The best books about getting around

Who am I?

Am I an expert on transportation? No. But I’m fascinated by movement. Physical movement (how do bike gears actually work?) and metaphorical (how does life actually work?) I did enjoy a brief moment as the kind of unofficial bike traffic reporter when I was on CBC Radio here in Canada. I’d report on my 4 am commute to work. But as a writer and illustrator for kids, I know the freedom transportation represents. We all want to fly. In MINRS I write about spaceships. We all want to see the world. In The Fabulous Zed Watson! I write (with my kid Basil) about epic road trips.


I wrote...

MiNRS

By Kevin Sylvester,

Book cover of MiNRS

What is my book about?

MINRS combines things I loved as a kid – space, science, pirates, stuffed toys, and survival. A community of miners and their families have moved to a new planet – Perses. During a communications blackout with Earth, the miners are attacked. Only a handful of children survive. Christopher is not the kid to be the leader. He’s shy, a bit of a geek, and very anxious. But along with his friends Elena and Fatima he’ll make discoveries about the mining company and himself…discoveries that might save the kids…or get them all killed. The other fun thing about MINRs is that I created my own underground high-speed vehicle… part submarine, part Horta, and part Formula One race car. It’s called a Digger and it’s the car a 12-year old me wishes he had.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Boundless

Kevin Sylvester Why did I love this book?

The titular Boundless is a train, and my grandparents were all train people in Canada. One of my most vivid early memories is being in the engine with my grandpa.

At 11 kilometers long, the Boundless is also a living, moving city. Ken makes a journey through the train like a journey through time, space, and history. Each time Will, the main character, leaps from one car to another, the reader also takes a leap into a new world. Why is Will jumping from car to car? Because he’s witnessed a murder, and the culprit is hot on his tail.

By Kenneth Oppel, Jim Tierney (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boundless as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

After a murder is committed, Will finds himself in possession of a key that has the potential to unlock the train's hidden treasures. Together with Maren, a gifted escape artist, and Mr Dorian, a circus ringmaster with amazing abilities, Will must save the Boundless before someone else winds up dead. With villains fast on his heels and strange creatures lurking outside the windows, the train hurtles across the country as Will flees for his life.

His adventure may have begun without his knowing . . . but how it ends is now entirely up to Will.


Book cover of This One Summer

Kevin Sylvester Why did I love this book?

This is one of my favorite books, for a hundred different reasons, but for the sake of this post, it’s because of bikes. The book is not about bikes, but the main characters sometimes use bikes to get around their summer stomping grounds. 

This One Summer is about two girls, friends, who are at different stages of maturity.

Bikes are also a mode of transportation that changes as we age. The joy of that first ride without training wheels is an anchor memory to our childhood. Windy is still tied to that childhood. But Rose, the older of the two, rides her bike into the more “grown-up” situations in the book, including one that changes her view of herself and her life.

I still bike everywhere (I have never owned a car) and bikes do represent everything from freedom and a child-like joy to real danger. So, the bike represents that diverging of paths. I might be making a stretch here, but it’s one more sign of the richness of this book that every time I go back to it, I see something new.

Also, as an illustrator, I am in awe of Jillian’s ability to draw perfect bikes. Bikes and horses are Achilles’ heels for many illustrators (including me).

By Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked This One Summer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Every summer, Rose goes with her mum and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mum and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.


Book cover of Miles Morales: Spider-Man

Kevin Sylvester Why did I love this book?

Okay, okay, I realize that using webbing isn’t an actual way to get around, but neither is my digger. And I wouldn’t be a reader, writer, or artist today if it hadn’t been for Spider-Man. Young Kevin spent every day imagining the freedom of spinning a web and flying through the air. Even though I grew up in a small town with two steeples and a three-story inn, it was a captivating idea.

And wow does this version of the story kick things up a notch. I mean, I already love the Miles Morales version of Spidey, but Reynolds kicks it all up a notch or five. He has such a deft hand as a storyteller with a message. Never preachy, but deeply felt and funny (sort of like a super-hero version of Jerry Kraft’s New Kid) this was a ride. 

And a cover pic by Khadir Nelson? Sign me up!

By Jason Reynolds, Kadir Nelson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miles Morales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

“Everyone gets mad at hustlers, especially if you’re on the victim side of the hustle. And Miles knew hustling was in his veins.”

Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.

But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and…


Book cover of The Search for WondLa

Kevin Sylvester Why did I love this book?

One of my kid-lit heroes, and clearly a writer/illustrator who grew up (like me) with a love for the vehicles we saw in science fiction. He has Eva Nine and her pals (and enemies) flying around in ships that are clearly inspired by pod-racers, x-wing fighters, the Millennium Falcon, and Flash Gordon. (Then, as the series goes on, we even get airships!)

But the thing that anchors the series is the wonderfully drawn characters. Eva Nine is all of us as kids… eager to break away but also tied to the adults around us. That tension between knowing when to hold on and knowing when it’s time to say goodbye is what really kept me with her on her journey.

By Tony DiTerlizzi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Search for WondLa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Eva Nine was raised by the robot Muthr. But when a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary she called home, twelve-year-old Eva is forced to flee aboveground. Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her. She knows that other humans exist because of a very special item she treasures ~ a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot along with the strange word "WondLa".

Tony DiTerlizzi honours traditional children's literature in this totally original space age adventure: one that is as complex as an alien planet, but as simple as a child's…


Book cover of Pony

Kevin Sylvester Why did I love this book?

This is the most recent book I recommend, and it’s here because I love horses and... wow, did the breadth of this work blow me away. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I turned the page, but what I got was a book that thrilled me as a western, intrigued me as a scientific history, and chilled me as a ghost story.

As she did with Wonder, Palacio gives the reader a view of the world as seen through the eyes of someone who is “different”. Silas, the main character, has a best friend who’s a ghost. His father is a talented photographer and scientist with a mysterious past.

The story kicks into high gear right away when armed men show up and kidnap the dad. His dad tells Silas to stay behind. But when a mysterious pony shows up, Silas takes it as a sign that he needs to go find his dad. 

Like This One Summer, the book is not about horses… but the pony, and the journey on the pony, represents the leap we all make from innocence to experience. An all-ages story.

By R.J. Palacio,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

The highly anticipated, unforgettable new story from the internationally bestselling, multi-award-winning author of WONDER.

'Thrillingly told . . . Palacio is a fantastic writer' The Times

'Perfection . . . A beautiful, funny, heart-twisting wonder of a book . . . A brilliant story of love and courage' Wall Street Journal

When Silas Bird wakes in the dead of night, he watches powerlessly as three strangers take his father away. Silas is left shaken, scared and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool . . . who happens to be a ghost. But then a mysterious pony shows…


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The Warlock's Curse

By C.B. Oresky,

Book cover of The Warlock's Curse

C.B. Oresky Author Of The Warlock's Curse

New book alert!

Who am I?

Since childhood, the library was a wondrous place filled with magical tales and epic stories about strange realms that I could take home…devour…and get lost in. I grew up dancing to enchanting classical music…as an adolescent I painted majestic unicorns…my best friends are my enchanting pets. I often retreat into the deep silent woods or walk along the crashing waves of the ocean to find solace in the magical beauty of nature. Now, as a writer I hope to bring the wonder I’ve found in this world into the strange places and unique characters I create. I hope you enjoy a few of my favorite fantasies: worlds that I truly fell in love with.

C.B.'s book list on fantasy filled with so much magic and wonder

What is my book about?

Clara and Angelica Grace have never met ghosts. They’ve never sailed on a tall ship, ridden wild unicorns, or fought with magical weapons. Instead, the teenage twins have a wretched existence, ignored by their troubled parents in a rundown home and tormented by the town’s snobs.

Everything turns topsy-turvy all of a sudden when the discovery of an ancestor’s hidden journal with an odd key to an unknown door leads them into an entirely different realm.

The girls go on a thrilling oceanic voyage to search for mysterious whales, train with a seasoned warrior, and are befriended by a wise Master. But all is not a bouquet of lovely lilies…they are hunted by a cunning warlock and must rid themselves of The Warlock’s Curse.

The Warlock's Curse

By C.B. Oresky,

What is this book about?

Clara and Angelica Grace have never met ghosts. They’ve never sailed on a tall ship, ridden wild unicorns, or fought with magical weapons. Instead, the teenage twins have a wretched existence, ignored by their troubled parents in a rundown home and tormented by the town’s snobs.

Everything turns topsy-turvy all of a sudden when discovery of an ancestor’s hidden journal with an odd key to an unknown door leads them into an entirely different realm.

The girls go on a thrilling oceanic voyage to search for mysterious whales, train with a seasoned warrior, and are befriended by a wise Master.…


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