All the Pretty Places, by Joy Callaway
In Rye, New York, in the Gilded Age, Sadie Fremd’s dreams hinge on her family’s nursery, which has been the supplier of choice for respected landscape architects on the East Coast for decades. As the economy plummets into a depression, Sadie’s father pressures her to secure her future by marrying a wealthy man among her peerage, but Sadie’s heart is already spoken for. Rather than seek potential suitors, she pursues new business to bolster her father’s floundering nursery. The more time Sadie spends in the secluded gardens of the elite, the more she notices the hopelessness in the eyes of those outside the mansions — the poor, the grieving, the weary. Sadie has always wanted her father to pass the business to her instead of to one of her brothers, but he seems oblivious to her desire and talent, and now to her passion for providing natural beauty to those who can’t afford it. When a former employee, Sam, shows up unexpectedly, Sadie wonders if their love can be rekindled, or if his presence will simply be another reminder of a life she longs for and cannot have.
The Making of Another Motion Picture Masterpiece, by Tom Hanks
From the Academy Award-winning actor and bestselling author, Hanks’ debut novel is the story of the making of a colossal, star-studded, multi-million-dollar superhero action film . . . and the humble comic book that inspired it. Part One of the story takes place in 1947. A troubled soldier, returning from the war, meets his talented 5-year-old nephew, leaves an indelible impression, and then disappears for 23 years. Cut to 1970. The nephew, now drawing underground comic books in Oakland, California, reconnects with his uncle and, remembering the comic book he saw when he was 5, draws a new version with his uncle as a World War II fighting hero. Cut to the present day. A commercially successful director discovers the 1970 comic book and decides to turn it into a contemporary superhero movie. We meet the film’s extremely difficult male star, his wonderful leading lady, the eccentric writer/director, the producer, the gofer production assistant, and everyone else on both sides of the camera. As a bonus, interspersed throughout the novel are the three comic books all created by Hanks himself.
The Postcard, by Anne Berest
Luminous and gripping to the very last page, The Postcard is an enthralling investigation into family secrets, a poignant tale of mothers and daughters, and a vivid portrait of 20th century Parisian intellectual and artistic life. In 2003, an anonymous postcard is delivered to the Berest family home. On the front is a photo of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. On the back are the names of Anne Berest’s maternal great-grandparents, Ephraïm and Emma Rabinovitch, and their children, Noémie and Jacques — all killed at Auschwitz. Fifteen years after the postcard is delivered, Anne, the heroine in this autofiction, is moved to discover who sent it and why. Aided by her chain-smoking mother, family members, friends, associates, a private detective, a graphologist and many others, she embarks on a journey to discover the fate of the Rabinovitch family and then the identity of the person who sent the postcard. What emerges is a moving story of a family devastated by the Holocaust and partly restored through the power of storytelling that shatters long-held certainties about Anne’s family, her country, and herself.
His Majesty’s Airship: The Life and Tragic Death of the World’s Largest Flying Machine, by S.C. Gwynne
The tragic story of the British airship R101 — which went down in a spectacular hydrogen-fueled fireball in 1930, killing more people than died in the Hindenburg disaster seven years later — has been largely forgotten. Gwynne resurrects it in vivid detail, telling the epic story of great ambition gone terribly wrong. Airships, those airborne leviathans that occupied center stage in the world in the first half of the 20th century, were a symbol of the future. R101 was not just the largest aircraft ever to have flown and the product of the world’s most advanced engineering — it was also the lynchpin of an imperial British scheme to link by air the far-flung areas of its empire from Australia to India, South Africa, Canada, Egypt and Singapore. There was just one problem: Beyond the hype and technological wonders, these big, steel-framed, hydrogen-filled airships were a dangerously bad idea.
The Astronaut’s Guide to Leaving Planet Earth, by Terry Virts
At some point, every kid wants to be an astronaut, and with this guide, they’ll get their zero gravity feet on the right path. With a handy space info guide, space travel history timeline, pick-your-path career planning tips, and fun “ask an astronaut” Q&A, this fabulous guide is perfect for budding astronauts and curious young scientists. Autographed copies are available at The Country Bookshop. (Ages 8-14.)
The Seasons Within Me, by Bianca Pozzi
Sometimes the day is gray outside, but other times its gray inside you. Almost always the best way out of a gray day is to find a good friend who will sit with you until the rainbows shine through. This important book emphasizes that, while things aren’t always perfect, there’s always hope when supportive friends are nearby. (Ages 3-8.)
The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination, by Brad Montague
The Department of Dreams, the Cave of Untold Stories, the Planetarium of Possibility. These are all divisions of the FBI. That’s right, the Fantastic Bureau of Imagination. Whoosh down the whoosh-scilator and dive into possibility, fun and imagination. (Ages 4-8.)
Woo Hoo! You’re Doing Great!, by Sandra Boynton
Sometimes it just takes a little enthusiasm to change the world. Celebrate positivity, grand achievements, special days (and silliness) with this fun new gem that’s the perfect graduation gift alternative to Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (Ages 5-adult.) PS
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.