|Gregor the Giraffe|
First up, Lara's Gift by Annemarie O'Brien. In 1914 Russia, Lara is being groomed by her father to be the next kennel steward for the Count's borzoi dogs unless her mother bears a son. Lara's puzzling visions, although suppressed by her father, seem to suggest she has special bond with the dogs. Will Lara's father learn to accept her strange gifts? I love books set in this time period. Annemarie O'Brien's detailed writing sheds light on a fascinating period of Russian life. This book has enough action, and enough heart, to attract many different readers, even those who wouldn't normally choose historical fiction.
Next, The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell. After a mysterious key arrives for her, eleven-year-old Lin Rosenquist finds a crack in the cellar, a gate to the world of Sylver. This frozen realm is the home of every dead animal that ever loved a child. Lin is reunited with Rufus, the pet she buried under the rosebush and together they must find the missing Winter Prince in order to save Sylver from destruction.
This book is just the kind of classic fantasy that I love! Beautifully written, adventurous, and full of characters you'll feel like you know personally. The magical wintry realm makes this book a perfect snow day read.