Growing Up in Santa Cruz

Bookshop Santa Cruz writes a monthly column of book recommendations for young readers in Growing Up in Santa Cruz--a publication for families in Santa Cruz County.

Fall is graced by many cold, clear nights—perfect nights for spotting owls. In this poetic book, a man and his daughter walk far out into the quiet night woods, searching for owls under a full moon. This book is a classic, and reading it, it’s easy to understand why. The simple grace of the prose and the beautiful illustrations makes this book perfect for reading out loud. Ages 3+

--Flannery

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Owl Moon Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780399214578
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - October 23rd, 1987

Maple Hill Farm is in Vermont, an area that gets seasons in a way that we do not. In this charming book, readers follow a year in the life of the Provensen family farm, month by month. Filled with wonderful illustrations, this is a great book for learning about the seasons, as well as life on a working farm. Ages 4+

--Flannery

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The Year at Maple Hill Farm Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780689845000
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Aladdin Paperbacks - December 1st, 2001

If you have a teen who’s interested in horror but isn’t ready for Stephen King, give them anything by Brennea Yovanoff. She definitely knows how to balance creepy with romance and wit, making her books perfect for any teen interested in the genre. The Replacement takes place in Gentry, where every few years a child is stolen and replaced. Mackie is one such replacement, and when circumstances pull him into the world he originally came from, Mackie could be the one to change everything. This is a great, creepy book filled with humor and music. I loved it. Ages 12+
P.S. If they are ready for Stephen King, I highly recommend Pet Semetary. Even King thinks that it’s his creepiest book!

--Flannery

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The Replacement Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9781595143815
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Razorbill - September 6th, 2011

Everyone knows Roald Dahl was a bit twisted, so who better to compile a book of ghost stories? Dahl read 749 scary stories before selecting the ones for this collection, and his thoroughness paid off. Super creepy and spooky, this book is perfect for kids who really do want to be scared. Ages 12+

--Flannery

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Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780374518684
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 1st, 1984

I have previously recommended Bunnicula, the first book in James Howe’s series, but these just books are just so perfect for Halloween that I can’t help but recommend another. In Howliday Inn, Harold the dog and Chester the cat are off to the kennels when their family goes on vacation, and Chester become suspicious about their temporary home. A bit spooky and a lot funny, I absolutely adore these books! Ages 8+

--Flannery

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Howliday Inn (Bunnicula) Cover Image
By James Howe, Lynn Munsinger (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9781416928157
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - August 1st, 2006

If you aren’t familiar, Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday honoring the departed. Celebrations include building altars and visiting the graves of the deceased and leaving gifts or favorite foods. This bright little book follows a family in a small Mexican town as they make preparations for the night’s graveyard walk. Not only is this book beautiful, but it’s a great introduction to a fantastic holiday! Ages 4+

--Flannery

Staff Pick Logo
Day of the Dead Cover Image
By Tony Johnston, Jeanette Winter (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780152024468
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin - September 1st, 2000

Patrick McDonnell, the author/illustrator of staff favorite Me, Jane and the comic strip Mutts, has an easily identifiable illustration style and a sweet, silly sense of humor. Both talents are on display in this charming book. Three little monsters live in a dark castle above a frightened town. One day, they decide to build the biggest monster ever, but the results are not what they expected. In the end—thanks to one not so monstrous monster and some jelly donuts—the little monsters learn to appreciate the little things in life. This is an absolutely adorable book. Ages 4+

--Flannery

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The Monsters' Monster Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316045476
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 4th, 2012

Our young hero has a nightmare in his closet, and one night he decides it’s time to confront his nightmare, and waits up to catch it. When he does, he gets quite a surprise! This is a delightful picture book that seems scary but isn’t, and teaches the important lesson that sometimes something that seems frightening really isn’t. This is a complete classic, and I enjoy it every time I read it. Ages 3+

Reviewed by: 
Flannery
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There's a Nightmare in My Closet (Pied Piper Book) Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780140547122
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Puffin Books - May 1st, 1992

As a child with an unusual name, I was very lucky that I was never teased about it and that all of my teachers could pronounce it—though substitutes struggled terribly with it. Chrysanthemum loves her name, until the girls in class start teasing her about it. Luckily, her teacher comes to the rescue, and reminds Chrysanthemum that there’s nothing wrong with having a special name, or being named after a flower, for that matter. Whether your child has a unique name or not, this book reminds you to embrace what makes you special and to tolerate differences. Plus, Kevin Henkes draws the cutest mice! Ages 5+

Chrysanthemum Cover Image
By Kevin Henkes, Kevin Henkes (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780688096991
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - September 16th, 1991

Unlikely Friendships is one of those utterly charming books that you buy as a birthday present, but end up perusing yourself before putting the wrapping paper on. The book features beautiful photographs of animals who have found each other despite all odds—a hippopotamus and a pygmy goat, for example, and an owl and a cocker spaniel, even a dog and a dolphin! Alongside the photographs are the stories of how these animals came together, and how their oddly symbiotic relationships work. There is an undeniably cutesy aspect at work—the cover image of a baby macaque cuddling a dove is enough to illicit an “awwww” from the hardest of hearts—but there’s also a very educational side to this book. Each story contains information about the animals, from behavioral traits and habitat to kingdom, phylum, class, etc., and attempts to find a scientific explanation for their unusual relationships. The result is a smart and surprising book that might change the way you look at the animal kingdom. Even scientist and professor Temple Grandin is smitten; she calls the book “amazing.”  --Kat

Staff Pick Logo
Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780761159131
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Workman Publishing - June 30th, 2011

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