Spring is the season of new beginnings and renewal. It’s when we plant the first seeds in the garden or tackle those big clean-up projects we’ve been putting off all year. Although we don’t look forward to spring cleaning, spring reading is cause for celebration and can provide the same sense of freshness and sense of accomplishment, just for our brains. Diane Etherington is the owner of The children’s hour bookstore in Salt Lake City, and she gives us new book recommendations, for all ages, for everyone to read this spring.
George and his nocturnal friends
by Seng Soun Ratanavanh (2021 Princeton Architectural Press)
George has trouble sleeping, but he learns to overcome his fear of the dark with the help of his new nocturnal friends, a group of adorable animals. “It’s a cute story and the illustrations are just stunning,” says Etherington. “They must be for me to have it in the store.”
Here We Are: Book of Animals & Here We Are: Book of Numberss
by Oliver Jeffers (2021 Philomel Books)
Lovely hardback companions, one about the animals we share our planet with and the other a counting book about the planets themselves. “I sincerely believe it’s a good idea to buy books that you enjoy reading as much as your children do, so you don’t get bored,” says Etherington. “These books are so interesting, your 2-year-old will love them, and so will you.”
This is a gift for you
by Emily Winfield Martin (2021 Random House Books for Young Readers)
The book is billed as “a poetic tribute to the simple joys of life and nature, and a reminder that the greatest gift we have is time together.” Of the author and illustrator, Etherington says, “She’s a wonderful artist. A new book from her is a special event. She adds, “It’s not so much a story as a celebration of you, the reader. It is for children, but it is also a meaningful gift for adults. Etherington pulled a stanza as an example of the book’s poetry and universality, “The gift of calm / and the gift of the strong, / your hand in my hand / in a crowd.”
Anne is coming: inspired by Anne of Green Gables
written by Kallie George and illustrated by Abigail Halpin (2018 Tundra Books)
This is the first book in a series that imagines the early life of beloved Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables. “Darling illustrations,” says Etherington. “Perfect for a beginning reader in first or second year.”
Astrid the Unstoppable
by Maria Parr (2018 Candlewick)
With an energy similar to that of Pippi Longstocking, it’s the story of a girl in a mountain village whose motto is “speed and self-confidence”. Etherington says, “Engaging cover and story. She [Astrid] is very sociable and goes on many adventures.
For average readers
written by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead & illustrated by Nicholas Gannon (2018 Feiwel & Friends)
Livy visits her grandmother in Australia, where she is reintroduced to Bob, a strange green creature who lives in a closet. In this friendship story, they attempt to solve the mystery of Bob’s origin while keeping his existence a secret. “This book is hilarious and a lot of fun,” says Etherington, “but it’s also warm and touching.”
written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2021 Candlewick)
A princess survives a coup, escapes the castle and takes refuge in a monastery, but someone is still after her. “Everyone is excited about their new books,” says Etherington de DiCamillo, author of The Tale Of Despereaux, which won the Newbery Medal. “It’s another great addition.”
Darleen Darleen, queen of the screen
by Anne Nesbet (2020 Candlewick)
A staged kidnapping becomes real and 12-year-old silent film star Darleen comes to the rescue of a young heiress. “It’s a fun mystery adventure story,” says Etherington.
Pax: Return Home
written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon Klassen (2021 Balzer + Bray)
A sequel to Pax, Journey Home follows the divergent paths of a boy and his pet fox, who reunite after a year apart in dire circumstances, creating a nuanced war story about heartbreak and coming home. .
Snow & Pink
by Emily Winfield Martin (2017 Random House Books for Young Readers)
Another offering from Martin, but this one for average readers, is a reimagined fairy tale about “Snow White and Rose Red.” Etherington praises Martin’s original take on the story and his “beautiful illustrations”.
For young adults
The girl downstairs
by Stacey Lee (2019 GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)
In the post-Reconstruction South, Jo Kuan works as a housekeeper for a wealthy Atlanta family, but moonlights as an advice columnist, writing under a pseudonym. It challenges society’s narrow views on race and gender, and some people aren’t very happy about it. “You get to know this fabulous character by learning about her life and the mistreatment she faces,” says Etherington.
Clara and the sun
by Kazuo Ishiguro (2021 Knopf)
The story is told from the perspective of Klara, an “artificial friend” observing strange human behavior as she waits in a store for someone to buy her. “This book raises many interesting questions about artificial life,” says Etherington. “It makes for great discussions and conversations.”
The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett: A Novel
by Annie Lyons (2020 William Morrow)
An older woman believes she is ready to die until a little girl moves in next door and becomes fascinated by the older woman. “It’s a story about what happens when you care about others and how that love can affect giant change in others,” says Etherington. “You’re dying to know what’s going to happen.”
The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance during the Blitz
by Erik Larson (Crown 2020)
Splendid chronicles of Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister – from the Nazi invasion of Holland, Belgium to Dunkirk and London during the Blitz – as he strives to keep his country and his family together. “This book gives you a window into what happened. Things you would never know,” Etherington says. “It portrays the outrageous figures of Churchill’s family and shows how people go on and live their lives, even as the bombs come.”
The children’s hour bookstore
For 38 years, The Children’s Hour Bookstore has been a local purveyor of books to Salt Lake City’s 9th and 9th Wards in one form or another. Owner Diane Etherington, a voracious reader and book collector, started out selling hardback children’s books. But, as more and more people started asking him, “What books have you read lately?” she didn’t want them to have to go anywhere else to buy her recommendations. Now, La Librairie de l’heure des enfants sells books for all ages, as well as cozy gifts, toys and household items (also for all ages).
898 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-359-4150
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