Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Coincidentally Speaking

Noting similarities in recently published children's literature, book-watchers periodically engage in discussion and speculation about trends: middle-grade novels about bullying, young adult books starring vampires, a near ubiquity of bears in picture books, or fairy tales re-imagined for all ages.  But what about similarities that are limited to a couple of books--not a trend by any means--but certainly a curious coincidence?  Just for fun, let's look at a few similarities in books published this year.

Search for a Missing Family Member
  • In Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool, Early searches for his brother who was presumably killed in the war.
  • Georgie searches for her sister even though the town has held her funeral in One Came Home by Amy Timberlake.
  • When Early's dad disappears, she tries to find him in Blue Baillett's new book, Hold Fast.  And while we're on the subject . . .
Characters Named Early
  • In Navigating Early, Early is a boy who has an unusual way of looking at numbers.
  • And in Hold Fast, Early is a girl who has a way with words.  Different, but still similar.
The Bad Guys Are Counterfeiters
  • Counterfeiters try to steal Lincoln's body in an attempt to use it as ransom to negotiate the return of their engraver in Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin. 
  • In One Came Home, Georgie stumbles upon counterfeiters as she searches for her sister.
Inclusion of Recipes
  • Patricia Reilly Giff's book, Gingersnap, features Jayna who makes amazing soup.  Recipes included.
  • A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff features eleven-year-old Cady who has an amazing cake-baking talent.  Recipes included.
Treasure Island Readings
  • Summer reads passages from Treasure Island to kids at the shelter in Hold Fast.
  • Annie reads passages from Treasure Island to her brother, Rew, in Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz.
1918 Influenza Pandemic
  • In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters is set in 1918 San Diego where residents limit travel, cover their faces in masks, and eat large amounts of onions in an attempt to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza.
  • Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry shows some of the aftermath of the 1918 flu that killed Pearl's mother and sibling.
  • In Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larsen, Hattie remembers the Spanish influenza that killed Mattie in Hattie Big Sky.
Con Artists
  • Mary Shelley Black has to figure out whom she can trust in a city plagued by fear and fraud in In the Shadow of Blackbirds.
  • Hattie, in Hattie Ever After, has to figure out whom she can trust when some of those closest to her take advantage of her. Similarities here seem inevitable since both stories are set in the Golden Age of Con.
Ok, there's a sampling of coincidences from this year's books.  Admittedly, some are stronger than others, but I think they are all fun to consider.  What did I miss?


  1. How about the reference to Early's mystery being "a tangle" or "a knot" in Hold Fast? Doesn't that seem a lot like A Tangle of Knots?