Dangerous Wildfires by Lola Schaefer – PPBF

Dangerous Wildfires: Part of the Lightning Bolt Book Collection

Lola Schaefer, Author

Photographs: Acknowledgments of contributors at the end of the book

Lerner Publications, Nonfiction,  Jan. 1, 2022

Suitable for ages: 6 – 9

Themes: Wildfires, Climate Change, Danger, Staying Safe 

Opening: “Lightning strikes dry grass. The wind blows and sparks fly. A fire begins.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Climate change is making wildfires worse, and it’s important to know how to stay safe. Read about what causes a fire, what makes it grow, and what happens when fire makes people leave their homes.

A spark from a lightning strike or a campfire can quickly grow into a wildfire covering acres. Learn about the types of wildfires, how climate change increases the danger, and how to stay safe. Plus hear from a wildfire survivor!

Why I like this book:

Many readers live in areas where wildfires reek havoc in the forests around them.  Sadly, wildfires are becoming part of their lives. And if they aren’t personally impacted they see the wildfires reported on the daily news.

This book is age appropriate for emerging readers, 6-9. It is beautifully designed so that readers will enjoy the simple text — four chapters that explain what happens, gives important facts, answers many of their questions, and includes  amazing photographs on each page that showcase wildfires from beginning to end. Each photo has a brief insert that points to what the text explains. Readers will be surprised to learn that wildfires can do some good.  

This book is part of a larger series, the Earth in Danger — part of the Lightning Bolt Books collection.. Some of the other titles include: Dangerous Blizzards, Dangerous Droughts, Dangerous Earthquakes, Dangerous Floods, Dangerous Hurricanes, Dangerous Tornadoes, and Dangerous Volcanoes. Sadly enough, we are dealing with all of these dangers every year.

These books belong in every elementary school library. They are perfect go-to books that can be used in the classroom or used by kids for reports.

Resources: The book is a resource and will lead to many important discussions at home and school.  If you live in areas where wildfires begin, put together a safety kit for home or school (instructions in the book).

You may want to check out the Smokey the Bear Link for kids and educators. Sign up to be a Smokey’s Scout and explore the fun activities.   

Lola Schaefer is a professional author, teacher and public speaker. She has published more than 275 books in the past 25 years with trade, school/library, and classroom publishers. She is a writing consultant in elementary and middle schools, as well as a frequent presenter at writing conferences and workshops. She lives and works in Georgia.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

 

 

 

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Unicorn Island: Beneath the Sand by Donna Galanti

Unicorn Island: Secret Beneath the Sand (Vol. 2)

Donna Galanti, Author

Bethany Stanecliffe, Illustrator

Andrews McMeel Publishing, Mar. 8, 2022

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Unicorns, Mythical creatures, Mysterious Island, Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Samantha’s (Sam) life couldn’t get much better. Since coming to Foggy Harbor to stay with her Uncle Mitch while her mother tours with an orchestra, she’s discovered a magical island full of unicorns and is learning how to protect them with her new friend, Tuck by her side. Foggy Harbor is finally starting to feel like home,

But just when everything seems perfect, a mysterious illness befalls the unicorn herd and threatens to rob them of their immortality. As Sam and Tuck race to help find a cure, she must confront a dark secret that her Uncle Mitch has spent her entire life trying to protect her from — a secret that links her own past to the future of the herd.

learns the truth behind Aunt Sylvie’s disappearance and her own connection to the island. With determination, courage, and fierce loyalty to one another—and to their code as unicorn protectors—the kids set out to protect the island’s secrecy and the unicorns’ very existence.

Why I like this book:

Donna Galanti’s Unicorn Island: Secret Beneath Sand is the second volume in this enchanting contemporary fantasy, which is packed with adventure, mystery and tension. It will captivate readers’ imaginations and lure them into a magical world of mythical beasts where they can learn to become “unicorn protectors.” 

The characters are diverse and believable. Samantha (Sam) is a curious and resilient protagonist who longs to become a unicorn protector. She befriends Tuck, the veterinarian’s son, is very resourceful during difficult situations and a supportive friend. Uncle Mitch is somewhat stern and elusive at first, but welcomes their help when he needs rescuing.  Sam can’t help but feel that Uncle Mitch is keeping secrets from her. 

Galanti’s narrative is engaging and immersive,  Her plot is solid with elements of danger that will keep readers quickly turning pages. The story also has a strong element of realism. This is the second volume with four books to follow. And it ends with some interesting cliffhangers.

Although Unicorn Island is for students 8-12, it will also appeal to younger readers (7-10) who aren’t quite ready for wordy and lengthy MG fantasy novels. The book has a large type face and includes many gorgeous colorful illustrations by Bethany Stancliffe, which add to the magic.  I believe this book would also appeal to reluctant readers and kids with dyslexia.

Make sure you check out the great backmatter at the end of the book. Galanti shares some history about horns and hooves, secret rooms and passageways, invasive species, and healing salves. 

Donna Galanti wanted to be a writer ever since she wrote a screenplay at seven years old and acted it out with the neighborhood kids. She attended an English school, housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). She now lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse and is the author of the middle-grade fantasy adventures Joshua and The Lightning Road and Joshua and the Arrow Realm.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

 

I’ll Go and Come Back by Rajani LaRocca- PPBF

I’ll Go and Come Back

Rajani La Rocca, Author

Sara Palacios, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 29, 2022

Suitable for ages: 3-7

Themes: Intergenerational relationships, India, Travel, Culture, Communications, Multicultural

Opening: “For the first time since I was a baby, I flew across the world to see aunties and uncles, cousin-brothers and cousin-sisters, and Sita Pati.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

When Jyoti visits her grandmother halfway around the world, she is overwhelmed by the differences between India and home. At first she feels lonely and out of place, but soon, despite a language barrier, she and Sita Pati are able to understand each other. They form a bond as they look at books together, make designs with colored sand, shop at the market, play games, eat chapatis, and sip warm milk with saffron to bring sweet dreams. When it’s time to part, Jyoti doesn’t want to leave, but then she remembers that in Tamil, people don’t say goodbye, they say “I’ll go and come back.”

Sure enough, the two reunite the next summer when Pati visits Jyoti in America, and it’s Jyoti’s turn to make her grandmother feel welcome. Can they create some special memories that will last until the next time they see each other?

Why I like this book:

This book melts my heart on many levels. For starters, I love sweet grandchild/grandparent relationships. Despite the language barrier, readers will enjoy watching the loving bond between Jyoti and Sita Pati. Sometimes love speaks more loudly than words, as Rajani La Rocca demonstrates through her sweet and simple narrative. “I’ll go and come back,” is such a reassuring custom for all children who have grandparents living living miles away. And Sara Palacios vibrant and expressive illustrations highlight their special bond in a cheerful way. 

I also am drawn to this story because our adopted Indian son speaks Tamil. The story also reminds me of my earliest conversations with him. He learned English much more rapidly than we learned Tamil words. But like Jyoti, we communicated as we introduced him to his new life and community. Sometimes words aren’t needed. 

Resources: Do you have your own tradition with grandparents that live far away? Share how you stay connected. Create your own tradition.

Rajani La Rocca was born in Bangalore, India, and immigrated to the United States when she was a baby. She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, graduated from Harvard with both a BA and and MD and has worked as a primary care physician since 2001. She is the author of several books for young readers. Rajani LaRocca lives in eastern Massachusetts with her family.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick in exchange for a review.

 

Healer and Witch by Nancy Werlin

Healer & Witch 

Nancy Werlin, Author

Candlewick Press, Apr. 12, 2022

Suitable for ages: 9-12

Pages: 304

Themes: Healer, Witch, Magic, Danger, Deceit, Trusting one’s self, Historical fiction

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Sylvie and her mother and grandmother are beloved, trusted healers in their medieval French village at the end of the Middle Ages, though some whisper that fifteen-year-old Sylvie and her grand-mere deal in more than herbs and medicines. Perhaps they’re a bit . . . witchy? After her grandmother dies, and an attempt to use magic to heal her mother’s grief yield tragic consequences, Sylvie leaves her village in search of a teacher. Accompanied by Martin, the farrier’s youngest son, Sylvie finds herself on a journey rife with strange alliances, powerful temptations, danger and deceit.

In the end, there may be only one wise woman Sylvie can trust in a world that would define her limits: herself. 

Steeped in the healing arts and magic, award-winning author Nancy Werlin’s first novel for younger readers is a beautifully crafted, quietly powerful story that follows a young woman gifted with magic as she struggles to manage her powers — and claim her strength — without violence.

Why I like Healer & Witch:  

Nancy Werlin has written an enthralling adventure about a girl’s journey of self-discovery, believing in herself, finding courage in the midst of danger, and taking her place in the world.  Werlin’s writing is original, lyrical and magical, despite the themes of danger, deceit and evil.  Readers will enjoy spending time in medieval France where healers are considered witches and could face Inquisition, This story will encourage readers to form their own opinions about the differences between healing and witchcraft. 

The characters are compelling and unforgettable as they reveal their good and evil natures along the way. Sylvie is a 15-year-old healer who has made a terrible mistake. Sylvie is a sensitive and deeply caring individual who knows that her gift is from God and that she must use it for good. Since she no longer has her Grand-mère to guide her, she embarks upon a journey to find a teacher who can help her understand and use her gift. Eight-year-old Martin, is a cheerful, barefoot boy who wants to see the world instead of becoming a farrier alongside his father. He joins Sylvie and his presence offers an unexpected perspective to the story. Along the way they meet Ceciline, a wise women, Monsieur Robert Chouinard, a merchant and businessman, and Madame du Bois, an astrologer. Each character will reveal their true nature and help Sylvie make new discoveries about herself.

The short chapters make for easy reading, and Sylvie’s gripping journey will keep even reluctant readers turning pages just to find out what’s going to happen next. I was surprised by the ending, which is satisfying and hopeful.

Nancy Werlin is the author of several books for teens, including, Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good, the National Book Award Finalist The Rules of Survival, the Edgar Award winner The Killer’s Cousin, and the New York Times bestseller Impossible. About Healer and Witch, her first novel for middle-grade readers, she says, “Reading historical fiction was my very first love.” Nancy Werlin lives outside Boston.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

 

Listen by Gabi Snyder — PPBF Review

Listen

Gabi Snyder, Author

Stephanie Graegin, Illustrator

A Paula Wiseman Book, Fiction, 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Listening, Paying attention, City, Sounds, Noise

Opening: When you step out into the big, wild world, sometimes all you hear is… NOISE!

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Isn’t the world a noisy place?

BEEP! WOOF! VROOM!

But what if you stop, close your eyes and Listen?

Can you hear each sound?

Can you listen past the noise and hear the quiet, too?

Why I like Listen:

A girl walks to school with her father and is bombarded with the noises of her busy city — dogs barking, cars beeping, motorcycles vrooming, and crows cawing. Readers will join the girl as she stops and attentively listens to each sound and lets go of the noise around it. She begins to learn what’s beyond the sounds — joy, hurtful feelings, the sounds of nature, and silence. She discovers that there is so much more “waiting to be heard” if she quiets herself and just listens.

The text is noisy with fun sounds that readers will enjoy repeating. Stephanie Graegin’s illustrations are beautiful and guide you on the girl’s journey. It is a beautiful story about mindfulness and learning to live in the present moment.

Resources: There is more information about LISTENING at the end of the book, which will encourage many interesting discussions.  Listening is more than just hearing.  It is a skill that will help readers learn to focus and tune out the noise. It is also a good book for parents. Teachers, check out the curriculum guide from Simon and Schuster.

Gabi Snyder’s debut picture book, Two Dogs on a Trike, received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, who said it “perfectly captures the rollicking, manic joy of dogs off the leash.” She studied psychology at University of Washington and creative writing at University of Texas at Austin and is a member of SCBWI. When she’s not writing, she love taking nature walks, visiting Free Libraries, and baking sweet treats. She lives in Oregon with her family. Learn more at her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

 

Haven: A Small Cat’s Big Adventure by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Haven: A Small Cat’s Big Adventure

Megan Wagner Lloyd, Author

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Aug. 16, 2022

Pages: 144

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Adventure, Cat, Fox, Animals, Love, Loss, Self-confidence, Friendship

Publisher’s Synopsis:

When her cherished human, Ma Millie falls ill, a timid housecat ventures into the wild to seek help in this adventure about love, loss, and finding the truest version of ourselves.

A warm, cozy lap. The toasty smell of baking bread. Tasty food served in a bright-blue bowl. These and other comforts make Haven’s life as an indoor pet heaven. All thanks to her beloved human and rescuer, Ma Millie. But when Ma Millie becomes too sick to care for her, the cat’s cozy life is turned upside down, and Haven decides she must seek out another human for help. Anything for Ma Millie! Her vow pulls her out of her safe nest into the shadowy forest and down unfamiliar and dangerous roads. When her first plan fails, Haven meets a wilderness-savvy fox who volunteers as an ally, and their perilous journey together brings some victories. But Haven finds herself pitted against creatures far wilder than she ever could be, testing her strength and spirit to their limits. Will her loyalty to Ma Millie—and her newfound confidence in herself—be enough to help Haven see the quest through to its conclusion? Can she stand up against the fierce predator that is tracking her every move?

Why I like Haven:

This is a sweet and heartfelt story for animal lovers about the unbreakable bond between Haven and Ma Millie, who finds the abandoned kitten on her front porch and nurses her back to health. Haven leads a pampered life with her human. When her beloved Ma Millie becomes ill, it’s Haven’s turn to get help.  

I like the unlikely pairing of a cat with a fox. It adds an element of danger to the plot. She meets a fox who could trick her and fill his belly, but he is intrigued by Haven’s courage and decides to help her.  After all his life is rather dull. “Sleep, wake. Hunt, eat. Repeat.” They could stick to the road and risk being hit, but venture into the wild forest where danger lurks around every corner  — especially a bobcat tracking the fox.    

Readers will be glued to Haven’s courageous adventure. Haven and the fox rely on and learn from each other. As her self-confidence grows, this pampered cat may have some tricks that will save the fox. This cat may be small, but she has a big heart.

This book is a perfect story for readers just beginning middle grade books — and for older reluctant readers. The chapters are very short, sometimes just one page. The third person narrative gives readers insight into Haven’s thoughts, as well as the other animals she meets along her journey in the wild forest. 

Megan Wagner Lloyd is the author of the graphic novel Allergic, as well as the picture books Finding WildFort-Building TimeBuilding Books, and Paper MiceMegan Wagner Lloyd lives with her family in the Washington, DC, area.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review. 

Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules! PPFB Review

Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules!

e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller, Authors

Joe Cepeda, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Jun. 28, 2022 

Spanish Edition Available: Lupe Lopez: Reglas de una estrella de rock

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Kindergarten, Rules, Being true to yourself, Latino

Opening: “Lupe Lopez had big plans for the first day of kindergarten. And now, she was a real-life, Texas-size rock star. As anyone could see.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

When a sassy drummer starts kindergarten, the rules of school cramp her style. What’s a young rock star to do?
When Lupe Lopez struts through the doors of Hector P. Garcia Elementary in sunglasses with two taped-up Number 2 pencils—drumsticks, of course—poking from her pocket, her confidence is off the charts. All day, Lupe drums on desks, tables, and chairs while Ms. Quintanilla reminds her of school rules.

Lupe has her own rules: 1) Don’t listen to anyone. 2) Make lots of noise. ¡Rataplán! 3) Have fans, not friends. But with her new teacher less than star struck, and fans hard to come by, Lupe wonders if having friends is such a bad idea after all. Can it be that true star power means knowing when to share the spotlight? 

Why I like Lupe Lopez:

What a unique and energetic story about a Latino girl entering Kindergarten. She’s full of self-confidence and ready to “rock” her first day at school. The illustrations are lively and expressive. The spare text is peppered with many Spanish words and onomatopoeia about drumbeats. A lot of fun action packed into this story. There is also a Spanish edition. Great collaboration between e. E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller and Joe Cepeda! 

I believe kids love quirky and mischievous characters who stand out and dare to push boundaries — especially at school. Read at the beginning of the school year, this story will lend itself to many interesting discussions.  It’s also a story about learning to adjust to school, following new rules and not losing yourself.  Great ending!

Resources:  Ask children if they have a rock star hidden inside them, and if so what form does it take (athlete, musician, inventor, superhero, astronaut etc)?  Have them draw a picture of their own inner rock star.   

e.E. Charlton-Tujillo is a Mexican American filmmaker, youth literacy activist, and author of several books for teens, most notably the award-winning young-adult novel Fat Angie and its sequels, Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution and Fat Angie: Homecoming. Lupe Lopez is his first picture book and “embodies not only his childhood but also the rock star in all of us.” They live in California. 

Pat Zietlow Miller is the author of the New York Times best-selling Be KindMy Brother the Duckand other books for young readers. About Lupe Lopez: “I was the rule follower in kindergarten.” She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy. 

 

Linked by Gordon Korman

Linked

Gordon Korman, Author

Scholastic Press, Fiction, Jul. 20, 2021

Pages: 256

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Hate, Tolerance, Holocaust, Jews, KKK, Self-discovery, Friendship, Community 

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Link, Michael, and Dana live in a quiet town in Chokecherry, Colorado. But it’s woken up very quickly when someone sneaks into middle school and vandalizes it with a swastika.

Nobody can believe it. How could such a symbol of hate end up in the middle of their school? Who would do such a thing?

Because Michael was the first person to see it, he’s the first suspect. Because Link is one of the most popular guys in school, everyone’s looking to him to figure it out. And because Dana’s the only Jewish girl in the whole town, everyone’s treating her more like an outsider than ever.

The mystery deepens as more swastikas begin to appear. Some students decide to fight back and start a project to bring people together instead of dividing them further. The closer Link, Michael, and Dana get to the truth, the more there is to face-not just the crimes of the present, but the crimes of the past.

With Linked, Gordon Korman, the author of the acclaimed novel Restart, poses a mystery for all readers where the who did it? isn’t nearly as important as the why?

Why I liked Linked:

Gordon Korman’s inspiring novel is about students working together to make a statement that HATE will not be tolerated in their middle school. Korman’s contemporary story is a timely read for young people. It connects the past, present and future into a powerful and important MUST read novel about hope.

Alternating voices allows readers to really get into the thoughts and emotions of well-developed  and believable main characters — Link, Michael, Dana, Caroline, Pouncey — and many more supporting characters. Link is the popular athlete, known to pull pranks with his group of friends, until a sobering family secret emerges. Dana is the only Jewish girl in school and feels like an outsider.  Michael is president of the art club and Pouncey’s grandfather is rumored to have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), Everyone is suspect, especially after 26 more swastikas continue to appear.

Together the students decide to make a statement and make a paper chain with six million links, each honoring a Holocaust victim. Before long, the entire community, country and world are involved in the paper chain project about tolerance and remembrance — thanks to a popular and questionable  “YouTube” video blogger who covers the events. There are many more moments in this story that demonstrate how kids can make a difference.

The plot is strong, realistic and relevant today.  Kudos to the author for writing a story that introduces readers to the horrors of the Holocaust, racism and the KKK in an understandable way. He shows how the past still can influence the present and how hate is not acceptable. There are many dark secrets and major twists and turns in this engaging mystery. The ending surprised me. The most important takeaway for readers is that the stories of the Holocaust and its victims must be told to each new generation and not forgotten.  

This story has a lot of heart and is one of my favorite reads this year. Although the subject of hate may seem heavy, it is balanced well with the students’ response and Korman’s uplifting writing and sense of humor throughout the story. And of course there is a lot of typical middle school drama in the mix. Make sure you read the author’s note about the story at the end.

Gordon Korman is the #1 bestselling author of such modern classics as Restart, War Stories, Slacker, Whatshisface, Ungifted, and This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall (published when he was fourteen). He lives in New York with his family. Visit Korman at his website

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors. 

*I won this review copy of Linked on Greg Pattridge’s website Always in the Middle

 

 

My Own Lightning by Lauren Wolk

My Own Lightning

Lauren Wolk, Author

Dutton Children’s Books, Fiction, May 3, 2022

Suitable for ages: 10-12

Pages: 320

Themes:  Storms, Family relationships, Farm life, Child abuse, Animal abuse, Animal rescue, Friendship

Opening: “I didn’t know a storm was coming. Had I known, I might have done things differently.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

It’s been several months since the tragic events set in motion by bully Betty Glengarry, and the routine of daily life in Wolf Hollow has slowly returned. But for Annabelle McBride it’s hard to move forward and make peace with what feels like threadbare justice.

Newly warm summer days are about to bring a jolt of change on the winds of a powerful storm. In its wake, the search for her brother’s missing dog will set Annabelle on a new path that brings her to unfamiliar doorsteps and reunites her with a too-familiar adversary—Andy Woodberry, who was complicit in Betty’s most terrible acts. Growing up and blazing her own trail will soon force Annabelle to reexamine deeply felt truths—about people, about justice, about herself—that had once seemed so uncomplicated.

Bestselling author Lauren Wolk (Beyond the Bright Sea, Echo Mountain) returns to World War II–era Western Pennsylvania in this luminous sequel to her Newbery Honor–winning debut, Wolf Hollow, proving once again why her acclaimed novels have been celebrated as “historical fiction at its finest.”

Why I like My Own Lightning:

My Own Lightning is a captivating sequel to Wolf Hollow. It is a brilliantly crafted novel that is gripping from the start. Lauren Wolk’s rural 1943 setting, memorable characters, engaging plot and gorgeous imagery are so brilliantly intertwined so that they create a wonderful experience for readers. My Own Lightning is definitely a gift to her fans.

The story follows Annabelle McBride and her life in Wolf Hollow months after the tragic deaths of her kind-hearted friend, Toby, and the school bully, Betty Glengarry. Annabelle is still trying to process all that has happened and how she will move forward with Andy Woodberry, who still lives nearby in the hollow.  Annabelle is kind-hearted to her very core, resilient and wise.  

Annabelle’s new journey begins with a fierce thunderstorm that she can’t out run. She’s struck by lightning and her only memory is of someone’s rough hands pounding on her chest to jumpstart her heart and save her life. Who is this hero? Her recovery is swift, but she is left with heightened senses of smell, sight and sound and a new understanding of animals’ feelings.

Since the storm, many animals including her brother’s dog Buster are missing. Her new “powers” lead her down a path of helping lost and neglected animals. They also bring her face-to-face with Andy Woodberry. There are other new characters, like Mr. Edelman and his daughter, Nora, who are rescuing animals and treating them in their barn. She also crosses paths with a true villain in Mr. Graf, who is searching for his lost bull terrier, Zeus.

I also enjoyed the strong themes of family, friendship, and forgiveness. Readers will experience  Annabelle’s extended family living under one roof preparing meals together and all pitching in to help with the chores of running a farm. There is safety and healing that extends beyond the family to others in the community.  

Annabelle  (and readers) is challenged to explore many complicated situations and characters in her life and discern for herself what is true and what really matters. This is a story full of depth and a good dose of hope. And animal lovers will enjoy this story. 

Note: If you haven’t read Wolf Hollow, it would be helpful to understand the past before you read My Own Lightning.  Wolk’s body of work is “a result of everything she’s ever experienced.” 

Lauren Wolk is an award-winning poet, artist, and author of the adult novel Those Who Favor Fire, the Newbery Honor-winning novel Wolf Hollow, and the Scott O’Dell Award-winning novel Beyond the Bright Sea, and the acclaimed Echo Mountain, an NPR Best Book of the Year, a Horn Book Fanfare Selection, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year. She was born in Baltimore and has since lived in California, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Canada, and Ohio. She now lives with her family on Cape Cod.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the MMGM link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

 

She Persisted: Sally Ride by Atia Abawi

She Persisted: Sally Ride

Atia Abawi, Author

Gillian Flint, Illustrator

Philomel Books, Nonfiction, 2021

Pages: 80

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Themes: Sally Ride, Biography, Women, Astronauts Physicists

Synopsis: As the first woman in space, Sally Ride broke barriers and made her dreams come true. But she wanted to do even more! After leaving NASA, she created science and engineering programs that have helped other girls and women make their dreams come true as well.

Why I like this book and the entire She Persisted chapter book series:

Young girls need role models who share their interests and dreams. Sally Ride is particularly interesting because she was curious, active, determined and an athletic. She thrived in sports and grew up with dreams of being a shortstop for the Los Angele Dodgers. In later years she discovered she was an exceptional tennis player. And she loved science and had her own telescope. Becoming an astronaut was not something on her radar.

I appreciated that the author shows readers how dreams change. Even though Sally loved playing tennis in college, she decided to put her studies on hold and went home to California to focus on becoming a professional tennis player. She me and trained day and night, and was recruited to play for Stanford. Doors began to open as found her love of physics.

Abwai also shows readers how hard it was for girls in 1969 to study a subject like physics in college. She wasn’t accepted by male professors who though “girls were taking jobs away from men.” I was in college at the same time and remember the challenges women faced. In many cases there were few role models in specific fields.       

The story-like text moves along at a quick pace, relating important information that readers will find appealing. There are six chapters in each book. It is well-targeted for its intended audience. At the end, Abawi includes a section for readers about “How You Can Persist” and follow in the footsteps of Sally Ride.  Gillian Flint’s expressive and simple pen and ink drawings compliment the story for readers and give them a peek into Sally’s early life.

Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger comes a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds!  

Atia Abawi is among a group of authors who have been invited by Chelsea Clinton to write chapters books for young readers about the childhood and lives of remarkable women. Clinton has selected a “sisterhood” of authors to write each book. If you are looking for biographies of famous girls/women to inspire young readers, this series is a perfect choice. 

There are 20 books about American women have been released monthly from 2021 to 2022. They include Harriet Tubman, Claudette Colvin, Sally Ride, Virginia Apgar, Nelly Bly, Sonia Sotomayor, Florence Griffith Joiner, Ruby Bridges, Clara Lemlich, Margaret Chase Smith, Maria Tall Chief, Helen Keller, Oprah Winfrey and Coretta Scott King, Temple Grandin, and Mala Yousafzai. Marian Anderson, Maya Lin, Rosalind Franklin and Wangari Maathai will be released in coming months. They may be purchased individually in paperback, or in a chapter book collection. And, they can be found in libraries. This entire series belongs in every school library. 

Atia Abawi is a foreign news correspondent who spent ten years living and working in Afghanistan and then the Middle East. She was born to Afghan parents in West Germany and was raised in the United States. She is the critically acclaimed author of The Secret Sky and A Land of Permanent Goodbyes. She currently lives in California with her husband, Connor Powell, their son Arian, and their daughter, Elin.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.