Apr 252019

Yes, I know. I am the last person on Earth to read a Jodi Picoult novel.  In my defense, they are so hyped and popular I don’t feel they need any help finding readers. Picoult is noted for choosing highly politicized topics to write about and “My Sister’s Keeper” is no different. She is a master at enabling her readers to see both sides of an issue. However, the ending seemed highly unlikely.

“The Lost Girl of Astor Street” by Stephanie Morrill is a wonderful historical fiction novel set in 1920s Chicago. Crime is rampant when Piper’s best friend goes missing. Piper’s father has defended criminals before but Piper’s awareness of these ties is minimal. Piper is a strong and relatable protagonist. This is an engaging mystery with some light romance.

Another true confession: I had never read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr. A very short novel perfect for the 3-4 grader in your life to explain the bombing of Japan during WWII and its aftermath. A very touching read.

Matt Pena and Christian Robinson team up to make a beautiful picture book in “Carmela: Full of Wishes”. A young girl accompanies her big brother to work and stumbles across a dandelion. Just as she is getting ready to blow the dandelion fluff away, her brother tells her she must make a wish. This is an enchanting look into Carmela’s life.

Christina Uss’s “The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle” is a great little audiobook. It is perfect for a diversion while you are washing dishes or weeding gardens. A humorous, coming-of-age story incorporated into a travelogue. Summer is the perfect time to try out the free Libby/Overdrive digital audiobook system. https://meet.libbyapp.com/

Apr 192019

A beautiful sunny day is the perfect type of day to start on your Spring and Summer reading lists.

In “The Great Believers”, we alternate between a 1980s America at the peak of the AIDS epidemic when fear and misinformation were rife and the 2010s. The 1980s setting was much more interesting and the characters leap off the pages.  This book is well worth the read.

You may need that sunshine and kleenex to get you through these books.  “Girl in the Blue Coat” by Monica Hesse is a sad tale of love, friendship, betrayal, and redemption in Nazi Germany as a young woman searches for a missing Jewish girl.

I really enjoyed this book. It was well written. I appreciated how the author showed the complexities of trying to protect someone without inhibiting their independence and how this constant struggle to maintain an equilibrium can be exhausting. The subtlety the author used in explaining how we lash out or thoughtlessly hurt others and how we might forgive and be forgiven was lovely. I liked the overall message of accepting people as they are….the metaphor with the leaves was superb.


It is entirely rude to take someone’s picture first thing in the morning and use it on a book cover without their explicit permission; however, since the story and illustrations of this grumpy monkey and his friends are adorable, I suppose I will forgive them.  “Grumpy Monkey” by Suzanne Lang.


Apr 122019

Miss Dido Kent is invited to Bellfield Hall when her niece’s engagement falls apart. Catherine wants her spinster Aunt Dido to find her ex-fiancee. However, when a young woman is murdered on the estate, Dido ends up with more questions than answers. Aunt Dido’s character is sarcastic and fun as she tries to solve this cozy “closed house” mystery. “Bellfield Hall” by Anna Dean.

Claudia returns home to start school to find her best friend, Monday Charles, missing and no one seems to care. As she tries to focus on her eighth-grade year and pressures the adults around her to help her locate Monday, Claudia’s life starts to unravel. This story is compulsively readable. This is a dark and disturbing tale of teen disappearance. Trigger warnings for child abuse. “Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany Jackson

Ruby Moon Hayes and her mother have been bouncing from place to place since Ruby’s father was killed in the line of duty. Now they have returned to Vermont where her mother grew up.  When her Mom clashes with her new boss and is threatened with arrest, Ruby decides she wants nothing to do with Vermont. However, as she meets another young classmate who doesn’t fit in, a refuge, and a homeless woman who was once a scientist, life starts to look more interesting. A fascinating story with ties to current political issues and past scientific breakthroughs.  “Ruby in the Sky” by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo

Zara’s dog Moose is always getting into trouble at school. We follow Moose as he gets into trouble and then becomes a therapy dog who can accompany Zara to school and no longer has to dread the word “goodbye”. It is such a sweet story and Moose’s school antics come across well in the illustrations.  “Hello Goodbye Dog” by Maria Gianferrari.


Apr 052019

The good news:  There are two adorable Elementary and Middle-Grade books this week. The bad news: My adult book was horrid, so it won’t be making an appearance.


“Archivist Wasp” is set in an interesting, post-apocalyptic world. The story was good and at times intense but a lot of things just happened without being explained. I would read the second one as I appreciated the strong protagonist and decent ending.

An imaginative, thoughtful story, it pulls in the “golem” from Jewish tradition and also the tragic reality of children in the age of “chimney sweeps”. The language is just gorgeous. I really like this story. It feels “Grimm-like” only with rays of hope and kindness. This book is just magic.


A young girl deals with the death of her mother, the separation from everything and everyone she has ever known, and a culture shift when she is “taken in” by her aunt. This book has characters who jump off the page and is packed with humor. The only things that could have been left out were the quirky “spelling” of the main character and the father’s family who never actually became part of the “current” story. A great audiobook if you have any road trips in the future.

If you have ever spent too much money on a gift for a child only to have the child fascinated with the box it came in, these are the books for you!  Fun and simple these stories showcase the power of a child’s imagination. “What to do with a box” by Jane Yolen & Chris Sheban and “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis.