Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (2015) – Juvenile/Middle Grade Fiction
Ally is really very smart. She’s made it through several years of school without anyone finding out that she cannot read. She fakes, she jokes, and she disrupts her class to avoid being found out that she find reading extremely difficult. Her new teacher is Mr. Daniels. He is perhaps more perceptive than her previous teachers. He realizes that she has dyslexia, and starts working with her one on one. He also shows her and the entire class that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. Ally also makes new friends and develops some of the closest friendships she has ever had in her life, so far.
This was a quite read for me (I am also not dyslexic.) I would highly recommend it for students who feel different, and for those who would like to better understand dyslexia. I did find myself frustrated with Ally in the beginning of the book, however. Why didn’t she tell someone years earlier about all of the problems she was having?
Rating: Five of Five Stars
Summer Reading Online – Book 26 of 30
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (2015) – Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Astrid is twelve. She has had a best friend – the same one – since she was about six years old. Their mothers take turns doing all sorts of things with them. Nicole is into ballet, but Astrid is not. One night, Astrid’s mom takes them to watch roller derby, and Astrid falls in love with it. Nicole still prefers dancing, but Astrid assumes that Nicole will sign up for roller derby camp with her. She does not as she prefers dance camp instead. They both make new friends with other girls at their respective camps, but it is difficult because they’ve always been there for each other.
This was a quick read for me, and it was immediately engaging. There is quite a bit about roller derby, but it is really more about friendship, relationships with family, and how having lots of support in all you strive to do well is important in life. I really enjoyed it, and I think my 10-year-old self would have really appreciated it as well!
Five of five stars.
Summer Reading Online (book 25 of 30)
The Glass Kitchen: a novel of Sister by Linda Francis Lee (2014) – Fiction
Portia Cuthcart grew up in Texas. Her parents were fairly poor, but their love was so great that after Portia’s father died while she was still a child, her mother followed in only a few short months. Portia and her older sisters went to live with their grandmother who ran a restaurant called The Glass Kitchen. Her grandmother has a gift that Portia has also inherited. . . food comes to their minds (and then they must cook or bake it, usually without knowing why right away) in a way that can predict the future.
After Portia predicts her grandmother’s death, Portia gives up The Glass Kitchen in Texas, and marries her politician boyfriend. For him, she subdues the cooking, and becomes a polished and bland politician’s wife. Three years into their marriage, it comes out that her husband has been cheating on her with her best friend. She escapes to New York City, where she moves into the garden apartment her beloved great aunt had willed to her. Gradually, she gives in to the demands of the food . . . and her new neighbors.
I enjoyed this book overall, and give it four of five stars. However, it says it is a novel of sisters. I suppose in a way it is. At first, I thought it was just about Portia and her sisters (her sisters are really pretty flat characters, though.) It is not. Portia meets the man upstairs who as two daughters, and actually, this story is more about those two sisters – their relationship with each other, their dad, and even with Portia. It also about the grief over the loss of their mother (and the secrets their mother was hiding.)
Summer Reading Online (Book 27 of 30)
Home is the Place (Family Tree, Book 4) by Ann M. Martin – Middle Grade Fiction
This story is about Georgia who is the fourth generation of a family of women who hold many secrets. The first was her great-grandmother Abby (growing up in the 1920s and 30s), and then her grandmother Dana (growing up in the 1950s and 60s), and then her mother, Francie (growing up in the 1970s and 80s.) Georgia was born in the mid-1990s. This book takes place from 2001 to 2013, when Georgia graduates from high school. There is an epilogue that takes place in 2022. Anyway, Georgia has issues with her mother while growing up. Her mother, Francie, is fearful for her children and is extremely overprotective, and Georgia and her brother have no idea while. In fact, no one has any idea why, because Francie never told anyone what nearly happened to her as a child (this is covered in book three of the series.) Even Francie’s own mother has no idea why. And then there is Abby and Dana. Will they resolve their issues from fifty years earlier? Also, if you are into stories where hidden diaries are discovered, this is definitely the book for you!
I read this book because I’d read the first three in the series, and all three left me kind of cold in a way. They were sad because family members were not getting along with each other. I read this one because I was hoping that the arc of the story – the relationships, the hidden truths – would come to a resolution. Fortunately, this book was very satisfying in that way. I don’t think I am giving away too much here, either.
Summer Reading Online (book 28 of 30)
The Look of Love by Sarah Jio (2014) – Fiction
Jane was born on Christmas and receives a gift she learns about on her 29th birthday, which explains her health issues over the years: she can see true love! Before her 30th birthday, she must identify several types of love otherwise face consequences (possibly no true love for herself, for instance.)
I actually liked this book by Jio better than the other two books I read earlier this summer by the same author. This one actually seemed more plausible in a way. I liked Jane – she seemed more realistic as a person. She also didn’t take months to read some found item (like in the other two book.) It is actually a really sweet story. Will Jane find her true love? Will it be too late?
Four stars out of five.
Summer Reading Online (21 of 30)
Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin (2014)
Franny Katzenback of Pittsburg lives not too far from Dr. Salk’s search for a polio vaccine. However, it is too late for her. She has gotten paralytic polio, and spends months in the hospital, including time in an iron lung. While she was in the iron lung, a nun comes to hospital regularly to read to her. She reads her a brand new book: Charlotte’s Web. Franny falls in love with this book, and the nun gives her a copy of it to take home with her. Finally Franny can breathe outside the iron lung, and can go home in a wheelchair. A physical therapist comes regularly to see if she can get Franny back on her feet again (and back to school.)
Franny is short on friends now, because all the kids and their parents seem to think that Franny is still contagious (even though she’s not, of course), so they will not come close. However, Franny does have a new friend who lives on her dog . . . Fleabrain. Fleabrain writes her messages and does lots of things to get her attention. It turns out that Fleabrain is even better than Charlotte the spider!
Summer Reading Online – 15 of 30
Breaking the Ice by Gail Nall (2015) – Juvenile/Middle Grade Fiction
I picked up this book in the Youth Services floor at my local public library as I was browsing while my son was otherwise engaged in an activity. It looked like the kind of book I would have loved around age ten, and indeed it was.
Kaitlin is a figure skater. She has been a member of a good club for years, and has had the same coach since the beginning. Her ultimate goal is to go to the Olympics in another year or two. To do that, she needs to place well in Regionals so that she can go to Nationals. However, uncharacteristically for her, she kind of loses it after a small competition when she finishes nearly last due to her program components score (artistry and style, etc.) Her technical score was very high – her jumps are nearly flawless. She is having trouble connecting with her audience, though. She yells at the judges among other things. Her club and her coach drop her. No other club will take her except for Fallton – aka “Falldown.”
Ultimately she will become a much better skater with her new club, as well as learned the value of friendship, and who her real friends really are.
I really enjoyed this book overall. It was a very quick read, and this was partially because I just wanted to know how Kaitlin’s adventures would turn out! Would she make new friends? Would she make it to Nationals? Read the book to find out!
(Summer Reading Online – 16/30)