Friday, October 5, 2012

A Group of Three

I am happy and content and up to my eyeballs in Middle Grades Fiction - I love being a CYBILS judge! For the next three months my blog will be dedicated to reviews of nominated titles, but I have three beautiful and worthy books I want to post about first.

In Mary Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox, a teenager wakes from a coma with no memories of life before her accident. Jenna's parents try to shelter her, and her grandmother is strangely distant and cold. No one wants to give Jenna straight answers.

Aided by videos of past birthdays, Jenna regains parts of her memory. Strangely vivid, strangely early memories. But a minor injury brings up major questions and leaves the reader wondering just how far they'd go to save someone they love.

TAJF is smart, well-written and a great read for lovers of soft sci-fi.

Speak is an award winner - a multiple award winner. It was even made into a movie starring everyone's (ahem) favorite lip-chewing, vampire loving ingenue - Kristen Stewart. I'm not necessarily recommending the movie. I can't - I only saw a few scenes. But I can and do recommend the book.

Told from the perspective of an ostracized, high school freshman, Speak is a powerful and darkly funny story of loneliness, shame and an unspeakable hurt. It's about finding your voice and silencing your demons.

At an end-of-the-summer party, incoming freshman Melinda Sordino commits social suicide by calling the cops. She starts high school with no friends and an awful secret about what really happened at that fateful party.

Speak is beautifully crafted. Melinda is believable and touching. It is a Young Adult novel worthy of its many accolades.

Karen Cushman spoke at the 2012 Summer Conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She was, in a word, inspiring. Having never read her work, I promptly added The Midwife's Apprentice to my TBR pile. It is a gem.

Winner of the 1996 John Newbery medal, The Midwife's Apprentice is the charming story of Beetle, a young woman rudely named by the midwife who finds her sleeping in a dung heap. With nowhere to go, Beetle goes to work for the midwife.

Over time, Beetle's self-confidence grows, and she discovers that everyone wants for things - even Beetle. Changing her name to Alyce, the young woman learns to make decisions for herself and plans for her future. "I know what I want. A full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world."

Karen Cushman includes an informative Author's Note, making The Midwife's Apprentice the perfect read for kids and parents interested in Medieval England and the practice of midwifery.

I love and recommend all three of these gorgeous books. They are about girl-power, finding your voice and the beauty of personal growth. Wow!

Blog you later!

Ali B.


Samantha said...

Hi Ali,

Thanks for giving me a place to find new books for my 5th grader. Any chance you could classify the age level for each book in each review? I know you have your middle grades list and your YA list, but I'd love to see the age appropriate-ness while reading the review.


Ali B said...

In the future, I will try to add my age-level recommendation. Middle Grades is usually considered 9-12 years and Young Adult is 13+. However, there is a lot of crossover in all genres of literature. As I review, I will try to give a line or two about who I think would really enjoy the book.