At the end of April, I attended the American Bookseller’s Association for Children’s Booksellers (ABC’s) Children’s Institute in California. It should come as no surprise to any of you that I collected 77, yes SEVENTY-SEVEN books, ranging from picture books to young adult novels. As I was going through them to determine which one to read first, I decided to read the first page of the top 20 that I was most excited about after hearing the publisher reps speak. Some I was able to put down and move on after reading page one, and some I ended up reading a couple of pages (and put them in a separate pile as my “most likely to read next”). Then, I picked up The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon from Greenwillow Press (Harper Collins). This book was pitched as Lemony Snicket meets Roald Dahl with some terrific accompanying artwork, which is what originally got my attention. I liked the idea of a middle grade novel having pictures, especially THESE pictures. I also *really* liked the cover. When I realized that the author is also the artist, that made me appreciate the book even more. All of this is what put the book on my top 20 “most likely to read” list. I started reading the first page, as I had with 17 other books at this point. About 45 minutes later, I realized I had already read a third of the book, and I wanted to keep going. So, I abandoned the other two books in my top 20 and kept going. And I didn’t regret it. I fell in love with this book from the first sentence, and I found myself writing down quotes and posting quotes to Facebook almost every chapter. When I finished, I knew that this was one of those books that I will go back to, one of those books that I will cherish, one of those books that takes hold of you and never lets go. This is a book that must be shared with the world.
The Doldrums is a middle grade book about a ragtag group of three freaky friends – a shut-in whose grandparents are great adventurers, but he’s not allowed to leave the house [Archer]; a constantly scared kid who runs with his eyes closed and becomes a sidekick out of desperation for a friend (even though he’s not sure his heart can take it) [Oliver]; and a girl from France with a wooden leg [Adelaide] – who go looking for adventure when Archer’s grandparents go missing on an iceberg in Antarctica. This book is about finding friends like you even when you’re weird, following your dreams even when everyone thinks you’re crazy, and the loveliness of being different. The characters are super relatable, even for adults, the artwork is beautiful, and the story is compelling. This is a great crossover book that I’m sure will inspire kids and adults alike.
The book begins: “Out of the thousands of children born every single day, at least one of them will turn out to be a dreamer.” And on the fifth page: “We all know perfect boys and girls. They live in perfect houses owned by perfect parents. They dress perfectly and walk perfectly and live their lives in the most perfectly perfect way. It’s perfectly terrible. They’re perfectly dull. So it’s fortunate this story is about no such child.” From just these two quotes, you know exactly what kind of book this will be. Although there are many other passages throughout the book I found myself taking note of, one of my favorites is this: “Many people fear they might be crazy at some point in their lives, but it requires a healthy dose of sanity to think there’s a chance you might be crazy. It’s only when you think there is no chance whatsoever that you should be worried. Only you won’t be worried because you’ll be crazy.”
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll root for them, and when it’s over, you’ll want to turn the page back to the beginning and read it all over again. This is one of those books that everyone should read, and I will definitely be recommending and hand selling as soon as it comes out in September!
Pre-order The Doldrums here! Copy/paste ISBN: 9780062320940. The release date is September 29, 2015.