Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Book Review: Because of the Rabbit

Because of the Rabbit, by Cynthia Lord (author of Rules) is a charming story about a girl who finds a pet rabbit the night before she starts going to public school for the first time. Up until this point, Emma was homeschooled. She worries about being different and not making friends.

Drama happens, both with Emma's attempts to make friends at school and with the bunny. What Emma is going through feels very universal, as is the message that to make a friend, you have to be a friend.

At 183 pages, this is a quick, fun read, and you might learn a little about rabbits.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Book Review: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

"The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise" by Dan Gemeinhart is deep, and surprising, and fun, and terribly sad. I picked up this book because of the title. It looked like the perfect summer read, and I was right, mostly. This isn't a light read, in spite of the fun names, the fact that they live in a school bus, and the first chapter is about slushies and kittens.

Coyote lives on the road with Rodeo, a hippie who happens to be her father, on a renovated school bus they call Yager. Their road life has rules, and most of them are about avoiding the reality that Coyote isn't her real name, as Rodeo isn't her dad's name, and they are running away from the tragedy that took Coyote's mom, her two sisters, and essentially, her real name.

Coyote finds her way home, with some help from friends and beasts. You will leave this book with a greater appreciation of goats.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Book Review: The Collectors

"The Collectors," by Jacqueline West creates a magical world that exists out of sight for most, but not Van. He sees creatures others can't and can hear their adorable companion animals speak. It's like a wish come true, which Van soon learns is not always a good thing.

This is the first book in a series, and the ending sets us up for the next adventure in a land where wishes run wild.  It is an imaginative choice for middle grade readers that features a main character with hearing loss and no desire to change the way he perceives the world.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Book Review: A Heart in a Body in the World

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti is a contemporary realistic young adult novel layered and deep and full of emotions. Annabelle Agnelli takes off on a whim when she decides to run 2700 miles from Seattle to Washington DC, skipping the end of her senior year and her graduation.  The idea is not well thought out, and even Annabelle wonders if it is even possible, but she has plenty of support from her family, friends, and fan page.

The road is not easy, and sometimes impossible. But the story isn't only about Annabelle's run, but what she's running from, and who she's running toward.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Book Review: The Book of Boy

"The Book of Boy," by Catherine Gilbert Murdock is an adventurous middle grade novel that dabbles in religion, fantasy, history, and a touch of philosophy.

Boy is a humble goat herder who is ridiculed for the hump on his back.  Boy is called a monster wherever he goes, and he believes them. He doesn't touch his hump or even look at it, keeping it covered by his cloak day and night.

When a pilgrim arrives and asks him to join him on a quest to steal the relics of St. Peter, Boy doesn't want to go. That quickly changes and their journey becomes a quest for salvation, for both of them.

Boy is a lovable character who goes through a miraculous transition. And we are cheering for him all along the way, along with the herds of animals who stop to help him. Who wouldn't want to wake up in a pile of sheep?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Book Review: What the Night Sings

"What the Night Sings," by Vesper Stamper, was a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut YA Award in 2019.  In addition to being the author, Vesper produced the illustrations for this novel, adding to the feel that this isn't just a book, but a work of art.

It isn't a happy tale as we follow Gerta and her father into Auschwitz and another camp during the Holocaust. It's heartbreaking. But this isn't about the Holocaust, but what comes after, because Gerta is freed.

What happens after you leave a concentration camp? How did Holocaust survivors re-enter society after such terrible treatment?  It's a question I haven't seen before in literature, and this book is a lovely, if not painful, exploration.

My local library says this is YA fiction, and Gerta is a teenager, but the story feels very adult-like with romance and marriage a central theme.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Book Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay

"Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression." Stephen Kellner tells his son, Darius while sitting on a rooftop in Iran.

It was a lovely moment in Adib Khorram's YA novel, "Darius the Great is Not Okay," the story about a boy who discovers who he is, and that he is okay with that, during a trip to Iran to visit his dying Babou.

Darius doesn't consider himself a true Persian. He doesn't speak Farsi like his mom and sister. He was born in Portland and has exactly one friend. Things change for him when he meets Sohrab, who may be the first true friend he ever had.

Darius is a funny, self-effacing narrator who walks the reader through Persian customs, celebrations, and food while trying to be okay with himself, his faults, and being a Fractional Persian. Meeting Sohrab may be the best thing that ever happened to him, and the story.