Books for October Souls: Children’s Picks

For a few of us, autumn and Halloween create the happiest, most delightfully spooky season imaginable. Not only is the weather wonderful (crunchy leaves, hot drinks, warm sweaters, and those brilliant reds and oranges!), but the books I want to curl up with at this time are among my favourites. Here are a few to make fellow October souls happy:

Children’s Picks:

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Julia's House for Lost Creatures

Honestly, this is among my favourite picture books ever written. Julia moves into a huge house, which she thinks a grand idea until she actually spends a bit of time in it…and realizes it’s really quite lonely! She puts up a sign that invites all lost creatures to come and take up residence in her house, the result of which is… Well, you’re just going to have to read it. I really can’t say enough about how absolutely wonderful this story is, though. So, do read it.

Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by David Catrow

Cinderella Skeleton

My opinion on this book may be a little unconventional, but I honestly think this is the best illustrated Cinderella adaptation. Cinderella is a skeleton, her prince is one too, and it’s not just her shoe she loses when she runs down the stairs. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story strikes just the right balance of playful macabre and sweet story.

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Dan Santat


This one is just plain funny. Meet Crankenstein (chances are you know him). He’s having a day that leaves him feeling nothing but cranky. But when one Crankenstein meets another? Let’s just say this is one book with which we can all identify.

Zombelina by Kristyn Crow, illustrated by Molly Idle


Okay, so taking your leg off while dancing may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but for Zombelina, it’s just one of her many creative dance moves. With her kooky family encouraging her, Zombelina explores the world of dance on her own terms, but when her first ballet recital gives her stage fright, she has to trust in herself enough to finish the performance.

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich

If you haven’t yet experienced the world of Adam Rex, you’re in for a treat, and Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich is an excellent entry point. Full of funny stories surrounding Frankenstein’s attempts to live a normal life, this picture book will leave you in stitches. Wait. Not literal stitches. Stitches from laughing. Anyway, moving on…

Boris and Bella by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Gris Grimly

Boris and Bella

Opposites attract in this ghoulishly good story of Bella and Boris, two contrary people who just can’t stand each other…and come to love each other. Humour meets the saccharine, and with Gris Grimly illustrating, every reader is sure to be pleased.



Watching To Inspire Reading


Keith here, with a new venture on the Ship Blog. At least twice a month I will be posting new and exciting videos for your literary digest. This means I will be on the look out for quality presentations, talks, and interviews with our favorite people in the world of books and sharing them here.

After archiving at least 20 different videos on my YouTube account in search for the perfect debut, I finally chose the video that sparked this whole idea in the first place: Lynda Barry speaking at the 2013 Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Lynda Barry’s work is hard to define as it is so unique in its structure and so unprecedented in its style. What is clear about her work is the infectious, vivacious quality channeling through it that resonates with our primal urge to create. Her lecture makes it clear to me that this is not unintentional. In fact, it made me realize that Lynda Barry is no ordinary artist, but instead a socially conscientious magician conjuring powers to replace the current societal norms of complacency and anomie with artful expression and action!

In this talk, which is part stand-up comedy routine, part doctoral thesis, Barry attempts to get to the bottom of the biological purpose art, creation, and reading books have for us as human beings. She raises many questions, and even delivers some concrete answers on these massive inquiries.

Hope you enjoy!

Leave comments below! Would love to hear your thoughts.

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Holiday Recommendations from Our Staff – Children’s & Young Adult

I’m Bored
By Michael Ian Black 
Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi 
Funny! So, so, so, so funny!
I said “I’m bored” so often as a kid. SO often. My mother should have handed me a potato. Or a flamingo. –dave 


I Need My Monster 
By Amanda Noll 
Illustrated by Howard McWilliam 
When a boy’s monster goes on a fishing vacation, he’s left without a monster under his bed. The boy does what any child would do and starts to interview replacement monsters…but will any monster fit his needs? So much fun! –Justus 

A Hole Is to Dig 
By Ruth Krauss 
Holidays are to stay home from work. Families are to give your extra hugs to. Gifts are for making everybody feel good. Books are for making feelings inside you. A Classic is when you, your mom, and your grandpa all love it.
This book is like a hug… You’re never too young or old to give or get one! –Jamil 


Bear Has a Story to Tell 
By Philip C. Stead 
Illustrated by Erin Stead
Winter is coming and the animals are all getting ready. Beat wants to share his story, but they are all too busy and soon Bear must sleep, too. However, everyone is soon eager to hear the story as soon as winter passes.
A beautiful, simple story about friendship and storytelling. I love this bear! –Tracy
Little Owl Lost 
By Chris Haughton
So there’s this little owl, and this little owl is a wee bit clumsy and falls out of his nest and gets lost. A squirrel sees the whole thing and does his very best to help the owl find his mommy. The squirrel, is, as befits his name, a wee bit squirrely and has a little trouble with the whole endeavour. The first book by Oh No, George author Chris Haughton is an adorable and silly tale for little humans or little animals everywhere. –Casey S. 

This Moose Belongs to Me 
By Oliver Jeffers 
In this utterly charming new book by Oliver Jeffers we meet Wilfred, a young boy who meets a moose. He names the moose Marcel and begins following his new friend to teach him the rules of being a good pet. Marcel leads Wilfred into the wild, but imagine the boy’s reaction when he learns the moose may not be his pet after all. This is an amusing, fun, and beautifully illustrated adventure. –David 



By Palmer Brown
It’s finally back in print! Cheerful is a little church mouse who lives in the city with his parents, his brother Solemnity,and his sisters Faith and Hope. While his siblings are happy frolicking in the big city, Cheerful’s dream is to live in the country. This is the enchanting story of Cheerful’s journey to his place in the countryside. –Leah


By Blexbolex 
Looking for the perfect gift for your friend’s young child? Here you go! This book  contains beautiful illustrations of people doing ordinary things. It is fascinating! It is also fun. Pick it up and take a look! –Jillian



Pirates at the Plate 

By AAron Frisch

Illustrated by Mark Summers 

Any fan of baseball, pirates, or cowboys is sure to love this imaginative new picture book. What happens when the likes of Captain Hook, Blackbeard, and Long John Silver play baseball against Hopalong Cassidy, Wild Bill Hickok, and the Cisco Kid? Find out as this unusual showdown takes place in the ball yard. And don’t miss tomorrow’s game between the Vikings and the Tigers! –David


This Is Not My Hat 
By Jon Klassen 
We’ve all been there. We’re out and about in the world, we see a hat that we really like, and for just a moment we think about taking it. Then we see that maybe the owner of the hat is rather…gigantic, and we chicken out. But little fish doesn’t. He sees a hat, he just takes it and swims away. He doesn’t worry about consequences. I, for one, can’t see a flaw in little fish’s plans. – Rich 


Andrew Henry’s Meadow 
By Doris Burn
Andrew Henry loves building contraptions and inventing is his passion, but his messy creations exasperate his family. Andrew decides that the only solution is to find a place where he can build a house of his own. One by one his friends find him and he puts his talents to good use by building custom “homes” for each of his friends.
Originally published in 1965 and newly brought back into print by San Juan Publishing (hurray!) – this book is a celebration of the joy of imagination and will inspire some first-rate fort building! Kudos to one time Waldron Island resident for writing and illustrating such an enduring classic! –Laurie 


By Dan Kainen 
Have you ever been captivasted by the powerful movement of a wild cheetah? Ever wish you could slow it down and see every detail? Now you can with amazing new Photicular technology from Dan Kainen. ON the heels of his Scanimation hit Gallop, Kainene brings us Safari–a breathtaking moving gallery of Africa’s most stunning species. The physical act of turning pages sets a lion charging or a cheetah running. And when you’ve satisfied your curiousity with pictures, Safari includes informative essays on what you’ve witnessed. Enjoy!! –Seth


The Boxcar Children
By Gertrude Chandler Warner
Absolutely one of my favourite books from childhood! I loved the way the four siblings moved into the abandoned boxcar and outfitted themselves with all the comforts of home–cups & bowls, hammer & nails; even a dog! The original silhouette art is included in this special edition and truly adds to this cherished book! –Holly 


I Have a Dream
By Martin Luther King Jr.
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
The grandly inspiring words of one of the greatest Americans–gorgeously illustrated to deliver the freeing, soaring impact of Martin Luther King’s vision.
This is a book for all time–and for the entire family. –Peter


The Little Island
By Margaret Wise Brown 
The seasons change on this little island and with them so does the island. Flowers bloom, lobsters shed their shells, pears fall from the tree, and snow falls. One summer a curious kitten visits and discovers that even a tiny little island cut off from the land is part of this big world. –Pamela 


Rookie Yearbook One

Edited by Tavi Gevinson 
Need a book for a teenaged girl? Look no further! Rookie Yearbook One is a comprehensive guide to the fashion world, music, women’s topics, the strange, and the super-rad. It contains interesting interviews (e.g., Joss Whedon, John Waters), handy DIYs, and does not, in anyway, shortchange the reader. Intelligently written and playfullly designed, it is the obvious choice this Christmas season. –Jillian


birdingA Kid’s Guide to Birding
By Lorenzo Rohani
Photos by Michael Rohani
In this terrific introduction to the birding way of life, a Seattle area father and son team introduce all the basics of good birding, from proper etiquette (don’t get too close, don’t try to touch), to identification techniques (plumage, camouflage, beaks), and tips on how to build feeders and attract birds to your own backyard. Birding is inexpensive, it can be shared with people of all ages, and it can be done anywhere. Filled with practical advice and spectacular photographs of avian beauties, this gem of a book squawks to be shared with loved ones—young and old alike! –Holly 


The Impossible Rescue 
By Martin W. Sandler
This truly amazing story is ideal for those who prefer their adventure tales pulled from history. Whaling was once a vital industry, but it was also rife with peril, and in September of 1897, eight whaling vessels became trapped in the ice of Point Barrow, Alaska. With more than 250 lives at stake, President McKinley ordered a rescue, and the cutter ship Bear left Seattle. This rescue would be accomplished by intrepid individuals without helicopters, GPS, or cell phones. Recounted from the diaries, letters, and historic photographs of those involved, this is a story of the impossible made possible. –Holly 


Moominvalley Turns Jungle 
By Tove Jansson
No they are not hippopotamuses!
The Moomins have enchanted children and grownups around the world since 1945. Until now, they have only been available in large, expensive hardbacks. No they have released on of the best stories in an affordable, kid-proof version. A highly-recommended stocking stuffer. –Leah

The Hobbit
By J.R.R. Tolkien 
Just in time for the holidays and the December 14th release of the first installment of Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films comes this delightful and inexpensive hardcover version of the timeless tale of Bilbo Baggins and his fantastic adventures in Middle Earth. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of the book that would launch the career of the father of modern fantasy literature. Tolkien’s epic story of Bilbo, Gandalf, the dwarves, a dragon named Smaug, and all the rest will live on in the hearts and minds of generations of readers, and now filmgoers. This is the perfect gift for the Tolkien or avid fantasy reader in your life. Plus, it fits in your pocket! –Casey S.


Every Day 
By David Levithan 
For A, life has never been straightforward, but how could it be when he’s never had a body to call his own? Every day he wakes up in a different body, and after sixteen years he’s learned to live as normally as he can, never trying to change the life he’s borrowing. And that’s fine until Rhiannon walks into his life, and he falls in love. Now A is kidnapping the bodies he wakes up in, dragging them any distance across the country to spend just a few more moments with the girl who stole his heart. –Justus 


Ever since I was a kid, I’ve marveled at the enormous scope and variety of children’s picture books. And even after five years in the book business, I’m still fascinated by the process of creating those little gems. Which comes first, an image or the words; how do a few vivid ideas collate to become one polished book; when did these talented creators know that they’d like to tell stories for a living and, once they knew, how did they go about making it a reality?

Now I have my chance—and so do you—to have all my burning picture book questions answered! Sunday, August 7 from 1-3 pm, we’re hosting Kids-a-Palooza! with four of Seattle’s finest children’s illustrators and authors: Suzanne Kaufman, Steven D’Amico, Matthew Porter and Wendy Wahman. Each artist will take the stage and talk a bit about or read from a selection of his or her work. After their presentations, we’ll have time for refreshments, activities, meet-and-greets and book signing. This will be a great afternoon for kids, their families, teachers, artists and all children’s book enthusiasts. Please join us!

Suzanne Kaufman is the author and illustrator of I Love Monkey, a  story about learning to love  yourself for exactly who you are! While Suzanne’s debut release is still quite new, I Love Monkey has already won a Mom’s Choice Award and a PTPA seal of approval for excellence in children’s programming. Over the years, while she’s been perfecting her awesome, retro style, Suzanne has also been busy producing special effects for Universal and Discovery, animating award-winning videogames and teaching film and animation.

Matthew Porter has been called the “king of the hipster boardbook” for good reason: it’s not just the little ones who are drooling over books like Calling all Animals and Flowers. His use of sharp black outlines and popping colors, his small creatures with their enormous, limpid eyes, his inimitable style draw the reader from page to cardboard page. Boardbooks may be small, says Library journal, “they may be short…but board books are hard and Matthew Porter consistently gets them right.”

Wendy Wahman is first and foremost an animal-lover. That’s what makes her books, A Cat Like that and Don’t Lick the Dog, so darn good. Of course, her slinky-vivacious-outrageous illustrations and jazz-jam prose make her books an absolute pleasure to read aloud and admire. Her editorial background working on projects for Henry Holt children’s publishing sure doesn’t hurt, either! So if you’re looking for a book that will help the little ones in your life care for the animals in theirs, look no further than the lovely stylings of Wendy Wahman.

Steven D’Amico may be best known for an elegant little lady elephant named Ella, but it is certainly Suki, the Very Loud Bunny who’s been turning heads this summer! Not only is Steve the co-creator of these five charming picture books, but also, (somehow!) finds the time to be the art director for Seattle-based Smashing Ideas, Inc. He’s produced illustrations and designs for PBS Kids, Nick Jr. and the Disney Channel.

Summer Booknotes from Our Staff: Children’s Books

Noah Barleywater Runs Away
by John Boyne
illus. by Oliver Jeffers (David Fickling)

Sometimes it’s necessary to run away from home in order to experience adventure and to avoid dealing with some unpleasantness. So, eight-year-old Noah Barleywater takes off for that great beyond without even having eaten breakfast. John Boyne’s previous book, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, is an astounding story about a friendship across the fence of a concentration camp, and while Noah Barleywater Runs Away reads like a light-hearted, whimsical fable about talking animals and magical trees, it is a story that imparts the truth: that sometimes things are more than what they seem. –Leighanne

Earth to Clunk
by Pam Smallcomb
illus. by Joe Berger (Dial)

A boy is assigned a pen pal at school, only this pen pal is an alien named Clunk from the planet Quazar. The boy doesn’t want a pen pal so he sends Clunk pretty much everything he hates: smelly socks, spoiled food, even his bossy big sister. Clunk sends back odd things as well, and soon an unexpected friendship is formed. What will happen when Clunk comes to visit for a sleepover? Find out in this fantastically fun tale, which shows how sometimes the greatest things come in strange packages. –David

Wow! Ocean!
by Robert Neubecker (Hyperion)

Robert Neubecker continues his delightful Wow! series, following Wow! City!, and Wow! School!, with Wow! Ocean! No need to don your diving gear to learn about sea life, just follow the adventures of Izzy and her family as they travel from mountain to sea. Playful illustrations guide us through tide pools, deep sea dives, and sunken treasure. Cleverly embedded within the drawings are the names of shells, fishes, dolphins, and much more. Both adults and children will be enchanted by Neubecker’s artful presentation, and a little learning might just sneak in. –Seth

Booknotes, the newsletter of The Elliott Bay Book Company, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.

Booknotes from Our Staff

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking)

In the wake of many young adult books that feature kids with magical powers, Okorafor’s voice is a refreshing standout. Sunny is an American-born child of Nigerians who have moved back home to West Africa. She is unique in many ways, one of them being she is an “Akata,” a derogatory term for an American born black. She is also an albino. As if this isn’t enough, she soon learns she is a “leopard person,” someone possessing magical abilities, and is a strong one at that. On a quest to defeat an evil criminal, she is accompanied by Chichi, a sharp-tongued girl who seemingly knows no fear, Orlu, the down-to earth boy with watchful eyes and a warning always at hand, and the care-free African American, Sasha, who Sunny may or may not have a little crush on. Akata Witch is rich in West African spirituality and captivating adventure. –Shannon

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (Knopf)

Ten years ago, Kate, Michael, and Emma were spirited away from their parents in order to protect them from an unknown evil. Moved from one orphanage to the next, the siblings survived by helping one another and holding out hope that one day their parents would come for them. Now, after moving to an orphanage in a remote village in upstate New York, the siblings meet the enigmatic Dr. Pym and come face to face with the stunning secret that has followed them for the last decade. A wonderful mix of humor and magic, Stephens’s debut will thrill fantasy fans of all ages. –Casey S.

Lost & Found by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine)

Lost & Found is an extraordinary collection of three thematically related and thought provoking stories beautifully illustrated and told by Shaun Tan. In “The Red Tree,” a girl finds hope and beauty in a world of darkness and despair. “The Lost Thing” journals a boy’s unique experience as he helps a strange alien creature find belonging and happiness. And “The Rabbits” tells the fate of an old world lost at the arrival of a new invading species. These imaginative stories are movingly narrated and exquisitely presented, creating a weird and wonderful experience for all ages. –David

World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky, illus. by Frank Stockton (Workman)

Mark Kurlansky has utilized his thorough research skills to create a book that all ages can read, enjoy, and benefit from. World Without Fish is a sobering yet creative and comprehensive account of the current threat facing fish and mammals. This is a great book for the whole family—the writing is straightforward yet gentle, and there are cartoons, illustrations, and photos. Kurlansky covers everything one needs to know to get a full understanding of the dangers our oceans face: over-fishing, by-catch risks, global warming effects, far-reaching impacts of extinction, the positive repercussions of sustainable fishing, and more. Terms are defined, and cause and effect are clearly and simply explained. It’s a tough subject, but an important one, and this is the book that will educate your whole family. –Hilary

BOOKNOTES, the book review of THE ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published and forthcoming books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.

Look for our Summer Booknotes’ Reviews…coming soon…

Booknotes from Our Staff

I’m Not by Pam Smallcomb, illus. by Robert Weinstock (Schwartz & Wade)

If you’re looking for a charming and amusing children’s book about friendship, I’m Not is sure to be a lovely selection. Here we discover two young friends who are as different as can be, yet they celebrate and love their differences. In spite of all the things that they are not, they know exactly what they are: true blue friends. This is a delightful tale filled with witty illustrations, and it deserves to become a classic. –David


BOOKNOTES, the book review of THE ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published and forthcoming books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.