Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carrol): The former was a re-read, the latter a first-time read. They both recount the bizarre, pun-filled dreams of a feisty 7½-year-old girl. I was surprised to learn that "Jabberwocky" is a backward poem that Alice finds in the Looking Glass House and holds up to a mirror to read, and that some of the obscure vocabulary is explained later in the book by Humpty-Dumpty. Another new concept was the second book's plot as a fantastic chess game with live players.
La Primera Detective de Botsuana (Alexander McCall Smith): This could also be considered a re-read, although the first time was in English (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency). It's been fun to revisit the adventures of this smart, perceptive and thoroughly likable heroine, Precious, while gleaning new second-language vocabulary. Example: hazmereir (literally, "make-me-laugh") = laughingstock.
The Midwife's Assistant (Karen Cushman): This Newberry Medal book portrays the harsh life of a medieval girl whose life is transformed as she learns self-respect.
Bud, Not Buddy (Christopher Paul Curtis): Another Newberry Medal winner (and Coretta Scott King honor book, I think), this one also follows the adventures of an unfortunate orphan (perhaps a popular theme in children's lit) in the U.S. during the Depression. He sets out to find his father and eventually learns about belonging. The cool thing is that the characters are loosely based on the author's grandparents' lives.
My Favorite Plant: Writers and Gardeners on the Plants They Love (edited by Jamaica Kincaid): This collection of essays enticed me as a way to speed up the arrival of the growing season, if only in my imagination. I confess I didn't read the whole thing. The extreme variety of styles and tones lends itself to picking and choosing.
The Sound of Music Companion (Laurence Maslon): Anyone who's a sucker for this famous story can enjoy the abundant photos in this over-sized book, if not the trivia surrounding the evolution of a young woman's life story into a wildly popular stage musical and movie. For example, who would've known that during the filming of the opening scene of the 1965 movie, Julie Andrews kept getting knocked flat by the wind from the filming helicopter's propeller?
When In Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life (Jane Redmont): Soon I will have maxed out the local library's lending period, so I'm going to buy a second-hand copy. Using interviews with people of many different faith traditions, as well as her own experiences, the author (a Unitarian-raised Catholic) discusses many ways of praying, in many different life circumstances, and many issues surrounding why, when and how we pray, or don't.