Saturday, May 16, 2020

THE ONE AND ONLY BOB by Katherine Applegate

All fans of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN should run, not walk, to your nearest library or bookstore (don't forget to social distance, though) to get a copy of this amazing sequel. Bob is a character all dog owners will love. Getting into his head will help dog owners the world over better understand their own cherished pets. 

Bob is now living with Julia and George. He feels lucky that he still gets to visit his good friends Ivan and Ruby at their new home, too. The mall is closed and life is pretty close to perfect.

Bob shares his dog-thoughts in crystal clear detail, and he has many. He knows the best snacks, the best blanket for bed boogies, the dreaded tug-of-war string, and the horrors of obedience school. Mack's dog Snickers is still annoying, and new characters like Nutwit add new annoyances for poor Bob.

Julia and George take a break from preparations for the forecasted hurricane to drop by the park to see Ivan and Ruby. Bob loves catching up with Ivan, and Ruby loves entertaining her Uncle Bob. Even though some of the animals at the park don't appreciate Bob's visits, and frankly, a few of them terrify Bob, it is worth it if Bob gets to see his friends.

The weather begins to worsen and just as Bob heads off to find Julia, a tornado rips through the park. Bob sails through the air for a few frightening moments of flight before he lands in the giraffe enclosure. After recovering from a knock on the head, Bob realizes he is surrounded by complete destruction. He races to the gorilla enclosure where he finds Ivan crushed beneath the collapsed structure. 

Rescuers immediately respond and there are tense moments before Bob sees his buddy emerge from the debris relatively unharmed. Now the race is on to find Ruby and Julia and find a safe place to wait out the storm. The challenges will be many as danger threatens at every turn.

THE ONE AND ONLY BOB is filled with excitement and suspense as Bob learns about courage and love for his ever-changing family. This anticipated sequel does not disappoint.

Friday, May 15, 2020

THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE by Rebecca Stead

Bea lives in New York City. When her parents announced their one and only family meeting, Bea wasn't sure what to expect. She certainly didn't expect to hear that her parents were getting a divorce. Now years have gone by and things haven't change as much as you would expect. She alternates living with her mom and dad, they still love just the same, and she still goes to the same school and has the same best friend.

She decides to write down her story after learning that her father and his boy friend Jesse will be getting married. Her story takes some interesting turns as she remembers a memorable summer at the cabin, past unpleasant birthday parties, and getting excited about having a sister for the first time. Bea learns a lot about herself and the feelings she experiences that sometimes result in behavior that isn't always the best.

As she talks to her therapist Miriam and confides in her mom and dad, Bea learns ways to cope with her tendency to worry, and at the same time, learns the importance of forgiveness. THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE includes quirky, colorful characters, intriguing family dynamics, and lessons for anyone looking to adjust to the changes life often insists on sending our way. Author Rebecca Stead has written another winner for middle grade readers.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

PEANUT GOES FOR THE GOLD by Jonathan Van Ness

I must share this amazing book! PEANUT GOES FOR THE GOLD by Jonathan Van Ness is about a guinea pig named Peanut who identifies as non-binary. They love banana pancakes, cartwheels, and hula-hoops. When Peanut announces they are going to become a rhythmic gymnast, everyone pitches in to help make their dream come true. Though some people may think Peanut is weird, that doesn't keep Peanut from having fun and doing things their way. 

Jonathan Van Ness, of Queer Eye fame, joins forces with illustrator Gillian Reid to create this awesome new picture book. With a focus on being who you are and expressing yourself as you wish, PEANUT GOES FOR THE GOLD is sure to help kids be comfortable with themselves and each other. It will also give many adults a little something to think about.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

HEARTSTOPPER by Alice Oseman

Everyone knows Charlie Spring is gay. There was a time he was bullied, but things have improved and he's now considered one of the popular crowd. He is in a confusing relationship with Ben. Ben is gay, but still "dates" a girl as cover for the fact he hasn't come out. Charlie is finding things with Ben to be uncomfortable. Ben is demanding and recently abusive.

When classes change midway through the year, Charlie meets someone new. Nick Nelson is a year older and as a rugby player, he's definitely different than what Charlie is used to. They enjoy each others' company during class, and Charlie is surprised when Nick suggests he join the rugby team. Charlie isn't exactly into sports, but Nick tells him as a fast runner he could be helpful to the team.

Friendship soon becomes more for Charlie. He's fairly certain that Nick is straight, but he's getting signals from the guy that suggest otherwise. Things are heating up, but it isn't until the night of a fellow classmate's birthday party that Charlie knows the truth. They just might be taking their relationship to the next level.

In her author comments, Alice Oseman explains that Charlie and Nick are characters in her earlier novel SOLITAIRE, and that their story has been tempting her for quite some time. This graphic novel with satisfy romantics and LGBTQ+ readers alike. They will also be happy to know the story will continue in HEARTSTOPPER #2.


GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS by Suzanne Young

NOTE: Thank you to a friend who shared her Goodreads ARC.

Fans of Suzanne Young's series The Program will definitely be interested in this new series. GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS features girls from Innovations Academy. They are being groomed for a future life as wives and companions. Their lives are rigidly controlled and if they deviate from expected behavior, they are subjected to impulse control therapy.

In the time Mena has been at the academy she has become close friends with some of the girls. She isn't fond of the Guardian who chaperones the girls on outings and hovers over them as they attend classes and meals. He visits their rooms every night with the required vitamins each girl must take.

When Lennon Rose, a particularly close friend of Mena's, is suddenly withdrawn from the school, Mena questions the story they are given about her family's financial problems. Lennon Rose had been there one minute and was gone the next. She never said goodbye and when Mena checked her room, she found the girl's shoes still sitting next to the bed. Mena also found a book of poems. When she shares them with the other girls, they all begin to doubt that the leaders of the academy have their best interests in mind.

Strange vitamins, unusual therapy sessions, dietary restriction, and limited access to family members account for just a few of the odd goings on at Innovations Academy. Mena and her friends are determined to find out just exactly what is happening to them at the hands of their supposed protectors.


Friday, May 8, 2020

FREAK THE MIGHTY by Rodman Philbrick

Max has been living with Gram and Grim for as long as he can remember. He knows that his father is in prison for murder, but no one speaks about it. He has overheard his grandparents saying Max looks just like his father, and an often out of control temper have them worrying that he might have some of his father's other negative traits as well.

One afternoon new neighbors move in next door. Max sees a tiny kid with a big head and crooked little legs seems to have moved in along with his mother. Max immediately labels the kid Freak. When Max is introduced to Kevin, he quickly realizes that the kid may be small but his brain is huge. The kid appears to know everything. 

The odd pair become fast friends and spend the summer exploring and adventuring. Max discovers it's easy to hoist Freak onto he shoulders so they can go about their adventures more easily. When school starts, they make quite the impression on classmates as Max lumbers through the halls carrying Freak high and mighty. Freak the Mighty is born. With Freak's help Max surprises his teachers and grandparents as he begins to improve in school. The pair seem to be unstoppable.

Things are looking up for Max and then the unthinkable happens. His father is released from prison and shows up in the dead of night to kidnap Max. Can Freak come to the rescue of his giant friend? 

FREAK THE MIGHTY was published in 1993. Somehow I missed out on this treasure. According to fellow readers and teacher friends, it is tried and true and a book that should be read by everyone. Now I'm off to watch the movie THE MIGHTY which I'm told will not disappoint.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

EL DEAFO by Cece Bell

Author Cece Bell's graphic novel memoir shares her story of growing up deaf. At the age of four she contracted meningitis which left her deaf. Being young the changes in her life didn't seem to extreme until Cece began to attend school. Her first year she attended a school for the deaf. Everyone understood her circumstances and she felt comfortable with other kids like her. 

The following year her family relocated to an area without a special school so Cece began attending elementary school with hearing students as classmates. In addition to changing schools, Cece was fitted for a device called a Phonic Ear. To use this aid, Cece wore a bulky box connected to her chest by several straps. There were wires that went from the box to special hearing aids in her ears. Her teacher needed to wear a second device around her neck so that when she spoke, Cece could hear. The Phonic Ear worked well, but it made Cece feel uncomfortable when her classmates stared at the cords leading to her ears.

Cece shares the frustrations she encountered making friends. Her first hearing friend was incredibly bossy. The next friend Cece made didn't really understand how to talk to someone who was deaf. She constantly spoke too loudly and slowly. Cece wondered if friendship was worth the aggravation. 

It was around this time that Cece started thinking of herself as a superhero. She adopted the name El Deafo and often imagined how she could swoop in a save the day. These thoughts helped when Cece's frustration threatened to get out of control.

Cece Bell with the help of colorist David Lasky will have readers laughing, crying, and cheering for all the heartfelt moments in her young life as a deaf child. The text is flawless and the illustrations are perfect in this graphic novel aimed as middle grade readers or any one interested in learning more about the hearing impaired.