Adorable. (However, why, as I wrote in a comment, does Dimple have long hair in the cover images.?Her hair is constantly referred to and it is short aAdorable. (However, why, as I wrote in a comment, does Dimple have long hair in the cover images.?Her hair is constantly referred to and it is short and curly. Grrr... From a Curly Girl --- we need all the image support we can get:)...more
(FYI I did not read this twice. No idea why goodreads wants to say I did --- can't seem to get rid of it. Oh well.)
Handy has an elegant writing style(FYI I did not read this twice. No idea why goodreads wants to say I did --- can't seem to get rid of it. Oh well.)
Handy has an elegant writing style and wry sensibility that made this an easy and enjoyable read. Yet upon reflection I do wonder about his choices --- all very familiar and traditional ones. He touches here and there on other books, but only in passing. For example, he spends a lot of time with the Wilder books and then touches upon Mildred Taylor's series. So, for all that I enjoyed his commentary (even while often disagreeing with him), I do think this was a lost opportunity to broaden the canon by exploring more deeply titles like Taylor's. Or how about some by Woodson, Myers, and Erdrich?...more
A year ago I received a box of ARCs from Simon & Schuster and, poking around, came across Jason Reynolds' Ghost. While I'd heard aMy blog review:
A year ago I received a box of ARCs from Simon & Schuster and, poking around, came across Jason Reynolds' Ghost. While I'd heard a great deal about wunderkind Reynolds and read with respect some of his YA work, that he had a middle grade book coming out was a complete surprise to me. About track --- my one competitive sport --- no less. And so I jumped right in and fell madly in love with it. (You can read my gushy review here.) And so now here we are a year later with the next in the Track series, featuring team mate Patty aka Patina.
On the very first page of Patina we are brought back to the track meet that ended Ghost, Patty telling us what happened and why. No spoilers from me though! Just moving on as this story is Patty's not Ghost's. It is one of legs, strong ones, missing ones, relay race ones, and more. These real and metaphoric legs make their way through the novel, effectively raising and highlighting important themes. They serve beautifully as Patty watches, acts, considers, and grows in her understanding of the world.
Where Ghost was about racing for and against yourself, Patina is about teamwork. There is teamwork practice of all kinds for the track team members who will be running relays in an upcoming meet. As well there is the group assignment at school where Patty is resigned to doing the bulk of the work, as usual, sensing no action on at least two of the group members. There is the teamwork of her family -- her little sister, her diabetic and legless mother, and the aunt and uncle the siblings live with. The adults around them are good and caring, supporting the girls in the best ways they can. Reynolds' scenes are beautifully done full of sensory details. You can just see those family meals, smell the uncle's nasty truck, hear authentic conversations, and feel Patty's body as she pushes it as hard as she can in workouts. The relationship between the sisters, Patty and Maddy is especially warm and delightful.
What for me elevates this book and its predecessor to such a high level (goodreads five stars:) is Reynolds' fabulous writing. He's got a way with a few sentences that stops me in total admiration, again and again. Say these:
Deep breaths, Patty, my mad slowly mellowing. This temper ain't a new temper. Breaking invisible teacups. Smashing them everywhere. No this ain't new. I just be keeping it pushed down, all the way down in my legs.
I highly, highly recommend this book and eagerly await the next in the series.
Shannon Hale's Real Friends was a Reading Without Walls challenge for me. That is, as a child and still today, I'm not much of a group person, most likely related to my introversion. From childhood on I can recall being part of groups of people I liked, but they almost always wanted to spend way more time together than I did. Shyness is probably also a factor as we moved a lot and so I was never in a school more than three years. This made me happy to find just a single friend. Now Shannon wanted this too, but in her case the single good friend always seems to be tied to bigger group politics which was not my experience. So I wasn't gravitating to read this one, but did because of Gene's challenge and because this is so much the reality of many children and especially my students.
That is, I've been a classroom teacher for decades and have observed and helped kids navigate friendships throughout that time. Sometimes it is one person snubbing another, sometimes it a group thing (with the popping up of clubs always a sign that someone is probably being excluded), sometimes it is sweet and lovely, and sometimes it is mean and vile and intractable. And so while I didn't read Real Friends for nostalgic or personal reasons, I did read it because it was so real and raw in terms of many children's reality.
Shannon's description of the ups and downs of friendship and, especially, the complicated dynamics of groups and popularity are vividly and honestly done. For kids for whom this resonates this book will be a life-saver, something that will speak to them, that they will see themselves in. Or perhaps they are yearning to be part of a group --- this may help them understand it isn't necessarily nirvana. I appreciated that Shannon isn't represented as perfect when part of a group by any means --- she doesn't do the usual forgiving of one culprit, she doesn't significantly help another bullied child (authentically being too self-absorbed in her own woes to do more than recognize her and talk to her when they are thrown together). Kudos to Shannon for being so authentic and real and honest. As an adult, I found the family dynamics most potent, especially her relationship with her big sister. Shannon doesn't hold back and, boy, is some of it rough. Fortunately, there seems to be the start of a better understanding at the end and more in the afterward that is reassuring for any who worried about Wendy.
A piercingly honest view into the complicated social life of one young girl that is certain to resonate for all who have observed, participated, or otherwise experienced the difficult dynamics of school friendships.
The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo, #2) plot-wise offers many of the same thrills as earlier ones --- cliff-hangers, prophecies, battles, obstacles to overcome, tests, etc. But Riordan elevates these tropes into a different reading realm from most. This is because of his stellar writing. There is wit, stuff to make you think, and an economy and tightness that keeps everything moving briskly along. Riordan's characters are well-drawn and nicely varied diversity-wise in a way that feels authentic and not forced. And then he manages to make it funny, perhaps closer to the way Terry Pratchett does than anyone else I can think of. I suspect I noticed this particularly with this book having recently read one by someone else trying to do similar things. To be honest, I don't find plots that resemble games (lots of tests, etc) especially compelling unless --- as with Riordan's works --- there is more to enjoy. There is here and I can't wait for his next book. (And there is one delightful thing to see before you begin --- Riordan dedicated the book to the great Ursula K. LeGuin.)...more
Ossiri and the Bala Mengrofrom Child's Play Books is a delightful yarn of the Travelers (as Romani are called in the UK). Penned by Romani Richard O'Neill and Katharine Quarmby with charming illustrations by Hannah Tolson this is both an entertaining tale and a book that gives a good sense of the Traveler life.
Eric Veillé's My Pictures After the Stormfrom Gecko Press has the physicality of a board book, but the content will entertain children far beyond the toddler stage. On one side are the "before" images and on the other the "after" ones. Starting with a storm we go on to every thing from lunch to a cannonball. Wacky and nutty in the very best way.