Review of Winter, by Marissa Meyer

April 16th, 2016

winter_largeWinter

The Lunar Chronicles, Book Four

by Marissa Meyer

Feiwel and Friends, 2015. 827 pages.

Ah! The Lunar Chronicles come to a satisfying end in this book. If you have read this far, I don’t have to say anything to get you to read the final volume, so let me make some comments about the series in general.

What I loved most was the fairy tale parallels. Cinder paralleled “Cinderella,” Scarlet paralleled “Little Red Riding Hood,” Cress paralleled “Rapunzel,” and this final book, Winter, parallels “Snow White.” However, all the characters from each of the previous books are still in the story – and by the final book, elements from Snow White’s story seemed forced. (Whereas in Cinder they arrived in natural and clever ways.) In particular, the part about the poisoned apple seemed totally unnecessary in the overall scheme, and I didn’t really believe that a disease would progress the way this one was portrayed.

But I do like the character of Winter, and even her status as Queen Levana’s stepdaughter worked well. I do like that each of the main characters is very different from the others.

I still didn’t really believe in the wolf-human hybrids, which has been a problem for me since Scarlet. I didn’t particularly like the additional information we got about that in this book – didn’t make it easier to believe.

At first when I opened this book, I thought, okay, we’ve got four couples. Two have matched up with the one they love but have some obstacles between them. Two are in love but haven’t admitted it to each other yet. And I knew all four would get together by the end of the book, and I thought that was a bit much. But I have to hand it to Marissa Meyers – she kept each romance distinct and interesting. All four plotlines are definitely not simple!

In fact, if anything the plot was a bit too convoluted with all those characters to juggle. But that did keep things from being at all boring or predictable and kept you turning pages. She is one of those authors who gives you a lot of interior monologue – which means it takes a little longer for actions to happen. This book is more than 800 pages long, since that’s what it took to tie everything together. In some spots, we were following three different sets of characters in different places, so that slowed things down, too.

However, all that said – in this book pulling all the threads together, Marissa Meyer accomplishes a well-earned Happily Ever After. Though I was able to put down the book and go to sleep, I was never even slightly tempted to set it aside altogether, and I began reading the same day my hold arrived. We’ve got life and death situations and the fate of earth at stake. We’ve got an intrepid band of rebels who go deep into the tyrant’s territory. Can they win the day?

marissameyer.com
thelunarchronicles.com
macteenbooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/winter.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of A Few of the Girls, by Maeve Binchy

April 15th, 2016

few_of_the_girls_largeA Few of the Girls

Stories

by Maeve Binchy

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2016. 319 pages.
Starred Review

I do so love Maeve Binchy’s writing! This collection of short stories is classic Maeve Binchy. Her agent and editors selected many she had written over the years and collected them in this marvelous volume.

There are thirty-six stories with a wide variety of viewpoints. Some leave me inspired and thinking good thoughts, more ready to cope with life. Others leave me laughing at a character who got a worthy comeuppance. All are so true — true to human nature, whether the good side or the bad side of human nature. All are also entertaining.

I think my favorite was probably the woman who was dumped who met a woman who had also been dumped years ago and now spent her time repairing broken china, which remind her of broken hearts.

…she would see also how fragile things could be put together again if you realized that this was possible. Rather than just putting them in the back of a cupboard and pretending that the break hadn’t happened at all.

The stories are short and sweet. I ended up tearing through the collection with great enjoyment. Though I did pause in especially nice places, which is why I especially remember “Broken China.”

For insights on life and love, this is a wonderful collection, but it’s also good for spending time with “a few of the girls” who will feel like old friends.

maevebinchy.com
aaknopf.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/few_of_the_girls.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?
few_of_the_girls_large

Review of The Most Wonderful Thing in the World, by Vivian French and Angela Barrett

April 7th, 2016

most_wonderful_thing_in_the_world_largeThe Most Wonderful Thing in the World

by Vivian French
illustrated by Angela Barrett

Candlewick Press, 2015. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This is a fairy tale retold in “the time of your grandmother’s grandmother.” The beautiful paintings show clothing from the early twentieth century or late nineteenth century (I’m sure the illustrator could tell you precisely which). The paintings portray a Venice-like kingdom with a city set on a lagoon.

The king and queen decide that to find their daughter a husband, they will look for a young man who can show them the most wonderful thing in the world.

While princes and courtiers are bringing marvels to the king and queen (and here the illustrations are amazing), Princess Lucia has decided to see the city and to learn about its people.

Salvatore is the grandson of Wise Old Angelo, who gave the king and queen the advice. Salvatore brought the letter, and he’s sitting outside when the princess ventures out.

As Lucia came running out of the palace, she saw Salvatore sitting on the wall, playing with a little tabby cat.

“Excuse me, she said, pulling her cloak closer to cover her silk dress, “do you know the city?”

Salvatore smiled proudly, “Of course! I have lived in the kingdom all my life. Nobody knows the city better than I do, pretty lady. North, south, east, and west.”

“Can you show it to me?” Lucia asked. “Today?”

Salvatore was surprised. “But it would take longer than a day. Much longer.”

The princess put her hand on his coat sleeve. “Please?”

The young man bowed low. “I am Salvatore, pretty lady, and I am entirely at your service. Today, tomorrow, and the next day, until you have seen all that you want.”

“Thank you,” said the princess, and they walked away toward the heart of the city.

You can see where this is going! But the natural progression is carried out so beautifully and satisfyingly. The suitors bring some truly amazing things, but none of them is the most wonderful thing in the world. What the answer is, of course, is perfect.

The paintings in this book are very small and detailed, though truly wonderful, so it wouldn’t necessarily work for reading to a large group.

But anyone who likes an illustrated fairy tale will find a treasure in this book.

candlewick.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/most_wonderful_thing_in_the_world.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Imaginary Fred, by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers

April 7th, 2016

imaginary_fred_largeImaginary Fred

by Eoin Colfer
illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Harper, 2015. 48 pages.

I have to admit, I have a problem with Imaginary Friend books. Including award-winning ones. Somewhere, the mechanism (that they do have a life of their own) breaks down. My suspension of disbelief is never perfect, and I can’t thoroughly enjoy the book.

That said, this one has less lack of logic than most. And the illustrations are by Oliver Jeffers!

Perhaps I was won over that the book acknowledges right from the start that not everyone who wishes for an imaginary friend gets one. It will only happen if “the conditions are just right, and if you add a little electricity, or luck, or even magic.”

Fred is an imaginary friend who likes it when he’s summoned. He tries to be a good imaginary friend.

But no matter how hard Fred tried, the same thing happened every time. One day, his friend would find a real friend in the real world.

A friend who did not have to be ignored when grown-ups were around.

When this day came, as it always did, Fred would feel himself fade.

Eventually, the wind would blow him up to a cloud, where he’d wait to be summoned by another lonely child.

When Sam summons Fred, Fred knows he’s different. They share more interests than any friend Fred has had before. When Sam makes a real friend, Sammi, Fred is sure he’s doomed… until he meets Sammi’s imaginary friend Frieda.

From there, things don’t proceed as they have before. Eventually we learn that “friendship is friendship. Imaginary or not, the same laws apply.”

Part of the fun of this book is in the details. Sam and Fred, who both love to read, are pictured reading the authors’ books, Artemis Fowl and Lost and Found. When the four friends perform in a quartet, grown-ups in the audience are very confused. I like when the friends practice speaking French.

Okay, there are still quibbles. If there’s an “imaginary community” as we learn at the end, how is this the first friendship between two imaginary friends, anyway?

But when it comes down to it, I can overlook my quibbles, because I kept coming back to and enjoying this book. If it tried to be general it would fail, but as a story about these particular four friends? This is an entertaining story which rewards repeated readings and gets you thinking about imagination and friendship and how they come together.

eoincolfer.com
oliverjeffersworld.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/imaginary_fred.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

April 6th, 2016

hungry_bunny_horde_largeThe Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde

by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Candlewick Press, 2016. 90 pages.
Starred Review

A third book about the Princess in Black! She’s a pretty and prissy princess in pink most of the time, but she has a secret identity – she’s the Princess in Black! She fights monsters with ninja moves!

As this book begins, Princess Magnolia is going about her ordinary business, ready to have a princessly brunch with her friend Princess Sneezewort. But then her glitter-stone ring rings! The monster alarm!

When the Princess in Black arrives at the goat pasture, where the hole leading to Monsterland opens, she doesn’t see anything scary. She sees a whole throng of fluffy purple bunnies.

The bunnies don’t look threatening. In fact, they look adorably cute. But there are hundreds of them. And they are terribly hungry. They eat all the grass in the goat pasture. Then they eat an entire tree. They eat a goat horn. They have their eyes on the Princess in Black.

In this case, it is Blacky the Pony (the secret identity of Frimplepants the Unicorn) who saves the day. The bunnies of the hungry bunny horde all speak the language of Cuteness.

Cute sniffles. Cute wiggles.

Cute hops. Only other cute animals could understand.

And that was why Blacky understood.

Because Blacky was not just Blacky the pony.

He was also Frimplepants.

Frimplepants the unicorn.

And Frimplepants the unicorn was as cute as they come.

This book came in at just the right time, when I was scheduled to read to a third grade class on Read Across America Day, and this book seemed perfect. Third graders might believe themselves to be too sophisticated for picture books (even though I know better). This book has 12 chapters and 90 pages. The text I quoted above covers three pages, and there are illustrations on every page (or at least every spread). So the book is accessible for someone who hasn’t been reading long but is ready for chapters – and there’s absolutely nothing boring about it.

And what I love about it is that the story is good enough that younger children who can’t read yet will love it, and older children who are completely capable of reading longer chapters will enjoy it as well. And adults won’t get tired of reading it either. There is much humor in the situation of cute bunnies creating such havoc.

Why should something easy to read and simple to understand be boring? The Princess in Black is the opposite of that.

squeetus.com
candlewick.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/hungry_bunny_horde.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of My Pet Human, by Yasmine Surovec

April 6th, 2016

my_pet_human_largeMy Pet Human

by Yasmine Surovec

Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2015. 108 pages.

Here’s a delightful beginning chapter book with lots of pictures, told from the perspective of an adorable kitty.

There are five chapters. In the first one, “Mr. Independent,” the cat introduces himself.

I’m a lucky cat. I live a carefree life.

This is my territory. I know these streets like the back of my paw. Lots of cats are tied down by staying with their pet humans, but not me. I’m my own cat, and the only one I have to look out for is myself. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The cat knows how to get food from various humans along his route.

It took me a while to master “the Look,” but it’s essential to getting what I want from humans. And let’s just say, I always get what I want. I mean, who can resist this face? I’m adorable.

Of course, the pictures show the wide-eyed look, which is indeed adorable.

The cat has friends (a dog, a rat, another cat) who all have pet humans. But he likes not being tied down.

Then a family moves into the abandoned house across the street from the tree where the cat likes to sleep. He happens to be hungry, and a window is open.

The young human inside proves to be easy to train, with enough rewards for good behavior. Her mother, however, is a different story.

Kids will enjoy this easy-reading tale, told from a slightly different perspective. The language isn’t dumbed down, but there are enough pictures, it almost has the feel of a graphic novel, and is very non-threatening.

This is a nice twist on your standard new-to-the-neighborhood story. What does it take to find the perfect pet human?

mackids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/my_pet_human.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Headstrong, by Rachel Swaby

March 28th, 2016

headstrong_largeHeadstrong

52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World

by Rachel Swaby

Broadway Books, New York, 2015. 273 pages.
Starred Review

I was going to write that all parents of daughters should read this book. Then it occurred to me that this would be a fabulous book to hand to a teenage daughter. Then I realized that all educators should read this book. Finally, I realize that I think this is a book everyone should read.

Quick, name a scientist who was female and who changed the world with her work. Most people think of Marie Curie and draw a blank when they try to come up with any further names. Rachel Swaby specifically left out Marie Curie from this book. But she found 52 other women who did world-changing scientific work.

I heard Rachel Swaby speak at the 2015 National Book Festival. She was wonderful, so delighted and intrigued by the stories she’d uncovered about these amazing women. I checked out the book and since then have been reading one chapter a day. The fifty-two chapters are an easily digestible 3-4 pages, but highlight the way these women changed the world.

The author chose women who are already dead (“whose life’s work has already been completed”) and she leaned toward women who overcame obstacles, so these stories are inspiring as well as informative. She includes women who worked in the fields of medicine, biology, genetics, physics, geometry, astronomy, math, technology, and invention.

The Introduction explains why this book is so needed:

This book about scientists began with beef stroganoff. According to the New York Times, Yvonne Brill made a mean one. In an obituary published in March 2013, Brill was honored with the title “world’s best mom” because she “followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children.” Only after a loud, public outcry did the Times amend the article so it would begin with the contribution that earned Brill a featured spot in the paper of record in the first place: “She was a brilliant rocket scientist.” Oh right. That.

The error – stroganoff before science; domesticity before personal achievement – is so cringe-worthy because it’s a common one. In 1964, when Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin won the greatest award that chemistry has to offer, a newspaper declared “Nobel Prize for British Wife,” as if she had stumbled upon the complex structures of biochemical substances while matching her husband’s socks. We simply don’t speak of men in science this way. Their marital status isn’t considered necessary context in a biochemical breakthrough. Employment as an important aerospace engineer is not the big surprise hiding behind a warm plate of noodles. For men, scientific accomplishments are accepted as something naturally within their grasp. . . .

We need not only fairer coverage of women in science, but more of it. . . .

As girls in science look around for role models, they shouldn’t have to dig around to find them. By treating women in science like scientists instead of anomalies or wives who moonlight in the lab as well as correcting the cues given to girls at a young age about what they’re good at and what they’re supposed to like, we can accelerate the growth of a new generation of chemists, archeologists, and cardiologists while also revealing a hidden history of the world.

By her own standards, Hertha Ayrton was a good scientist. So was the detail-oriented seismologist Inge Lehmann, and the firecracker neuroembryologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, too. The scientists in this book aren’t included because they were women practicing science or math in a time when few women did – although by that criterion, many would fit. They’re included because they discovered Earth’s inner core, revealed radioactive elements, dusted off a complete dinosaur skeleton, or launched a new field of scientific inquiry. Their ideas, discoveries, and insights made earth-shaking changes to the way we see the world (and that goes for the seismologist, too). . . .

So instead of calling every standout woman in science the Marie Curie of her field, the next time someone really lives for their work, let’s call them the Barbara McClintock of their specialty. If a scientist charts new territory, let’s refer to them as the Annie Jump Cannon of their particular exploration. If a researcher puts herself in physical danger for an experiment, let’s say she’s like any number of the scientists here who worked with radioactivity or mustard gas.

There are fifty-two profiles in this book. Read one a week, and in a year you’ll know whose research jump-started the Environmental Protection Agency, who discovered wrinkle-free cotton, and even whose ingenious score has now saved generations of struggling newborns. So little coverage has been dedicated to these scientists elsewhere that, in going through these profiles, I hope you’ll feel like you’ve gained a breadth of knowledge that rivals that of Salome Waelsch.

This book hit home to me because I was one of a small minority of women in a graduate mathematics department in the 1980s. It would have done me good to know that outstanding scientists and mathematicians who were women were nothing new at all.

And the book is interesting, too! Each brief biography begins with an intriguing paragraph and then gives you the rest of the story about these women who indeed overcame challenges and accomplished great things.

This book would be a fantastic place to start for novelists looking for actual historical characters with fascinating lives. I say this because I’ve already read a wonderful novel about one of the featured scientists, Sophie Kowalevski, Beyond the Limit, by Joan Spicci. I’m left wanting to know more about most of these amazing women.

Here are a few introductory paragraphs to get you intrigued:

Maria Sibylla Merian loved bugs long before scientists had uncovered their mysteries, loved them at a time when few people were interested in those vile, disgusting things. Acquantances assigned credit or blame for her unusual passion to her mother, who had looked at a collection of insects while Merian was still in the womb. Something about those pinned and polished bodies, shimmering powdery wings, and articulated legs instilled a fascination in the child growing inside her.

Two members of the division of war research at Columbia University spent an entire day grilling Chien-Shiung Wu about her work in nuclear physics. Regarding their own top-secret projects, the interviewers remained dutifully mum until the very end of the day, when they asked if Wu had any idea what they were up to. She cracked a smile. “I’m sorry, but if you wanted me not to know what you’re doing, you should have cleaned the blackboards.” They asked her to start work the next morning.

During the last two and a half decades of her 103 years, Italians liked to joke that everyone would recognize the pope, so long as he appeared with Rita Levi-Montalcini. Though she stood only five feet, three inches, the stories of her work and her life were as large and dramatic as her iconic sideswept hair.

Alice Hamilton’s professional successes – of which there were many – fell at the intersection of science and social issues. Although she earned a degree in medicine from the University of Michigan, gaining further training in bacteriology and pathology at the University of Leipzig and the University of Munich, she didn’t think herself capable of becoming anything more than a “fourth-rate bacteriologist.” But what she lacked in bravado, she made up for in her dedication to problems both “human and practical”: typhoid outbreaks, lead poisoning, and the widespread horror of occupational disease.

Learn the fascinating stories of these and forty-eight other women and along the way become better informed about history and better understand how capable women are and have long been at being scientists.

rachelswaby.com
broadwaybooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/headstrong.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of To Hold the Bridge, by Garth Nix

March 23rd, 2016

to_hold_the_bridge_largeTo Hold the Bridge

by Garth Nix

Harper, 2015. 400 pages.
Starred Review

This is a collection of stories by the brilliant Garth Nix. Based on the copyright page, most were published previously, but not necessarily in the United States. (Garth Nix lives in Australia.)

They are uniformly well-written, but there is a tremendous variety of topics. The title story is set in the Old Kingdom world of Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, Across the Wall, and Clariel. There are also stories set in the world of his other novels A Confusion of Princes and Shade’s Children.

But there are a wide variety of things going on here. His magic always was original. There is a dark twist in a lot of the tales, but this book makes for tremendously enjoyable reading.

I liked the story about the granddaughter of William the Conqueror and the Sword in the Stone. It turns out the magic of the Britons, holly and forest magic, conflicted with the iron magic of the Norman conquerors. This story is an example of Garth Nix’s complicated magical rules which he communicates to the reader through the eyes of his characters who already understand it. He never descends into expository hell, the bane of many fantasy writers. And he can even pull this off in short stories.

Besides revisiting his own worlds, he also goes into the worlds of The Martian Chronicles, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Hellboy, and Sherlock Holmes — introducing his brother Sir Magnus Holmes, who is a specialist in occult magic. I especially liked the retelling of Rapunzel, where Rapunzel cleverly exploits the requirements of how a witch must treat a guest. Though the witch does some clever exploitation herself.

There are two vampire stories and a zombie story (which is also a unicorn story) and a story about a witches’ school (another one that’s especially good). I did mention there’s a wide variety in these tales. It took me a long time to read, because each story is so satisfying in itself, it’s easy to stop at the end of a story.

A magnificent collection by a master world-builder who also knows how to show you the hearts of his characters.

garthnix.com
epicreads.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/to_hold_the_bridge.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of McToad Mows Tiny Island, by Tom Angleberger and John Hendrix

March 20th, 2016

mctoad_mows_tiny_island_largeMcToad Mows Tiny Island

A Transportation Tale by Tom Angleberger

Pictures by John Hendrix

Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York, 2015. 32 pages.

As its caption says, this is a Transportation Tale for little ones who love cars and trucks and things that go.

The text is simple, and the pictures carry the story.

McToad likes Thursdays.

Every other day of the week he mows the grass on Big Island.
But Thursday is the day he mows Tiny Island.

A map filling the double-page spread shows that Big Island is indeed Big and Tiny Island is indeed tiny.

But to get the lawn mower to Tiny Island? That process is what this book is about.

McToad drives the lawn mower onto a truck, which takes it to a train, where it’s loaded using a forklift, and then is taken to the airport. At the airport a conveyor belt takes it onto an airplane which flies to the other side of Big Island. There a baggage buggy takes the lawn mower to a helicopter, which flies it to a dock where it’s lowered onto the deck of a boat. Then a crane on the boat lowers the lawn mower onto Tiny Island.

Tiny Island is indeed tiny. So it’s amusing that McToad takes a break in the middle of the job. When he finishes mowing, it’s time to take the lawn mower back.

It’s funny to me that adding the simple storyline makes this book much more interesting than your typical list-of-vehicles book. Of course, the pictures are delightful. McToad pilots every vehicle with his never-changing, satisfied smile.

McToad likes Thursdays.

Kids who like vehicles will like this book.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/mctoad_mows_tiny_island.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of George, by Alex Gino

March 17th, 2016

george_largeGeorge

by Alex Gino

Scholastic Press, New York, 2015. 195 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Stonewall Children’s Literature Award

I’ve got a transgender adult daughter, so I was ready for this book, about a transgender 10-year-old. But it opened even my eyes.

The story is simple and well-told. The narration talks about George as “she,” but the people around her treat her as male and assume that she is male, even when they’re trying to be supportive and encouraging.

At the start of the book, George’s teacher is finishing reading Charlotte’s Web to the class, and George can’t keep from crying when Charlotte dies – which of course attracts jeers from boys in the class, including one boy who used to be George’s friend.

George’s teacher tries to be supportive.

“It takes a special person to cry over a book. It shows compassion as well as imagination.” Ms. Udell patted George’s shoulder. “Don’t ever lose that, George, and I know you’ll turn into a fine young man.”

The word man hit like a pile of rocks falling on George’s skull. It was a hundred times worse than boy, and she couldn’t breathe. She bit her lip fiercely and felt fresh tears pounding against her eyes. She put her head down on her desk and wished she were invisible.

George’s class is going to perform a play of Charlotte’s Web. George wants with all her heart to be Charlotte, but is told that there are too many girls who want the part.

This book helped me get inside the head of someone who is figuring out who she really is. And showed me just how difficult that would be – to understand, and then to try to tell the people around you.

This is a children’s book about what it feels like to be transgender. Wow. Perhaps it will help some transgender kids feel less alone. But maybe even more important, perhaps it will help other kids experience empathy, which is one of the best antidotes to bullying. It would be harder to mock someone for being transgender after you’ve read about George just wanting to be who she is.

And it’s also a great story about a kid who wants to surprise everyone by really shining in her class play.

alexgino.com
scholastic.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/george.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?