Bad Day at Riverbend by Chris Van Allsburg
There is something mysterious happening to the poor folks of Riverbend. Strange lines and squiggles are appearing around town. The townsfolk are trying to get to the bottom of this strange phenomenon while readers eventually get a special perspective the townsfolk are missing.
- Anyone/Unique Story Fans: A book really anyone should enjoy. I've never read a plot quite like this anywhere else.
- Mystery Fans/Observation Skill Builders: Hand this to would-be sleuths and readers practicing their observation skills and see if they can figure out what is going on before the reveal.
- Light Disaster Story Intro: Also would be a good intro to light disaster fantasy/scifi tales.
Chalk by Bill Thomson
One rainy day, three kids find a toy dinosaur with a bag of chalk in its mouth. One of the girls takes a piece of chalk and draws a sun. All of a sudden the real sun shows up in the sky and the rain stops. The other girl grabs a piece of chalk and draws butterflies on the ground, and suddenly the air is filled with brilliantly colored, living, flying butterflies. Then the little boy takes a piece of chalk and with a mischievous smile draws a T-Rex. He doesn't smile for long though, as the T-Rex comes to life and starts chasing the kids around. Thankfully one of them grabs another piece of chalk and with some quick thinking, solves the problem
- Wordless Book Fans/Art Fans/Imaginative Reader/Problem Solvers: Hand this to wordless book fans, amazing art fans, readers with great imaginations, and those who want to practice their problem solving skills (How would they stop the T-Rex?).
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Harold’s purple crayon takes him on some amazing adventures.
- Purple Fans: Purple lovers will likely grab this one just for the profusion of purple inside.
- Imaginative Readers/Art Lovers: Readers with great imaginations will enjoy seeing where Harold's crayon takes him, and art lovers should enjoy the message that art can take you anywhere.
Journey Trilogy by Aaron Becker
Magical chalk takes a girl in the first book, and others in later books, on magical journeys to fantastic new places.
- Wordless Book Fans: This series is completely wordless and open to a variety of activities such as getting pre-readers to tell the story using the pictures clues.
- Imaginative Readers/Fantasy Fans/Amazing Art Fans: All three books take readers to fantastic new places that will make their imaginations soar. And the artwork is amazing. (Journey even won a Caldecott Honor for its artwork.)
Lines by Suzy Lee
What starts as a wordless book featuring a single ice skater making lines on pristine ice turns into something else when the skater falls and the artist gets frustrated.
- Winter Sport Fans: Ice skating fans and winter sports fans should enjoy this for the fun with ice skating.
- Perfectionists: Perfectionists, especially artists who are perfectionists can walk away with a little more from the story as it is a subtle commentary on the potential beauty and even fun in mistakes they may be tempted to throw out.
- Wordless Book Fans/Art Fans/Imaginative Readers: And of course, a good pick for wordless book fans, art fans (Suzy Lee does so much with just a few lines!), and readers with great imaginations.
Mina's White Canvas by Hyeon-Ju Lee, translated by Mi-Kyoung Chang
Mina creates a snowy landscape with her white crayon that comes to life. She then goes out to explore and uses her crayon to help free some new friends.
- Kindness Advocates: The story has a good moral that kindness creates bonds of friendship.
- Imaginative Readers: Another good one for readers with good imaginations. What do you see in a field of white?
- Korean Lit Fans: Have you every wanted to try some Korean lit? This was translated from Korean.
- Animal Story Fans/Winter Story Fans: A cute winter tale featuring some delightful animal friends.
My Pen by Christopher Myers
The power of a pen is explored in this celebration of imagination and creativity.
- Art Classes/Artists/Art Fans: This is a fantastic book for art classes and those looking for some art inspiration. Watching Myers with his creative pen makes readers just itch to pick one up themselves. And for those who would rather look at art than create it, it also provides a feast for the eyes.
Middle Grade Fiction
The Rithmatist (Rithmatist, #1) by Brandon Sanderson, ill. by Ben McSweeney
Joel wants to be a Rithmatist, a person who can make chalk circles, lines, and drawings come to life. He knows more than most teens his age do about Rithmatics. He can draw all the circles and stuff, but he missed the 8yr old ceremony and never became one. That doesn't quench his thirst to know as much as he can about Rithmatics, but there's just one problem...only Rithmatists are allowed to take Rithmatic classes. So Joel comes up with a hair-brained scheme to get to do an independent study with one of the Rithmatist professors at the academy he attends and his mother works for. But things get more serious when Rithmatist students start turning up missing with evidence of foul play. Can he and Professor Fitch figure out what is going on before it incites political problems or even war?
- Fantasy Fans/Reimagined History Fans/Mystery Fans: Sanderson has come up with a fun re-imagined America of ~100 years ago with fantasy and steampunk elements, and enough mystery to keep you tearing through pages, so definitely recommended to fantasy fans, reimagined history fans, and those looking for an interesting magical world.
- Patient Sequel Waiters: Not recommended for those who can’t patiently wait for the sequel. Sanderson is promising one, but as yet the publication date keeps getting pushed back for one of his zillion other series. (But those who like this book can happily explore many of Sanderson’s other works while waiting.)