Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Emily’s Book Picks: Story of unlikely friendship is also a great way to learn letters

And for grownups, a fizzy historical comedy.

When fellow parents ask how I find time to read with a baby and a preschooler at home, I tell them I read what I love! Here’s a peek at what I’m enjoying and what my children and I are reading together, because finding books they love will help your kids read more too. Both of these titles, and many more, are available as eBooks or audiobooks in KCLS’ digital collection. Or check out a hard copy with one of KCLS’ contactless pickup services.

"Better Luck Next Time" book coverWhat I’m Reading: “Better Luck Next Time” by Julia Claiborne Johnson
In the 1930s, Nevada laws made it relatively easy for women to get a divorce — but only if they’d been residents of the state for at least six weeks. Twenty-four-year-old Ward narrates this fizzy historical comedy; he’s a hired hand at a “divorce ranch” where wealthy out-of-state women ride out their six weeks. The novel is set in 1938, and Johnson doesn’t ignore the Great Depression or the economic disparity between the help and soon-to-be divorcees. Instead, she balances a sweet screwball comedy with unique, well-rounded characters and plot twists that anchor the story to the historical moment.  

"Swashby and the Sea" book coverWhat We’re Reading: “Swashby and the Sea” by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

An exuberant girl and her granny disrupt a reclusive sailor’s quiet retirement in this story about an unlikely friendship. Grumpy Swashby leaves messages in the sand for his new neighbors. The sea intervenes, turning his standoffish proclamations into invitations (“NO TRESPASSING” becomes “SING.”) My preschooler is working on letter recognition, so we talk about the letters in the changing messages as we read. Martinez-Neal’s illustrations capture the slowly budding friendship in a beachy palette that’s an antidote to months of Seattle gray.

Find more book picks from Emily Calkins here

Don’t miss: Emily’s top 10 books of 2020, for kids and adults

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About the Author

Emily Calkins

Emily Calkins is the readers' services program coordinator for the King County Library System, where she specializes in connecting readers with stories, authors and each other. She is also the co-host of the library’s podcast, The Desk Set. As a reader, she likes flawed characters, atmospheric world-building, and anything with a slow-burn romance. When she’s not reading or listening to audiobooks, she’s cooking, gardening and spending time with her family.