Recent recommended non-fiction reads:
Recent recommended fiction:
- The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle by David Elliott
Sharon Creech’s new book, Heartbeat, is a must read. Just go get and sit down and read it. It’s a fast read and a tear jerker and a book you want to just hug close to yourself when you are done reading because you are so glad that you read it but you are so sad that it is over.
If you don’t burst out laughing during the first chapter of Wendelin Van Draanen’s Swear to Howdy, you need a lobotomy.
Another recent read: Ghost Girl: a Blue Ridge Mountain story by Delia Ray. Liked it a lot! Based on the story of a real teacher and school that was built by President Hoover and his wife during the 1930s.
Howell, Alice O. The Beejum Book. Bell Pond Books, 2002. ISBN 978-0880105057 309 pp. $
Heavy-handed messages aside, The Beejum Book by Alice O. Howell is an adventurous read. The chapters alternate between Teak’s life as she travels around Europe with her parents and her nightly journeys in the mysterious world of Beejumstan. The lessons that Teak learns (this is where the heavy-handed messages come in) are interesting and important, about becoming an individual, staying true to oneself, and being brave, just to name a few.
I think that an author with a little more experience could have integrated these things into the story a little more smoothly. This is a book that I will recommend to fantasy readers, especially those who read above grade level and need something that is challenging but still content appropriate.
Kadohata, Cynthia. Kira-Kira. Atheneum, 2006. ISBN 978-0689856402 272 pp. $8.99
Kira-Kira is a wonderful novel. Two Japanese-American sisters, growing up the late 1950s, are best friends. Lynn, the older sister, teaches Katie that there are many “kira-kira” (glittering) things on this earth. As their parents struggle to provide for the family and save money to buy their own house, Lynn, Katie and younger brother Sam, play, dream and imagine together. When Lynn grows ill and the hospital bills pile up, things become very stressful for the family. Katie helps to nurse her sister and take care of Sam while her parents work at the local chicken hatcheries day and night to make ends meet.
Our narrator, Katie, is sweet, silly, honest, brave and a good storyteller. She relates events exactly as I imagine a ten to twelve year-old girl would and gives hope to the reader that even in the saddest of times, there are glimmers of kira-kira to be found.
Krisher, Trudy. Uncommon Faith. Holiday House, 2003. ISBN 978-0823417919 263 pp. $
I read all the Judy Blume books over and over again when I was growing up. I loved them all but was especially attached to Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. Don’t know what it was about that book, but I loved it! I’m quite surprised that Deenie was chosen to be made into a movie–it just doesn’t seem like a film that will sell. But what do I know?
Just finished a new YA book, Uncommon Faith by Trudy Krisher. It is narrated by all the folks in the town of Millsbrook, Massachusetts and the story pretty much revolves around Faith Common, a most uncommon and rebellious girl in the 1830s. The trick is that Faith Common is not one of the narrators. We never hear her voice-yet much of the action in the story is caused by her courage, intelligence, strength and honesty.
This is a remarkable look at feminism in its earliest stages. Women want to be heard, they quit sewing. Women want to be heard, they write unacceptable things in their copy books at school. Women find a way to make things right. This is a historical fiction novel that takes place in the early days of abolitionism. Read it–love it!
YAY! YAY! Finally a movie based on a Judy Blume book! (I know, there have been series and made-for-TV movies, but not a feature film.) Deenie, about a girl with scoliosis, will be brought to the big screen. My fave Judy Blume book is Then Again, Maybe I Won’t (fond memories of dog-eared, marked-up copies of Forever circulating around my middle-school playground notwithstanding). What’s yours?
More commentary, less book review:
I have been wanting to read The First Part Last and Hanging on to Max… we read Make Lemonade for my librarians-who-like-teen-books group and I expressed the need for some teen parent stories that don’t involve stereotypical teen parents… such as poor, black or hispanic, uneducated, unsupportive families or the reverse… grandparents raising the babies… because my sister is a teen mom and she isn’t any any of the above. Maybe I could get her to write her story!
When I was in high school a friend of a friend got pregnant, she was middle class, white, had a committed boyfriend who did not run off, regular kid with good grades… she had the baby and went to college… is this book out there? Are authors/editors/publishers afraid it would be condoning sex as a teen because if you get pregnant & keep the baby it might not be the end of the world? If they are making decisions like that thinking it affects the morals of teens than they should stop printing Gossip Girls…
… and speaking of Gossip Girls I am reading the second one You Know You Love Me because as I said here before… it is like heroin… easy to get, cheap, unhealthy, and I keep going back for more!
Johnson, Angela. The First Part Last. Simon & Schuster, 2005. ISBN 978-0689849237 132 pp. $7.99
You got it–I dig the fairy tales.
Typically I prefer the stories that don’t have fairy tale endings, like Angela Johnson’s The First Part Last. The reader discovers right away that sixteen-year-old Bobby is raising his newborn baby, Feather, on his own. In swapping chapters titled “Then” and “Now” the story of Bobby’s single-fatherhood is revealed. We don’t often meet male characters who express such complexity of thought and feeling as Bobby. His desire to be a good father and his conflicting fear of fatherhood are most evident in the moments he longs to be a child again himself, followed the moments when he realizes this will never be the case.
This is an interesting and poetic look at a teenage father with heart. It would be great to pair with Hanging on to Max by Margaret Bechard. Two books showing kids making mistakes and facing the tough choices that follow.
BUT what about the romance! I just had to keep reading to see where that led. Allison, do you like her fairy tale books better?
Napoli, Donna Jo. Daughter of Venice. Laurel Leaf, 2003 (reprint). ISBN 978-0440229285 288 pp. $7.99
I just finished Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli over breakfast this morning. As soon as I got to work I had to jump on the blog and check that this was the same book that April stayed up all night reading. It didn’t have the same affect on me. Although I appreciated the independent Donata and her desire to explore the world of Venice outside the family’s Palazzo, I felt like finishing this book was an uphill battle. Sometimes there was too much dialogue and other times I felt like the history lesson was a little heavy handed. I wasn’t connected to the characters and wished to learn more about their hearts and minds. Sorry April–I wouldn’t give up a night of snuggling for this story. 🙂
Review by ~Alli
See April’s review for another take on Daughter of Venice!