The Land Of Neverendings

Emily’s world is shattered after her sister dies and she finds she misses her sister’s teddy bear, Bluey, almost as much as her sister. Then Emily dreams of talking toys who have a message from Bluey, but soon discovers that magic from the toy world is spilling out into the real world with disastrous consequences. Emily must decide whether finding Bluey is worth risking the lives of those she loves.

Paws And Edward

Espen Dekko’s gently heartbreaking and heart-lifting story hits the perfect note as it explores death in an accessible, child-friendly, and nonfrightening way. By writing from the dog’s perspective, Dekko makes it easier for children to understand and accept Paws’s decline and death. Beginning with Paws dreaming of chasing rabbits and ending with Edward dreaming of Paws chasing rabbits, the story has a circular structure that is satisfying and reassuring, as it conveys the boy’s acceptance of the loss of his beloved pet. Richly colored illustrations by Mari Kanstad Johnsen have a simultaneously retro and contemporary feel, perfectly highlighting the joy and love at the heart of this boy-dog relationship. This book is an excellent choice for any children or adults dealing with or talking about loss, or for lessons about the life cycle of living things.

We Kiss Them With Rain

Life wasn’t always this hard for 14-year-old Mvelo. There were good times living with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. Now her mother is dying of AIDS and what happened to Mvelo is the elephant in the room, despite its growing presence in their small shack. In this Shakespeare-style comedy, the things that seem to be are only a façade and the things that are revealed hand Mvelo a golden opportunity to change her fate. We Kiss Them With Rain explores both humor and tragedy in this modern-day fairy tale set in a squatter camp outside of Durban, South Africa.

Optimists Die First

Beware: Life ahead. Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you. The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group threatens to derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk

Red Ink

When her mother is knocked down and killed by a London bus, 15-year-old Melon Fouraki is left with no family worth mentioning. Her mother, Maria, never did introduce Melon to a “living, breathing” father. The indomitable Auntie Aphrodite, meanwhile, is hundreds of miles away on a farm in Crete and is unlikely to be jumping on a plane and coming to London anytime soon.

Funny Bones

Funny Bones tells the story of how the amusing calaveras—skeletons performing various everyday or festive activities—came to be. They are the creation of Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada (1852–1913). In a country that was not known for freedom of speech, he first drew political cartoons, much to the amusement of the local population but not the politicians. He continued to draw cartoons throughout much of his life, but he is best known today for his calavera drawings.

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