Thundar the Mighty, my series of chapter books releasing in March from Nevermore Press, is a fairly unique spin on traditional fantasy style stories for kids. Thundar is a powerful, respected king who fights for his country of Astoria against dragons, witches and more. He does this all while dealing with his Really Unpredictable Multiple Personality (or R.U.M.P disorder, as some people jokingly call it). So, in honor of strange, quirky and unique books for children, here’s a new top ten:
Top Ten Most Unique Books for Kids
(you probably haven’t read)
10. Little Ghost Party – A very inventive board book for young kids. The author, Jacques Duquennoy, incorporates tiny chains into the illustrations, making it somewhat of a fun, interactive board book. Here’s a link to a youtube video so you can see it in action. Very cool stuff.
9. The invention of Hugo Cabret – From the book’s website: This 526-page book is told in both words and pictures. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is not exactly a novel, and it’s not quite a picture book, and it’s not really a graphic novel, or a flip book, or a movie, but a combination of all these things. Each picture (there are nearly three hundred pages of pictures!) takes up an entire double page spread, and the story moves forward because you turn the pages to see the next moment unfold in front of you.
8. MIRROR MIRROR: A Book of Reversible Verse – From GoodReads.com: What’s brewing when two favorites—poetry and fairy tales—are turned (literally) on their heads? It’s a revolutionary recipe: an infectious new genre of poetry and a lovably modern take on classic stories.
First, read the poems forward (how old-fashioned!), then reverse the lines and read again to give familiar tales, from Sleeping Beauty to that Charming Prince, a delicious new spin. Witty, irreverent, and warm, this gorgeously illustrated and utterly unique offering holds a mirror up to language and fairy tales, and renews the fun and magic of both.
7. Zorgamazoo – Interesting, unique…strange? Absolutely, but in a very good way.
From Amazon: Are You a Believer in Fanciful Things? In Pirates and Dragons and Creatures and Kings?
Then sit yourself down in a comfortable seat, with maybe some cocoa and something to eat, and I’ll spin you the tale of Katrina Katrell, a girl full of courage (and daring, as well!), who down in the subway, under the ground, saw something fantastical roaming around . . .
6. America’s National Parks, a Pop-Up Book – From Publishers Weekly: A three-dimensional tour of America’s national parks unfolds in this well-designed pop-up book. Ember’s arresting artwork is an exercise in nostalgia, rendered in the style of vintage WPA posters. Six seamless pop-ups give a sense of topography to the rusty buttes of the Grand Canyon, the humid swampland of the Everglades, and the icy blue Smoky Mountains, among other locales. Abundant information about each park is integrated via mini booklets, while tabs, moving parts, and mini pop-ups offer add additional layers and texture. Detailed text spreads describe other parks and include reproductions of WPA posters. Quotations from authors, historians, and political figures dot the pages, while Compton’s prose underscores the majesty of these locations.
5. The Land of Neverbelieve – This is a strange book about a strange island full of strange creatures…Truly unique, and full of amazing illustrations. From Random House: Explore the Land of Neverbelieve in these lush, vibrantly illustrated pages. Meet the island’s gentle, doll-like inhabitants. Discover its boggling collection of trees, such as the pasta tree, the rope tree, and the chocolate tree (taste the peppermint center if you have a chance). Be certain to visit Book Mountain, which whispers stories at bedtime. Observe the volcanic turtle and screaming night moth from afar. And beware the Spooky Dark Mountains, a horribly horrible area full of never-ending nastiness. Above all, don’t go swimming or sailing, lest the island get up and walk away. Investigating the Land of Neverbelieve is a fantastical adventure for imaginative young readers.
4. The Gashlycrumb Tinies – A dark and slightly morbid spin on the alphabet book.
From Barnes and Noble: The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a chilling and hilarious journey through the alphabet unlike anything seen on Sesame Street.
3. The Wolves in the Walls – By the multi-talented author Neil Gaiman. A beautifully bizarre, lighthearted and somewhat frightening story for kids. From Amazon: Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of their house — and, as everybody says, if the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over. Her family doesn’t believe her. Then one day, the wolves come out. But it’s not all over. Instead, Lucy’s battle with the wolves is only just beginning.
2. The Secret Series – This series by anonymous author Pseudonymous Bosch is strange, innovative and definitely unique. I decided to include the whole series as one entry since each book is interesting in its own quirky way. From Amazon: Not only is the name of this series a secret, but the story is, too. For it concerns a secret–a big secret–that has been tormenting people like you for over . . . oh no! Did I just mention the secret? Then it’s too late. I’m afraid nothing will stop you now. Read this series if you must. But please, tell no one.
And finally, in my opinion, the most unique book for kids you probably have not read…
The Ship That Sailed to Mars
by William Timlin
This book, published sparingly in 1923, is a whimsical and fantastic book of science fiction and fantasy. It is riddled with amazing, hand drawn calligraphic illustrations, done by the author himself. If you happen to come upon an original, 1st edition copy, then congratulations; they are very rare and worth thousands of dollars. You can find the reprint, Calla Edition of this book here.
From Amazon: The Ship That Sailed to Mars has a legendary reputation, and the original edition is much sought after by an ardent cult of collectors. Its author, William Timlin, was an obscure South African architect who, in a singular burst of creativity, brought forth a magical intertwining of science fiction and fantasy, a kind of Burroughs meets Tolkien. With 48 pages of calligraphic text — in Timlin’s hand — and 48 color plates, it is a work of stunning design, illustration, calligraphy, and overall conception.
If you haven’t read some or any of these books, please, go check them out. Definitely worth the time, for you and your kids. If you have read or own any of them, let me know about it in the comments.