Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Fences Between Us

diary.jpgThe Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis, Seattle, Washington, 1941 (Scholastic, 2010) by Kirby Larson is a very good book written in diary style. The story deals with a lot of issues of the war, but especially the incarceration of the Japanese.
Here’s an intro to the story: Piper lives with her dad and sister in Seattle. Her brother Hank has enlisted in the Navy. Then the attack on Pearl Harbor happens. It’s a while before they know he is okay and then the members of the Japanese Baptist church start getting arrested. Margie gets married and when Piper’s dad decides to go to Eden, Idaho in fall of 1942 where his congregation has gone to Camp Minidoka, Piper has to go along. She ends up going to school in the camp and experiencing a lot of what the Japanese have to put up with except she gets to go home at night.
Kirby is the Newbery honor winner for Hattie Big Sky. Read about her other books on her website.

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

Higher Power of Lucky & Hattie Big Sky

So the 2008 Newbery winners have been announced, but it’s only been in the last several months that I managed to read the 2007 winner and one of the honor books.  I always love it when I agree with the committee.

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (Newbery winner) and Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (Newbery honor) were both so good I made my husband read them.

Here are brief summaries and my thoughts:

Higher Power of Lucky  (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, November 2006) early Middle Grade novel

Summary: 10 -year-old Lucky is sure her guardian Brigitte wants to go back to back to France and she’ll end up in an orphanage. (Brigitte is Lucky’s father’s first wife that he arranged to come take care of her after Lucky’s mother died.) “The meanness gland in her heart and the crevices full of questions in her brain make running away from Hard Pan, California (population 43), the rock-bottom only choice she has.”
Author Susan Patron has such a way of putting you right there with Lucky; I think it’s her attention to details – one in fact which got some negative attention in the press. This book is so hopeful. It’s one I think all kids should read.

Hattie Big Sky (Delacorte Press, 2006) Young Adult Novel Summary: “For most of her life, sixteen-year-old Hattie Brooks has been shuttled from one distant relative to another. Tired of being Hattie Hear-and-There, she summons the courage to leave Iowa and move all by herself to Vida, Montana to prove up on her late uncle’s homesteading claim.”
I loved the character of Hattie. I loved learning more about a time period–WWI–that I was less familiar with. Made me wonder what my own ancestors had experienced.

Do you have teens whining about how tough they have it? Have them read this novel, which by the way was inspired by a true story.

Read more about the author at her website

P.S. I’ve known Kirby for years, and she is a real sweetie, which makes her award even more deserved.