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Animalia is like an I Spy book mixed with a beautifully illustrated word game! I used to love pouring over Graeme's drawings for hours, figuring out how each item in the pictures tied back to the alphabet letter represented by the page spread. As an adult, I love helping kids figure out new vocab words by pointing out details in the illustrations!
For folks unfamiliar with Rumi, Haleh Liza's translation is the perfect introduction. Rumi was a Muslim poet in 13th cen. Persia, and his work has often been translated by westerners who struggled with the original language. Haleh's translation is vibrant and accessible, and through her skill with both languages, she offers readers a glimpse at the love Rumi held for his friend and teacher, Shams, which echoes through the centuries. Even as someone who doesn't usually enjoy poetry, this collection has served as a source of joy. I can't recommend it enough.
If you've ever wanted an owner's manual for your brain, this book is for you. Barrett busts common myths about "universal" emotions that everyone experiences, and she bases her arguments in excellent critiques of classic studies, as well as her own research. For skeptics of freudian & pop psychology, her theory of human emotion is a (mindbending) breath of fresh air! This book gave me a way to love my biology and changed my life in a way that many self-help books promise but few deliver.
Miss Rumphius is an illustrated classic from the '80s and a perfect Spring read. The story follows the Lupine Lady, who planted flowers far and wide out of a life-long desire to leave the world a little bit better than she found it. This book stuck with me as an example of how any of us are capable of making positive, long-lasting change: You don't have to change everything to change the world.
Abarat is Clive Barker's dark twin to Alice in Wonderland. The heroine, Candy, is no sweet British girl who trips down a rabbit hole, but a morbid teenager from Chickentown, Minnesota who jumps into a magical sea, rather than return home. Candy is swept off to the Abarat, an archipelago where each island is a different hour of the day. Christopher Carrion, the Prince of Midnight, literally lives and breathes his own nightmares, and he remains one of the most terrifying villains I've ever read! A great read for teens, brave kids, & adults too.
If you've ever felt dissatisfied with an apology, or struggled to remember someone's pronouns, or grappled with a big decision, this book is for you! Self help books are great in theory, but in practice, it's often hard to find time to sit down and read them through. Bear's book is illustrated and broken into manageable chunks, so it's easy to pick up and set down for folks who are overscheduled or struggle with attention span (or both, like me)! Best of all, he even includes handy cheatsheets at the end of each topic, so you can snap a picture and take the highlights with you for later when you've forgotten the details.