In September, I get nostalgic for school supplies. Speckled composition notebooks. Books with uncracked spines. Even fresh glue sticks. Not that I want to go back to dodgeball in the cafeteria or multiple choice tests or geometry, you understand, but I miss that spark of potential in the air, the one that smells a little bit like a new pack of crayons.
Maybe you feel the same. Or maybe you’ve just started a new school year and want to slip on someone else’s backpack for a while. Either way, I have a few book recommendations for you. The first two are middle-grade and the third YA (published 1955), because as C.S. Lewis wrote, “a children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Hope you enjoy!
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The first book in a stellar series. As the story opens, Reynie Muldoon must start an odd and dangerous school with an unusual (to say the least) group of new friends. The very freedom of the world depends on their success. And on the school supply side, there’s a lovely character named No. 2 who always dresses in yellow. Reading Beverage Recommendation: Eggnog with a sprinkling of nutmeg
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
Betsy goes from a city school to a one-room schoolhouse in Vermont, where she wakes up to the world around her and to her own capabilities for the first time. Reading Beverage Recommendation: Apple cider, hot or iced
Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Also the first book in a series, this story follows (a different) Betsy through her freshman year of high school, where she begins to figure out who she is as a person and as a writer. Set in Minnesota, the series is a lightly fictionalized account of the author’s life. There’s lots of fall in this book. Lots of winter. Reading Beverage Recommendation: Cocoa . . . or eggshell coffee if you’re brave (read the book to find out why!)
If you have other favorite books for fall or the beginning of a new school year, please put those in the comments below . . .