After Finals: Five Books To Help You Revert to Your Childhood

Annie Amen, staff writer

As you heave a sigh of relief and burn all your review notes from those dark days before finals, the last thing you might think about is reading. And with reason, too – you’ve spent days frantically referencing textbooks for last-minute nuggets of information that might save your neck on a particularly tricky scantron bubble dilemma. So it’s little wonder that the thought of any more lines of text would fill you with dread. But never fear! Reading may be just the thing you need to dispel the January doldrums. Here are five good books from the children’s fiction section that will send you back to the days when you could make blanket forts on the weekends and not worry about that assignment you’re sure you forgot to turn in.

My Name is Mina by David Almond

This whimsical book is written in the form of the journal of a young, homeschooled girl who sees the world as a place of wonder. Her journal entries, with creative titles such as “Persephone, Daftness, and Absolutely Nothing,” are full of snarky humor, plays on words, and what Mina calls “extraordinary activities,” short creative works that explore writing and the world.

The Name of this book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

Even if you’ve read this one before, it’s worth a revisit or two – or five. Of course, as the author states in chapter one and a half, this book is so secret that I cannot tell you much about it. (chapter one is entirely x’ed out for confidentiality reasons). What I can tell you is that it focuses on two children, Cass and Max-Ernest. And they aren’t even actually called Cass and Max-Ernest, those are just code names. Because their real identities are – you guessed it – secret. Anyway, they find a mysterious box called “The Symphony of Smells” in a box of items from the house of a dead magician. Of course, things are never that simple when secrets get involved, and soon Cass and Max-Ernest find themselves swept up in the mystery of the magician’s diary, and his (perhaps not so very) insane quest for immortality.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Melody cannot escape her own head. She has a perfect photographic memory and knows more than anyone else in her grade. Her problem – she has cerebral palsy. So, all the words and ideas she wishes she could share are trapped inside her. Until she finds Elvira. Elvira is not a person – it is her computer. Once programmed with words and phrases, Melody finally has a voice. She is elated. Some of her classmates are not.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Sometimes an adventure is found in a newspaper advertisement. When Reynie, Constance, Kate and Sticky answer an ad promising “special opportunities” to gifted children, they don’t realize that the test extends far beyond the perplexing questions they have to answer before learning of their mission. This book is full of puzzles and questions that lead the newly formed Mysterious Benedict Society to the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where forces more sinister than classroom drills work behind curtains of mystery.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Ivan, a gorilla trapped as a sideshow attraction in a derelict shopping center, narrates this charming story in a half-prose, half-poetry format. He rarely thinks about life before of beyond the Big Top Mall. Yet, he cannot be satisfied with the life he has. Ivan, the mighty silverback gorilla, leader, protector, defender, with no one to lead, no one to protect, and no one to defend. Until Ruby comes to the zoo. Ruby is a baby elephant, whose memories of freedom are still strong in her mind. And suddenly Ivan has a purpose. Somehow, he has to save her from the crumbling walls of neglect and sadness that cage her in.