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Reviews by Martha M.

Titles are listed alphabetically by the author's last name. You can click the title of each book to check its availability in the WPL catalog.

Book Cover The One and Only Ivan
Katherine Applegate

An incredible book. Moving, complex, beautifully written, elegiac and strong. Written from the perspective of a gorilla in a strip mall circus, based on a true story. The cover art is misleadingly cute; the writing is wonderfully muscular but NOT cute. Highly recommended by Gary Schmidt, Kathi Appelt, and Patricia MacLachlan. A cross over book -- adults will find a lot in the story for themselves. It reads in one sitting because each page has so few words (Gorillas don't babble.). Do yourself a favor and read this now. A Newbery contender.

WPL Call Number: J Applegate
Review Date: 7/18/12


Book Cover Close to Famous
Joan Bauer

Love Joan Bauer! She's got her wonderful down-on-their-luck scrappy heroines -- and Foster Akila McFee does not disappoint. Beautifully handled is Foster's inability to read at 12. So this is a worthy book for all those kids still struggling with reading past the 2nd grade. It is in Y fiction because of Foster's mom's boyfriend, who is abusive, though they are leaving him in the opening scene. One of the best parts of this book are the vivid, almost tactile, descriptions of each of Foster's fabulous cupcake masterpieces. Prepare for a great cupcake hunger by the end.

WPL Call Number: Y Bauer
Review Date: 7/18/12


Book Cover Will Sparrow's Road
Karen Cushman

The latest from Karen Cushman and the only book she's written with a boy as the main character, Will Sparrow's Road is a lot of fun to read. Will wanders the Elizabethan market fairs, not knowing that he's looking for a real family to join. Cushman adds lots of colorful characters and one wonderful pig. If you are a historical fiction fan, this one's for you.

WPL Call Number: J Cushman
Review Date: 2/25/13


Book Cover Emily's Blue Period
Cathleen Daly

Wonderful, thoughtful, touching book about ART and how it helps us to process, reintegrate and cope -- and a great addition to the short list of great divorce books for kids. I loved how Emily ultimately solves the problem of having to do a picture of her home, now that her parents live separately.

WPL Call Number: JE Daly
Review Date: 7/23/14


Book Cover Absolutely Almost
Lisa Graff

Beautifully written with (somehow) both restraint and pathos, this book about a child struggling with poor performance at school can be achingly painful to read. The scenes of children bullying are realistic, but the really painful parts highlight the disconnect between Albie and his parents. And yet. Albie also learns over the course of a book what a true friend is and how to become one. He is deeply appreciated throughout the book by those who can leave the need for achievement out of their equation of love. We all could learn something from Albie's story.

WPL Call Number: J Graff
Review Date: 7/23/14


Book Cover White Fur Flying
Patricia MacLachlan

Poetic and wise story about a family that rescues dogs, a bird and, once, even a boy. Beautifully written and realized, the book will appeal most to girls looking for GREAT dog stories, but everyone can and should read and enjoy it! White Fur Flying is written by the author of Sarah, Plain and Tall and is highly recommended.

WPL Call Number: J MacLachlan
Review Date: 4/29/13


Book Cover The Great Cake Mystery
Alexander McCall Smith

Fun and sweet story about how Precious Ramotswe first solves a mystery as a young school girl in Botswana. It is great to have a strong capable female African lead in a easy chapter book format; the only thing to compare is Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke. There is a shameless plug at the end for The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but I would vote for LOTS more young Precious Ramotswe mysteries.

WPL Call Number: On Order
Review Date: 7/17/12


Book Cover Caddy's World
Hilary McKay

This book is such a delight! It's a new offering in Hilary McKay's great series about the artistic Casson family. In this book we go back and catch Caddy (Cadmium) when she's 12 -- and her mom is giving birth to Permanent Rose. If you've never read this series, do yourself a favor and start with Saffy's Angel. There is nothing quite like McKay's writing about family.

WPL Call Number: J McKay
Review Date: 7/17/12


Book Cover Summer of the Gypsy Moths
Sara Pennypacker

Beautiful, nuanced story of a granddaughter (whose flighty mother is always gone) and a foster child who capably run a beach cottage resort to hide their grandmother's sudden death. The girls' rapprochement and slowly growing attachment shadowed by the fear of the foster care system is lovely. The book shines with a deep yearning for family and maternal love. A GREAT debut in older fiction for Pennypacker who has written the Clementine and the Flat Stanley series books. She's a new and powerful voice in upper elementary fiction. Can't wait for her next entry in this category.

WPL Call Number: J Pennypacker
Review Date: 7/17/12


Book Cover Bamboo People
Mitali Perkins

Fascinating story of modern Burma (Myanmar) from the perspective of 2 boys, one Burmese and one Karenni, caught in a war between the Burmese government and ethnic minorities. It is an adventure story, a war novel and a simply engrossing page turner. Bamboo People is on the 2014 Master List for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award.

WPL Call Number: Y Perkins
Review Date: 4/29/13


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