Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday!
I realize not all of my visitors are in the United States, but if you are, be sure to VOTE! We’ve been breaking early turnout records, but the actual election day is still very important. So make sure YOUR voice is heard — the more the merrier!
Today I’m reviewing two books that will be released tomorrow: Middle Grade novel LIZZY AND THE GOOD LUCK GIRL by Susan Lubner and Young Adult novel MAMMOTH by Jill Baguchinsky. I enjoyed both, so be sure to check ’em out, below…
Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl
November 6, 2018
Running Press Kids
This is the story of 12-year-old Lizzy Sherman, her best friend Joss, and a surprise visitor named Charlotte. Lizzy has had a rough two years. Her family endured a bad car wreck which ended her mother’s previous pregnancy, killing the baby she carried. After that experience, her mother went into a deep depression and the entire family felt so much sadness over the loss. Since then, Lizzy has looked for signs of good luck in hopes that things will get better.
Lizzy’s mother and father run a diner located just beneath their apartment, and Lizzy’s mother is pregnant again. So now, more than ever, Lizzy is obsessively looking for good signs in the world around her. She sees signs in the clouds, in spilled drinks, in you-name-it!
Both Lizzy and Joss have a special interest in re-homing lost shelter cats. In fact, they are even working on a program through their school to raise money and bring awareness of the need to adopt. However, one morning their love of stray cats leads them into an old, abandoned building where they discover an 11-year-old runaway named Charlotte. Charlotte’s father and mother are in the process of getting a divorce and she can’t bear to be back at home as her father is preparing to leave. Once Lizzy discovers that Charlotte has what appears to be a 4-leaf clover on her hand, she is ready to move Charlotte into her closet and keep her hidden from family until after the baby is born. For luck!
“I tried not to think about the last time Mom had gone in an ambulance. The last time I had been in a hospital was the night we had lost the baby. But that night, I had lost something else, too. For months after the accident, Mom didn’t care about anything anymore. Not the diner. Not Dad. Not me. I wanted it to stop. I wanted a sign that things would be all right… a promise that all the awfulness would go away. More than a pink sky or a frozen puddle, more than anything in the world, I had just wanted my mother.”
With both good humor and sadness, this story is one of hope, uncertainty, friendship, and coming to terms with devastating loss. Nevertheless, this story also addresses running away from problems, lying to friends, and deceiving your parents. There’s so much up for discussion with this one!
My thanks to Netgalley and Running Press Kids for allowing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl releases TOMORROW, so be sure to grab a copy and add it to your reading list.
November 6, 2018
Natalie Page, formerly known as Fat Nat, is a plus-size fashion blogger. She’s also a “paleontology geek” who was awarded a prestigious internship at an Ice Age mammoth dig site close to Austin, Texas. Upon arriving at the dig site, she realizes that Dr. Carver, the world famous paleontologist she’s been fan-girling over for YEARS, will be filming on location during her stay. SWOON!
Through a series of events, Natalie bonds with several of the other interns, makes some bad decisions (landing her on probation), and eventually becomes a topic of national news. This book offers serious empathy for plus-sized women who work very hard to meet societies expectations — from wearing tight body shapers to constantly worrying that people are watching what you eat to instantly guessing any female’s body weight. Nevertheless, Natalie consciously works to overcome those mental roadblocks and discovers that she’s not afraid to stand up for herself — that, even without all the primping and daily fashion photos, she’s pretty darn amazing just being her brilliant, funny, lovely self. And those who really matter in her life can see that already.
When I first read blurbs about this book, I kept hearing things like “female scientist” and “plus-sized character!!” But what I didn’t hear enough about was the engaging, fast-paced storyline. I never wanted to put it down so I finished it in one day. It was a charming read — especially for me since it connected my two main places: Austin, where I grew up, and South Dakota, where the “Mammoth Site” is — barely an hour from where I currently live. So for other Austin fans out there, be aware you’ll hear ALL about the amazing thrifting, delicious barbecue, the famous bats at the bridge, Amy’s ice cream, and Austin being “awesomely weird.”
I hope my friends enjoy this one as much as I did! My thanks to Turner Publishing for shipping me an advanced reader copy of Mammoth in exchange for my honest review. Mammoth releases TOMORROW and I don’t think it will stay on library shelves very long. Don’t forget to add it to your TBR list!
Odd One Out
October 9, 2018
Crown Books for Young Readers
This story is told from three different points of view. Courtney “Coop” Cooper, Rae Evelyn Chin, and Jupiter Charity-Sanchez each get a chance to share their most private thoughts and feelings as narrator.
Courtney (male) and Jupiter (female) are the best of friends — have been since they were children. Courtney is heterosexual and admittedly attracted to Jupiter, but she has very openly identified as gay and so she has no interest in Jupiter that way. They often sleep together in the same bed, but there’s no romance here.
Rae Chin is new to town and, to her knowledge, she’s heterosexual. She’s definitely attracted to Coop. However, she’s very curious and wants to experiment with Jupiter, too. Jupiter isn’t about experimenting — she knows what she wants and doesn’t want to be a guinnea pig for Rae’s self-discovery, even if she’s obviously attracted to her.
The remainder of the story openly reveals the sexual tension between these three characters. Each person must be open to self-discovery with honesty and bravery. In fact, this is the first time I’ve heard the term heteroflexible, which made perfect sense in this context. Along the way it gets incredibly messy and confusing.
This book took me WAY out of my comfort zone. I really felt for some of the characters because of blatant deception that was happening during this exploration. That said, I can imagine it being helpful for someone who’s conflicted over their sexual preference. In fact, Nic Stone shares that she was very confused over her desires during her adolescent years. She didn’t come out as bisexual to her husband until just a few weeks after they were married. So she’s had a great deal of experience in this arena and has purposefully created a story that explores that messiness for other teens in a similar position.
To Be Read:
I’m sure I’ll squeeze in a handful of picture books this week, but I’d better only commit to one novel this week since I’ve been so overwhelmed with this new course I’m teaching. I believe this book is nearly 400 pages, so it will still be a good bit of reading. I’ve already heard some rave reviews — excited to get started this week: