The Future is Bright

Let us imagine so — for the sake of our children at least


Compiled by Brian Lampkin

Can we look forward? As I write this in October I want to imagine November. A November with a Thanksgiving for friends and family. A November with a normal, peaceful transition of power. And a November where we can think about what our children will need in the future. They’ll need books, for certain.

As you begin to think about holiday gift-giving, here’s our annual list of November’s best new children’s books. May they all be received in peace with optimism for a bright future for democracy for our children.

Where Is Our Library?: A Story of Patience and Fortitude, by Josh Funk and Stevie Lewis (Henry Holt & Co., $18.99). The two iconic lions, curious Patience and steadfast Fortitude, wait every morning to greet visitors of the New York Public Library — and slip away every night to read in the Children’s Center. But one day, Patience and Fortitude find the Children’s Center empty! The two lions set out into the city to locate their missing books and encounter some literary landmarks along the way. Josh Funk’s clever rhymes and Stevie Lewis’ vibrant art take young readers into the heart of New York City in this latest adventure.

I Am the Storm, by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple (Rise x Penguin Workshop, $17.99). Jane Yolen has just published her 380th book! Much of her oeuvre focuses on nature, such as the Caldecott winner Owl Moon (in its 80th printing) and a series of picture books on birds with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In the face of our shifting climate, young children everywhere are finding themselves subject to unfamiliar and often frightening extreme weather. Yolen and her daughter, Heidi Stemple, address four distinct weather emergencies (a tornado, a blizzard, a forest fire and a hurricane) with warm family stories of finding the joy in preparedness and resilience. Their honest reassurance leaves readers with this message: Nature is powerful, but you are powerful, too. Illustrated in rich environmental tones and featuring additional information about storms in the back, this book educates, comforts and empowers young readers in stormy or sunny weather — and all the weather in between.

The All-Together Quilt, by Lizzy Rockwell (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17.99). The kids and grown-ups at a community center begin with lots of colorful fabrics and an idea. Then step-by-step they make that idea a reality. They design, cut, stitch, layer and quilt. It’s the work of many hands, many hours and many stories. And the result is something warm and wonderful they all can share. Lizzy Rockwell is the artistic director and organizing force behind The Norwalk Community Quilt Project: Peace by Piece, and this book is inspired by all the people who have gathered over the years to teach and learn and to make something beautiful together.

The Couch Potato, by Jory John (HarperCollins, $18.99). The Couch Potato has everything he needs within reach of his sunken couch cushion. But when the electricity goes out, Couch Potato is forced to peel himself away from the comforts of his living room and venture outside. And when he does, he realizes fresh air and sunshine could be just the things he needs. From the author (and illustrator Pete Oswald) of the modern classics The Bad Seed and The Good Egg.

The Ickabog, by J. K. Rowling (Scholastic, $26.99). Once upon a time there was a tiny kingdom called Cornucopia, as rich in happiness as it was in gold, and famous for its food. From the delicate cream cheeses of Kurdsburg to the Hopes-of-Heaven pastries of Chouxville, each was so delicious that people wept with joy as they ate them. But even in this happy kingdom, a monster lurks. Legend tells of a fearsome creature living far to the north in the Marshlands . . . the Ickabog. Some say it breathes fire, spits poison and roars through the mist as it carries off wayward sheep and children alike. Some say it’s just a myth. Rumor is: This Rowling may amount to something.

This Is Your Time, by Ruby Bridges (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $15.99). Ruby Bridges is a civil rights activist who, at the age of 6, was the first black student to integrate an all-white elementary school in New Orleans. She was born in Mississippi in 1954, the same year the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its landmark decision ordering the integration of public schools. Her family happened to move to New Orleans, where on November 14, 1960, Bridges began attending William Frantz Elementary School, single-handedly initiating the desegregation of public education in New Orleans. Her walk to the front door of the building was immortalized in Norman Rockwell’s famous painting The Problem We All Live With.  OH

Brian Lampkin is one of the proprietors of Scuppernong Books

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