Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Once you Read I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez You’ll NEVER be the Same!

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I LOVE THIS BOOK!! I couldn’t love this book any harder if I tried! Sanchez brings out alot of sensitive issues in this YA book.

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

But this blurb doesn’t begin to describe the depth of the life of our young protagonist. Consider these issues:

  • Julia (pronounced Hoo lee ah) speaks English in the world and Spanish at home
  • Her parents are grieving the loss of Julia’s sister and can’t help with her her loss
  • Julia experiences sexual harassment frequently
  • Insight into immigration
  • Undiagnosed mental illness/suicide
  • School/studying pressues
  • Traditional Hispanic family pressures v Julia’s desires
  • Friendship
  • LGBTQ

There’s a lot to unpack in this book and I feel like Sanchez deftly incorporates these issues into the storyline without smacking you over the head with them and getting preachy. I appreciate that. After finishing I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter you will have a greater understanding of what it’s like to be a young Latinx woman. I wept at times; so so good! I promise you, your life will never be the same.

The issues in the book are so timely right now its hard not to see the connections. This could be any young woman’s life right now.

Also qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Books

Death, Dying, and Grieving: Books for Kids

Death, dying, and grieving are the main topics of the news lately. It seems we just can’t get away from it. And as much as we try to shield our little ones from tragedy, sometimes there are issues you must face. Death is a common situation in life and while you can usually filter what your children are exposed to, the deaths of pets, grandparents, or sick friends, will eventually crop up. If you’re like me, you want a book to turn to to support your child’s emotional understanding of death.

There are a surprising number of books available that discuss death. Kids don’t need or want a heavy handed book discussing the ins and out of death and dying. Save that for biology class or for church, depending on your beliefs. What kids want in books is to understand that it’s ok to have certain feelings and that other people have similar feelings as yours and also probably that things will get better. Following are books for kids of varying ages that discuss death, dying, and grief in ways that they will be able to handle.

1. CHARLOTTE’S WEB BY E.B. WHITE

I have two words for you: “Some pig.”  Is there anyone born in the past half century who hasn’t been moved to tears by this beloved title?charlotte's web

Everyone cheers for our favorite pig and his friends. Not only do we learn the meaning of friendship from Charlotte’s Web, we also learn the value of the brevity of life on a farm and we learn about death and grief. Sure there’s a death in the book, but there is also the invaluable lesson of how to grieve when someone you love has died. This little gem can teach even the youngest of readers about life and death.

2.  BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA BY KATHERINE PATERSON

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Here’s another classic that inadvertently teaches middle graders the value of friendship and the process of grief. I love this story because at this age kids don’t care whether their friends are boys or girls. They just want a friend. Jess and Leslie become friends and during their time together they help the other one become better people. The magical land they’ve created helps them deal with the issues they each face. In the end when one of them dies, the remaining child must confront their fears, the loss of a friend, and learn how to move on.

3. NANA UPSTAIRS & NANA DOWNSTAIRS, BY TOMIE DE PAOLA

 

Tomie dePaola writes such good books, there’s practically a book for every situation. Grandparenting seems to be his specialty, though. Little Tommy loves his grandmothers: he has a grandmother upstairs and a great grandmother downstairs. You know where this is going, right? Naturally the grandmothers die and Tommy has to learn how to grieve. There’s a bit about a falling star that will have you in tears remembering your own grandmother’s kisses.

4. TIGER EYES BY JUDY BLUME

It’s a Judy Blume book. Do I need to say anymore? The woman who has helped every young girl grow up  in the past 50 years? Yeah, her. This time, Blume discusses a very sensitive issue at the time; the death of a parent.  Not only does Davey lose her father, but he is killed in a violent crime. Books about this topic were unheard of in its day. But somehow, shockingly, kids today are experiencing this type of tragic loss and will need help getting through it. The book also discusses the dysfunction that’s left behind when a family member dies tragically: depression, alcoholism, family instability; it’s all there.

5. FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH BY JENNIFER L. HOLM

A magical realism story about a girl whose goldfish dies and is reincarnated as her grandfather dressed as a bespectacled new friend. At first i thought perhaps the lesson might be too “out there” to catch; but I love this story and I’m sure someone will too.

 

6. THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT BY JASON REYNOLDS

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

Here’s one you might not of heard of. It’s by the always fab Jason Reynolds. Here you’ll see that people cope differently with death and you might get some insight into what it’s like to work at a funeral home. Hint: more dignity than creepy.

 

Isn’t it great that there are so many books on this topic says that kids never have to go through any situation alone, that there is always a book available to lend an ear, lean on or to provide other ways of support?

Categories
Books

How to talk to kids during times of tragedy: 3 books to help

In light of yet another horrific hate crime, this time in my hometown of Pittsburgh against the Jewish community in Squirrel Hill, I thought this was a particularly good time to revisit how we discuss tragedy, violence, death, and dying with our kids. This is a conversation no parent dreams of having but more often we are faced with. What are we to do when wanting to comfort a scared or grieving child? We are struggling to process it in our own minds; the last thing we want to do is explain tragedy to our little ones. When I am faced with my own tragedy, I turn to books.

To be sure, books don’t have all of the answers but they are a start. Books are an excellent resource when you don’t know what to say, where to go, or how to begin. Books can comfort you and let you know that you’re not alone. The following are three books that have helped me during a difficult time in my life.

1. HEALING A CHILD’S GRIEVING HEART: 100 PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR FAMILIES, FRIENDS AND CAREGIVERS BY ALAN D. WOLFELT

“A grieving child’s life is like a piece of paper upon which every passerby leaves a mark. What kind of mark would you like to leave on the life of the child whose heart and soul have been touched by the death of someone loved?”

I found this book to be amazingly helpful. Inside it contained more than 100 helpful activities for dealing with grief and mourning. Tip 12 is an example: “Consider the child’s relationship to the person who died…Each child’s response to a death depends largely upon the relationship she had with the person who died…Set aside your own thoughts and feelings and enter her world as you consider this point.” See what I mean? Useful stuff. A child’s grief is not the same as your grief and must be treated differently than yours. Once I grasped that concept, I was able to move through the other practicalities of the book and construct a strategy that worked for each of my children separately.

 

2. THE GRIEVING CHILD: A PARENT’S GUIDE BY HELEN FITZGERALD

Fitzgerald helped me understand my own death history and confront my feelings about death. “Before you begin talking to your child about the death of a loved one or about death in general, be sure you know where you stand.” The author reasons that “the more you understand yourself, the easier it will be to avoid letting those feelings influence your child.” This, too, was helpful. You don’t want to muck up your child’s understanding of death with your own conflicted feelings. Throughout the book, Fitzgerald offers honest and useful ways handle such situations as whether or not to take the child to the funeral, or deciding when it’s time to seek professional help.

3. TALKING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN ABOUT DEATH BY FRED ROGERS

Talking with Young Children about Death is a brochure I received from a children’s grief therapist. As a long time fan of Mister Rogers, it is not surprising that I would turn to him to help me understand a child’s point of view while dealing with grief. “Children’s sensitivity to ‘vibes’ is extremely keen. At a time of sadness in a family there are so many facial cues, so many disrupted schedules, new people coming and going, lots of conversations to overhear, and a general aura that clearly states that something important is going on.” When you think about it that way, is it any wonder children act out? They know something is going on but no one will tell them in a way that they can understand. That must be incredibly frustrating and scary.

I’ve discovered that by turning to books for any occasion, even tragedy and dying, I can find what I need. Sometimes I find answers to questions, sometimes I find inspiration, sometimes I find a comforting poem or story. Talking with children about tragedy isn’t easy, but if you’re not sure where to begin, why not open a book?

Categories
Banned Books Books

Banned Books Week Starts TODAY!

We all know the importance of knowledge and learning, right? I don’t want to waste anymore time talking about why banning books is dumb. Let’s celebrate the great books that have been challenged and you can decide for yourself what you think.

1. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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I love this tiny book so hard. First because it is set in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA and second because the setting is the 80s which is also when I grew up, although the author is a couple years younger than I am. Our experiences are kind of similar: no cell phones, record players, pac man and hairspray to name a few.  This is a coming of age tale that is beautifully told about the man character who suffers from some dangerous mental health issues.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

I am a tad confused about why books about teens and intended for teens should be completely sterile. Kids want to read about situations that are similar to what they are experiencing; at least when they are reading realistic fiction, right? So why then, do people insist on challenging books that  “…deals with sexual situations and drug use.” ?

Again, this is a title you should read for yourself.

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

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This is by far my fave John Green book.

Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

Oh how this title reminds me of some of the books we read in high school: the what’s it all about and how do i make a difference in this world type of books!

The book was challenged because of sexual content.  Again. Teens, experimenting with sex. It’s what they do, right?  This one, however, is rather mild considering what I’ve read in other books.  It’s a botched BJ and while that might not be appropriate material for young teens or even middle grade readers, I guarantee your older teen has read worse. Or heard worse on the bus. Check it out for yourself before you pass judgement. As always, parents have a right to decide what’s best for their own kiddos, just not for everyone.

3. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

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Ironically, Fallen Angels was

Challenged on the Danbury Middle School reading list in Toledo, Ohio (2013) because of inappropriate language. The book depicts the reality of the Vietnam War, with sometimes gruesome descriptions of combat and frequent foul language from soldiers.

But here’s the question that I’d like answered: what kind of language would you expect soldiers to use? I know the books are for young teens but depicting soldiers using language that is a little too clean, might be a little too unrealistic.  I don’t know about where you live, but around here, Fallen Angels is on many schools’ required reading lists.

Have you read it?

4. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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Please don’t confuse Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison with The Invisible Man by HG Wells!

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.

 

For the same reasons that Invisible Man is an important read to understand the struggles of the African American community, Invisible Man has also been challenged. To be sure, the book contains strong language but you cannot properly depict the struggles of that era by using tame language, I think.  Either way, it’ll make you think. This book is so so so well written.

 

5. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

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There is so much to learn about the Middle Eastern region and so little time to read.

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library–along with the thirty thousand books within it–will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians–especially women–have little power, this true story about a librarian’s struggle to save her community’s priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. Illustrated by Jeanette Winter in bright acrylic and ink.

Sounds great, right? Other people obviously don’t feel the same way and have challenged the book “because of violent illustrations and storyline” which  is rather irrational because what would kind of story do you expect to hear when reading about a war torn country? Perhaps the age group was not appropriate for the book.

 

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Once you Read I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez You’ll NEVER be the Same!

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I LOVE THIS BOOK!! I couldn’t love this book any harder if I tried! Sanchez brings out alot of sensitive issues in this YA book.

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

But this blurb doesn’t begin to describe the depth of the life of our young protagonist. Consider these issues:

  • Julia (pronounced Hoo lee ah) speaks English in the world and Spanish at home
  • Her parents are grieving the loss of Julia’s sister and can’t help with her her loss
  • Julia experiences sexual harassment frequently
  • Insight into immigration
  • Undiagnosed mental illness/suicide
  • School/studying pressues
  • Traditional Hispanic family pressures v Julia’s desires
  • Friendship
  • LGBTQ

There’s a lot to unpack in this book and I feel like Sanchez deftly incorporates these issues into the storyline without smacking you over the head with them and getting preachy. I appreciate that. After finishing I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter you will have a greater understanding of what it’s like to be a young Latinx woman. I wept at times; so so good! I promise you, your life will never be the same.

The issues in the book are so timely right now its hard not to see the connections. This could be any young woman’s life right now.

Also qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

 

Categories
Adult Fiction Diversity Reading Challenge

I Did NOT Want to Finish Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

I’m such a goober when it comes to this book. Ok, not just this book but lots of books. I’ve been wanting to read Another Brooklyn for a while and put off scooping it because of this dilemma: once you read a book for the first time you can never read it again for the first time.

Weird, right? So that first time is magical. It’s like opening up a present you’ve been waiting for and you can never get that euphoria back. I purchased Another Brooklyn from Busboys & Poets in DC a few months ago and I promptly put it on my desk promising myself I wouldn’t read it.

I wanted to read it, mind you. It’s just that once you read it, you can never read it again for the first time (see above). l put it off and put it off until I couldn’t wait any longer and I finally cracked the spine. Now I warn you this book is not a YA book but older teens could certainly handle it. There are mature issues inside but I’ve read rape scenes in YA books that are more chilling than the facts within this  beautifully written novel. And to be sure, there are no rape scenes in Another Brooklyn. It’s the tale of one young woman who grows up learning to lean on a circle of girlfriends as they all mature into womanhood.

As the girls grow, there are perhaps your typical scenarios that you might encounter in an inner city neighborhood: drug use, dating, sex, unnecessary advances from older men, school, hunger, homelessness, etc. Written in prose, though, the story unfolds so beautifully  that I literally DID NOT WANT TO FINISH THE BOOK.

I dragged the story out as long as I could, which is difficult because the book is short, a mere 177 pages.  I loved reading the book, getting lost in the prose as if Woodson were writing a poem just for me. As my own son now lives in Brooklyn I like to imagine what the town looked like in Woodson’s 1970s Brooklyn, before cell phones, and iPhones, and Uber.

I will definitely revisit Another Brooklyn, because books can be enjoyed more than once. Another Brooklyn also qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Bibliographies, Information, General Lists

5 YA Titles for Teens Containing Tough Mental Issues

5 YA Titles for Teens Containing
Tough Mental Issues

We all know kids want to read books about people like them. That is also true when kids are suffering or looking for answers. Following are books released this year that cover topics like mental illness and other tough issues. I haven’t read these yet but they look promising.

The First Time She Drowned. by Kerry Kletter

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Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.

But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

This title intrigued me because of the obvious mental illness theme. I wonder how many teens have been in a treatment facility and can relate?

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by EK Johnston

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Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

While it isn’t obvious, this is a story about surviving rape. A story that still needs to be told unfortunately.

Still Life with Tornado by AS King

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Actually Sarah is several human beings. At once. And only one of them is sixteen. Her parents insist she’s a gifted artist with a bright future, but now she can’t draw a thing, not even her own hand. Meanwhile, there’s a ten-year-old Sarah with a filthy mouth, a bad sunburn, and a clear memory of the family vacation in Mexico that ruined everything. She’s a ray of sunshine compared to twenty-three-year-old Sarah, who has snazzy highlights and a bad attitude. And then there’s forty-year-old Sarah (makes good queso dip, doesn’t wear a bra, really wants sixteen-year-old Sarah to tell the truth about her art teacher). They’re all wandering Philadelphia—along with a homeless artist allegedly named Earl—and they’re all worried about Sarah’s future.

If you’re familiar with AS King you know her stories start out as one thing and end up as something else. And always there’s a mental health issue at stake.

Highly Illogical Behavior. by John Corey Whaley

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Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?

Enter Lisa.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.

This kid is agoraphobic. I wonder how many kids today are? This is not a subject to take lightly to laugh at. I hope it does the issue justice.

If I Was Your Girl. by Meredith Russo

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Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Gender reassignment is gaining understanding and I think it’s great that books are available to help teens process it.

Have you read any of these books?

Categories
Books Children

Need to talk to kids about death? Try Life and I by Elisabeth Helland Larsen & Marine Schneider

Life and I by Elisabeth Helland Larsen & Marine Schneider

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There’s something about talking to children about death that leaves even the strongest of parents stuttering, mumbling, or reaching for euphemisms. I’ve learned through experience that sometimes kids need the truth. Maybe a basic truth, but the truth. Some kids need a bit of a story to help them understand. If you’re in a situation in which  you have to speak to a little one about death and your little one needs a story to connect with but you don’t want to go the religious or anthropomorphous route of talking animals, Little Gestalten brings us an interesting view.

It’s called Life and I, A Story About Death. Death is depicted as an impish, waifish  watercolor little girl sort-of-being who talks about all the things that death is part of.

I pay visits to small animals with soft fur and to big animals with trunks or sharp teeth…

Death also discusses how she visits many people at one time, old and young. Death has to exist, the book says, in order for new babies to make their way in this world. The best part of the book is near the end when Death says that Love doesn’t die even when something  you love does.

There are some great bits in the book. Perhaps it will make discussing death easier with little ones. This is a keepsake book that would be nice if talked about every year on a grandmother’s birthday or something.

Talking with kids about death is difficult. I’ve had to do it myself many times. I hope more books become available that are as beautifully illustrated as Life and I.

How have you talked to your little ones about death?

 

 

Categories
Children

Sarah, Plain and Tall and that time I went all FANGIRL on Patricia MacLachlan

Sarah, Plain and Tall and that time I went all
FANGIRL on  Patricia MacLachlan

“Did mama sing every day?” asked Caleb. “Every-single-day?” He sat close to the fire, his chin in his hand.  It was dusk, and the dogs lay beside him on the warm hearthstones.

Somehow in my reading lifetime I missed Sarah, Plain and Tall; I recently re-discovered this gem and can see why it is so beloved.  After Papa is left a widower with small children at home, he puts an ad in the newspaper for a wife.  What he gets is Sarah.  Sarah is a perfect match for Papa and the children and the delightful tale of their growing relationships gently unfolds during the story.

No matter how much I enjoyed the story (and the possibility of reading the sequels) I cannot help thinking that there is no ethnic diversity in the story.  But not nonexistent.  The author very slyly imposes a feminist approach to Sarah’s character.  Sarah is smart and physically strong and is able to perform many tasks around the farm that are traditionally male and forces the family to understand that these abilities are part of her character.  Naturally, Papa has trouble adjusting to this type of woman. These-strong minded female character traits are important for young readers to be exposed to.  This viewpoint provides diversity with Sarah is a role model.

There is so much going on with this book I don’t know where to begin. Mail order brides were a thing back long ago so let’s not judge that. Imagine how hard it must be for this young woman to join a family and make it her own? She’s got to be a very special person. Not really diversity but I don’t know a child out there who doesn’t love SPT. Nowadays, most children can relate to having a stepmother, stepfather or some sort of blended family.

And feminism? It seems like a quaint word today, doesn’t it? With rare exceptions, most women today speak their mind and can do what they want without permission from a husband.  I can tell you this though, many years ago I was lucky enough to spend tea time with Patricia MacLachlan during a BEA event. I’m sure I must have written about it. Just as you’d expect, she’s a doll. So sweet and there is diversity in her family and she loves children of all races, colors, etc. I acted like a complete FANGIRL and gushed all over her. No shame. She even kissed me on the cheek! Did I mention she liked my blog? I wept like a goob.

 

 

Categories
Books

Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie

I love reading kids mystery books for several reasons:

  • the tragedy isn’t usually too gruesome
  • I’m a scaredy cat so they aren’t usually psychological thrillers (Gone Girl, anyone?), and
  • I feel smart when I figure the plot out before the main characters

That’s why I was so stoked to read Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie. The first thing I hafta tell you about this book is that the main character’s name is Cleopatra Brown. I”m sure you can figure out who she’s named after, right?  Well, C.Lee is a friend of mine and I have a cat named Cleo (Cleopatra Jones) so maybe MY Cleo was the inspiration for this heroine?

Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie

So Cleo moves into  a new house in a new neighborhood after a mysterious family accident.  Cleo’s family is estranged and there’s something spooky going on in the abandoned house across the cul de sac from her house.  I love the premise for this story, it reminds me of Nightmares by Jason Segal, which is written for tweens.  Sudden Secrets is for teens, however, due to a few underage drinking situations. I’d say, 13 is a good starting age for this book.

Anyway, Cleo the girl, not Cleo my cat, decides to uncover the mystery surrounding the old Victorian across the street.  Meanwhile, there’s typical teen drama, love triangles and homework and a mysterious pizza guy who figure into the equation.  Cleo’s parents are estranged.  The father is on an archeological dig in Afghanistan and mom hides away at the museum curating Egyptian artifacts.  The parental jobs feel alot like Rick Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles, because those heroes are descendants of  Egyptian gods.

Another bit I love about Sudden Secrets is that there is a mention of Boo Radley.  You gotta love it when a book is mentioned in a book! Just the right length of book for a lazy summer afternoon read.  While this title doesn’t qualify for the Diversity Challenge families dealing with grief certainly get my attention.  I’m not loving the cover but it does evoke a dark mood but the book isn’t really as dark as the cover would have you think.

Anyway, you be the judge and let me know!

I’ll be interviewing her soon so check back often, mkay?