This month I've decided to focus on a beginning reader title and an intermediate title. I've felt for a long time that beginning readers are sorely overlooked, mostly because its dominated by formulaic series (Rainbow Fairies, Magic Puppies, etc.).
But a few months ago My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz with illustrations by Eva Eriksson caught my eye. Dani is about to start school for the first time and couldn't be more excited. She's even got her brand new book bag ready to go. On the second day of school she meets Ella and the two becomes fast and best friends. Eventually Ella moves away and Dani is heartbroken. This is a beautifully written story of family and friendship with charming illustrations filling each page. This is a unique addition to the shelves of beginning readers and well worth a read.
The second title is the intermediate book Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. Just before Theodora Tenpenny's beloved grandfather dies he tell her to "look under the egg." These mysterious words send Theodora and her best friend Bodhi on a journey to uncover the truth behind a painting hanging in her house. Is it truly a Raphael? Or did her grandfather steal it from The Metropolitan Museum of Art? This is an intriguing mystery in the vein of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Chasing Vermeer.