In honor of the vibrant Carroll I recommend a retelling of his classic tale - Alice by Christina Henry. This dark adult fiction is a unique retelling that managed to stand out to me in the massive amount of Alice spinoffs. Celebrate these two equally mad and magical authors! We still feel their influence and presence in literature to this day.

Graphic novels have emerged not only as appreciable literature but also a useful tool to get children interested in reading. For those young graphic novel readers - especially those of Drama and Smile by Raina Telgemeier, I recommend Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol. The story of a first-generation Russian girl (Anya) who desperately tries to fit in, discovers a skeleton in the woods near her house. Anya becomes friends with the ghost of the skeleton who died there many years before. There is a slight horror and thriller element to the story. So, in case your young reader doesn’t enjoy a dark tone, I also recommend the Hilda series by Luke Pearson. The graphic novel has a Scandanvian style in its structure and tone. The story also features more magical and folk-lore elements to the story. Never discredit graphic novels! They can be as beautiful and deep as any novel, reading is reading regardless of the source!

My last reccomendations are in the genre of wordless picture books, these books are stunningly illustrated and can be used as a helpful tool to implement early literacy and encourage storytelling on the parents’ part (not reccomended for babies/toddlers as these books are NOT board books and pages will not withstand tugging young hands). All the Flora books by Molly Idle show little Flora dancing with exotic birds: flamingos, peacocks and penguins. The delightlful illustrations are bright and full of expression, all the books also have fun foldouts and tabs intergrating interaction to your reading. The other wordless picture book is Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam which is technically not illustrated but created with paper cut art and lighting which causes the pictures to transcend off the page. 
Hope you enjoy the New Year and all the new books to read!

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