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Made in Virginia: These Reads Carry a Touch of Home

Made in Virginia: These Reads Carry a Touch of Home

Shop local--authors that is!  Many people apply this well known encouragement to some aspect of their life: visiting one of the area Farmer’s Markets, eating at a locally-owned diner or buying jewelry from the artist that lives down the street.  Local authors probably aren’t on their radar, but they should be!  We are home to many who write for children and teens.  Their books are available for pre-purchase perusal at the public library and for sale in area bookstores. Here are a few recommended, recently published titles that are perfect for holiday gift-giving.  As an added incentive they are all are set in Virginia.

ABC’s From the Rappahannock River, With Love” by Betty Lewis Ellett can be enjoyed on several levels.  Readers of any age will enjoy the lovely, full-page photographs of our beautiful river and its environs.  Share only the first line of every page, and preschoolers will enjoy it as a vocabulary expanding alphabet book, for example “P...is for pier,” with an accompanying photo that perfectly illustrates the new word.  Children with longer attention spans can read the detailed text and learn about the various aspects of the river, from man-made structures such as the bridges, features like the quarry, and wildlife like herons and eagle nests.  This attractive and informative picture book provides a fresh look at a major area feature, and will make a great gift for preschool and early elementary aged children.  

In “Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World” by Candice Ransom, third-grader Iva wants to carry out her great-grandfather’s dream to become an explorer and knows exactly where to start.  She has evidence that during the Civil War, General Braddock buried $30,000 worth of gold in her small town of Uncertain, and she just has to find it. Summer vacation should provide plenty of time to accomplish her mission until her next-door neighbor and cousin, Heaven, interferes.  Heaven easily convinces Iva’s mother, that Iva should attend vacation church school which will definitely cut into her gold digging time.  Making matters worse, Heaven is also stealing the affections of Iva’s best friend, Mrs. Compton.  All of these distractions divert Iva’s attention from her initial purpose, but it turns out that’s okay.  Iva realizes that going it alone isn’t as easy or as glamorous as she originally thought, and that even an annoying, mouth-breathing cousin can become a friend.  Ransom has created yet another cast of delightfully, eccentric characters, but my favorite is definitely Iva’s youngest sister, Lily Pearl.  She wears Halloween costumes year round or sometimes, when she becomes a character she calls “Naked Witch,” simply a rhinestone bracelet.

New York Times bestselling author and University of Mary Washington graduate, Maggie Stiefvater’s latest title, “The Raven Boys,” has broad appeal for a variety of teen interests.  Told in alternating viewpoints it’s part mystery, romance and supernatural fantasy.  Blue ignores boys because she is the opposite of Prince Charming.  Instead of saving her true love with a kiss, she has been told that her kiss will kill them.  Enter temptation in the handsome form of Gansey, a Raven Boy from the exclusive Aglionby Academy. As they embark on a quest, Blue is overshadowed by more than her attraction to Gansey.  The fact that she saw his spirit among those destined to die in the upcoming year looms over her and she can’t help, but wonder if it’s her kiss that kills him.    

Originally published in the 12/3/12 Free Lance-Star.