Good Books to Read

There are a lot of good books being written nowadays, though there are plenty of clunkers. I thought I’d include a good one from each reading range: Picture Book; Middle-Reader; and young adult. Hope you find these interesting.

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Dance Fever

Julie Bowe

The latest in the “Victoria Torres: Unfortunately Average” series has our heroine, called Vicka, working on the school fund raiser committee as a sixth-grade representative.  Her older sister, Sofia, is chairperson of the committee and is trying to keep peace in the committee.  Unfortunately, fellow sixth grader, Annelise, is also on the committee and has what she thinks is the perfect dance theme—a formal ball, with girls in fancy gowns and boys wearing suits and ties.  Guess how many boys are thrilled with this idea. Vicka must get Annelise to change her mind.  Not an easy task, but Vicka succeeds, with one proviso. Annelise insists on having a Sadie Hawkins dance. Everybody’s happy. The boys because they can wear jeans and boots. The girls because they get to ask the boys to the dance. Vicka is not all that happy, however, because she’s afraid to ask her crush, Drew. She’s sure he won’t be interested because he’s popular and older. In the end, she and Drew go singly, but end up dancing together. The fund raiser is a huge success, especially when the school principal gives a calf three kisses on the nose. This is a cute story about a girl who feels she doesn’t have anything special to offer the world, but is indeed a good friend and a natural-born fence-mender. There are lots of issues presented for classroom discussion.

BIBLIO: 2017, Stone Arch Books/Capstone Books, Ages 11 to 14, $25.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Middle-Reader

ISBN: 9781496538192

ISBN: 9781496538215

ISBN: 9781496538277

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We all have times when we wish we were in a better place. It just takes someone to show us we’re in the perfect place right now.

Princessland

Emily Jenkins

Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka

Young Romy is sad. She’d rather be in Princessland, where everything is perfect. Her cat, Lady Cat, takes her on a walk through their town to show Romy she already lives in such a land. Romy says in Princessland a person can get whatever she wants to eat whenever she wants it. Lady Cat stops at the bakery, where the baker gives Romy a day-old muffin and Lady Cat a dish of milk. Next the cat takes Romy up a tree, so high they can see the whole town. Romy tells Lady Cat about the tall towers in the Princessland castles where the Princesses sleep on rose petals. The cat takes her to open-air market, where lady cat steals a fish from the fish monger and Romy dances to a guitar-player’s music dreaming of being at a fancy ball. Next the two stretch out on a patch of lush green grass, while Lady Cat chases a butterfly and Romy tells of the princesses all having their own horses or whatever creature they want. After a nap, Lady Cat announces she wants her dinner and Romy complains that she hadn’t been to Princessland as the cat had promised. Lady Cat says she had taken Romy there. Romy thinks about it and realized the cat was right.  Sweet story with a wry sense of humor, which might give the reader an understanding of appreciating what she has.

BIBLIO: 2017, Farrar Straus Giroux Books/Macmillan Publishing Group, Ages 5 to 8, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Picture Book

ISBN: 9780374361150

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What do you do when the person you count on to keep things on an even keel is floundering?

Stealing Our Way Home

Cecilia Galante

Pippa and Jack Kendall are dealing with the death of their mother as best they can. Pippa doesn’t talk anymore and Jack thinks it’s his fault. Then they discover their dad has lost his car dealership and is broke.  He’s afraid of losing their house and he can’t find a job. The house is of great importance for many reasons, but especially because it belonged to his wife through inheritance. Pippa is now looked upon as weird and is afraid of being taunted by her classmates. Then their father takes Jack with him when he goes to rob a bank and Jack is horrified, but also glad that the family now can pay the mortgage and get the utilities functioning, plus buy Pippa and Jack new school clothes. Pippa has to write a paper about someone she thinks is a hero. Originally, she picks her mother, because she was so brave during her losing battle with cancer. Jack is concerned about his father and Pippa and how he can keep them safe.  While the two are trying to sort out what’s going on, Pippa learns what her father is doing to support the family. The next time he goes to rob a bank, Pippa goes with him and Jack.  She knows Jack doesn’t approve of the robbery. Just as her dad heads into the bank, she regains her voice and yells at him to not go. Dad stops, goes back to the car and heads home. He turns himself in to the police and has to spend a year in jail. Pippa writes her paper on Jack and reads it aloud to the whole school. This book is nicely written, telling a powerful story.

BIBLIO: 2017, Scholastic Press/Scholastic Inc., Ages 8 to 12, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Middle Reader

ISBN:978-1-338-04296-2

ISBN:978-1-338-04298-6

 

Please let me know what you’re reading and what you think of it. Thanks, Sarah

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