Here are three quick reviews that I originally posted at Goodreads.
Jessica Day George, Tuesdays at the Castle:
Such a clever and fun premise! Our seven-year-old read this one first and wanted to share it with both his parents; we all enjoyed it. The young one was particularly delighted with the pranks involved in trying to get villains to leave the castle. His elders were taken with the magical-castle-with-agency and nonsexist-princesses-in-a-castle-story bits (and with the fact of reading a novel on our child’s recommendation, of course!).
Randall Jarrell, The Animal Family
This is a beautiful book, and actually quite sad in a way, but it’s also warm and affirming. Mostly it’s just well-written, well-crafted.
My mother loved reading this one solid to my brother and me when we were little. My seven-year-old was entranced, too, and amused in spots.
I don’t remember the body of the child’s mother with him in the lifeboat: did my mother leave it out? or did I block it out? Anyway, those with sensitive children (like mine) be warned: there’s a young child crying in a boat with his dead mother, and it’s about as heartbreaking as that sounds–a very small part of the book, but also a very big one in my mind as I reread it as an adult.
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
Like the book to which it’s a sequel [The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making], this one’s a gorgeous, numinous fairy tale full of quirky and surprising and thought-provoking images, and NOT a “children’s book”–which is not to say that children necessarily shouldn’t read it, but whoa it’s highly referential and textual and also deeply sad in that fairy tale way (see for instance Gaiman, Clarke, Mirrlees, …). And there are shadows! and a tapir! and a fairy mad scientist inventor! And September, a little older now, growing a heart.