November 23, 2018

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle written by Leslie Connor

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 8:26 pm by suebe2

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
written by Leslie Connor

There’s a notebook that Mason is supposed to be writing in and it is way worse than school work.  School is bad enough.

Mason is the biggest kid at school and he sweats a lot.  It is so bad he brings an extra shirt to school.  And school work is a struggle.  Letters seem to swim around the page.  He can tell a story well enough but reading and writing are tough.  And that’s what the detective wants him to do – write.

Fifteen months earlier, Mason’s best friend Benny is found dead in the Buttle family orchard.  He’s laying beneath the tree fort where he and Mason spent so much of their time.  Mason knows that its important but he doesn’t know what the detective wants him to say.  He tried to tell about seeing pink when he is especially happy, like he was when he left Benny in the fort, but the detective thinks Mason is making things up.

Now the detective stops by every now and again and asks to see the notebook. He’s always disappointed and tells Mason that people are counting on him.  Don’t Benny’s dads deserve to know what happened to their boy?  Benny agrees, yes, they deserve to know but he doesn’t know how he can help.  The two  men act so sad and disappointed when they see Mason.

Then Mason’s other friend disappears.  They split up to run through the orchard and Mason thought Calvin went home.  But he isn’t there and now the police are looking for him.  And they are once again looking at Mason Buttle.

I’m not going to tell you how the book ends except to say that Mason figures it out.  He figures out what happened to Calvin and what happened to Benny.  And it isn’t the story the police expected to hear but they hear it anyway.

As a mom, this book was really hard to read.  It bothered me that the adults in his life didn’t seem to be tending to Mason’s needs.  Yes, they were hurting too but they didn’t seem to see how bad things were for him.  Fortunately, by the end of the book, they had come around but until then it was so hard for me to read.

Still Connor has created a vibrant world with a character you can’t help but love.  Mason had a good heart and is painfully honest even if not everyone sees his vision of the world.

Add this book to your library, at home and at school, and share it with the young readers in your life.  Be prepared to discuss bullying as well as creativity and belonging.  A top-notch book that begs to be read, appreciated and discussed with fellow readers.


November 16, 2018

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? and Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package by Kate DiCamillo, illus. by Chris Van Dusen

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 5:09 pm by suebe2

Where Are You Going Baby LincolnEugenia LincolnWhere Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?
Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package
by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Candlewick Press

If you have a young Mercy Watson fan on your hands, check out the chapter books about the fabulous characters on Deckawoo Drive.  I picked these two up at my local library because I’ve always appreciated the sisters, bossy Eugenia and spacy Baby Lincoln.

In Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?, Baby ends up going on a train trip without her big sister.  On your average day, Eugenia tells Baby what to do.  “Yes, sister” is Baby’s typical response.

But one morning Eugenia decided that they will make a list of goals for the day.  Eugenia loves making lists of goals.  And she’s perfectly willing to help Baby set her goals as well.  Goal number one – buy mouse traps.  But Baby hates the thought of trapping mice and refuses to write it down.

Soon she is up in her room where she finds a long unused suitcase.  Without a real plan, Baby packs the book that Eugenia has her reading, her toothbrush, her nightgown, reading glasses, and a sweater. Then she is off to the train station in search of adventure.

In Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package, a box arrives at the sisters’ home.  It is addressed to Eugenia. Eugenia doesn’t want to accept delivery. After all, she didn’t order anything.  But it has been bought and paid for and it is up to Eugenia to get to the bottom of things.

With the help of Baby and her neighbors, young Frank, Mrs. Watson and Mercy, she opens it to discover . . . an accordion.  Eugenia has never seen anything as frivolous or ridiculous in her life.  Who could possibly have sent her something like this?

In her quest to find the truth, Eugenia accidentally discovers that she has a real talent for making music.  Of course that means that people are going to dance and clap (ugh!), but when you have a song in your heart, sometimes you just have to play.

As always, DiCammillo has populated her stories with characters who are too silly to be believed but still manage to be wise and compassionate.  I love that there is much more to both sisters than is initially obvious and getting a look at their early lives and the love that motivates them both.

The short chapters and funny situations would make these books excellent read alouds for Mercy Watson fans.  Add them to your shelf this holiday season.


November 8, 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:27 pm by suebe2

Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi
Henry Holt

Zélie Adebola remembers when life was full of magic.  But then the king sent out his army to kill the maji.  They lead Mama away in chains.

With her mother dead and her father a broken man, Zélie and her brother do their best move forward.  But the king’s men return again and again, demanding taxes because their was magic in their family.  And they can’t like about it.  Zélie’s hair shines white – revealing her heritage to one and all.

Zélie is in the market when someone runs into her.  The young woman is clearly terrified.  She needs help and she’s clearly trying to avoid the king’s guards.  Zélie doesn’t ask why and she doesn’t really care.  The fact that this girl is terrified and running for her life is all Zélie needs to know.

Only later does she realize what she has done.  She didn’t rescue just anyone but a princess.  And now the crown prince is after them because the princess has stolen an artifact that can bring magic back to their land.

I’m not going to write any more about the plot.  That’s the danger when reviewing fantasy.  The plot and the world are often so deliciously complex that it is tempting to describe it piece by piece.

The world of Orïsha was inspired by Adeyemi’s own West African heritage.  I suspect that if I knew more about the cultures and the countryside, I’d recognize even more than I did.  I love textiles and wild animals so most of what I recognized fell into these two categories.

As with many young adult fantasies, this is a story with romance, friendship, and self-discovery.  The characters have to decide what is truly important, what they are willing to sacrifice to achieve it, and who can really be trusted.  There is newfound magic, powers that have to be controlled and horror when that control slips.

In this world, magic takes many forms.  Reapers have power over souls.  Burners ignite flame.  There are also those with power over cancer, people’s minds, healers and much more.

This is definitely a book that needed to be written.  It brings some diversity to the world of fantasy and introduces a heroine young readers will love.  Me?  The second book in the series has yet to be released but knowing that doesn’t stop me from checking my library.  Is it in yet?



November 1, 2018

The Red Fort by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:51 am by suebe2

The Little Red Fort
by Brenda Maier
illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
Scholastic Press

When Ruby finds some boards, she knows she wants to build something.  Her three brothers refuse to help.  After all, Ruby doesn’t know how to build.  So she learns.  When she asks them to help her draw up her plans, they refuse.  After all, Ruby doesn’t know how.  So she learns.

Again and again, Ruby asks her brothers to take part.  Again and again, they refuse but this doesn’t slow Ruby down.  This girl has a real can-do attitude.

It isn’t until the very end that they want a part of Ruby’s brand new fort.  She sends them on their way.

I have to admit, I’m really happy the story doesn’t end there but this next bit is a plot spoiler.  Don’t read on if that is going to annoy you.

Ruby’s brothers decide to make her fort even better.  They set to work with each of them finding a way to improve this already amazing fort.

Yes, this is a new spin on the Little Red Hen.  And I love it!  But then it is an easy book to love.

  1.  I love Ruby’s attitude.  Those boys and their “ho-hum don’t bug me” aren’t going to get her down.
  2. I love the chorus.  In a picture book, a repeated line of text is the chorus.  When Ruby asks for help, again and again we get this line – “‘No way,” said Jose. I’m too busy.”
  3. I love the way the illustrations add to the story.  When Ruby is learning to draw, her father is in the background with his own drafting project.  When she saws, her mother is helping out.  Grandma lends a hand when the building begins.  This little girl is part of a great big family.

This book makes a great read aloud as a family or in a classroom or library.  Young readers are going to connect with Ruby whether they spend their time building pillow forts or blanket forts or crafting things that start with the dining room table.

Share this book with the young reader in your life and get ready to build.


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