Here are the latest titles from my reading plate:
Beholding Bee by Kimberley Fusco – Eleven-year-old Bee has grown up as part of a carnival, hiding the diamond-shaped birthmark on her face the best she can. When Pauline, the young woman who has raised Bee leaves, Bee leans harder upon Bobby, another worker at the carnival. Bobby teaches her how to run, but he soon leaves as well as he would rather find a way to serve in World War II than stay as the pig racer at the show. Bee decides it is time for her to leave the traveling show as well rather than be put on spectacle. She finds a small house to live in where only she can see the women that live there. This story is about gaining courage and about not letting others demean you. I think this historical fiction book with its otherworldly connections could appeal to those who enjoyed the book Wonder.
33 Minutes by Todd Hasak-Lowy – In 33 minutes, Sam Lewis is going to face Morgan Sturtz, his ex-best friend. Sam knows he will lose and lose badly. This story features a countdown toward the dread fight, flashbacks to how this situation even got started and addresses how friendships can change. I found Sam to be a witty narrator. Events spiral out of control when the fight was supposed to happen. The resolution of everything is not a happy, neatly tied together package, nor is it meant to be. One of my fifth graders loved this book last spring so that is why I picked it up.
Doll Bones by Holly Black – This is a creepy read that would probably appeal to readers who enjoyed Coraline. Friends Poppy, Zach and Alice live daring adventures through the stories they act out using dolls in the stead of their characters. When Zach suddenly announces he is no longer going to play their games of make believe, Poppy takes action by taking the Doll Queen, an old, fragile bone china doll, out of its box. A few nights later Poppy and Alice show up at Zach’s window with a tale of how a ghost has been haunting Poppy since she took out the doll. She claims the doll is made from the ashes of a girl named Eleanor and that they have to find the doll’s grave to bury her properly. Zach and Alice reluctantly join Poppy’s mission. A trip of misadventure and near disasters follow on this creepy read. One thing I loved about this book was how the characters referenced other books and characters. One of Zach’s observations was: “Aragorn never wore sunblock. Taran never wore sunblock. Percy never wore sunblock.”
The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton – This is the start of a young adult series that uses elements of Norse mythology and is set in The United States of Asgard. Soren, the main character, is the son of a berserker who died after killing innocent civilians. Soren fights to repress the same berserker abilities within himself, hoping by force of will to never manifest them. His attempts to isolate himself fail when Astrid, the new girl at Sanctus Sigurd’s Academy, convinces him to go with her on a quest to finding the missing god Baldur. I’m interested to see where the next book goes from here.
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu – I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Walden Pond Press and read it at the start of the month. I’ll write more on it later, but I loved this story of Oscar, the boy who spent his days preparing herbs for his master and then finds himself thrust into a larger, more dangerous world. (Middle Grade)
Nonfiction Picture Book
I recently visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for the 150th Anniversary of the battle. While the visit did not go as planned, I found some nonfiction picture books I need to share back at school.
Voices of Gettysburg by Sherry Garland – This is a series of vignettes by different people involved in the Battle of Gettysburg – soldiers from both sides, different parts of the armed services, civilians and veterans. It would be a neat way to introduce the battle, even if the shoe mythos does happen in this book.
Mary Walker Wears the Pants by Cheryl Harness – Mary Walker was one of the first women doctors in the United States. She served for a time as a doctor with the army and was a prisoner of war. I’d never heard of her before, so this was an enlightening read.
The Enchanted Heir by Cindy Williams Chima – I’m reading this young adult book courtesy of Netgalley. This is a companion book to the trilogy started with The Warrior Heir which I found to be addictive. Several characters from the original books make bit appearances, but this book delves into a whole different aspect of the Weir and Anaweir world (magic and nonmagic for those of you who haven’t read them).
I want to finish The Enchanted Heir. I would also like to read Hattie Big Sky or The Lost Kingdom soon.