Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s the Friday before Patriot’s Day/Marathon Monday (aka my favorite MA holiday) and the Friday before The Chance You Won’t Return officially hits selves. Eee! So for today’s Friday Fifteen, I’m featuring a few Amelia Earhart-ish books. Check out the latest in micro-book reviews:

1. Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
Agent sent me a signed copy after she/Fleming were at a conference. Mid-revision inspiration!

2. The Fun of It by Amelia Earhart
Amelia talks about her own life, flying in general, and women aviators.

3. 20 Hours, 40 Min: Our Flight in the Friendship by Amelia Earhart
Earhart admits she was mostly a passenger on Friendship flight, but obvious she loves flying.

4. Amelia Earhart: Courage in the Sky by Mona Kerby
For 5th grade biography project. Thought, “If I have to read nonfiction, should pick Amelia.”

5. Last Flight by Amelia Earhart
Dispatches from Earhart’s final flight. Similar tonally to her other books, but ending still unsettling.

Friday Fifteen

Friday, I am so happy to see you. Onto the book reviews in fifteen words or fewer!

1. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Seuss’s take on environmentalism. Can we classify it as picture book dystopian?

2. The Witchcraft Sourcebook by Brian P. Levack
Another text from my college history of witchcraft class. Lots of cases from across Europe.

3. Changes for Felicity (American Girls: Felicity #6) by Valerie Tripp
If you’re kind to old drunk horse-beaters, they may do you a favor later on.

4. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Usual lesser-known-fairy-tale-adaptation Hale awesomeness. Also dug the epistolary style.

5. The Standard Book of British and American Verse ed. by Nella Braddy, preface Chistopher Morley
A friend gave me a beautiful copy as a wedding present. Bookshelf gold!

Links Galore

All the links I’ve been hoarding:

Friday Fifteen

Man, somehow this week got away from me. But it’s the first Friday in April, which means The Chance You Won’t Return is released in a few weeks, and it’s finally starting to feel like spring. Woohoo! Onto the b ook reviews in fifteen words or fewer:

1. Echo by Francesca Lia Block
Connected to some stories more than others, but stayed with me more than I expected.

2. The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3) by Lemony Snicket
The same plot as the first two, but the dark humor makes it worth it.

3. The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
I think reading YA fantasy gave me unrealistic expectations for this one.

4. More by I. C. Springman
Love the spare text, beautiful art. Also, yay magpies!

5. How to Love by Katie Cotugno
First Fourteenery release has a special place in my heart. Plus the book is so amazing.

Ten Reasons Why You Should Read…Caminar by Skila Brown

When I heard the premise of Caminar–a novel-in-verse about a boy living during Guatemala’s civil war–I knew I was in for something special. Add this to the fact that Skila Brown is a fellow Candlewick author, and I was psyched to see this one show up in my mailbox. Reading Caminar was an emotionally rich experience, and I’m so excited for other readers to discover it. Here are a few of my reasons to read Caminar:

1. Poetry in Motion
Although I enjoy poetry, I’d never read a novel in verse so I didn’t know what to expect. Holy cow, was I impressed. Brown’s writing is powerful, and the verse feels like the perfect vehicle to convey all the hope and fear and sadness and confusion in Carlos’s story. There are so many beautiful and heartbreaking lines I want to share, but I’m holding back because getting to experience them firsthand is way better.

2. Chopán
Although Chopán is not a real place, Brown makes it come alive on the page and uses this village as a way to share the very real experiences of Guatemalan villagers during this tumultuous time. I loved getting to see a little of Carlos’s life, his friends, his family, and how their lives all intersected.

3. Guatemala
I didn’t know much about Guatemala outside of the fact that it’s a Central American country. Learning about the political turmoil was fascinating, and getting to see its side effects on people like Carlos was heartbreaking. A necessary book for anyone interested in international struggles, no matter what your age.

4. Carlos
What a phenomenal narrator. Again, not having read a novel in verse, I wasn’t sure how I’d connect with the protagonist, but Carlos comes alive on the page and it’s so easy to see his development through the book. He’s a thoughtful, dynamic character whom younger readers will easily relate to. Partway through the book, I realized that the poetic narration was so much a part of Carlos’s character–it felt like such a natural way to convey his thoughts in terms of image and rhythm and format. It was another cool way to discover an engaging protagonist.

5. Being a Boy, Being a Man
There’s a theme throughout about what it means to be a boy and what it means to be a man. Carlos is caught between the two as he tries to understand his place among his fellow villagers, the rebels, and the army. Even though most readers won’t be dealing with a situation that intense, I think a lot of young people will be able to relate to Carlos’s struggle with what it means to grow up, especially with so many expectations and pressures on their shoulders.

6. Old Stories and Ways
Although Caminar is set in the recent past, I loved getting a glimpse of how Carlos and his village were still connected to pre-colonial ways of life. Carlos learned about nahuales (a kind of spirit animal that appears when boys become men) from Santiago Luc, the oldest man in Chopán. I loved getting a glimpse at how kids like Carlos play soccer and hear about these old traditions. Similarly people from other villages speak languages other than Guatemela’s official language of Spanish, a nice reminder that the country’s history is so long and so varied.

7. Someone to Walk With
Miguel, Ana, Hector, and Paco are other children affected by the war and whom Carlos meets while journeying to his grandmother’s village.They added so many wonderful layers to the story–grief and anger of their own, but also hope and levity. I know that readers will grow just as attached to them as I was.

8. The Complications of War
Brown doesn’t shy away from the complex nature of the Guatemalan conflict. Soliders and rebels are all presented as real people, who can play soccer with the village boys and share a meal and also commit of horrifying war crimes. This is not a case of good vs. bad and wrong vs. right, and I love that readers get a glimpse of how complex and dangerous the situation was for Carlos and others just trying to survive.

9. On the Syllabus 
There are some books that make me wish I was a teacher just so I could share it with a class. Caminar would be the perfect book for a middle school classroom. In addition to being a great book for general classroom discussions, teachers could use it to talk about Central American history and geography, introduce students to reading and writing poetry, and even get some Spanish vocabulary in there. I expect this book to be on a ton of school and library reading lists very soon.

10. Skila Brown
Skila is a fellow Candlewick author and such a lovely person. She was one of the first OneFours to read The Chance You Won’t Return and send me such kind thoughts about it–it made me feel way better about my book going out into the world. I was so excited to read Skila’s book, and holy cow did I want to write her a glowing email about her work. She’s such a thoughtful, passionate, talented person, and I know that she’s going to make a huge mark on the world of children’s literature.

Caminar is out now, so get your copy today!

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s the last Friday in March, and frankly, the weather still feels a little more “lion” than “lamb.” Here’s hoping by next Friday, it’ll be real spring. Onto the book reviews!

1.  Shopgirl by Steve Martin
Between his fiction and banjo-playing, Martin seems thoughtful about and good at whatever he tries.

2. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
Sometimes it’s better not to see the happy ending, if that involves babies and werewolves.

3. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Remember the illustrations most, but I bet the poems would be fun to revisit.

4. An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The third generation of time-traveling Murrys. Zachary continues to be the worst.

5. Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
I was fascinated by this one in kindergarten. Didn’t stop me from squishing ants.

Friday Fifteen

So glad it’s Friday! Here are this week’s micro book reviews:

1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Quiet and charming; I remember the vibe more than the plot details.

2. Kirsten Learns a Lesson (American Girls: Kirsten #2) by Janet Beeler Shaw
Not my favorite growing up, but looking back themes of language/communication were handled really nicely.

3. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Read it for class and ended up devouring it like I was reading for fun.

4. Florence and Eric Take the Cake by Jocelyn Wild
Maybe if they were goats, not lambs, this hat/cake mix-up wouldn’t have been a problem.

5. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle
Last of the Time books, and the one I remember least.

Friday Fifteen

We made it to Friday! Time for some micro-book reviews.

1. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Kept thinking how this could easily have been published under literary fiction.

2. Aloft by Chang-rae Lee
Hard to relate to middle-aged Jerry when you’re a college student.

3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Damnit, White, you win forever. Includes maybe my favorite line in all of literature.

4. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Maybe not as laugh-out-loud as Me Talk Pretty, but lots of good Sedaris-ness here.

5. A Fruit Is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards
Nice intro to plant science, and one of my favorite adorable titles.

Links Galore

Lots of awesome links for the week:

Friday Fifteen

Hooray for Friday! Onto this week’s book reviews in fifteen words or under.

1. Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness, #4) by Tamora Pierce
A little slow to start, but lots of battle awesomeness at the end. All the feels.

2. Karen’s New Friend (Baby-Sitters Little Sister #36) by Ann M. Martin
Way to be disablist, Karen. Can’t remember if Addie showed up in future Karen books.

3. Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth
Can see why its “metafiction” stories were a big deal, but didn’t stay with me.

4. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
While shows like “Hoarders” sensationalize, Omololu looks at the families behind hoarding. Sensitively done.

5. Titanic: an Illustrated History by Donald Lynch
Lots of cool info and illustrations. Had this before the movie came out–history hipsters.