Today's Best Book Deals for Your Homeschool
(Prices are correct as of the time of writing, but y'all know sales move fast — check before you click the buy button! These are Amazon links — read more about how we use affiliate links to help support some of the costs of the HSL blog here.)
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is $2.99. This is a favorite from our 3rd grade reading list: As 11-year-old budding naturalist Calpurnia discovers the world around her, she also discovers the challenges of becoming a young woman at the turn of the 20th century.
Breaking Stalin’s Nose is $2.99. This was one of our Readaloud of the Week picks: “Eugene Yelchin wanted to illuminate a piece of history that we don’t often get to read about in U.S. classrooms: the fear and horror that people in Stalin’s Soviet Union had to live with every day. Because Sasha’s only 10 years old, his understanding of what’s actually happening in his country develops along with the reader’s, and it’s a great book to launch discussions of propaganda, politics, and fake news.”
Still on sale
Everything, Everything is $2.99. I read this based on a recommendation from one of my students — she loved it, and I can see why. Maddy is allergic to the world, and she’s spent her life living alone in a protective bubble created by her mom. When Olly moves in next door, for the first time, Maddy’s tempted to risk life outside the bubble.
Archivist Wasp is $2.51. I think this post-apocalyptic fable suffered from bad timing because bookshelves were pretty much already glutted with post-apocalyptic futures when it came out, but this one is too interesting to miss. Wasp is an archivist, who hunts ghosts in the wasteland of the world, so she seizes a desperate opportunity when it arises and agrees to help the ghost of a soldier find his former partner in the land of the dead. It’s a crazy mash-up of the Underworld scene in the Odyssey, Mad Max, and Shirley Jackson, but it works.
Meddling Kids is $2.99. Suzanne says: “The Scooby Gang accidentally reads from the Necronomicon. There. That’s all I’m going to say. If you don’t run out and IMMEDIATELY get this book, it’s no fault of mine.”
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is $1.20. I love this book. If you haven’t read it, you should snap it up right now and put it at the top of your readaloud list. From my review: “I thought this little middle grades fantasy was just lovely—a worthy precursor to authors like Gaiman and LeGuin. Barnhill has a knack for telling a complex story in deceptively simple, lyrical fairy tale language, and the way she teases the individual threads of this story together—the brave boy, the magical girl, the witch’s forgotten history, the mad mother—is brilliant. The characters—minor and major—live and breathe; the world of the story feels sturdy enough to stand on its own.”
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is $2.99. From Booklist: "Tommy and his friends think that Dwight is a weirdo who’s 'always talking about robots or spiders or something.' In true Dwight fashion, he shows up at school one day brandishing a little origami Yoda finger puppet. The really weird thing is that it doles out very un-Dwight-like bits of wisdom, and the mystery is whether the Yoda is just Dwight talking in a funny voice or if it actually has mystical powers." Hand this to your 4th to 6th grader who loves the Wimpy Kid series.
Gaudy Night is $1.99. My Top 25 Books of All Time list is always changing, but this book always shows up somewhere on it. It’s a mystery set in a women’s college at Oxford, but it’s also a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be an intellectual, a creative person, a woman, a partner, and a friend. (It’s the third — and best book — in the Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane quartet within the Peter Wimsey mystery series, and while you can get some additional nuance from reading all four in order, you won’t miss anything important picking this one up on its own.)
Rose Daughter is $1.99. I was just talking about this book, and now it’s on sale! (Maybe I have magical powers… ) This is McKinley’s second retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story — a darker, twistier, thornier version of the story set in a decidedly magical fantasy world.
Rebecca is $3.99. I love this dark and twisty Gothic thriller about a very young second wife who finds the presence of his first, beautiful, dead wife very much alive when she goes to live on his English estate.
Ship Breaker is $1.99. This YA dystopian novel, a teenage scavenger discovers the find of a lifetime — but it comes with an impossible decision. Booklist says, “Bacigalupi skillfully integrates his world building into the compelling narrative, threading the backstory into the pulsing action. The characters are layered and complex, and their almost unthinkable actions and choices seem totally credible. Vivid, brutal, and thematically rich, this captivating title is sure to win teen fans for the award-winning Bacigalupi.”
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is $2.99. We named the series this book starts one our YA series to obsess over in the summer 2016 issue — it’s a Gothic fantasy about a girl who discovers herself trapped in the middle of an ages-old conflict between darkness and light.
My Plain Jane is $1.99. I haven’t had a chance yet to read this genre-busting take on Jane Eyre (She sees dead people! And Charlotte Bronte is in on the action because Jane is her BFF.), but I think we all know what I will be doing this evening. Booklist called it “a delightfully deadpan deconstruction of a Gothic novel, with a ghost almost no one can see providing the commentary. Marvelously self-aware and almost too clever for its own good.” (Updated: I DID read this last night, and it is BANANAS in all the most delightful ways.)
Jackaby is $1.99. This first in the series (of which I am a fan) introduces the supernatural Sherlock Holmes and his new assistant, runaway young lady (who’d rather be a paleontologist) Abigail Rook. Amy says, “Abigail, who’s very much a Watson in the Martin Freeman vein — smart, stout-hearted, and adventurous — needs a job, and R.F. Jackaby, supernatural consulting detective, needs an assistant. Abigail is not put off by the fact that Jackaby’s former assistant is now a duck living on the mysterious third floor of his haunted mansion, and she determinedly follows her new boss on his investigation of a mysterious serial killer, matching her keen observation and logic skills to Jackaby’s otherworldly knowledge. The serial killer plot is fine, but the real charm in this book — and trust me, there’s lots of charm — is the world Ritter has created.”
El Deafo is $2.99. Being different isn't always easy. When Cece Bell loses her hearing, she has to learn how to navigate the world in all new ways, including wearing a cutting-edge 1970s hearing aid and figuring out how to make friends when she can't always hear what people are saying—or when she hears too much. Cece is a likable, friendly character, and her story—part memoir, part graphic novel—is one that almost every middle schooler can relate to. This is one of the graphic novels designed specifically for the Kindle, so you don't have to worry about weird formatting issues.
The Clockwork Scarab is $0.60. Bram Stoker’s sis teams up with Sherlock Holmes’s niece to solve mysteries in a steampunky Victorian London. In this first book in the series, the duo suspects a secret society based on Egyptology may be behind the disappearance of two society girls. I think this is one of the most fun middle grades mystery series I’ve discovered in recent years.
Beauty is $1.20. This retelling of Beauty and the Beast is the book that got me hooked on Robin McKinley — I’m pretty sure I got it through a Scholastic book order form — and a recent rereading with my high schooler reminded me how much I love it. McKinley keeps the old-fashioned fairy tale setting with this story of a not-so-beautiful youngest daughter who volunteers to live in an enchanted castle to save her father. This would be great to read with a bunch of other Beauty and the Beast adaptations as a comparative literature project.
The Wee Free Men is $1.99. It’s one of our all-time favorite readalouds — it dissolves us into giggles every time, and not just because I am really bad at the accents — and it’s also one of the books that we recommend as a worthy follow-up to Harry Potter: “Another destination worth visiting is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, where you can follow the adventures of young witch-in-training Tiffany Aching. Start with the hilarious The Wee Free Men, in which Tiffany discovers her powers and attracts the loyalty of the Nac Mac Feegle, an army of rowdy blue pixies.”
Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World is $1.99. This is one of the books I hand teen writers when they are struggling with bringing the interest and engagement they have for writing fiction into their academic writing — by focusing on a specific subject and using the same storytelling techniques you’d use to write a novel, Kurlansky is able to make this history of a fish un-put-down-able.
One Crazy Summer is $1.99 — and it was one of Suzanne’s top books read in 2017: “In 1968, three sisters travel from New York to California to spend the summer with the mother who left them to follow her own dreams. Instead of visiting Disneyland, they find themselves at a Black Panther day camp. After reading the first book, I couldn’t wait to read more about this amazing, loving, complicated family in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama. My only complaint is that there aren’t more books in the series, as I’d happily follow these sisters from pre-teens to 40-somethings. (As an extra bonus, the covers of all three books are gorgeous.)”
In This House of Brede is $1.20. From Amy: “Continuing my ‘women writers I’d never heard of’ run, I read Rumer Godden’s In This House of Brede, about a successful career woman who retires from the world to join a community of Benedictine nuns just in time to help solve the financial crisis caused by the death of the order’s charismatic Abbess. It's one of those books that you want to go back and read again right away just so that you don’t have to leave the world and people it’s created.”
The Power of Myth is $2.99. This is required reading for classics year at Jason’s school, where we appreciate the universality of the themes of mythology and religion across the globe (even if we get a little grumpy at how patriarchal it gets in some places). This book is in the form of a conversation between author Joseph Campbell and his interviewer Bill Moyers. (You may also be interested in: The Hero’s Journey: A Book and Movie List)
The Tail of Emily Windsnap is $2.99. My daughter loved this book about an ordinary 12-year-old who discovers she’s actually a mermaid when she was about 10. Booklist said this book is “light, imagination-tickling fare ideal for middle-grade girls, with charming ink-wash illustrations scattered throughout,” and that seems about right.
Cheaper by the Dozen is $1.99. From the publisher: “No growing pains have ever been more hilarious than those suffered loudly by the riotous Gilbreth clan. First, there are a dozen red-haired, freckle-faced kids to contend with. Then there's Dad, a famous efficiency expert who believes a family can be run just like a factory. And there's Mother, his partner in everything except discipline. How they all survive such escapades as forgetting Frank, Jr., in a roadside restaurant or going on a first date with Dad in the backseat or having their tonsils removed en masse will keep you in stitches. You can be sure they're not only cheaper, they're funnier by the dozen.” This one’s a classic!
Iron Cast is $2.99. Suzanne says: “This YA fantasy novel (which, honestly, I would have picked up just for the cover) is set in Jazz Age 1919 Boston, and tells the story of teenage best friends and nightclub performers, Ada and Corinne. They are hemopaths, meaning that they’re allergic to iron and have special powers: Ada can affect people’s emotions through her music, while Corinne can cast illusions by quoting poetry. Together they have to deal with anti-hemopath sentiment and escape the evil doctor who’s running hemopath experiments in the asylum just outside town.”
Raymie Nightingale is $2.66 — which is a weird price but a total steal on this middle grades novel about a Little Miss pageant that forges a bond between three lonely girls. The New York Times Book Review said it better than I can: “With its short, vibrant chapters and clear, gentle prose, this triumphant and necessary book conjures the enchantments of childhood without shying away from the fraught realities of abandonment, abuse and neglect.”
The Farwalker’s Quest is $3.99. Why isn’t this middle grades fantasy more popular? Set in a futuristic, post-technology world, the story sends friends Ariel and Zeke on a quest to find the source of an ancient telling-dart, which, of course, also becomes a quest to discover who they really are.
Strange Practice is $2.99. My daughter recommends this twist on traditional monster literature: Dr. Greta Helsing treats all kinds of undead ailments, from entropy in mummies to vocal strain in banshees. It’s an abnormally normal life — until a group of murderous monks start killing London’s living and dead inhabitants, and Greta may be the only one who can stop them.