George

Gino, A. (2015). George. NY: Scholastic Press.

Stonewall Book Award for Children’s (2016)
California Book Award Gold Medal for Juvenile (2015)
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2015)

This is an easy read that could be started and finished in a day, but that’s in order to find out more about George, not only because it’s a thin book! So who is George? 24612624She’s physically a boy, but thinks … What if I’m a girl?

Navigating third grade proves to be sticky at times while George is trying to figure everything out and fend off typical bullies at school at the same time. It’s awesome that her bestie, Kelly, is by her side. Kelly is the epitome of a friend who truly listens and embraces the truth, She even celebrates it. George’s family is great, too.

George could make a fantastic handbook for how one is suppose to behave when someone they love thinks they’re transgender. George has an older brother who respects who George is. “Oh. Ohhh. Ohhhhhhhhh,” he Continue reading

A Night Divided

Nielsen, J. (2015). A Night Divided. New York: Scholastic.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2017)
Top Mighty Girl Books for Teen and Tweens List (2015)
Double Whitney Award winner: Best Middle Grade book and Best Overall Youth Novel (2015)

It took Jennifer Nielsen a mere six short weeks to write A Night Divided. The story of Gerta, a twelve year old girl living in East Berlin under the realm of the Iron Curtain, was begging to be told22024488. During this time of political chaos, Greta’s family becomes dramatically split in two when the first installation of the Berlin Wall was erected overnight. Gerta, her older brother, Fritz, and their mother are left to stay in their apartment, learning to survive while at the same time grappling with tough questions of right versus wrong, and planning a daring escape.

Who doesn’t love a suspenseful escape story with a smart girl leading the charge?! It’s incredible that Continue reading

Are You An Echo?

Kaneko , M. (2016). Are You An Echo? Seattle: Chin Music Press Inc.
edited by by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, and Michiko Tsuboi

I’m going to start with the drawings so they don’t get lost. Toshikado Hajiri’s illustrations in the children’s picturebook, Are You An Echo? are beautiful and make me stop long enough to recognize the 28818676beauty not only in the pictures, but before me in my life. Fitting, for the poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is childlike, clear, and feels strong enough to stop time.

It was powerful enough to make Setsuo Yazaki research sixteen years for the Kaneko’s lost poetry. For all he could find was a poem that delighted him. How could someone understand how fish felt? Big Catch: Continue reading

The Lie Tree

Hardinge , F. (2015). The Lie Tree. New York: Amulet Books.

Costa Book Award for Children’s Book (2015)
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction (2016)
Andre Norton Award Nominee Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy (2016)
Carnegie Medal Nominee (2016)
Costa Book of the Year (2015)
YA Book Prize Nominee (2016)

Faith Sunderly’s family flees Kent, England for a small and unknown island in order to avoid social gossip surrounding her father’s work, thus providing a dreary backdrop. Historical fiction from the Victorian 26118377Era, The Lie Tree takes the adventure story and flips it on its head with a feminist twist. Gender stereotypes are annoyingly prevalent, yet Faith is a strong, intelligent character (“When every door is closed, one learns to climb through windows.”), reminding me much of the young, budding scientist, Calpurnia in The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jaqueline Kelly. Except The Lie Tree is a fantastical fairy tale. Let me explain.

Faith’s father is a natural scientist and is found murdered on the island shortly after the family moves. Investigations lead Faith to discover Continue reading

When the Sea Turned to Silver

Lin, G. (2016). When the Sea Turned to Silver. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Folk tales are told through the spine-tingling adventures of Pinmei and her trusted family friend, Yishan. When the Sea Turned to Silver opens with Pinmei and her grandmother, the village’s storyteller, talking at home one night. Her 28449045grandmother tells Pinmei that even though she is a very quiet child, when it is time for you to do something, you will do it. Later that night, soldiers burst into their hut to kidnap the grandmother! Pinmei and Yishan urgently set off for one escapade after the next in a venture to find and bring her home.

This instant classic holds so much substance; it begs to be read and reread, saved in a special spot up on the bookcase. Each chapter heading has an illustration relating to one of the fifteen Continue reading

The Green Bicycle

al-Mansour, H. (2015). The Green Bicycle. New York: Penguin.21936967

Haifa al-Mansour relates the story of Wadjda, who at age eleven has an feisty streak and is already frustrated with Saudi Arabia’s cultural oppression of women and young girls. Wadjda is a typical girl who tries her best but still makes mistakes. She longs to have freedom and especially to own a bicycle she spots in a store front window. For her, and for so many, a bicycle represents freedom, independence, the ability to move around at will, and being in charge of your destiny.

Abdullah, her best friend, is nervous to be seen with Wadjda Continue reading

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Lockhart, E. (2008). The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. New York: Hyperion Book CH.

National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2008)
Michael L. Printz Award Nominee (2009)

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E.Lockhart, showcases Frankie, our highly intelligent heroine, who arrives as the new kid at private school her father used to attend, where he participated in a super secret society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. The 22745205esteemed society intrigues Frankie to no end and she suspects her new boyfriend, Matthew Livingston, of not only belonging but also being president.  Frankie has quickly raised her social status by dating Matthew, who is wildly popular and good looking, but their relationship is nowhere near perfect. Matthew is arrogant, secretive and he transparently puts his friends’ needs above Frankie’s.

Frankie longs to make her mark, and becomes quietly outraged that girls have historically been excluded from the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. She’s disappointed that the boys seem only interested in partying and their reputations, and she determinedly sets off to figure out the club’s oldest, forgotten secret. Frankie’s sleuthing around at night and single handedly pulling off extreme, brilliant pranks around campus are the really fun parts of the book. However, the true strength of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is the straightforward and interesting manner E. Lockart presents issues of power, gender, and risk taking.

Mosquitoland

Arnold, D. (2015). Mosquitoland. New York: Viking Children’s.

18718848Mosquitoland is a witty, adventurous book about a sixteen year old girl named Mim whose parents are divorced. After learning that her mom is sick, she hops on a bus and takes on a 947 mile long road trip from “Mosquitoland”, Mississippi to Cleveland, Ohio. Along the way Mim meets a cast of characters ranging from best friends to bus drivers and she gathers experiences from bus accidents to dealing with her parents’ divorce to a new stepmom. Overall it is a wonderful story about a person trying to deal with a difficult time of her life.

Three out of five stars. Solid sauce. 😀

One Morning in Maine

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McCloskey, R. (1952). One Morning in Maine. New York: Viking Penguin Inc.

Awards: Caldecott Honor (1953)

Sal has discovered a loose tooth on the day she is planning to go with her father and younger sister, Jane, across to Buck’s Harbour in their little boat. Her mother explains that she can make a wish on her tooth once it comes out, but she mustn’t tell anyone or the wish won’t come true. Sal tries to make sense of her experience by wondering if various island animals even have teeth, and if so, do they lose them? The themes of a young girl having her first loose tooth, enjoying nature, and resilience in the face of disappointment Continue reading

Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth!

7872794
Gay, M. (2010). Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth! Toronto: Groundwood Books.

Roslyn wakes up one morning knowing full well what is on her agenda for the day. Dig a hole to China, of course! Or perhaps the South Pole so she can finally meet a penguin. Enthusiastically she bounds down the stairs and recounts the plan to her father at the breakfast table, to which he simply inquires, “Will you be home in time Continue reading