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Books in Brief: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart; Brave Red, Smart Frog by Emily Jenkins; Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds


Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart;  Delacorte Press, 288 pages ($18.99) Ages 12 and up. (Sept. 5 publication)

E. Lockhart, author of acclaimed 2014 best-seller "We Were Liars," delivers the goods again in this smartly crafted psychological suspense novel which unfolds in layers as she tells the tale in reverse. The tale revolves around Imogen, an orphan adopted by rich parents, and Jule, an athlete, fighter and keen observer.  As she did in "Liars," Lockhart offers a devastating portrait of privilege, class difference, greed and envy. (Imogen,  adopted at two by doting parents "was photographed and tickled," sent to private school in Manhattan where "she wore a uniform of green and white and learned to speak French.")  More cannot be said without spoiling the shocks that await the farther back in time we go.  The publisher might have considered a 14 and up age recommendation.


Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Tales by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason; Candlewick Press, $17.99.

Emily Jenkins, author of many marvelous books for children including the Toy series for middle-grade readers, has written her own versions of seven familiar fairy tales and they are fresh, lovely and wonderful. They are beautifully written and full of humor and wisdom but they are not saccharine: Blood is spilled. Fairy tales are rooted in oral tradition, and Jenkins'  tales sparkle with the music of the spoken word. Her Snow White is warm and bright like her mother;  the evil stepmother,  here named January, "walked out of the winter forest one day and charmed [the king] with beauty like an icicle – sharp and slippery."  "The Three Wishes" features a woodcutter named Twig who becomes "stupid with grief" over the death of his donkey and is admonished by his wife, named Butter, for his foolishness: "You're a great noodle.  Mooning about that donkey for months upon end when your own children eat nothing but cabbage." "Toads and Pearls" features a girl "sweet as cherries," another "bitter as walnuts."  In "Red Riding Hood," Red makes her way through the frozen forest:  "The bare branches of the trees clicked across one another…the wind snatched the map from her hand." In "The Three Great Noodles" a young man named Blunt courts a girl named Amity, but vows not to marry her unless he can find three greater noodles than Amity and her silly parents.


Creepy Pair of Underwear, Words by Aaron Reynolds, pictures by Caldecott Honor winner Peter Brown; Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $17.99.

The collaborators on "Creepy Carrots" have done it again with this original, laugh-out-loud tale. Jasper Rabbit could have picked out plain white underwear, but chooses instead a glowing green pair with a Frankenstein face ("so creepy," "so comfy") despite his mother's warnings. The creepy pair of underwear sticks with Jasper as he tries everything to get rid of them: mailing them to China, cutting them up with his mother's sewing scissors, burying them in a deep hole. Underneath the hilarity is a gentle message about bravery and confronting your fears.

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