Archive | January, 2017

Flying Lessons

29 Jan


24561496Flying Lessons and Other Stories

Edited by: Ellen Oh
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Compilation Copyright 2017 by We Need Diverse Books

How often do you actually stop and read the book’s Forward first?  Sometimes I do but often I may or may not come back to it.  How much does it really add, when I just want to dive into the book?!  But for some reason, maybe because it was short or maybe because it started with “Dear Reader,” I started with the Forward that editor Ellen Oh wrote.  In two short pages, I saw her with a mangy kitten and, … well, you read it.  Suffice it to say that this short little story set the tone for me.

Flying Lessons and Other Stories visits little pockets of society or groups and shares a piece of the American pie.  Matt de la Pena, Newberry award winning author, tells the story of a young man wanting to play basketball at the highest levels. And learning to listen to advice that a quiet man gives.  I know Tim Federle’s Secret Samantha personally. And, I certainly know the feeling of sneaking into the library to get away from life.

At the ALA Midwinter Convention in Atlanta, I heard several of the authors talk about this book.  I chanted a Choctaw phrase with the rest of the audience.  I knew that the organization We Need Diverse Books was behind this anthology, but I didn’t really know what that meant.  Apparently it means that there are many, many stories out there to tell and listen to and to share.  After all, we all need something to look forward to.

Recommended: Grades 4 & up

 

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

23 Jan

itstartedwithgoodbyeIt Started with Goodbye
By: Christina June
Publisher: BLINK
Date: 2017

Tatum is a rising high school senior.  She lives with her father who travels the world, her stepmother that she calls by first name and her stepsister that she has never talked to other than courtesy words.  And Tatum is under arrest.

To have her misdemeanor dismissed, Tatum is grounded for the summer except when she does her hours of volunteer work and goes to her babysitting job.  Completely grounded.  Chores in the house and hours in her room.  Then her step-grandmother arrives and things start to change.

Christina June has a talent for taking a beloved fairy tale – in this case, Cinderella, and making it real.  From the very beginning, you can hear Tatum’s voice and it sounds just like a teenager.  The whine, the resentment, the hope, and the love all jump around for attention.  Is Tatum the perfect young lady?  No.  She breaks the rules.  But she’s not mean. After all, she is Cinderella.  I’ll leave it as an exercise for the readers to discover what her glass slipper actually is.

I met Christina June at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference this past weekend.  She was on a panel of Young Adult (YA) writers talking about strong, female protagonists.  This is a wonderful story with a strong female teenager.  Does the story wrap up too neatly?  Well, yes; because it should.

Recommended:  Grades 6 & Up