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

Blessing’s Bead

BlessingsbeadIsn’t this a beautiful cover?
Blessing’s Bead (Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009) by Debby Dahl Edwardson is an interesting mix of historical and contemporary. I’ll be honest I felt the historical section was a bit slow at first–maybe because there were so many characters–but once I got going it was good. The contemporary section pulled me in right away. I loved how the cultural information was done. It was great how the two stories meet up.
Here’s a brief look at each section:
It’s 1917 and Nutaaq watches her sister Aaluk and the young Siberian wearing the string of cobalt beads. Nutaaq does well in a race and gets one bead. Her sister goes off to marry the Siberian, then illness strikes the village and very few are left.
70 years later, Blessing and her little brother are sent away from their mother to live with their grandmother. Blessing feels like an outsider with the Inupiaq, but then begins to learn about her family’s history. She finds a blue bead, which she treasures without quite knowing why.
Debby writes with authenticity about her adopted culture in Barrow, Alaska. Read more here and the kudos for Blessing’s Bead. Debby’s site has many extras, so you may want to spend some time there. I did and now I’m putting her other novel and her picture book on my TBR pile!

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


Something a bit different…
Ashes.CVRIn some ways there are so many books written about Nazi Germany and the holocaust that one might think, how can there be another? But Kathryn Lasky has done it well with Ashes (Viking, 2010). The book gives a view into what was happening before much of the world was aware of the looming danger.
From the viewpoint of 13-year-old Gaby, we see the rise of Hitler Germany’s Chancellor in 1932. Gaby witnesses things she worries about – some she shares with her parents, some not. She reads material that is later banned. Her family is friends with Einstein, which gets them called “white Jews.” Later in the story some tough decisions are made in this award winning book.
I like reading the Q&A about the book on Kathryn’s site and what she herself says about the book.

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


countdowncoverwtext.jpgCountdown (Scholastic, 2010) by Deborah Wiles is a story about fearful stuff.
It’s 1962 and 11-year-old Franny has so much to worry about: her great uncle doing crazy stuff and thinking he’s in one of the great wars, her little brother Drew who is perfect, her older sister Jo Ellen who disappears, her best friend Margie who is her friend no longer due to handsome Gale moving back to the neighborhood and wanting to hang out with Franny, Communists, and the atomic bomb. Oh, yeah, throw in the Cuban missile crisis, too. Yikes–life’s definitely not easy at her house.
This historical novel is very well written. Just today I read this quote from Deborah: “Story is everything. It’s all around us, and it’s every breath we take, every thought we think, every word we utter, every experience we have. It’s both inner and outer. There is always an outer story-what’s happening here?-and an inner story: how do I feel about that? That exchange sets up a cause-and-effect that becomes story.” That’s definitely what she’s done in Countdown!
And added bonus in this story is the graphic novel feel with the inserts from ads, news reports, etc. from the time period.
Going to Deborah’s site, I discovered Countdown is book one of a sixties trilogy! I’ll definitely be reading the others.

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

Moon Over Manifest

What a sweet winner!
PDF Creation in Quark 7This past week I got to meet Kansan Newbery winner Clare Vanderpool, who wrote the lovely book, Moon Over Manifest (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010). She shared with us how shocked she was when she got the call from the Newbery committee. Seeing her tears, her husband thought something was wrong! She said there’s definitely a “before” and “after” when you win the Newbery. You can read more about what she thinks about the 2011 Newberry Award on her site. Click on the Upcoming Events tab to see where she’s speaking.
Moon Over Manifest is a layered book with two time periods and two separate stories going on. It’s a great story. The characters and place are so real.
It’s 1936 and 12-year-old Abilene has been sent to live with her father’s friend in Manifest, Kansas. No one there talks about her father, though she knows the town’s people must have known him. But she’s found something else to keep her occupied–a box with letters from 1918 and “treasures” under the floorboards in her bedroom. From info in those letters she and her friends decide to see if they can discover who the WWI spy is.
Not only did I have sympathy for Abilene separated from her father, but for Ned and Jinx and what they went through as revealed by the letters and the local diviner, Miss Sadie.
This is definitely a must read with a satisfying ending!

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

Turtle in Paradise

turtleinpTurtle in Paradise (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2010) by Jennifer L. Holm just won a Golden Kite (an SCBWI award from her peers) in fiction for her historical middle grade novel and is one of the Newbery Honor books this year. Oh, how I love it when worthy books win awards!
Inspired by her grandmother’s stories, Jennifer writes a humorous book with adventure, buried treasure, strange relatives, crooks, and one smart girl.
It’s 1935, and when Turtle’s mom gets a job as a housekeeper for a lady who doesn’t like kids, 11-year-old Turtle is sent to live with her aunt. Not only does this New Jersey girl have to deal with a new place (Key West, Florida), but her 3 boy cousins as well. The 2 older ones are part of the Diaper Gang–they get paid for babysitting and their secret diaper rash cure. The littlest one keeps running around without his pants. And that’s just a small taste introduction to this story.
Listen to the first line and hear Turtle speak for herself: “Everyone things children are as sweet as Necco Wafers, but I’ve lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten.”
Jennifer L. Holm previously won a Newbery Honor for My Only May Amelia, which after ten years now has a sequel, The Trouble with May Amelia. Woo Hoo! Read more here.