Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Red Pencil

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Red Pencil (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2015) by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Shane W. Evans is a book I missed reading, but am glad to have caught up with. Told in verse and with line drawings, it’s heartbreaking, yet hopeful.

In Darfur, Sudan, twelve-year-old Amira, wants the impossible–to go to school and learn to read and write. But her mother says her life will be farming and marriage so there is no need. After the Janjaweed attack her village, the family makes their way to a refugee camp. There a gift of a red pencil gives Amira hope.

Check out the awards and more info on the book here.

Read about Andrea and her other books here and Shane and his books here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Star That Always Stays

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Star That Always Stays (Holiday House, 2022) by Anna Rose Johnson is a fascinating historical novel set after the turn of the twentieth century. It’s based on the author’s ancestors and the book includes their photographs at the end.

Norvia Nelson had to leave her home on Beaver Island and move to the city. And now with her mother remarrying she must not tell anyone she’s part Indian. Her dream is to go to high school. Will she fit in? Especially when people discover her parents are divorced? But more importantly, will she ever be happy?

What an interesting look at the culture of the times. I love the stories Grand-père and the two Marys tell of Norvia’s Obijwe heritage, and how the Ward family encourages Norvia in her Christian faith. There are great themes in this story–adapting to a blending family, prejudice, friendship, love. The novel has chapters set in previous times in Norvia’s life to show what has happened in the past.

This is the author’s first book–Wow! Anna Rose Johnson is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Learn more about her here and check out the awards, lists, etc. for Anna’s debut book here.

Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Paperboy

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Paperboy (Delacorte Press, 2013) by Vince Vawter is a compelling read. Look at the first three lines: “I’m typing about the stabbing for a good reason. I can’t talk.
Without stuttering.”

This historical novel, set in 1959, is about an 11-year-old boy whose communication with others is difficult due to his stuttering problem, and so much more. Victor agrees to take on his friend’s paper route for the month of July. The throwing part will be fun. Talking to customers to collect, not so much. And he has no idea that giving his yellow-handle knife to the junkman to be sharpened is going to cause so much trouble.

This book was a 2014 Newbery Honor book. I’m so glad I didn’t miss reading it. There’s a sequel called Copyboy when Victor is older.

Read about the author here. And take a look at a blog post about other languages the book was published in here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Chasing Secrets

Chasing SecretsAnd another historical for you: Chasing Secrets (Wendy Lamb Books, 2015) by Gennifer Choldenko, who never disappoints. I still remember crying over Notes from a Liar and Her Dog.
It’s 1900 in San Francisco and thirteen-year-old Lizzie Kennedy would rather be with her physician father than going to Miss Barstow’s finishing school. And even though Aunt Hortense doesn’t think it is appropriate she is interested in science, Lizzie goes whenever she can. But dead rats are appearing everywhere. Could the plague have arrived?
Besides secrets, the story involves mysteries, sneaking around, a new friend, danger, and more. Lizzie even learns a thing or two.
Check out Gennifer’s stupid author photos here or see her other books here. You’ll be glad you did.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Is It Night or Day?

nightorday.jpgI love learning about history via historical fiction–it just brings it alive. Is It Night or Day? (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010) by Fern Schumer Chapman is a recent discover for me. The book is inspired by the author’s mother’s experiences, who was one of twelve hundred children rescued from the Holocaust by Americans through the One Thousand Children project.

It’s 1938 and twelve-year-old Edith has to travel alone from Germany to America as the anti-Semitism is getting worse. She’ll be staying with family she’s never met in Chicago. Is that scary or what?

See if the opening lines of this book don’t just grab you: “The first long train trip I ever took in Germany was my last. Now I see that it was a funeral procession. The mourners traveling with me were my father, my mother, and Mina, a Christian girl who lived with my family and was as dear to me as my big sister, Betty. We were burying my childhood.”

The author creates such sympathy in the reader’s heart for Edith. Wow! It’s an unforgettable story and definitely a good read.

Read about Fern Schumer Chapman’s other books here.