Arts, Culture & Media

2008 Children's Holiday Books

 

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"Madeline and the Cats of Rome"
John Bemelmans Marciano
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Available at: Amazon

This is the first all-new book in fifty years about the irrepressible Madeline, the girl from the Parisian orphanage whose adventures have long delighted children and their parents. Ludwig Bemelmans brought her magically to life in a series of books, and now his grandson takes Miss Clavel, Madeline, and her friends to Rome for another adventure. The artwork is fine, and if the story gets a little confusing—I imagined a page was missing, though my daughter begged to differ—it is still good to say that Madeline is back.

"Ottoline and the Yellow Cat"
Chris Riddell
Publisher: HarperCollins
Available at: Amazon

Ottoline Brown and her friend from a Norwegian bog, a silent, long-haired animal of indeterminate species named Mr. Munro, join forces with a bear to solve the mystery of a cat burglar who uses lap dogs to prey on old women. There are surprises on nearly every page of this marvelous concoction of storytelling, drawings, cartoons, and post cards. In fact the British writer and illustrator Chris Riddell has created a book that would make even Stephen Colbert think differently about bears—and that is no small thing.

"The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves"
M.T. Anderson
Publisher: Candlewick
Available at: Amazon

Huckleberry Finn and Holden Caulfield must make room in the pantheon of memorable literary teenagers for Octavian Nothing, the hero of M. T. Anderson’s two-volume series, the first volume of which received the National Book Award in 2006. Octavian’s life is indeed astonishing. He is the son of a West African princess, the victim of a bizarre experiment that turns him into a highly educated and musically gifted slave, and in the concluding volume of this tale he proves to be an eloquent witness to the events of the Revolutionary War. What is liberty anyway? The word is drained of meaning in war, even in a war fought in its name. And Octavian’s story, which is by turns suspenseful, comical, and dark, may lead you to wonder about the meaning of that word for a long time to come.

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