List by Annie
"If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book."
- Author unknown
‘Cos you know, they’re not just for kids. Books are written to connect with individuals, to tell a story, and not to tick boxes in a marketing department list (at least, they should be)…. These 5 books speak to the human condition – and, sometimes, you need a few years on you to hear them properly.
Petey / Ben Mikaelsen
In 1922 Petey, who has cerebral palsy, is misdiagnosed as an idiot and institutionalized; sixty years later, still in the institution, he befriends a boy and shares with him the joy of life. Ages 13+
Annie's note: More tissues. Based on a true story. Petey has been raised in institutions his whole life now, in his 70s, he finds a family. Much love for this one. Much nagging of the collections team to buy more copies. Half-a-box of tissues.
The red tree / Shaun Tan
A young girl describes her feelings of depression when everything in her day seems to go wrong and no one understands her. Through her own thought processes and feelings ranging from depression to a gradual enlightenment, she discovers that in spite of the overwhelming nature of events, dreams imagined can come true.
Annie's note: You know those days...the ones where everything just gets you down, and you feel utter despair? Then you will understand this book, and its message of hope. The luminosity of the illustrations go straight to my heart.
Whale talk / Chris Crutcher
Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school's less popular students.
Annie's note: So hard to pick just one Crutcher – but 'Whale talk' just (barely) beat out Stotan. TJ is a teen with attitude and ability – just not the ability to ignore prejudice. His parents are wonderful. And the end...Whole box of tissues.
Michael Rosen's sad book / words by Michael Rosen ; pictures by Quentin Blake
The author writes about his sadness following the death of his son, how it makes him feel and how he copes with it.
Annie's note: Some of us watched Michael Rosen’s son grow up through Rosen’s poetry. To then get this book – Rosen coping after his son’s sudden death at 18. Blake’s illustrations are the perfect complement. Anyone who has ever had to hold it together – to put on a front – while grieving, will identify. Half-a-box of tissues.
The messenger / Markus Zusak
Published in the US as 'I am the messenger.' Ed Kennedy is pretty useless - he has a deadbeat job as a part-time taxi driver, is hopelessly in love with Audrey, a fellow taxi driver, spends his spare time playing cards with his buddies, and does nothing without his 17 year old dog, The Doorman. His life changes one day when he accidentally stops a bank robbery, and soon finds his first message in the mail, the Ace of Diamonds with three addresses. After he works out what message to send the three people, he gets another card, and so on until he finally completes his objective.
Annie's note: I wish I could write half as good as this. Even a quarter would do. Complete love. No tissues, just understanding.