I started a project this past summer where I read one book from each bookshelf of the Children’s (Juvenile Fiction) section of the library. The book I choose has to be one I’ve never read before – and I can’t read a book in a series I’ve read part of. After I read each book, I write a short review and post it where I post all the other books I read, on my reading blog.
#16: … and now Miguel (Joseph Krumgold)
Miguel is struggling to find his place in his family. His only dream this year is to be allowed to go up to the sheep camp in the mountains with the men for the summer, but he is not old enough. Throughout the book Miguel narrates the story as he finds ways to take on new responsibilities. The story takes place near Taos, New Mexico, near the Sangre de Cristo mountains, and is infused with a wonderful sense of place.
#17: The Lying Carpet (David Lucas)
Faith wakes up to find she is a statue, but has she always been one? Her only companion is a carpet lying on the floor, who tells her that she was once a little girl and was turned to stone. But is he lying or telling the truth, and how will faith find out?
#18: Good Night, Mr. Tom (Michelle Magorian)
Willie is evacuated from London to the countryside on the eve of WW2. He is deposited in a small village, under the care of Mr. Tom, a grumpy old man. Tom soon realizes the intense abuse Willie undergoes at the hands of his mother in London, and comes to think of him as his own son as he helps Willie to recover and experience a normal childhood. When Willie’s mother regains custody of him, Mr. Tom comes to the rescue.
#19: The Secret of the Ruby Ring (Yvonne MacGrory)
I don’t see very many Irish books, but this is a good one. Lucy is a “rather spoiled almost-eleven-year-old”, who finds herself suddenly a young servant in an 1885 aristocratic household. She’s lost the special ruby ring that transported her back in time, and must find it again in order to make a second wish and get home. Lucy lands in a period of great historical significance in Irish history, and the author is able to skillfully portray the society, the tensions between the British aristocrats and the poor Irish, and how different segments of society lived – all without coming off as “educational”. The story was well-written and fast-paced, and I always like a good “travel back in time” book.
#20: The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley (who planned to live an unusual life) (Martine Murray)
I originally picked this book off the shelf for it’s title – it immediately seemed like it would have a strong and interesting female main character, and I was right. Set in Australia, since Cedar’s older brother left, she’s lived alone with her Mom. Her puddle of friends gets larger as she meets others who – like herself, are a little bit different. Cedar falls in love for the first time, learns acrobatics, and puts on a circus, all narrated through her wonderful and original voice. A really lovely portrayal of kids’ street and play culture in Australia, and a special group of friends. This was a good read, with really nice spot illustrations.