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 to share what you’ve been reading!
We’re STILL working on our house and property. It seems the more jobs we finish, the more work we uncover that needs some attention. The bad news is that I’ve had an ongoing headache for the last 2-3 days. Every time I cough, sneeze, or strain in any way lifting or bending over, the pain level immediately increases on the left side of my head. Ouchy! In happier news, Jarrett J. Krosoczka will be visiting our campus this October! In fact, we just received word that all incoming freshmen will receive a copy of Hey, Kiddo as part of our Common Reading Experience program. Wow, wow, WOW! This is a huge deal for the area that I live in. The last big children’s author who came to our neck of the woods was Jan Brett — and that was back when she was promoting Cinders (talk about a packed house!!).
On to my reading… This week I read four great novels and some cute picture books. One review will be longer since it’s an e-ARC from Netgalley. I hope you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list!
The Friendship Lie
August 1, 2019
My sincere thanks to Capstone and NetGalley for approving this digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Friendship Lie is Rebecca Donnelly’s debut middle grade novel. The story follows the friendship of Cora and Sybella, two 5th graders who (along with Kyle, Cora’s twin brother) created an elaborate fantasy world they named Aquafaba. They are incredibly committed to this world and it grows and changes as their imaginations take flight. Cora and Kyle’s parents (who specialize in garbology at UC Berkeley) decide to separate and their mother moves to Belgium for short-term job, leaving Cora feeling extra sensitive. It’s right around this time that a talkative new girl named Marnie arrives at school, desperate to be included. But Cora and Sybella both give her the cold shoulder using secret code words and sneaky tactics to hide during lunch. However, there’s a miscommunication between Cora and Sybella that leave them both hurt, confused, and unable to seek resolution. Meanwhile, a 40-year-old diary turns up in a trash pile and reveals a past friendship-gone-wrong. Cora and Sybella both wonder what ever happened to that pained relationship from the diary since they see similarities to their current situation. Will their creative shared childhood spent in Aquafaba be enough to heal their pain and bridge the gap?
Outside of the friendship component, one fantastic part of this story was the focus on environmental science. We witness sincere dedication to reducing family waste AND the waste of all their neighbors. And I learned some interesting tidbits throughout this story (why have I never heard of biodegradable pasta straws??) all while considering some fun, educational activities to get children involved in reducing waste.
Maybe it’s the mama-of-five in me, but I felt badly for Marnie. Yes, she was annoying. And yes, her introduction to Aquafaba would have been a huge, frustrating disruption. But in the end, I hope middle grade readers take a moment to discuss how differently things might have gone if she hadn’t been ignored. It’s really not a bad idea to develop friendships with more than one person throughout your childhood.
Overall, I enjoyed this story and flew through it, anxious and hopeful to see resolution. Also… EVERYONE needs an Auntie Lake!! Read this one and tell me you don’t just love her! ❤
The Line Tender
April 16, 2019
Dutton/Penguin Books USA
This realistic middle grade fiction story is Kate Allen’s debut novel. Lucy was eight years old when her marine biology mother died of an aneurysm on a boat off the coast of Massachusetts. Now she’s thirteen and spends most of her time with Fred, her science-loving best friend who lives next to her. As the school year comes to an end, a large great white shark is caught by accident, sending their small community into the national spotlight. This little mishap is good news for Lucy and Fred because they are working on a field guide for next year’s extra credit and they can include the shark. Fred does the science portion of the guide while Lucy does the illustrations. And over time we discover that scientists and artists are pretty much the same — wanting to learn how things work.
As this story unfolded, it brought tears to my eyes. I felt all cozy with the loving neighbors of this little tourist town. I love how the younger crowd looked out for the elderly citizens, how easily they all communicated with one another, and how you could include anyone on a last minute road trip. Oh, and I learned a lot about sharks! I’d say this one is upper middle grade — there’s some kissing, discussion of Lucy getting her period, some teenage drinking, and a child’s death.
You’d Be Mine
April 2, 2019
Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press
This is a young adult contemporary romance about a young singer/songwriter named Annie Mathers and a slightly older (and much more famous) singer/songwriter named Clay Coolidge. Annie grew up with superstar music parents whose lives ended tragically in a double suicide. For that reason, Annie has stayed out of the limelight, enjoying moonlighting on her personal Youtube page. But her talent is quite obvious and she just might be the voice they need in his Clay’s next tour to save his sinking reputation. This is a fast read and there are constant parallels made to Johnny and June. There are many songs discussed that will be recognized by most music fans, as well. And all along, a budding romance. Maybe. 🙂
TRIGGER: Double suicide and overdose
Hope and Other Punchlines
May 7, 2019
Random House Children’s Books
This book was a LOVELY surprise in my week! There was humor, pain, and so much meaningful discussion.
Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? Of course you do! Well, Abbi “Hope” Goldstein was just a baby on that day, celebrating her first birthday. A photographer captured an iconic snapshot of several people running from the towers, fleeing in terror, and covered in ash. Abbi became the famous “Baby Hope” because she, and all the other people in that photo, survived the horrific tragedy that day. But 16 years later, she continues to lie low. Because the moment people recognize her, they tell her everything they remember about that day (or who they lost) and she brings out all their emotions, serving as a continual reminder of their pain.
Noah Stern was also a baby on that fateful day. While he was not at ground zero, he lost his father in the towers’ collapse. He and his mother have done okay over the years, but Noah feels certain that one of the people in the iconic survivors photo is his father. So he plans to coerce Abbi into joining him on a quest to find each person in that photograph. His cover story is that he’s merely interviewing them for a special piece he will write, but he has other personal motives, as well. Noah has no idea what he’s asking Abbi to sacrifice for his benefit.
Told in alternating narration, the storyline was both interesting and insightful. There was moving discussion about how different people grieve along with details about the families who continued looking for their loved ones long after a seemingly fruitless search (I was stunned to learn about how identified remains were officially brought to families and how many caskets were empty or held only a single bone). The brief details shared about the 9/11 jumpers will bring a lump to your throat and the section talking about how children are constantly being replaced with a new version of themselves — wow, I just took it all in and felt the hugeness of it as a mother. These characters seemed so very real to me and I am certain they will stick with me a long, long while. Five stars! Julie Buxbaum is officially on my radar.
Holly Hatam, recently known for her artwork in Dear Girl, and Dear Boy, (both authored by the Rosenthals) has created two new board books that prove, without a doubt, that certain mythical creatures do exist. Each book begins with a list of what the creature is made of, followed by a diagram pointing to which part belongs where. Then the remainder of each book gives the details of what the creature does on a regular basis. I just discovered that Hatham even has Mermaids Are Real! and Fairies Are Real! board books that I’ll have to hunt down SOON!
I’ll provide one page-spread example of the cute artwork, below:
To Be Read: