Monday, December 14, 2015

Lost in the Sun

Lisa Graff's new book is a companion story to the ever popular Umbrella Summer.  Last February Trent killed someone.  It wasn't on purpose, just a freak accident, but it has changed his whole life and the way he sees himself.  He's just so angry all the time now, and he can't really explain why.  The elementary school counselor gave him a notebook for his thoughts, but he doesn't write.  He draws--pictures of what life would be like if the accident hadn't happened or horrible ways he could die.

To make matters worse, Trent doesn't get along with his father at all.  They only seem to fight when they are together, and his new stepmother doesn't help.  They both act like Trent is a bomb ready to explode.

When school starts, he doesn't feel like he belongs anywhere, and every little injustice sets off his rage.  Trent used to love playing baseball, but now he panics every time he tries to play.

The only person who seems to see beyond the anger if Fallon Little.  Fallon is...different.  Her clothes are weird, she gets super excited about the strangest things, and she has a long scar the divides her face.  But this strange girl might be just what Trent needs.

This book is so good and an important read for anyone who struggles with anger issues and for the people in their lives.  My only criticism is that no one seems to think Trent might need professional help.  This is a kid dealing with a major trauma whose behavior changed drastically.  Anyone who is even paying a little attention should see that he needs help.  I know not everyone in Trent's situation would get the help he needs, but most people wouldn't get better without help either.  I just feel like this is a missed opportunity.

With that said, you should all go out and read this book today!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bayou Magic

It's Maddy's turn to spend the summer in Bon Temps, the Louisiana bayou, and she's not exactly jumping for joy.  Her older sisters have warned her that Grandmere is crazy, there's no TV, no internet, no life.

But as soon as she arrives, Maddy begins to relax.  She instantly connects with Grandmere and her friends in the bayou including Bear, a boy with red hair, freckles, and an adventurous spirit.  Maddy and Bear explore the bayou and its wildlife.

This is plenty of magic on its own, but Maddy quickly discovers that she is like her Grandmere, Tiny Mighty.  She has a magic gift that allows her to call the fireflies and see mermaids.

Long ago a water spirit called Mami Wata followed Maddy's ancestors on a slave ship to America.  Could Mami Wata be real?

Maddy is enjoying her time in Bon Temps until a disaster threatens the gulf, the bayou, and the plants, people, and animals who live there.  Is Maddy really Tiny Mighty like Grandmere?  Can she save her beloved bayou?

Jewell Parker Rhodes's new book is love letter to the Louisiana bayous and the gulf coast and a call to action in preserving the Louisiana wetlands especially in light of the Deep Water Horizon disaster.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Christopher believes in the Great Mission he and the other people on Perses are fulfilling.  They've left an earth with depleted resources to mine an asteroid in orbit around the sun.  Life is pretty good until the blackout.

When the sun blocks communication with earth, a raiding party attacks killing almost everyone instantly.  Now Christopher and the surviving children must find a way to stay alive, and their best hope is in the mines.

Christopher's best friend Elena wants to strike against the Landers, but Christopher disagrees.  They have no weapons.  They just need to survive until the blackout is over and then they can signal earth for rescue.

But what if the Landers don't just want to steal the ore and leave?  What if they want to destroy all the evidence they were ever on Perses in the first place?  Maybe Elena was right.  Maybe it is a fight or die situation.

Kevin Sylvester's new book was a page turning thrill ride!  My only complaint is that the kids act older than their assigned ages, but just put that out of your mind and enjoy the adventure.  You will not be able to put this one down!

Goodbye Stranger

When Bridge was little, she was nearly died after being hit by a car.  She survived, and now she and her two best friends are moving into the seventh grade, and life is starting to change.

For one thing, Emily suddenly looks more like an adult than a little kid, and she's suddenly really good at soccer.  This all means she is getting a lot of attention from different people including an older boy.

Tab is exploring her life as a feminist thanks to the Burperson, her new teacher and idol.

And Bridge has started wearing the cat ears from last year's Halloween costume every day, and she has a new friend who is...a boy.  Can boys be friends?

When Emily's relationship escalates to scandal, the three friends "no fighting" rule will be put to the test.

Plus, an unnamed girl is struggling with a betrayal on Valentine's Day and wondering if forgiveness is possible.

I really enjoyed Rebecca Stead's new book, but I do think it skews a bit older than her other books.  That's not a bad thing--just a bit of a surprise.  This book tackles issues that tweens and teens are dealing with today in relationships and with body image.  I think my favorite aspect of this book is how well the author portrays love between friends.  The characters are not afraid or embarrassed to tell each other "I love you."  We should all be more willing to be so open and honest with our friends.