Check out this month’s staff picks from the Betty’s Books crew!
February Staff Picks!
Recommended to me by someone visiting the store, It’s Lonely At The Centre Of The Earth by Zoe Thorogood was a confusing, lovely, heartfelt, and emotional read (content warning: book discusses suicidal ideation, depression, minor drug use, and alludes to abortion). Follow along with six months of Zoe’s life as she tries her best to claw out of a depressive and isolating time, grappling with what to do when life becomes too absurd. The book attempts different introductions, one after another, with funny interactions of the different attitudes of Zoe. Nothing really goes according to plan, but ultimately the story finds a touching sense of continually trying your best and finding joy in life again.
This book fell into my lap early in the month by virtue of coming to us damaged (meaning I got to keep the messed up copy), and although damaged books usually make for a disgruntled bookshop employee, I couldn’t be happier that it did. It almost feels like an intervention of fate that such an appropriate book for the season found its way to me in early January – right when many of us are in need of a little (or a lot of) inspiration and motivation. I read it in one sitting, drinking in Molly Mendoza’s gorgeous, sprawling, mind-bending illustrations like I’d been stuck in a desert!
The story itself is quite simple on paper: two characters from different dimensions end up thrown together (the “how’s” and “why’s” remaining blissfully unaddressed – not the point!) and must travel through ever-increasingly odd and beautiful realities to try to get back to their separate homes. Along the way, of course, a deep bond forms between them and they each come to terms with their own individual struggles, thanks to the help friendship can bring.
There’s so much to love about this story. It’s deeply impactful to the point that I teared up at the end, stunning to look at, and remarkably inspirational without feeling preachy. On top of it all, every character uses they/them pronouns, and it feels as if the worlds we’re visiting (including our protagonists’ own) simply don’t concern themselves with something as trivial as gender. All in all, Skip is a refreshing, exciting journey through reality that you won’t forget any time soon.
Tired of saccharine, unrealistic portrayals of motherhood? Then this one’s for you! The Joy of Quitting by Ignatz-award winning Keiler Roberts is an autobiographical collection of her life as a mother, teacher, person struggling with bipolar and multiple sclerosis, and general human being in this world. Although there are sweet moments like when Robert’s daughter Xia says “You’re nice. I like you” to her when they are walking in from the rain, there are many that are silly, nihilistic, or disgusting. Just like real parenting there’s lice, poop, hilarious one-liners about body parts, and more. Roberts’ black and white line drawings are as unflinching as the text at depicting the grotesque as well as what’s more precious and fleeting.
There are many contradictions within this collection–Roberts is difficult, but relatable, the vignettes are loosely woven, but form a clear picture, and the themes are cynical but aware. Somewhere in between all that is a real life. This book is great for people looking for a different portrayal of motherhood, and fans of autobiographical comics
No it isn’t about a bed that eats people, it’s a collection of one of the last Vertigo series from Joshua Williamson and Riley Rossmo. Valentina Richards is a burned out writer who gets the assignment of a lifetime, writing the memoirs of Antonio Luna, Pulp Pastiche extraordinaire!
This funny, original choose-your-path picture book of fractured fairy tales will charm any young fan of the genre, putting the power of storytelling right in the reader’s hands!
Grab your basket and your coat. Put on some walking shoes.
Turn the page and begin: Which story will you choose?
Award-winning creators Laurel Snyder and Dan Santat transform a crowd of classic tales into an ever-changing, fascinating, laugh-out-loud choose-your-path picture book, in which you may find a sleeping maiden, waste away in a sticky licorice cage, discover the gold at the end of a wild goose chase, or maybe (just maybe) save yourself–and the day!
GIVES YOUNG READERS THE POWER OF CHOICE: Where do you want to take the story next? Choice and autonomy are essential concepts for children to learn at a young age, and this choose-your-path picture book puts the decision-making power right in their hands.
FUNNY TWISTS ON CLASSIC FAIRY TALES: The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and more–characters and settings from these classic fairy tales take on hilarious new life in a brand-new story, just right for the youngest fairy tale fans.
TEACHES STORYTELLING BY EXAMPLE: This playful picture book offers young readers the chance to build their own narratives out of the decisions they make each step of the way, powerfully illustrating how a story is created and how it proceeds from beginning to middle to end. Both a teaching tool and an exciting adventure in its own right, this book is a great resource for learning storytelling.
FABULOUS AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATOR TEAM: Laurel Snyder is the author of the Geisel Award-winning Charlie & Mouse early chapter book series. Her books have earned numerous starred reviews and Best Book designations, and her middle grade novel Orphan Island was longlisted for the National Book Award. Acclaimed artist Dan Santat has illustrated over 50 books for children, earning a Caldecott Medal for his picture book The Adventures of Beekle and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Drawn Together.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the construction crew from the bestselling Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series!
It’s Valentine’s Day at the construction site, and every truck finds a special note just for them–but who is the mystery writer? Lift the flaps to reveal sweet and silly messages and celebrate the kindness of true friends.
With bestselling author Sherri Duskey Rinker’s lovable rhyming text, and heartwarming illustrations by AG Ford, this interactive Valentine’s tale will bring smiles to big truck fans and their families year after year.
LIFT THE FLAPS: Eight sturdy flaps throughout encourage interactive reading and help little ones develop fine motor skills. Kids will love uncovering the secret message behind every flap and using clues to guess which truck sent each mystery message!
A GREAT READ-ALOUD: Sherri Rinker’s energetic rhymes make for a satisfying read-aloud experience, keeping construction-loving kids engaged all the way through.
BESTSELLING TEAM: This heartwarming holiday story comes from the bestselling team behind Construction Site on Christmas Night and Three Cheers from Kid McGear.
A DELIGHTFUL FIRST VALENTINE BOOK: Seeing how the construction trucks share sweet messages of friendship and appreciation is the perfect way to introduce young readers to Valentine’s Day traditions.
FAMILIAR FRIENDS: Features the same beloved trucks and construction site from the original book Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.