Appleblossom the Possum

Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan is one of this years Maud Hart Lovelace nominees. I’m going to try and read them all this year. I totally failed last year. It helps that many of them fulfill my other reading challenge categories.

The Goodreads blurb reads “Mama has trained up her baby possums in the ways of their breed, and now it’s time for all of them—even little Appleblossom—to make their way in the world. Appleblossom knows the rules: she must never be seen during the day, and she must avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded hairies (sometimes known as dogs). Even so, Appleblossom decides to spy on a human family—and accidentally falls down their chimney! The curious Appleblossom, her faithful brothers—who launch a hilarious rescue mission—and even the little girl in the house have no idea how fascinating the big world can be. But they’re about to find out!”

I should find this little book cute. But I didn’t. I may have mentioned a couple years ago that I lived in an old house and squirrels and one chipmunk managed to find their way inside. Finding chipmunk poop on your sofa is not cute. Ever since then these kinds of stories gross me out. I’m fine reading about the Possums outside, but once Appleblossom falls into the “people house” I was in yuck mode. Despite my aversions, the illustrations are adorable, and I can see kids really enjoying this book.

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book from a nonhuman perspective

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Audacity Jones

I have to admit, the only reason I read this particular Kirby Larson book is because it has a cat on the cover. Which is a Popsugar Reading challenge category, and I don’t want to read a cozy mystery (which almost all seem to feature a cat of some kind.

I’m apparently on a spunky, spirited orphan kick recently. Audacity Jones has a very Anne Shirley personality, which showed most with her vocabulary and when talking about the books she’d read.

Audacity is the only orphan at Miss Maisie’s School for Wayward Girls, and as such is snapped up for help on a mission by the Commodore. At first Audacity is excited for her adventure, but soon she begins to suspect something, or someone, in the mission is amiss.

I can’t say I loved the book, which is surprising because I normally love historical fiction. And I remember enjoying other Kirby Larson books. This one felt like it was trying too hard. Again, I can’t say what it was trying too hard to do. There was just something “meh” about the whole thing.

PopSugar Reading Challenge: A book with a cat on the cover

George

I really wanted to like George by Alex Gino. There are so few books about trans children, written for children, and these are important stories. However, it is so poorly written!

I’m going to copy and paste the Goodreads description here:

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part. . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Aside from the poor writing, I did like that Melissa’s (the name George gave herself) story was not wrapped up perfectly. The ending was very realistic, but hopeful.

The War that Saved My Life

Oh my goodness. Why did I read this book so late? Seriously, it was so good! I already had my eye on it to fill a few spots in my reading challenges, but it also fit in perfectly with the class I took a few weeks ago. So, I downloaded the ebook off Cloud Library. At first it took me by surprise, since the narrator also narrated I’ve Got Your Number, which is a very different style of book.

The War that Saved My Life is about Ada, a young girl in 1940s London who was born with a club foot. Ada shares an apartment with her younger brother and her Mam, and while Jamie (her brother) and her mother can leave the apartment, Ada is confined to the one room at all times, because of her foot. Her foot is so bad she cannot walk and she crawls around the apartment. When Jamie comes home one day saying his school friends are going to be evacuated to the country because of World War II and the inevitable bombing of London, Ada decides it her opportunity to escape. She steals her mother’s shoes and she and Jamie slowly make their way to the train station. Once in the country, the two siblings are taken under the wing of Susan Smith and Ada learns not only how to read, write, and walk, but also about the power of love and family.

Ada’s story is absolutely heartbreaking. From being convinced her foot is her fault, to the beatings from her mother, to learning what grass is and how trees lose their leaves in winter. My only complaint is that the ending of the book wrapped up really quickly. I think it did a disservice to the lovely relationship building and introduction to the story.

PopSugar: A book by or about someone with a disability

Book Riot: A book about war

Cream of the Crop

Last week I took a class for my never ending journey towards a certificate in Children’s Lit. Why this seems like a never ending journey is a story for another day. However, it was interesting to discuss the merits of the different youth literature awards and their purpose. For homework we all read books that won various awards or were honor books for their years. I read George by Alex Gino and The War that Saved My Life by Jennifer Brubaker Bradley.

As the only public librarian in the class, the instructor thought I’d have an advantage over the rest of the class in familiarity with the various awards. I did know more than the rest of the class, but I’m not sure why a public librarian knows about more awards than school librarians. I guess I understand knowing more categories than teachers, but even that’s a stretch.

Anyway, there are a lot more literary awards out there than I realized. And some seem redundant. There are two nonfiction awards. Why? And the Geisel Award for early readers seems very vague to me. But, maybe that’s just me.

Readers Advisory Conundrum

Today, I had a more unique readers advisory interview. A young girl came up to the desk, blushing (or maybe sunburned), and asked for recommendations for good books for a 10-year-old. After going through the “what’s the last book you read you like” and “what did you like about it” I learned she likes romance books. Now I read romantic type books too when I was that age (almost every Ann Rinaldi * and Dear America ** book had some sort of romance), but we don’t have many of those anymore. And our young patron would have to be interested in historical fiction to enjoy my pre-teen reads.

I recommended the Wide Awake Princess series by E.D. Baker, Bloomability by Sharon Creech, The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler (can’t remember any romance, but she did say she liked mermaids), and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. She seemed less interested in Anne since the first books isn’t very romantic, but I hope she does eventually read the Anne series. Anne and Gilbert are one of my favorite fictional couples. So sweet.

Did I miss something obvious? She seemed on the younger end of 10 so I didn’t to get too crazy with the romance, and certainly not into young adult, but I’m stumped! And this should be my wheelhouse (as opposed to J Sci Fi)! Blerg.

*in 6th grade I read Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi so many times that we almost bought the book from my middle school library since it was out of print at the time. Lucky for me, it was reprinted by the time I was in 7th grade.

**Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady, R.M.S. Titanic, 1912A Coal Miner’s Bride: The Diary of Anetka Kaminksa, Lattimer, Pennsylvania, 1896 and The Great Railroad Race: the Diary of Libby West, Utah Territory, 1868 were particular favorites of mine. 

The Wednesday Wars

I read The Wednesday Wars for the PopSugar Reading Challenge (read a book with a month or day of the week in the title), and it just so happened to also fit in the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge as well (Newbery Award or Honor book). The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt snuck by me in that awkward time between when I was still reading Newbery Award Winners and going to grad school, so I totally missed it. Until now. While the blurb did not interest me at all (see below), the book ended up totally engrossing me.

Blurb from Goodreads:

In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year in Long Island, New York. 

Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

There seems to be a lot of mixed reactions on Goodreads as to whether or not the intended audience enjoys this book, or will enjoy it, or if it’s a book adults think kids should like and read. I go back and forth on this one, as I tended to really enjoy award winners when I was at the intended age. However, a lot of my peers felt they were automatically boring books.
In the case of The Wednesday Wars, I don’t see most kids picking it up off the shelves loving it, but I do see it as a very meaningful and enjoyable read aloud and discussion in the classroom. Much of the context surrounding the Vietnam War and Shakespeare plots are foreign to 4th graders, but could lead to some excellent discussion perhaps an early appreciation for Shakespeare.