Thursday, December 8, 2016

Brightwood by Tania Unsworth

Brightwood by [Unsworth, Tania]
Eleven year old Daisy has never left the grounds of her home, Brightwood mansion, where she lives with her mother.  She has never even spoken to another person in her life.  She has no idea what the outside world is like at all. Her mother is a hoarder, filling a box a day with things to help her remember and the house is so full that it  has become a maze.  One day, Daisy's mother goes out to the store, and does not return.  Then, a man shows up at the house.  He claims to be her cousin.  He is not a nice man.  Can Daisy survive?  Will her imaginary friends help her?  This is an intriguing mystery for middle grade children.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Forest of Whispers by Jennifer Murgia

Forest of Whispers (Hedge Witch) by [Murgia, Jennifer]
Sixteen year old Rune has grown up in the Black Forest in Bavaria, raised by an old woman who tells people's fortunes using Rune stones.  Laurentz, whose step mother is ill and dying,  is the son of the Electorate.  Rumors of witchcraft, plague and ruin, witch trials and drownings are part of the dark history in the story.  Can Rune avoid burning at the stake with the help of Laurentz?  I enjoyed this first book in the series and look forward to the next.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd: A Flavia de Luce Novel
Although this is the 8th book in the series, it is only the second one I have read.  I found this book and the previous one to be thoroughly enjoyable!  Flavia is a delightful 12 year old precocious chemistry loving detective who enjoys solving mysteries.  She has returned home from her stint in boarding school in Canada only to find her father in the hospital and herself totally ignored.  When she finds a dead body, things liven up a bit and she is off to find out who done it and why.  I think that readers of this series will enjoy this book!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Who Are You? The Kid's Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee

This is a short, simple picture book that includes a detailed discussion guide and a list of references and other materials that adults can use to discuss gender identity with young children.  The book claims to be for children age 4 and up, but could be read to younger children as well. I think this book can be useful for families, schools, and therapists.  As the medical community is learning more about the human body and what factors contribute to our gender identity, parts of our society are becoming less fearful and judgmental of people who at various places on the gender spectrum.  I hope that this book can help children and adults to gain a greater understanding and acceptance of all people, no matter what their gender identity may be.

Monday, November 28, 2016

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie Mclemore

When the Moon Was Ours

Magical realism, racism, bullying, and transgender issues join together in this magical story about the love between Miel, a girl who had been turned into water for a period of years and Sam, who lives as a boy, wondering if he will ever want to stop being a baca posh and live as a woman. Miel, who grows roses from her wrist and Sam makes moons and strings them up all around town to act sort of like dream catchers.  The writing is lovely and the magical story is charming.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

These Shallow Graves
Yay!, what a fabulous book!  I was expecting a mystery, but got an historical mystery/romance/feminist novel.  It is the late 19th century and Jo is a rich young woman in New York City, finishing school and preparing to be married off to a wealthy young man from a proper "old money" family.  Jo really wants to write and be a reporter like the notorious Nelly Bly who went undercover and exposed social ills.  When Jo's father died in what was called an accident, Jo begins to look deeper into the situation and she learns that it was no accident at all.  The more clues she finds, the more dangerous her clandestine investigation becomes.  Living in a world where nice young women never go out alone and are expected to marry for money, not love, and produce many children, Jo has other ambitions instead.  With the help of a handsome young newspaper reporter named Eddie, Jo learns also about the poor, Dickensian side of town and many social ills that she would love to write about.  I loved this story and stayed up too late reading it because I could not put it down.  I highly recommend this book!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

All We Had by Annie Weatherwax

All We Had
Thirteen year old Ruthie is tough.  She had to be growing up in poverty with her mother Rita.  When the story begins. they have been evicted and move in with a "boyfriend" that her mother finds for them to live with.  They soon leave him and head out towards the east coast, where Rita is sure that Ruthie will eventually wind up in an Ivy League college.  Their car breaks down in a small town called Fat River, where they settle in and make a life for themselves with Rita working as a waitress.  Ruthie's best friend is Peter Pam, a transgender waitress who also works with Rita.  Eventually, the economy has a downturn and Rita finds herself her richest boyfriend yet.  This story is gritty and touching and I could not put it down.  I highly recommend this book.