Andi Diehn loves books. Also dogs, cats, ducks, and coffee. When she's not at the bookstore, she's working as an editor for a local educational publisher. She also writes children's books in her spare time - which there isn't a lot of, because she has three sons, a husband, and lots of dogs, cats, and ducks. Thank goodness for coffee.
I run hot to tepid on Barbara Kingsolver, but this one hit the biggest button on my respect dispenser from page one. Mostly because of Demon's voice and the way he tells his story--with laser-focus and not a small helping of scathing wit. Informed by Dickens and infused with the very contemporary issue of drug addiction in rural communities, this book earns its page count. -Andi
Felix may be short, but his heart is HUGE. As is his interest in forensics - which makes the school Forensic Club the perfect extracurricular. Plus, maybe forensics can help him find his dad, who left when Felix was a baby. A book that manages to combine cool STEM stuff with issues like a chronic medical diagnosis and questions about biological parents - perfect for every kind of reader. -Andi
Two sisters move with their mom to an isolated old house in the swampy outskirts of a new town - and then one of the sisters disappears in a swirl of fog.
This super spooky middle grade novel is best read under the covers with a flashlight and a few bars of chocolate. But not on a school night, because you're going to be awake for a while… -Andi
Memoir? Novel? Fiction? Real life? All lines are blurred in this contemplative book. The unnamed narrator mourns her complicated (and fiercely private) mother while visiting some of their favorite London haunts. Her day of walking the city is infused with memory, overlaid with flashbacks, and threaded with questions: What do writers owe their inspirations? Is memoir a betrayal or an act of honor? Funny and piercing. -Andi
Ophie learns she can see ghosts the night her father comes to say goodbye AFTER being killed by a mob. And that skill continues when she and her mom move north to try and escape the Jim Crow south. When the two of them go to work in the home of a rich white family, Ophie realizes something sinister happened in the house. Will she be able to help the ghosts who can't rest? Not without putting herself in danger... I love this book for the ghosts and the history. -Andi
A blessing or a curse? You witness a first kiss and immediately know how that relationship is going to end. For Evie, her new-found ability puts her off falling in love with anyone--even when she's paired with a dance partner named X who is kind, smart, handsome, and perfect. A thoroughly readable book about letting yourself be vulnerable even at the risk of emotional wreckage. -Andi
"Avoid large places. Keep to small." This advice from a mysterious bus driver seems silly when Ollie and her friends set out on foot after their school bus breaks down. But something isn't right, and Ollie suspects it has something to do with the old book she saved from being tossed in the river. But that's not possible - or is it? Steven King style for middle graders! -Andi
Bug has always lived in a haunted house, but after Uncle Roderick dies, the house feels haunted with something different, something new. Something that is urgently trying to make Bug understand . . . what? This book is a ghost story wrapped in a mystery tied with a bow of self discovery that manages to be riveting, spooky, and endearing. -Andi
The Mapmaker is baffled when a girl asks him to draw a map that is warm, full of treasure, and smells like her birthday. Where in the world is that?! Once the two new friends begin to explore, he discovers a whole world he hasn't yet drawn into a map. A joyful book about the joys of home. -Andi
When his dad gives him a pet potato, Albert isn't sure what to do with it. But then he discovers the potato enjoys riding toy trains and reading about pirates and they become great friends. But . . . when the potato gets moldy, Mom says time to go. What can Albert do to save his pet? Readers who appreciate Sophie's Squash will love this one! -Andi
This slim book packs a sweet emotional punch as it explores love, death, trauma, cocktails, and carpentry. Sara, a talented mixologist avoiding her past, is not the person Emilie was looking for to help break a years-long holding pattern, but the two women eventually find themselves on a path with long-term potential. Can they keep their difficult pasts from getting in the way? A perfect book for a summer (fall, winter, spring) afternoon. -Andi
A literary mystery with a 13-year-old protagonist named Duchess, who I want to slip into the pages and adopt. Because she's neglected and amazing--and paired with the town's ailing chief of police, the two might have a fighting chance at evading the danger that threatens to follow them both to early graves. Maybe. A gritty, smart, surprising mystery--the best kind. -Andi
Three siblings struggle in their own distinct ways to fit in, stand out, and survive warring parents in small-town 1986, until a national disaster makes them realize they are stronger together. Wonderfully recognizable characters that you just want to shake awake - in a good way! -Andi
Cat? Squirrel? Cat? Squirrel? Mina says cat. Her father says squirrel. And when you're a mouse, it's good to know for sure the species of your houseguests. "Everything will be fine," Mina's father promises. And he turns out to be right! Mostly. -Andi
Pablo and his dad are ready to go to a party, but there's one problem. Pablo doesn't want to wear pants! But everyone wears pants, his dad explains. Dogs? Cats? Bears? When they finally get to the party, they discover they could have skipped the argument. Hilarious and charming! -Andi
When her dad and his boyfriend decide to get married, 10-year-old Bea is over-the-moon excited about getting a stepsister in the bargain. But as the wedding gets closer, Bea discovers that a growing family can cause some growing pains. Stead's writing is pitch perfect and riveting - and funny! -Andi
Bug used to love summer, but she isn't allowed to go to the beach alone, especially not with the Midnight Marauder on the loose. When Frankie moves into the building for a few weeks, Bug figures life is going to get better. In some ways it does, but in other ways... Well, growing up is hard. Venice Beach in the '80s is the perfect setting for this coming-of-age story. -Andi
Need a feel-good book that's fun, smart, and pairs well with flannel PJs and a glass of your favorite beverage? This is it. Two people with nothing in common have really excellent conversations and manage to become friends despite a few hilarious pitfalls. Romantic and realistic, in a good way. -Andi
Ellie is smart and tough, but is she smart and tough enough to save her father from a coma? Maybe, with the help of a couple new, old friends. Set during the Depression, a book about learning to survive and discovering that your family is deeper - and stronger - than you suspected. -Andi
Eleven-year-old Melody has a brilliant mind. She also has cerebral palsy and can't walk or talk - until she gets a Medi-Talker that lets her type what she wants to say and then translates her words into a voice. Suddenly, people are listening to what she has to say. And that's an amazing feeling - but it's also a lot harder than she expected. A truly original voice. -Andi
Looking for a smart mystery with plenty of atmosphere, curious characters, challenging conundrums, and tangled family connections? Try the first in the Maggie D'arcy series. Pitch perfect and compelling, by an author local to Vermont with one foot across the pond in Ireland. -Andi
Not a feel-good book, but certainly an important book. Just a few years in the future, teenagers around the world suffer another pandemic--suicide. A band of young people, feeling like they haven't got much to lose, set out on a quest to control events beyond their control--grim, sometimes gruesome, but ultimately hopeful.
When Silas's father is carted away by a gang of outlaws, Silas isn't sure if he should follow. After all, Pa said stay and wait. But when a piebald pony shows up, it's as good as an invitation, despite the misgivings of Silas's friend Mittenwool, who happens to be a ghost. Mystery, adventure, history, and the supernatural - a great family read aloud with older kids. -Andi
A sweet LGBTQ+ romance between the First Son and the Prince of Wales. McQuiston is a master at inviting readers into a highly unlikely scenario with characters that are vivid, loveable, and - somehow! - relatable to those of us who are missing royal blood and don't live in the White House. Delightful and joyous!