The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate de Goldi, illustrated by Gregory O'Brien, Tundra Books, 128 pages, $19.99
Kate de Goldi writes surprising and warmly hilarious books where sensitive children make imaginative sense of the world around them. Perry's grandmother, Honora Lee, lives at Santa Lucia, a rest home, but never remembers Perry's visits, let alone who she is or if she is a girl or a boy. What she does remember, though, are bits of poetry, sharp and cheeky quips, and how to steal mints from other residents' rooms. Perry notices Honora's interest in the alphabet, and the great fun and interest of the book is in the creation of "The ACB" book as it follows the serpentine, sometimes broken logic of Honora and her roomies at Santa Lucia. For example, "S is for Sideways Geoffrey," who always seems to end up horizontal in his chair and has to watch the television the wrong way. Deceptively simply told for all its sophistication, and so smart, too.
Hollow City (The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children) by Ransom Riggs, Quirk Books, 399 pages, $19.99
Hollow City picks up where Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ended – the young peculiars fleeing their beloved island home in rowboats, their caregiver trapped in the form of a bird. Headed for London during the Blitz, they are threatened also by wights and hollowghasts, and would-be friends along the way. The Peregrine books are accompanied by delightfully eerie vintage photographs. The magic in the stories is grounded in real life; the physical anomalies of the children are just a whisper past the line of possibility, and Riggs treats traits that would otherwise be malformations or impairments as very special endowments that give them great power. Much better than just bizarre or creepy, but marvellously both of those things, too.
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale, Tween, 288 pages, $21.99
Friendship, Wisconsin isn't quite living up to its name after the local homecoming queen is found murdered. From the opening page, Kippy Bushman, best friend of the recently deceased, offers deadpan, funny and familiar narration leading us around the intricate mystery of the murder. It's a terrific sort of Twin Peaks with a smart girl as Agent Cooper, written by an even smarter young woman. And, to add to its reading pleasure, Hale's book is a very well-told whodunit – some careful thought went into the crafting, and the payoff yields multitudes. Most refreshing is how weird the story is while not once feeling smothered by its own oddness.