Monday, October 10, 2016

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ada is an abused 11 year old girl living in London just before the outbreak of World War II.  Her hateful mother keeps her imprisoned in the apartment, falsely telling neighbors that Ada is trouble and unfit for social interaction.  Ada's younger brother Jamie freely roams the neighborhood knowing that Ada's only problem is that she has a "bad" foot..  Ada manages to teach herself to walk though terribly painful.  When London children are being evacuated to the country to avoid anticipated German bombs, the plan is to leave Ada behind.  Instead she secretly joins Jamie on the train load of evacuated children.  As children are selected by reluctant villagers Ada and Jamie manage to stay together and remain unchosen.  The woman in charge forces them on the recluse Susan Smith.  Though at first reluctant to care for Ada and Jamie, Susan is clearly a kind person and is greatly troubled by Ada's constant flinching every time Ada makes a mistake.  Ada is slowly transformed by the kindness she receives.  Her love of horses helps her to meet new people and experience new confidence. Though understandably prickly, readers can't help to warm to Ada, a clever, loving, girl despite the damage her mother has inflicted upon her.  You'll want to know what happens to Ada and Jamie as the war develops and begins to reach not only London but the countryside.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Do you like soccer? Do you like a quick read? Do you like a book with heart?  If you do, Booked is for you. Twelve year old Nick is a great soccer player with big soccer goals, and a lot of other concerns on his plate all while trying to read through the dictionary and adopt these new fancy words into to his regular vocabulary.

This book is exciting, funny, and sad.  Told in free verse style like rap. Try Booked, you'll love it.  If you haven't read Alexanders's other book Crossover and you liked Booked, you're in for another great read.  It's a similar style but about twin brothers who love basketball.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

Shane Woods is  a pretty typical twelve-year-old boy.  He plays baseball (in fact, he's his team's star pitcher), he's awkward around girls that he likes, he's working on a graphic novel, and his like to hang out with his best friend Josh.

But there's one way in which Shane is unlike most boys his age: although he has a boy's brain, he was born with a girl's body.   Before his parents divorced, Shane went to school in San Francisco, where everyone knew him as a girl (a "tomboy"), but since transferring to his new school in Los Angeles, everyone knows Shane as a boy.  And as he approaches adolescence, he has some tough choices to make about how he wants to grow up.

It certainly doesn't help anything when rumors start to spread around school.  If Shane's secret gets out, will he lose his friends?  Will people still be able to accept him as a boy?   It's a terrifying prospect for Shane, but with the support of his mother and other transgendered kids, he perseveres with courage.

The Other Boy is an emotional tale of being true to one's self, told from the perspective of someone we don't often hear from.  The characters are complex and real, the friendships ring true, and the illustrations by Sfe R. Monster complement the text nicely.  One of the great joys of reading is being able to learn about the world from someone else's perspective.  Shane is completely relatable, and makes for an admirable hero.

At the end of the book, the author has included some excellent resources for people wanting more information about transgendered people and the issues they face.