Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Wookiee, A Worried Kid and a Mountain Girl

I can't let myself get too far behind on blogging. There's so much reading wonderfulness out there, and I just gotta write about it. However, in the interest of time to read CYBILS nominees, I will be keeping it brief. (insert wink emoticon)

My ten-year-old son has read all three of the Origami Yoda books. In fact, he's read each book multiple times. I know because I can hear him giggling through the walls. The latest book in the series, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, has been nominated for a CYBILS award in the Middle Grades Fiction genre. 

I'll have to admit I was skeptical. My son had explained the premise of the series, and I wasn't sure about the broad appeal of the ongoing story. I was wrong. Very wrong. The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee is hilarious. I love Tommy and Kellen and the rest of the wacky gang of friends at McQuarrie Middle School. I love how they stick together, argue, make-up and trust in paper Star Wars characters to solve their adolescent problems.

I recommend the Origami Yoda series to kids 8 - 12 who like a funny story with heart. 

Justin Case - Shells, Smells, and the Horrible Flip-Flops of Doom was another unexpected surprise. A wonderful surprise. I know I'm not suppose to judge a book by its cover, but with Justin Case, I did. I was expecting another Nate or Greg character (not that there's anything wrong with that) but instead I got Justin. Funny, worried, slightly-nerdy Justin. 

Rachel Vail is the author behind this funny book about a nervous kid who over thinks...everything. Justin has just finished fourth grade and will be spending the summer at camp. But not comfortable, tried and true science camp. This year Justin has decided to go to Camp GoldenBrook. And at GoldenBrook, Justin will be outside his comfort zone. Way outside his comfort zone.

Written as journal entries, Justin Case chronicles the ups and downs (mostly downs) and ins and outs of Justin's summer camp experiences. GoldenBrook is a camp more suited to athletes and competitors, but Justin sticks it out, finds some friends, and makes a firm decision about his plans for next summer. Science Camp, definitely.

I recommend this book to everyone.

My last book for this post isn't funny or silly. It is serious. And lovely. And heartbreaking. And inspiring. Child of the Mountains is the story of Lydia, a young girl growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia in the 1950s. Her mama is in prison, her little brother is dead, and Lydia alone must find a way to clear her mother's name.

Lydia and her family speak the Appalachian dialect, and the rich traditions and culture West Virginians are examined in the day to day life of the characters. Marilyn Sue Shank, the author of Child of the Mountains, is a West Virginia native and includes an Author's Note about her heritage and the history of the rural coal mining towns of her home state.

Lydia is a character with a story to tell. I simply fell in love with her. I recommend this book to fans of historical fiction over the age of ten. Her story can be appreciated by anyone, but I hope that Lydia is discovered by girls, young and old, who can connect with her beautiful spirit and unwavering loyalty.

Blog you later!

Ali B.