Posts Tagged ‘junior fiction’

Dash by Kirby Larson

April 22, 2016

DashjacketX6W1G7TADash by Kirby Larson

Historical fiction is my favorite genre, because I love learning about other time periods and other perspectives of life.

Dash is set during World War II. The story revolves around Mitsi, who is separated from her dog, Dash, when her family is sent to a Japanese internment camp.  Based on the story of a real life person, the story touched my heart.  Larson’s writing pulls you into a young girl’s emotional perspective.  Fortunately, Mitsi and Dash are reunited, but unfortunately the internment camps were a reality that impacted so many people in America in a negative way.

I have read a couple of Kirby Larson books for teens and kids, and I’m glad I tried this one. On page 200 of the book, one of the adult characters who has created a tumbleweed garden at the camp, says, “…if you look with your heart, you can find beauty anywhere.” This book would be great for young readers and adults who are willing to discuss the past and look to the future!

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Ruby Lee & Me

April 20, 2016

Ruby Lee & MeRuby Lee & Me

By: Shannon Hitchcock

It’s 1969 and everything is changing for twelve-year-old Sarah Beth Willis. Sarah blames herself when her six-year-old sister, Robin, is hit by a car and is seriously injured. There is also racial tension in North Carolina where Sarah lives and it affects Sarah’s friendship with her best friend Ruby Lee. Sarah, who is white, has been best friends with Ruby, who is black, since she was a small child. In addition, the school the girls attend is being integrated and they will have their first black teacher. Despite the title of the book, the story centers more around the relationship between Sarah and her little sister Robin. Sarah tries to ease her guilty conscience by giving her sister something she has always wanted.

This is a touching story with well-developed characters and a realistic historical setting.

Reviewed by: Renee (Parr Library)

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Fortune Falls

April 8, 2016

Fortune Falls

by Jenny Goebel

Are you a superstitious person?  Do you believe that if you find a 4-leaf clover or a lucky penny, you’ll have good luck? If you step on a crack will you really break your mother’s back?  And what about black cats, broken mirrors and the number 13? Will they really bring bad luck?  Welcome to Fortune Falls!  Here they believe and experience all these superstitions and many more!

In Fortune Falls, luck is a very serious business.  When you turn 12, you must take a Luck Test.  If you fail and are determined to be Unlucky, you are sent away to Bane’s School for Luckless Adolescents – a dreary boarding school separated from family and friends – a place created to keep them from endangering those around them.

Sadie Bleeker is still an Undetermined. She has not yet turned 12 so she has not yet taken the test.  Unfortunately Sadie is seemingly born unlucky since she was born on Friday the 13th and she has a history of bad luck following her around.  Sadie fears that she is doomed to fail the test and be permanently labeled Unlucky.  Sadie’s best friend Cooper (a Lucky) tries to help her but things only go from bad to worse.  Will Sadie be able to overcome her constant streak of bad luck and pass the test against all odds?

If you enjoy books with mystery and magic that are a little bit spooky, consider yourself lucky if you pick up this book!  As one reviewer stated, “Bad luck has never been so interesting!”

Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)

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Minna’s Patchwork Coat

March 8, 2016

Minna’s Patchwork Coat

by Lauren A. Mills

8-year-old Minna lives with her family in a rustic cabin in the Appalachian Mountains during the beginning of the 20th century.  Life is difficult.  Her father works in the coal mines where he has contracted the deadly black lung disease and is forced to miss work more and more often. The family is extremely poor.  Too poor, in fact, to afford a coat for Minna. Without a coat, Minna must remain at home during the harsh winter months.  No coat means no school – her greatest wish. Minna knows how to read and write thanks to her mother who has taught her at home but Minna desperately wishes that she could go to school and make friends with the other mountain children.

Sadly, Minna’s beloved father finally dies from his disease and her mother must make ends meet by joining the local Quilting Moms who sell their quilts to city people to bring in an income.  When the mothers discover Minna’s coat dilemma, they offer to make her a coat from the scraps of material that are part of their family’s life.  Each scrap has a story behind it – stories of the children that Minna hopes will eventually be her friends.  Can the children see beyond the rags to the girl inside who is offering them her friendship?

The author has based this middle grade chapter book upon her 1990 picture book The Rag Coat and in so doing has expanded Minna’s story and built it upon her own childhood memories of summers spent with her grandparents in West Virginia.  In addition, Mills has complemented Minna’s tale with exquisitely drawn pencil sketches that skillfully bring the setting and characters to life.

Recommended for grades 4 – 6.

Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)

 

 

 

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Grace’s Letter to Lincoln

March 2, 2016

grace's letter to lincolnGrace’s Letter to Lincoln

This is a wonderful historical fiction story for all ages.  It tells the story of Grace Bedell’s letter she wrote to then-candidate Abraham Lincoln.  She encouraged him to grow whiskers and wished him success in winning the election.

Not only is it a great story, but at the end of the book are copies of the actual letters in both Grace’s and Mr. Lincoln’s handwriting.

This book is a treat to young and old alike.

Read this to your child. Have your child read it to you; or just read it for yourself.

grace's letterFIVE STARS!!

-Doug F. (Haggard Library)

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Green Thumbs-Up!

February 24, 2016

Green thumbs-up!Green Thumbs-Up

By: Jenny Meyerhoff

The first book in the Friendship Garden series introduces readers to third-grader Anna Fincher. Anna has recently moved to Chicago from upstate New York. The view from her new school window is gray where there used to be green. She misses her friends and wonders how she will be able to make new friends. Luckily a school project partners her with Kaya, whose abuela loves to garden, and Reed, who loves to dig in the dirt. The trio comes up with the idea of starting a kid’s garden club. They will need to convince an adult to supervise their garden project. Anna’s father stays at home while her mother works as a chef. He can’t help the garden club, but the kids find someone who can help them. This sweet chapter book will appeal to readers of Laurie Friendman’s “Mallory” books or Anna Branford’s “Violet Mackerel” series.

Reviewed by:  Renee (Parr Library)

 

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The Wolf Wilder

January 12, 2016

The Wolf Wilder

By Katherine Rundell

Feodora “Feo” Petrovich and her mother Marina are “wolf wilders” who live in the snowy wilderness of Russia during the early 20th century with only wolves for company.  This may seem like strange company for them to keep but they have a strange job.  Their job is to “undomesticate” wolves who have been trained as pets for the Russian aristocracy but have grown too dangerous to own.  As their owners wish to return them to the wild, they turn them over to Feo and her mother so that they may remind the wolves of their natural instincts and help them to survive when they’re reintroduced to the wild.  This is a happy existence for both mother and daughter who live comfortably with their family of wolves until the evil and blood-thirsty General Rakov (ruler of the Tsar’s Imperial Army) orders the wolves to be destroyed. Unwilling to follow the General’s order, they are declared traitors which, of course, comes with its own consequences.  As her mother is carted off to prison “for defiance of the Tsar”, Feo vows to save her and sets off with her 4-legged friends across the wintry wilderness to rescue her and stop the General.

Is this a folk tale or a survival story?  Actually it feels like a bit of both.   Feo’s loyalty, courage and bravery sustain the story as she sets out to do what’s right in the harshest of circumstances and gains a reputation as “the little wolf girl” among the Russian peasants and those who rule them.

Recommended for grades 4 – 6

Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)

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Lilliput

December 31, 2015

Lilliput

By: Sam Gayton

Illustrated by: Alice Ratterree

Have you heard of the tale that’s short and tall?  There’s an island in the world where everything is small!

She is a girl three inches tall with eyes like drops of dew. Her clothes are cut from handkerchiefs and stitched with spider silk. For half her life, she has been trapped in a birdcage while her giant kidnapper sits below her, writing in a leather-bound book. Her name is Lily, and tonight she is escaping. She is going home. To Lilliput. (from book cover)

After suffering years of ridicule for his “fanciful” tales of travel, Lemuel Gulliver returned to the nation of Lilliput to find his proof.  Lily is that proof and Gulliver has done everything in his power to keep his prisoner from escaping as he hides away, working on his book, in the attic of the most nefarious clock maker in London.  With the help of the clock maker’s apprentice, and a jolly, rhyming chocolatier and his talking parrot, Señior Chitchat, Lily might finally get her freedom and her home back.  But first they must get past not only Gulliver but the scheming clock maker as well!

A thrilling tale based on Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, this middle grade book is fast-paced and full of adventure.  Because Gayton focused on the action and plot, the details are a little lacking; however, this makes for an enjoyable quick read.  The illustrations, spread out nicely throughout the book, enhance the story without overpowering it.  With a couple of darker scenes and themes, this is a great book for young readers who are not quite ready to make the jump into the deep end of young adult novels but still want a little bit of suspense and danger.

Reviewed by: Meredith (Harrington Library)

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When Mischief Came to Town

December 18, 2015

WHEN MISCHIEF CAME TO TOWNWhen Mischief Came to Town

By: Katrina Nannestad

 I was immediately drawn into this well told story about Inge Maria, a young girl who leaves Copenhagen after the death of her mother, to live with her stern grandmother on a small island village. The quiet village and the people that live there are nothing like her home in Copenhagen. Rather than adapt to fit in, spirited Inge Maria, infuses life into the sleepy village with her lively sense of mischief. She is helped along by her grandmother (who also has a tendency toward mischief), some spunky farm animals, and her vivid imagination. The story is filled with humor. When the story starts Inge is traveling to the island by fishing boat when she falls asleep and a goat nibbles off one of her braids. She then wears a bright red hat knitted by her grandmother to conceal the damage to her hair. Inge Maria and her grandmother, Dizzie, learn how to move together to form a new kind of family.

I think this story is destined to become a classic like Anne of Green Gables. Inge Maria is an adorable heroine who will be remembered long after readers finish her story.

 

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The Lightning Queen

December 11, 2015

The Lightning Queen

By: Laura Resau

I am a fan of Laura Resau’s writing and this latest book is just as wonderful as her other novels.

In present day Oaxaca, Mateo visits his grandfather, Teo, in the ancestral Mixteco town of Hill of Dust. Teo begins to tell his grandson a story about a magical girl who could harness power from storms and sing back the dead. The story shifts to the past when Teo was a boy and his first meeting with the Romani (gypsy) people on a caravan through Hill of Dust to show movies, sing, and read fortunes in exchange for food and gifts. Teo’s family lost his sister the year before in the river, and while his grandfather is the town healer, the family is working through grief at the time when the Romani visit. Teo is enchanted by the fortuneteller’s granddaughter, Esma, the “Queen of Lightning”. Esma’s grandmother predicts that Teo and Esma will be friends forever and their friendship will continue with their grandchildren.

This story is interesting culturally because it addresses some of the prejudices felt by the native Mixteco people in Mexico and the similarities in prejudices felt by the Romani people. Resau, as always, adds an informative author’s note describing her research and includes glossaries of words in Spanish, Mixteco, and Romani. The inter-generational story mixed with magical realism makes this an enjoyable read and is recommended for ages 8 and older.

If you like this story, be sure to check out the author’s other books, such as What the Moon Saw and Star in the Forest.

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

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