Pandas on the Eastside

Prendergast, G. (2016). Pandas on the Eastside. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers.

A little book with a fun design on the cover caught my eye, and it was so easy to delve in and imagine East Vancouver during 1972, I had finished the story of Journey Song before29275024 I knew it. Part historical fiction, part alternate reality, it’s the story of a wilful and cheeky girl, Journey, and a wide cast of characters who live in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside when two giant pandas were gifted to the American people from the Chinese government. In reality, the transportation of the pandas went smoothly and didn’t stop in Canada, but Prendergast imagines a world where the United States and China have a spat and the pandas are delayed indefinitely in a warehouse in Vancouver; a stop in the trip that never actually happened.

Journey becomes concerned about the pandas’ living conditions in the warehouse Continue reading

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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