Lots for me to be thankful for today…as both a writer and a reader. First the writer…
MARTY MCGUIRE comes out in just over two weeks, and that means reviews are starting to come in (eeek!). Happily, they’ve been of the delightful sort so far!
Messner gets all the details of third grade right: the social chasm between the girls who want to be like the older kids and the ones who are still little girls, the Mad Minutes for memorizing arithmetic facts, the silly classroom-control devices teachers use and the energy students of this age put into projects like class plays. Floca’s black-and-white sketches are filled with movement and emotion and are frequent enough to help new chapter-book readers keep up with this longer text. Believable and endearing characters in a realistic elementary-school setting will be just the thing for fans of Clementine and Ramona.
And Scholastic Audio just sent me a great review of Cassandra Morris’s work on the audio book version of Marty!
Morris is terrific at portraying the characters — snooty girls, chummy boys, and patient adults — and her depiction of Marty’s transformation is especially elegant. Morris has the nuances and personalities of kids down pat as she shares subtle lessons about friendship and self-discovery with humor and grace.
~from the AudioFile Review
I love the way the narration turned out (I had listened to some audition audio files and was so happy when they got Cassandra for the job!) Scholastic Audio also gave me the go-ahead to share a sample of the audio book! Just click here to listen to the first eight minutes or so…
On to Kate-the-Reader now…and I’m thankful for two AMAZING books I read this week:
As much as I loved PENNY DREADFUL, I think this is my favorite Laurel Snyder book yet. Heartbreaking, hopeful, and full of magic, it’s the story of a girl whose life changes when the lights go out and her parents have one last argument before her mother loads the kids into the car and drives out of the state. When they land at her grandmother’s house in Georgia, Rebecca has to deal not only with her parents’ separation but also the angst of a sudden move, switching schools, and then…a magical breadbox that backfires? My heart ached for Rebecca, trying to navigate the stormy waters of a newly broken family while taking care of her little brother and dealing with questions of her own about who she wants to be at her new school. BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX is hard to explain – yes, it’s about a magic breadbox and divorce and seagulls and Bruce Springsteen and friends – but it’s one of those books that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Middle grade readers – especially those who have been through a parental separation – are going to read this one, love it, and hold it close for a good long time. (Due out this fall from Random House)
This book is totally different from BREADBOX and I loved it just as much, in a totally different way.
First a confession, though: I wasn’t much of a non-fiction reader growing up. I loved being swept up in stories. I loved the mystery, the drama, the tension of a great novel, whether it took place in a fantasy world or a town that felt just like mine. And when I thought about non-fiction, I generally thought of things like my junior high school social studies book, which was….fine, I guess…and even occasionally interesting, but certainly not something I’d read for fun.
But lately, I’ve turned into something of a non-fiction fanatic. The reason? Narrative non-fiction gems like those in the Scientists in the Field series. My love of this series started with Loree Griffin Burns’s TRACKING TRASH and THE HIVE DETECTIVES, and most recently, I devoured KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD’S STRANGEST PARROT in a single breathless sitting.
This is the story of a small group of scientists, rangers, and volunteers on a life-or-death mission to save a species from extinction. When the book starts, there are fewer than ninety endangered Kakapos alive on a tiny, rugged island off mainland New Zealand. Fewer than ninety! And that means every bird, every egg, and every chick is beyond precious. Reading about the steps these scientists and volunteers take to keep them alive – and bring new birds into the world safely – is as thrilling and compelling as any novel I’ve ever read. Truly, this book has everything, joy and triumph and tragedy – even a funny, stalking, lovesick male parrot with an identity crisis. Highly recommended. (Available now from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
So…your turn now. Spring Break is next week, and I could use some book recommendations. What are you thankful to have read recently??