Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Book Review: Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

"Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess" by Shari Green captures the magic and frustration of childhood in a beautiful, multilayered story.  Macy has a fight with her best friend, a difficult project at school, and the threat of a for sale sign in front of her house. She is also deaf, but that isn't one of her problems, it's just a part of who she is.

I've often heard it said that when you take away one of the five senses, the others become more vibrant. Nearly every sense is engaged. Iris, the lady next door, wears orange and bakes cookies that contain messages. She and Macy communicate with notes in the shape of things they love. The language unfolds in verse, which gives it rhythm. 

The story isn't surprising, but it is a delightful journey. Macy and Iris develop a friendship that both of them need. Macy packs Iris's books and learns her stories, and finds a way to tell her own. The parallel of them, young and old, each facing a move they don't want, is like a warm embrace.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book Review: Hello, Universe

"Hello Universe," by Erin Entrada Kelly won the 2018 John Newbery Medal for its outstanding contribution to children's literature.

It's the story of four diverse middle school students, each with a plan, and how their stories converge in the woods.

"There are no coincidences," is repeated, giving the reader the idea that their paths crossed for another reason.

The story is infused with a mystical feel that is not entirely due to Kaori's psychic
beliefs or the folktales that come alive in Virgil's imagination.

Told in shifting points of view, it can be difficult to find your groove at first, but the journey is worth it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Book Review: Long Way Down

"Long Way Down" by Jason Reynolds is written in verse and takes place almost entirely in an elevator. Yet, as a reader, I kept turning the pages, hungry to find out what happens next.This is no ordinary elevator ride. Thoughtful, provocative, and touching, this is a book that sticks with you long after you close it.

Jason Reynolds must be getting a lot of fan mail 
demanding to know what Will did when he got off that elevator. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book Club Discussion Questions - "Windfall" by Jennifer E. Smith

I started a teen book club at the library. "Windfall" by Jennifer E. Smith was our first book choice, and the teens gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars. This story is about luck, and love, and what could happen if your best friend won the lottery.

When preparing for the book club, I was not able to find discussion questions online. So I wrote up my own, and now I am sharing it for others.

"Windfall" by Jennifer E. Smith Discussion Questions

1. Can you relate to how Teddy reacted when he won the lottery?

2. What would you do if you won the lottery?

3. Did you understand why Alice didn't want to take any money from Teddy? Would you feel the same?

4. How did Alice's background contribute to her decision?

5. How did Teddy's background contribute to how he reacted to winning the lottery?

6. Why was Alice afraid to tell Teddy how she feels?

7. Were there signs that Teddy felt the same way?

8. What would you do if you were in love with your best friend?

9. What were some of the good things that happened to Teddy after winning?

10. What other good things can you imagine happening after winning?

11. What were some of the bad things that happened to Teddy?

12. Can you think of some other bad things that could happen?

13. Do you think the money changed Teddy? How?

14. What about Alice? Did she change? Was it because of the money or something else?

15. What about Leo? What was his role in the story?

16. Can you think of some other ways this story could have ended? What would have happened if Alice took the money? What if Teddy didn't have romantic feelings for her? What if Teddy's ticket didn't win?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: The Inquisitor's Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Author Adam  Gidwitz brings the Middle Ages to readers in The Inquisitor's Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog.  This children's adventure story was awarded a Newbery Honor in 2017 and the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

It is told in a storyteller fashion by several observers of these magical children. William is a young monk with supernatural strength. Jacob is a Jewish boy who can heal all wounds. Jeanne is a peasant girl who has visions of the future, and is accompanied by her resurrected dog, Gwenforte. The children face perils that include a dragon with deadly farts, a lying monk and finally, an army of knights.

The illustrations by Hatem Aly accompany the story, adding to its fireside charm.

It is worthy to note the inspiration for the story, as many of the characters (including the holy dog) are based on real characters, events and legends from the Middle Ages. Be sure to stick around to read the Author's note.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Book Review: Wolf Hollow

"Wolf Hollow" by Lauren Wolk is one of those stories that brings you into another world with its rich setting and engaging storytelling. I felt like I was with Annabelle as she traversed the woods or her family farm. I nodded to the cows she mooed at as she passed to let them know it was her. I smelled the hay in the barn and felt the weight of the book in her hands.

Annabelle's life changes when a new student, Betty, arrives and shows surprising cruelty in her bullying.  When a local war veteran known to be odd steps in to protect Annabelle, he becomes a target. Lies unravel with more lies as Annabelle attempts to find a way to expose the truth and set things right, only to see things escalate.

At no point in this story could I predict what would happen next. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book Review: Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda

This terrific YA novel is about Simon, who is falling in love over emails while he comes out as gay to his friends and family. It reads like a diary sharing the innermost thoughts of a teenage boy.

This book is being made into a movie called "Love, Simon." I'm not sure why they changed the title, because the title was the reason I picked up this book, and it didn't disappoint. The main character is as snarky as the title suggests.