Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
The Bridge Home (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019) by Padma Venkatraman was marvelous. Such a touching story that made my heart ache for the characters.
11-year-old Viji and her sister Rukka run away from an abusive home to the big city of Chennai. There they find shelter on an abandoned bridge and make a new family with two boys. Still, life is not easy. Viji hates being a ragpicker in the city rubbish heaps, but the children can sell what they find to the waste mart man, which lets them buy food and other necessities. And then . . .
You’ll have to read it to see what happens next.
Go here for bonus material for the book. And here to learn more about Padma.
Inkling (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018) by Kenneth Oppel is a book I’m not quite sure how to describe. We’ve got a nonhuman, but likable main character, who is an inkblot. Seriously! He’s discovered by a boy named Ethan, who names him Inkling. Ethan’s sister Sarah who has Down’s Syndrome meets Inkling too although she calls him Lucy. We’ve got lots of drawing, both good and bad. We’ve got problems, kid-sized and adult. It’s funny. It’s sad. It’s touching.There’s a bad guy. But with some help Ethan and Inkling win in the end. And so do some other people.
This is a fun and satisfying story. Looking at it several weeks after I finished it, I find it hard not to pick the book up and read it again.
Kenneth Oppel is an award winning author. You can read about him here. See his awards here and check out his books here.
The illustrations (inside and out) are done by Sydney Smith. You can see a bunch of the illustrator’s covers here.
I’ve been a fan of Kate Messner‘s since I read The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, Her newest novel The Seventh Wish (Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2016) doesn’t disappoint as it explores the old phrase of “be careful what you wish for.”
Charlie Brennan is originally on the ice fishing to earn money for a fancy Irish dancing dress, but when she pulls up a magical talking fish, she starts wishing for a lot of different things. The wishes don’t work out as Charlie had hoped. Then her life gets seriously messed up when her college age sister has a crisis that cancels her trip to the feis (dance competition.)
Readers will sympathize with twelve-year-old Charlie and enjoy meeting her friends and discovering their problems. Flour babies, anyone? I now know a lot more about ice fishing and Irish dance than I ever have before–love those bonuses when reading a story.
Sadly, this book experienced some censorship earlier this year. It blows my mind that it did. Here’s an interview with Kate on the topic.
A fun place to visit on Kate Messner’s website is her photo gallery. There you can see places where she did research, items she tasted or touched for research, and more.
Booked (HarperCollins, 2016) by Kwame Alexander is a novel in verse that tells the story of eighth grader Nick Hall.
Nick is a soccer star, victim of a dad who makes him read a book called Weird and Wonderful Words–written by Dad, daydreamer, and class comedian. He also has a crush on a certain girl, and his friend Coby and he have a pact about having girlfriends by ninth grade. Life is looking good, but some unpleasant surprises are headed Nick’s way.
I loved how Nick complains about the words his dad makes him learn, yet he uses them in conversation. He’s a nice mix of realistic attributes and emotion and humor. I also liked that Nick gets encouragement from a teacher during his struggles.
The author creates sympathy for Nick in this easy to read book. And I bet many kids are enjoying poetry because of Kwame Alexander’s many books. Read all about this impressive author on his website.
Something a bit different…
In 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.