In Growing Up With …, Jenn features picture books, middle reader, and teen books linked together by concept or theme.
As the weather does its weird flip-flopping and flu season is upon us, there are plenty of bugs going around — and no matter how much hand sanitizer and Vitamin C you employ, you’re bound to catch something. But what, I ask you, is a sick day for if not to spend it curled up in bed with a book? I’ve been lucky in my life to not only be surrounded by books, but to have friends and family who go out of their way to find me reading material when I’m laid up. Indeed, in my tender years I caught more than my fair share of the colds that went around school, so I count myself something of an expert in the field of germ-induced free time. (It wasn’t as much fun as it sounds, trust me.) So whether you’re lucky enough to have a crusty old Grandpa to read to you, a la The Princess Bride, or you’re on your own, I can personally guarantee that the below books are just what the doctor ordered. Grab a box of tissues and a bowl of soup, and away we go!
For matching the surrealness of the cold-impaired (and/or cold-medicine-impaired) mind, Tuesday is the uncontested winner. Without a single word, Wiesner manages to tell the fun, funny (oh, the dog!), and dreamy story of a day when frogs flew. The lack of text also makes it eminently re-readable, since you can tell the story as many ways as you like. Or, you can just stare at the pictures since the artwork is, well, freaking amazing about covers it. This is a book to cuddle up with, to read at any pace you want, to take your mind off your sniffles.
Sword-wielding feast-cooking animals ahoy! The adventures of Mossflower Woods’s inhabitants will make your own troubles pale in comparison. Our unlikely hero of a mouse Matthias has been yearning for adventure, and he’s finally gotten his wish. A terrible band of vermin are threatening Redwall Abbey, and he’ll have to not only help defend his friends but find a legendary sword. You’ll ponder clues, struggle to evade the evil Asmodeus, and salivate over the minutely described food (which was so popular with readers that there is now a cookbook). And if your sick day turns into a sick week, never fear — there are twenty-two books total in the series!
The publisher site claims that this book is for late teens, but I’m really not sure why — tweens and early teens (especially those exposed to The Phantom Tollbooth at a tender age) will absolutely adore this book. Maybe it’s because the author is known for challenging literary fiction? In any case, as always, I recommend you ignore age range at will! This book is fantastic. In fact, it would be an amazing read-aloud for a parent at home with a sick young’un. There are incessant jokes (pretty much every name in the book is a pun of some sort), high adventure and derring-do, exotic lands and characters, and a deep and abiding love of the art of storytelling. You’ll be so busy finding all the allusions and references and delighting in the alternating silliness and action that you’ll forget why you’re home reading in the first place.