Tag Archives: death

#blogbookaday: Big Cat, Little Cat

12 Jan

26158605.jpgSummary:  “There was a cat
who lived alone.
Until the day
a new cat came . . .

And so a story of friendship begins, following two cats through their days, months, and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back.

This is a poignant story, told in measured text and bold black-and-white illustrations about life and the act of moving on.” (Taken from Goodreads)

Review: Well, this one hit me right in the feels. It is a simple story of cat with simple text and simple drawings until you turn the page and then it becomes the powerful story of loss, grief and new beginnings. If you ever need a title to suggest to someone who has recently lost a pet, then you definitely need to suggest this book, it’s absolutely perfect in it’s simplicity with simple ink drawings and a message that you won’t soon forget.

Personal Reaction: I’m a librarian that prefers dogs to cats, not to say I dislike cats, I just prefer dogs. But, I’m sure you can imagine the number of comments and jokes one hears about being a cat-lady. That being said, I began this story, not knowing where it was headed, in fact, enjoying the friendship of the cats, until you turn that page and BOOM – the truth hits you in an unexpected way. And honestly, I almost started tearing up. It’s amazing how just the right words, written in just the right way can ring so true and profound, but that’s what Elisha Cooper was able to do in this book.

Title: Big Cat, Little Cat
Author: Elisha Cooper
Illustrator: Elisha Cooper
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: March 14, 2017


#blogbookaday (1)This is a new idea I’m trying on my blog this year that was inspired by @donalynbooks and @heisereads – to provide a brief review of a picture book every day of 2018. You’ll get a brief summary of the story, a review of the content, illustrations and theme, my personal reaction to the book and all the pertinent publication information! Enjoy!

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Middle Grade Gets Real – 25 Titles About Tough Topics

3 Mar

Tough Topics.png

There are arguments that kids shouldn’t read about tough topics – topics that include death, adoption/foster care, childhood illness, substance abuse, disability and more. But, how do kids learn about these topics if they don’t see them in their daily life? Or, how to kids feel less alone if they are dealing with these issues at home? Middle grades authors, for the most part, are very careful when dealing with tough topics when writing for their audience. Not, that they sugar coat these issues, but they provide a close look at a tough topic at an age appropriate level.

I love these types of books because it allows kids to really open up, ask questions and discuss topics that are often seen as taboo. But, how are kids supposed to learn? We’ve used at least a few of these titles during our middle school book discussion and the kids are always very insightful and full of questions which they feel comfortable enough to ask. Many students share their own experiences or discuss what they might do if they were in a certain situation. This open communication fills my heart and makes me so happy to hear because I truly believe that books and discussion can truly help educate young people about tough topics and how to react or what they can do when something happens in their own life.

#MGGetsReal is a collaboration of authors reaching out to kids about tough topics. And although the blog doesn’t look like much is happening, Kerry O’Malley Cerra, middle grade author, has an absolutely amazing list of titles on her website about all different types of tough topics.

Take a look at some of these amazing titles below and search for more online or by asking your local librarian. There are many more titles that I could have included and the only reason I didn’t was to make a prettier graphic, so what other titles would you offer for this booklist?

  1. George by Alex Gino
  2. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
  3. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
  4. Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  5. Booked by Kwame Alexander
  6. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  7. Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar
  8. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
  9. See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles
  10. Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley
  11. Ruby On the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin
  12. One for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt
  13. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
  14. The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
  15. Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  16. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer & Matthew Holm
  17. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
  18. Lost In the Sun by Lisa Graff
  19. Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
  20. The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
  21. The Girl In the Well Is Me by Karen Rivers
  22. Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
  23. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
  24. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
  25. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Paper Covers Rock

14 Jan

9370806Paper Covers Rock written by Jenny Hubbard reminded me of another book I read called The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LeBan.  It has a similar feel with a male main character at a boarding school where secrets are being kept about a horrible situation that has occurred.  Without giving too much away, Alex is writing in a journal about the drowning accident of his friend while at boarding school.  His journal is hidden behind Moby Dick on the library shelf and he uses parts of the story to title the sections of his journal.  He slowly begins revealing more of what happened on that fateful day as the reader learns more about the accident.  Alex’s English teacher begins reaching out to him, offering her support when she suspects that something more happened that day.  Alex’s friend, Glenn, who was also present at the time of the accident insists that Alex must choose between him and their English teacher, possibly by covering up the truth.

Alex is a an interesting narrator as his journal is broken down into flashbacks, biographical information, and daily passages as the year continues.  I’m still thinking about the ending – I’m not sure if I was wholly satisfied with the way the story ended, but that might be why the author wrote it this way – to jar the reader into thinking about right from wrong, survival, lying, and more.  A YA book, Paper Covers Rock, would be definitely something I would offer teen boys to read.  It’s a mystery within a realistic fiction story – perfect for those guys uninterested by high fantasy and science fiction material.

To read more about the book, check out the website!

Title: Paper Covers Rock
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: 2011
Page Number: 183 pgs.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths

13 May

9780061964206_zoomSara Pennypacker’s Summer of the Gypsy Moths is a story of belonging, of finding a family in an unexpected place, and of dreams.  Stella is living with her Great-Aunt Louise on the Cape Cod coast with another foster girl, named Angel.  The two girls are complete opposites and have no interest in being friends or even friendly with each other.  But when the unthinkable happens, Stella and Angel must band together to make everything work out for the better.

I enjoyed the coming of age aspect of this story, but the author went about the plot line in a way that was a little too farfetched for me to believe.  But, in reality, something like this could easily happen, where children are forced to take care of themselves with little or no parental supervision and often people just look the other way.  What I really liked about the story was how you learned more and more about the characters as the story unfolded.  It was as if you kept peeling away layers learning a little more each time.

The story also provides a look into the foster care system and the sad truth that older children are often bounced from home to home without any hope of being adopted into a family.  This story has a number of discussion points for children and adults to discuss making it a great book for a book discussion choice.  Learn more about Sara Pennypacker, by visiting her website.

Title: Summer of the Gypsy Moths
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Publication Date: 2012
Page Number: 275 pgs.

The Center of Everything

1 Apr

9780547763484_p0_v1_s260x420The Center of Everything by Linda Urban is a coming-of-age story for a young girl whose grandmother has recently passed away.  Ruby Pepperdine lives in Bunning New Hampshire where it is said the inventor of the donut settled after spending years on the ocean in his sailing ship.  Ruby’s grandmother passed away, her best friend is mad at her, and she wants things to go back to the way they were.  When Ruby finds out that she will be reading her award-winning essay on Bunning Day, she can’t wait for her 12-year-old birthday wish to come true.  If it does, it might just change everything…

The story is told with flashbacks as Ruby thinks back to how she came to stand where she is at the end of the parade route on Bunning Day, winning essay in hand.  This story will definitely resonate with middle grade readers who enjoy realistic fiction.  It is a quiet story with interesting characters and issues that many young people face – the death of a loved one, misunderstandings among friends, and familial expectations to be good.  I have enjoyed all three of Linda Urban’s books – with her quiet writing style, that really allow the character’s voices to shine.   For more information about Linda Urban and her books, check out her website.  I think Urban says it best, “I’ve always been interested in small things. Tiny gestures, phrases, moments that can seem insignificant to one person and hugely important to someone else. In my books, I write about the small things that matter in a big way.”

Title: The Center of Everything
Author: Linda Urban
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Publication Date: 2013
Page Number: 208 pgs.

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