Tag Archives: coming-of-age

Book Review: Some Kind of Happiness

31 Aug

13260524.jpgI don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I absolutely adore book dedication – more often than not, they’ll tell you a little something about the author, the story or if you’re lucky you’ll find one that sounds like it was written just for you.  The dedication in Some Kind of Happiness is absolutely perfect,

“If you are afraid, sad, tired, or lonely
if you feel lost or strange
if you crave stories and adventure,
and the magic possibility of a forest path –
this book is for you”

This book was suggested to me by a good friend, frequent library user and fellow blogger.  She’s normally a young adult reader, so when she picked up this book and enjoyed it, she knew she had to tell me about it – and I’m so glad she did!

Some Kind of Happiness is the story of Finley as she spends the summer with her estranged extended family on her father’s side – she’s never met any aunts, uncles, cousins or her grandparents.  But, her own parents are having problems and they want to spend the summer figuring out the next step for the family and believe that Finley would be better off at her grandparents’ house.  Finley has no idea why her she’s never met the family or what everyone is hiding as she discovers a run-down old house in the woods, is told never to hang around the Bailey’s (the kids next door) and learns secrets in her grandparents’ house that she’s not allowed to talk about.  Because if you don’t talk about an issue somehow her grandparents feel it will just go away, but Finley knows differently.  Finley has secrets of her own as she tries to navigate her “blue days” where feelings of sadness and anxiety threaten to overwhelm her.  Her only escape is Everwood, a fantastical place Finley created in the pages of her notebook, but soon she shares her stories with her cousins as they try to discover some answers to the many secrets of the magical forest and of her grandparents’ house.

This writing is this book is absolutely amazing – creating a realistic world and a fantastical one – both of which are fully developed and described so vividly.  I also really enjoyed Finley’s voice – her understanding that these “blue days” are not normal, while realizing she has nothing to be sad about – yet not being able to do anything about it.  Legrand also does a great job of navigating the children through an adult’s world and fully understanding that children pick up more than adults ever know and can handle the truth even when the adults in their lives sometimes cannot.

What I love more than anything about middle grade fiction is that even when there are “big issues” – such as divorce and depression as there are in this book, there is an element of hope that runs as an undercurrent through the story, giving the reader a sense of security; that even though there are tough times, the protagonist will be alright.  This is a definite must-read and a story that will resonate with a lot of middle grade readers as they find there place in the world.

Twitter Booktalk (14o characters or less): Finley’s “blue days” threaten to overwhelm her; her escape- Everwood, a place that exists only in her mind-until she visits her grandparents

Title: Some Kind of Happiness
Author: Claire Legrand
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2016
Page Number: 374 pgs.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/29/16

29 Aug

I read an awesome book suggested to me by a friend, library visitor and fellow blogger – Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand this week.  I’m also working on Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek.  Two very different reads but both really interesting.  I’m going to review Some Kind of Happiness later this week as it deserves it’s very own post.

This week will be insane – I’m only at the library Monday and Tuesday and then I’m heading to my parents’ house for my brother’s wedding over Labor Day weekend.  Now, before you say – that’ll be relaxing and fun, my brother and his fiancee are getting married at my parents’ house because we have about 13 acres of land with a four acre lake, a barn and the most perfect little grove of trees for a wedding – needless to say, my mother has about 50 million things on her to-do list and I’ll be her right-hand woman for the foreseeable future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see my siblings, nephew, and extended family – but it’s not going to be a quiet relaxing Labor Day weekend.  I’ll hopefully have five minutes to post a few photos so you can see how beautiful the  location really is.  And maybe I’ll find a hidey-hole to snag a few pages of reading now and then!

imwayrJoin Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

Book Review: On the Run

6 Feb

23310747.jpgI loved Hatchet by Gary Paulsen when I read it in elementary school.  The survival aspect fascinated me and I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out what happened to Brian as he faced the Canadian wilderness.  So when I read the description of On the Run, I expected something similar, but I was in for a surprise and not a bad one at that.

Although the story does have a survival aspect to it, it’s much more of a thriller.  Ben is fascinated by police officers and wants to become a cop when he grows up.  But after a visit from the police to his home, his parents return rushing him and his sister up to a remote cabin hours from their home, leaving everything… on, what his parents keep calling a “vacation.”   But Ben knows something is up.

On the Run by Tristan Bancks is the story of asking questions and finding answers that may not be the answers you want or expected.  It is a story that forces Ben to grow up, make difficult decisions and learn about himself and his family.

I really enjoyed the fast-paced nature of this story.  It was definitely hard to put down!  As for audience, it would work well for a middle grade audience (grades 5 – 8); the main character is 12 years old in the story.  And I would definitely recommend this book to reluctant readers who need something that they can’t put down.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters): Ben is fascinated by cops, but when his parents start acting suspiciously, he must make a difficult decision. “On the Run” by

Title: On the Run
Author: Tristan Bancks
Publisher: Margaret Ferguson Books
Publication Date: 2015
Page Number: 227 pgs.

Book Review: In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

2 Jan

footstepsI think having New Year’s Eve fall on a Thursday is absolutely genius!  The library was closed yesterday and I don’t have to work this weekend allowing me to begin 2016 in the right way – with lots of reading!  I read In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III, published by Amulet Books.

The story follows Jimmy McClean, a Lakota boy with brown hair, fair skin and blue eyes making him a target for the bullies in his class, but a summer road trip with his grandfather in the footsteps of Crazy Horse, show Jimmy how to be strong and courageous in the face of adversity.

This coming of age story is beautifully written drawing from the oral stories of the Lakota people and weaving historical fact with fiction, Marshall does an amazing job of taking a closer look at Crazy Horse’s life and what he did for his people.  I really enjoyed how the author was able to weave in specific locations of battles with stories of how loyal and generous Crazy Horse was to his people.  I think this would make a wonderful text to use in the classroom when discussing westward expansion or for middle grade readers looking for something about standing out and fitting in.  I also found it very reassuring that the book is written by a member of the Sicangu Lakota tribe, truly showing an understanding and education about the topic.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): A summer road trip with his grandfather shows Jimmy his inner strength while following in the footsteps of Crazy Horse.

Title: In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
Author: James Marshall III
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: 2015
Page Number: 165 pgs.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/21/15

21 Sep

23281716 23507745 23615709 (1)This week I read Appleblossom the Possum written by Holly Goldberg Sloan which is a very different style from her previous work County By 7s.  It’s an adorable story about a little possum who accidentally falls down a chimney and with the help of her brothers is able to escape.  It’s an adorable story of family, growing up, and I think it will make a great read aloud for kids!  I also read Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead which I read in one sitting and absolutely loved!  I wasn’t the biggest fan of her other novels, but this one was amazing!  With a story that has five characters that are the main focus.  It’s a great coming of age story!  And right now, I’m in the middle of Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty – it’s a creepy story of a haunted wood, disappearing children and a new friendship that will help solve the mystery of it all.

This week, I’ve got a few more middle grade/YA books before I start in my official capacity as a judge for the elementary/middle grade nonfiction category for the CYBILS.

  • Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas
  • Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
  • The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  • The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall


Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

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