Tuesday, May 5, 2015

WWRW: The Good, the Bad, and the May Link-Up

Did you miss me on A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras this past Monday?

No worries. You can still listen to us discuss turkey bacon, tiaras, and technology by clicking here.

I've read lots of fiction for kids this past month, and quite honestly, not much of it is worth recommending.

This is what you do want to read:

Popular: How a Geek in Pearls Discovered the Secret to Confidence by Maya Van Wagenen.

Maya discovers a vintage book on popularity written in the 1950s and puts each chapter to the test in her 8th grade year at a public middle school in Brownsville, Texas. This book is NON-fiction. An actual 8th grader did things like wear a girdle, put vaseline on her eyelids, and sport a hat and gloves.

Maya is terrific writer, especially because at this time she is only fifteen. I hear that her book might be made into a movie. The chutzpah she had to do what she did...I have to say I really admire her.

Brownsville middle school is not a G rated place. Pregnant seventh graders, drug-sniffing dogs, in-school lock-downs are routine. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Does Maya become popular? It's hard to say. The conclusions she comes to in her year-long experiment are incredibly insightful and can be applied to all ages. Maya is one "swell" kid.

It's no secret that we are bigtime John Flanagan fans over here. I recently re-read the first of the Brotherband Chronicles, The Outcasts. I remember being underwhelmed the first time around but now that I own an autographed copy of Book 5 (squee!) I began again.

Now I remember! I was frustrated that a plot twist in the last chapter or two chops off the story in media res.

This time however I was able to dive right into The Invaders: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 2. Hal and his seafaring friends are still on a long term quest, but I feel more settled now that Book 2 ended on a more positive note.I even got Book 3 from the library, because I must follow this until the end.

For all of you die-hard Ranger's Apprentice fans, Hal and Thorn are like Will and Halt. But with boats. Lots of boats and no horses.

Now for the rest or What Not to Read. I'm not going to bother making Amazon links for these, because they're just not worth my time or yours.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman. Meh. Kids in a seemingly perfect town learn that they are clones in a social experiment (The Truman Show?), and that their "parents" have lied to them their entire lives.

Very angst. Many hurts. Much unhappy with the grown-ups.

Also, the book is one big set-up for a series so the ending is really just the beginning and you know how I get irritated by that. Of all the books that I'm down on, this one is the least objectionable. I was annoyed by it, that's all.

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson is about a girl, her quirky family, and the hotel they run in NYC. Could be fun and cute except that on page 1 we learn that it's Scarlett's fifteenth birthday. In the next few chapters, she falls in love with her college age brother's friend. Can you say statutory rape? Also her brother, the 19 or 20 something one is getting involved with one of the guests. A guest who is easily in her 50s. Hello Mrs. Robinson. Ew. I didn't finish it.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is about a girl with a clubfoot in England at the start of World War II. She is abused by her single mother, escapes the apartment she has been confined to her entire life, and gets relocated with other evacuees (including her brother) in rural Kent. In Kent, she finds acceptance and love in the home of her host.

Two problems.

First of all, I have read this book before. Different title. Boy child abused by his single mother, evacuated to rural England, rehabilitated by his host. It was called Goodnight Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian. Both books are terribly tragic. The abuse story-lines are hard to stomach.

Secondly, in The War That Saved My Life, the woman who takes in the disabled girl and her brother is quite clearly a lesbian. She has suffered depression since the death of her lover. Taking in and caring for two evacuated, underfed, and disadvantaged children pulls her out of self-absorption and despondency.

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles. I want to like this book. The story of two special-ed high school graduates getting a home together and starting their adult lives is touching.

Let me just mention a few of the troubling topics.

Gang rape.

That's probably enough but there's more.

More rape.
And violence.
And abuse.

It was very painful to read.

Yes, the two mentally disabled young women become friends and find support and get their lives in order. But in a kids' book?!

Ok. I can't end on that note so let me direct your attention to my Instagram feed.

La, la, la, la, la...happy happy joy joy! That's Jill reading Perfect Square by Michael Hall.

Looking for picture books? I read far too many to review so I take pictures of the good ones and use the hashtag #housewifespicepicturebooks.

The collection grows every day. Jill is insatiable and my library has no limit on check-outs. Take a gander at the bounty of beautiful books that are actually appropriate for children!

*deep cleansing breaths*

That's better.

Now link up your book reports! I mean book reviews. Here's hoping your reads have been more peace filled than mine. This link up will be open til around May 30th. Perfect for the procrastinating reader.


  1. I have GOT to get the Brotherband books out of the lib again! Thank you for rec them! Tried them once years ago with my younger son and they didn;t go over well. I think he's ready now.:)

    Thanks for the great post! Lovely picture of your sweetie!!

    I'm linking a post about a wonderful book ( hope I didn't link before...I'm pretty sure I didn't ) called The Angels of Abbey Creek.....we absolutely loved this title!

    Have a great day and thx for hosting!

  2. I've had Popular on my to-read list for a while . . . I forget where I heard about it. But with your recommendation, I'll bump it up to the top of the list. :-)

  3. Oooh, I just added Popular to my Goodreads list. Girls Like Us sounds really interesting too, but I'm not sure if I really want to read about gang rape. Yikes.

    Your Jill is so cute!

  4. Popular sounds like a good read. And I always love your photos of Jill!

  5. Thanks to you and a another friend, we started Ranger's Apprentice series this year. Then we hit Brotherband. Can't say enough good things about Mr. Flanagan! But now we're waiting for a book 7 of Brotherband. Dang! Hate waiting for a series, but at least we have the final How To Train Your Dragon coming in Oct./Nov. Not sure what we're going to look into next. Need a good long series to find. Hmmm.

  6. I have a hard time with books with descriptive child abuse scenes! Too upsetting to me.
    The Brotherband Series sounds great... I'll have to remember them when my boys are older.
    Thanks for the recommendations!

  7. I get to hear your voice?! Hell to the yeah! It's late now, but I'm putting you and Allison on first thing tomorrow morning. I'm so happy that I was able to stay awake to write a WWRW for the first time in forevs.

  8. That first book, Popular, has grabbed my interest!

  9. I haven't read any of these! Good to hear your take before delving in. :)
    I linked up late today...I meant to on Wednesday, but sickness got in the way!