My five year old and I have read this book three times in the last two days. The illustrations are bright and appealing, and the story has an engagingMy five year old and I have read this book three times in the last two days. The illustrations are bright and appealing, and the story has an engaging and relatable plot line, even for kids who do not have the same experience as Malaika. Malaika lives in an unnamed English-speaking Caribbean country with her Grandma. Her mom has gone to Canada to earn money and Malaika and her grandma are expecting money that the mom promised to send for Malaika's Carnival costume. The money doesn't come but they work it out, with a satisfying and beautifully illustrated ending. The last page is especially sweet, and I like how the book captures a lot of emotions through dialogue and action, rather than descriptions of the characters' emotions.
I am thinking a lot about the "windows and mirrors" value in diverse books and this book certainly speaks to the "window" concept in our family. The book touches on immigration and the challenge of parents and kids being separated. This is a great entree into this topic for families who don't have personal experience with that situation, and can encourage parents and kids to talk about empathy and the many reasons that children shouldn't assume that everyone they know lives with their parents.
I recommend reading the Kirkus Review for a more thorough summary and description--I am sharing my impressions and opinion from a personal place....more
I honestly could barely put this book down while reading it. It was an extremely entertaining (and long) thriller. I didn't especially relate to the pI honestly could barely put this book down while reading it. It was an extremely entertaining (and long) thriller. I didn't especially relate to the protagonist but the four year old pulled me in (although we get little sense of the child's personality and he seems to mostly be a prop). I love thrillers and I generally choose reading this type of book instead of watching TV. A lot of thrillers and mysteries share the same writing style, and this certainly has that style. It's a lot of telling what happened in a certain explanatory style, rather than showing events and details through the story. At times I just started skimming over the writing when it would get philosophical, as I don't read this genre for philosophy. It's pure entertainment to me.
It sounds like this book is getting critical acclaim, but to me it's not that different from other books in the thriller/mystery genre. The author was already famous so perhaps that's bringing it to peoples' attention. It's a beach read as far as I'm concerned, just a very entertaining one. ...more
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher.
Tattoo Atlas was totally gripping and I could barely put it down. Reading itI received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher.
Tattoo Atlas was totally gripping and I could barely put it down. Reading it was kind of like experiencing a really good action movie, and I felt the same way about Floreen’s first book, Willful Machines. The very first sentence is masterfully crafted and the story captivated me from there.
My first thought when I finished this book is that it's not for the faint of heart. It combines a school shooting, a lot of death, a violent video game, questionable human motivations, and some pretty intense technological concepts.
Jeremy, or Rem, lives with his mom and has lost many loved ones. His brother was killed in a war and one of his best friends was killed by another student named Franklin in a school shooting that took place one year before the book begins. It turns out that his mom, a scientist, is trying an experimental treatment on Franklin. She’s trying to understand what causes someone to pull the trigger, or not. Franklin’s treatment is the science fiction aspect of the story, but it doesn’t feel very far from reality at all. Rem is gay and is involved with a friend from his friend group. His sexuality doesn’t dominate the story but it does play an important role. This isn’t a book about being gay. It’s a book about all of the topics I listed above and the main character happens to be gay. He has romantic interests, just like most teens in YA literature.
Rem is mourning his friend and his brother, navigating friendships and possible romance, and developing a more complex relationship with his mother. His experiences feel realistic to me, and I think that many teens will relate to them. I'm a middle school librarian and I would recommend it to mature early high school readers and then any older reader who would be comfortable with these topics. It would be a great young adult book for adults to read, too. I wouldn’t recommend it to middle schoolers or students who have a hard time with violence. It may be appropriate for readers who have lost family or friends, but that would depend on the person.
Tim Floreen is writing very interesting stories and I am looking forward to reading his next book!...more
**spoiler alert** A friend of mine received this ARC from the publisher and passed it along to me.
At the beginning, I thought this book was too simila**spoiler alert** A friend of mine received this ARC from the publisher and passed it along to me.
At the beginning, I thought this book was too similar to the various books in The Giver quartet, by Lois Lowry. It appeared to be set in an imaginary dystopian world where no one had last names and everyone had a designated job. The Council ran the community and they were not allowed to go outside of the walls.
How wrong I was about the story! Cameron does an excellent job of creating a believable fictional world and developing the characters. However, the beginning does feel a bit like something you've read before. Once you realize that the characters have found a digital keypad set into the mountain, everything gets a bit more interesting.
It turns out that scientists on earth discovered an inhabitable planet, and sent 150 people to establish a peaceful society there, without war or violence or lots of technology. The twist is that every 12 years, a comet comes by and causes trees to bloom. The trees release spores that cause everyone to forget the details of their lives. They forget their names, their families, and some of them forget skills. Those who have had the same profession for a long time are able to retain most of the skills needed. In order to not be completely lost after "the forgetting," people write in books every day about their lives, and keep the books strapped to their bodies at all times. The main character, though, never forgets. She is about 17 years old and remembers everything she experienced 12 years earlier, when she was five. She knows who her father is even though he has an entirely new family, and is resentful that he abandoned her, her sisters, and her mom.
Of course, there is a small group of powerful and potentially not so well-intentioned group of people creating rules and manipulating people. They are an interesting group, and it turns out they also have compelling stories.
I am excited to recommend this to students at my school, especially to kids who like The Giver.
Two great stories that have related themes are The Giver quartet, and the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis....more
After I finished this book, I saw Tim Floreen speak on a panel. He said he hoped that librarians would give this book to kids who were simply lookingAfter I finished this book, I saw Tim Floreen speak on a panel. He said he hoped that librarians would give this book to kids who were simply looking for a good book, rather than only giving it to gay kids. And that is exactly what I am going to do (once I get it into my library). Lee, the main character, is a "walking walk-in" as his best friend calls him. He is closeted, and happens to be the son of the U.S. President. Although his romance is a significant plot driver, the book isn't about him being gay. It's about what can happen when artificial intelligence goes beyond what we've ever seen before, into the realm of machines having will and free agency. It also delves into some existential questions that I think will appeal to teens.
It's fast-paced, and the setting is very vivid, both traits that I enjoy in YA novels. If anything, it made me too tense and I raced through it because I was impatient to find out what would happen.
I really enjoyed it, and highly recommend it if you like futuristic or dystopian stories....more
**spoiler alert** I was so excited to read this book. I loved Senzai's book Shooting Kabul, and I had high hopes for this book as well. But I was real**spoiler alert** I was so excited to read this book. I loved Senzai's book Shooting Kabul, and I had high hopes for this book as well. But I was really, really disappointed, for a few reasons.
First, the book can't seem to decide between middle grade and young teen. I consider middle grade about 4th to 6th grade, and young teen about 7th to 9th grade. Students at my school are in 7th and 8th grade, and for the most part are not interested in the middle grade books. The book starts with a very middle grade feeling. It's about a girl, her family, and her grandfather dying. The language at the beginning is overdone and rather flowery. As I began the book, I thought that it was going to be kind of boring and my students most likely wouldn't be interested in it.
The second reason I was disappointed is because it jumped to being unrealistic and sensational in the middle, and really surprised me. The main character and her sister travel with their grandmother to India, but have to keep it a secret from the rest of the family. The grandmother has planned everything meticulously--except that she forgot her medication and seems to think that it doesn't matter at all. Of course the Grandma has a stroke and has to stay in the hospital.
Then, the biggest surprise--Maya, the main character, is separated from her sister and then kidnapped for a ransom. She finds herself held in a place with many exploited children who are being sent to beg and steal. Some have been intentionally injured to garner sympathy from passing tourists, and overall they are not treated well. Eventually Maya escapes--also sort of unrealistic--and is reunited with her family, after several attempts.
The story is compelling and overall I did enjoy the writing, which is why I gave it three stars. But I think it should have a clearer age group appeal, and the really compelling part, the kidnapping and subsequent detention, should be more well-developed and should be used to catch the reader's attention earlier in the book....more
I like the message in this book--Lucy gets bullied, she's afraid to tell, eventually she tells after an entire week, Mom calls teacher, teacher talksI like the message in this book--Lucy gets bullied, she's afraid to tell, eventually she tells after an entire week, Mom calls teacher, teacher talks to bully Tommy and Tommy's mom. Lucy and Tommy work it out. They're friends at the end. Cool.
BUT the editors and author really screwed up, in my opinion. Lucy is a little white lamb, and Tommy is a big dark bull. The teacher and all of the other students (various animals) are white, other than the pink pig. Don't make the one "bad" kid dark if no one else in the book is. It perpetuates racial stereotypes, at least on a subconscious level.
This book also plays into gender stereotypes, where only the moms are involved with the discipline and parenting, and the bully is a boy....more
This was my second Jacqueline Woodson book and like the first one, I was captivated. Something about her books makes me feel like I'm all wrapped outThis was my second Jacqueline Woodson book and like the first one, I was captivated. Something about her books makes me feel like I'm all wrapped out inside of them when I'm finished. She doesn't use flowery language or endless descriptions. But her stories are so evocative and REAL. And I can totally relate to them, even though they are about Black teenagers in Brooklyn and that is definitely not my demographic.
When it comes to "urban fiction" (aka short, easy to read books about poor Black and Brown teens in urban settings, struggling with lots of stuff) I would recommend Woodson over Bluford High, Blacktop, and various other books. Woodson's characters are richer. But this is also my preference and kids do love those books. ...more
Dunkin is new in town when he catches a glimpse of Lily helping her dad with the groceries. The next time he sees Lily, she is wearing boy's clothes aDunkin is new in town when he catches a glimpse of Lily helping her dad with the groceries. The next time he sees Lily, she is wearing boy's clothes and going by the name Tim. He's puzzled, but he's also dealing with a lot of other things--including mental illness, and trying to fit in as an 8th grader at a new school.
The story goes back and forth between Dunkin and Lily's stories. At times they interact, but much of the book details their separate experiences. Both want to be friends but as the book reminds us, it can be very difficult to navigate friendships when you're in eighth grade.
Gephart beautifully portrays both Lily and her experience being transgender, and Dunkin and his experience with bipolary disorder.
The book represents different types of families and shows that parents have emotional lives and needs, too. Both families are very likeable overall, and are very caring. This is one of the things that makes the story feel very middle grade.
I think the hardest aspect of this book to identify is the age group. The print size, age of the characters, and the tone of the story are very 5th to 7th grade. But I think that librarians, parents, and booksellers will likely feel that the content is more of a 7th to 10th grade maturity level. Especially because it's about 8th graders, the book is too young for high school. It's really a great book for 7th and 8th graders, because it is set in middle school. However, more sophisticated middle school readers may be put off because it feels a bit young. I hope that it will find its way to some 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in addition to a middle school audience.