We’re on vacation for the next two weeks, but we’re leaving you in good hands with guest posts everyday AND regular Nerd Nest scheduled posts on weekdays. Today’s guest post is by Serena of A Girl Named Sue. She’s a storyteller and fellow book devourer.
A side effect of five years spent moonlighting as a bookseller is a familiarity with a wide variety of book genres, including a healthy dose of children’s and young adult reads. Let’s keep it real. As a young singleton, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to head into the kid’s department. However, all of that faded away as I rediscovered old favorites and found new loves.
Museum-worthy (err…pin-worthy?) illustrations filled picture books telling stories ranging from the first lady of jazz to the story of the red knit cap girl. Ramona Quimby winked at me conspiratorially, and a whole shelf of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s tales of the prairie waited, ready to fulfill all of my fantasies of living off the land.
If I set aside the crying, book throwing and sometimes-evil parents, magic happened inside that small department. My sentimental heart swells in an entirely cliché way when a kid connects with a book. What’s that? A John Williams’ score welling up in the background? Sorry, let’s get to it!
1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (for the writer/journal-keeping nerd). Who wouldn’t love a heroine who pours her heart into her journal and strives to make the best of a bad situation?! This coming-of-age story is set in a crumbling English castle she shares with her author mother and other free-spirited relatives.
2. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (for the fantasy/adventure nerd). This beautiful story chronicles the last unicorn’s quest to find others of his kind and is full of unique characters like the Butterfly and Schmendrick the Magician rendered in unexpected ways. Rumor has it that both The Princess Bride and Neil Gaiman’s Stardust were inspired by this title.
3. Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene (for the spy/detective nerd). Nancy Drew was the first character to really play to my sense of adventure and quest for justice. The girl detective was fearless, often to her own detriment. If Nancy was driving her blue convertible down the road and heard a scream, she would immediately pull over and take off running in the direction of the noise. There was never a battle Nancy was too afraid to fight, never a person she wouldn’t help. She stared many a bad guy in the eye and told them exactly what she thought of them. You can trace my love for Sydney Bristow and Alias directly back to Nancy.
4. 600 Black Spots by David A. Carter (for the art nerd). Modern pop-up books have reached insane new heights when it comes to multi-dimensional storytelling and delivering deceptively simple inspiration.
5. Chasing Vermeer and The Calder Game by Blue Balliett (for the art/history nerd). Both of these books were so fun, combining the detective skills of Nancy Drew with cool art history facts in a super engaging way. It’s akin to a (smarter) The Da Vinci Code for the younger set.
With so many fabulous books out there, I’m positive I’ve left out some of your favorites? What books would you recommend to your favorite young nerd?
By day, Serena is a river-obsessed superhero working for an environmental nonprofit in our nation’s capital. When the lights go down and she hangs up her cloak, she’s just a girl who is passionate about books, art, travel and old-fashioned storytelling. Serena currently writes about these passions over at A Girl Named Sue. Be sure to subscribe to the new book podcast, That’s What She Read, which she started with one of her friends.