Saturday, March 14, 2015

miracles can occur

A woman I adore has cancer. 

News like that can knock you over.

Her mantra has been:
"Where there is hope there can be faith. Where there is faith, miracles can occur."

This has left me thinking about miracles a lot. I have been thinking things like, "What are miracles? Do they exist? Who gets them? Does God give them out or do we create our own?"

Then, at the bookstore the other day, I saw a middle grade novel: The Question of Miracles by Elana K Arnold. I knew I had to read it.

It was truly, wonderfully honest. I love a middle grade book that is willing to explore tough topics like death and hope and faith and religion. This book navigated the tricky waters of looking for answers from psychics, therapists, science, and the Vatican. 

If, like me, you've ever wondered about miracles, read this book.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

capture the feeling of summer

"Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender."
- Alice Walker 

I finally read the graphic novel, This One Summer by cousins Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. This One Summer is the first graphic novel to ever receive a Caldecott honor and the second to finish in the Printz final circle.

And, after reading it, I couldn't help but think of the above Alice Walker quote.

Do you know a 12 - 14 year-old who likes graphic novels? Or a 12 - 14 year-old caught in that in-between time that can be so beautifully represented in a summer? This is the book for them.

This One Summer lands somewhere between cozy childhood and complex adult life. There were times when I saw myself as inquisitive, sensitive Rose. And, at the same time, I was the confident-in-her-own-skin Windy.

The story skillfully portrays the emotional ups and downs of adolescence, teen life, and womanhood. 

The illustrations are amazing...

Get this book for all the 12 - 14 year-olds you know. Their emerging womanhood will thank you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

an adorably cute romance story

If you are looking for an adorably cute romance story, A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall is just the book for you.

The story is told in 14 different perspectives, and none of those are from the main character. Lea and Gabe go to the same college, are in the same creative writing class, go to the same Starbucks, order the same Chinese food... but despite a mutual crush, it never seems to work out. Everyone else can see their obvious connection: the bus driver, the teacher, the barista, the waitress, even a squirrel! Very clever.

This is a fun book for teens. It's a little something different: a courtship/non-courtship in multiple perspectives, a look at how our own perceived problems can get in the way of happiness, a love story told by the people around the main characters. Each different take on the unfolding relationship is perfect for teen readers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

an altogether memorable reading experience

"Were we all, the whole upper crust of Russian society, so totally insensitive, so horribly obtuse, as to not feel that the charmed life we were leading was in itself an injustice and hence could not possibly last?" - Nicolas Nabokov, Bagázh: Memoirs of a Russian Cosmopolitan

If you have read the wonderful book, Amelia Lost, then you know the acclaimed author, Candace Fleming. Her newest book, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, is a fantastic, nonfiction, middle-grade work of history - but, actually, it is so much more than that. The Family Romanov is a remarkable human story that will intersect with the lives of readers on many levels. There's political repression, malevolent characters, economic extremes, social injustice, and problematic extravagance.

Before Part One begins, Candace Fleming gives us a quick tutorial of the story and setting. Russia 1903, "The Chosen" and "All Does Not Glimmer" stayed with me long after finishing the book. It is a part of history that is a recurring theme.

Reading the book, and knowing the outcome all along, we see so many signs of the unfolding human catastrophe. Readers will be able to see how individuals, historical moments, and failed decisions link together for disastrous results.

The book focuses on the last tsar, Tsar Nicholas II, and his family. And, how a long line of missteps bring an end to 300 years of Romanov rule.

"For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming’s extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience." —Booklist, Starred

Don't miss Candace Fleming's account of writing The Family Romanov. Or her interview with Mr. Schu over on "Watch. Connect. Read."

Read this book! Read this book with a friend or parent and discuss how it connects with your own life. Discuss how it relates to the dystopian novels you've read. Sometimes history is as fascinating as fiction.