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 characters, their lives and situations, 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.

 

Emily, 10-Year-Old Champion of Rainforest Animals in Need by Cathleen Burnham

Emily, 10-Year-Old Champion of Rainforest Animals in Need

Cathleen Burnham, Author and Photographer

Crickhollow Books, Nonfiction, Sep. 15, 2018

Series: World Association of Kids and Animals

Suitable for Ages: 7-12

Themes: Global Youth Activism, Nature, Rainforest, Animal Rescue, Baby Sloth, Endangered Wildlife

Opening: High in a tree in a rainforest in Costa Rica, a mother sloth slept, cradling her baby close to her. The mother was sleeping, but the baby was wide awake. 

Synopsis:

Meet Emily, a 10-year-old girl, who is active in a youth-led conservation program to save rain forest animals in western Costa Rica. She helps care for an orphaned sloth at an animal sanctuary by taking it for walks along a jungle path and participates in other activities to protect local wildlife and their environment.

When Emily arrives at a local youth program, Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR), she and her friends perform a play about teaching tourists to not feed wild animals human food. Bananas and cookies makes them sick. They play is a good way to practice when they encounter tourists. Afterwards, they grab garbage bags and enter the jungle to clean up trash, plastic bottles, gum wrappers and food packages that can make animals sick. They also sponsor blue rope bridges to help squirrel monkeys cross busy roads and stay away from dangerous power lines. Because of their work, the titi monkey populations are growing.

The story highlights the impact young people can have on protecting local wild animals and preserving natural habitats.

Like the earlier books in this World Association of Kids and Animals (WAKA) series (Doyli to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon; Tortuga Squad: Kids Saving Sea Turtles in Costa Rica; and Tony and His Elephants, set in Thailand), the text and photos show a youngster deeply involved in caring for the well-being of baby wild animals in need of shelter, food, and lots of love.

Why I like this book:

Cathleen Burnham’s mission is to find, photograph and celebrate children who are united in a cause to rescue and save endangered wildlife around the globe. Her true and inspiring photodocumentary books are a call to children globally that they don’t have to be adults to make a difference. Emily and the youth of  western Costa Rica are passionate young conservationists trying to save rainforest animals through their organization Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR).

Burnham’s books inspire and empower children. Every page is filled with rich, beautiful and touching photographs that capture life in the Costa Rica rainforest and shows the delicate ecosystems and the gorgeous endangered species living there, including sloths, birds and a variety of monkeys. She also focuses on the dangers in the town of monkeys trying to cross the streets and shows the young KSTR activists engaged with tourists.

The conservation message is clear and blended into a glimpse of everyday life of child activists who are involved in inspiring small-scale, grassroots animal-rescue efforts. The story shows the impact young people can have on protecting local wild animals and preserving natural habitats.

Burnham continues to show that children can have a real impact on the world around them! Kids are not just the next generations of caretakers of our planet, they also can do things now to make a difference. The WAKA series are stories of kid power — real kids who inspire other kids to empathize with the wild world around them, to see how we are all connected on this planet, and to find ways to make a difference.

Resources: To learn more about the amazing things Emily and other committed children are doing to protect wildlife around the globe, visit the World Association of Kids and Animals (WAKA) and get involved. There is a special teacher’s guide available for classroom use. Make sure you read the Author’s Note about the story behind KSTR and the two nine-year-old girls who founded the organization. Burnham also encourages kids to ask themselves, “What do you care about most? What can you do to make a difference? Is there something you can do in your community?

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.

*Copy of book provided by publisher.

Edmund Pickle Chin Blog Tour — A Donkey Interview

edmund-cover-600x900Edmund Pickle Chin: A Donkey Rescue Story

Clara Bowman-Jahn and Susan April Elwood, Authors

Lynne Bendoly, Illustrator

eTreasures Publishing, April 26, 2014

Suitable for ages: 4-10

Theme: Animal Rescue

Today you are in for a special treat. I am the fifth stop or the tail end of the donkey blog tour!  I have the pleasure of interviewing the star of the book, Edmund Pedro Pickle Chin Big Head Ed Elwood. He is 10 years old and lives at Everymay Farm, a non-profit rescue for farm animals in rural Georgia. It was founded by Susan and Tom Elwood in 2007. According to Susan,  Edmund stands watch over the smaller critters and has become their protectors. He even tolerates goat head blows to the chest and waits to eat until the other animals have finished. Susan says, he can also be quite comical when people are around. Although he is still very shy, he will  “curl his upper lip or blow donkey boogers on well-meaning visitors. What do  you expect, he’s an ass!”

I think it’s time to turn the  spotlight on Edmund and hear what he has to say.  So, here’s Edmund…

Edmund, you are such a charmer with that great big donkey smile. What do you think about having a book written about you?

[E] GREAT! I feel I should have hoof printed the contract, but feel really good about what Susan and Clara have created.  Susan tells me the book will raise children’s awareness of patience and compassion towards one another and animals. Plus, it will hopefully help my animal friends here on the farm, so it feels right.

Do you like your name?  Do you know words? Are you a celebrity in town?

[E] I LOVE my names. In fact I have many nicknames as you will find out in MY book! Which one I like best is a hard question. EDMUND, is probably my favorite. I know it and respond to it when Susan calls to me. That’s not the only word I know — cookie, apple, Lambert and “let’s get some grain.” This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but I bet the goats don’t know that many words. We donkeys love to talk! As for being a celebrity, the farm isn’t open to the public, so my fans are limited. I am secretly waiting for my first fan mail!

What was it like for you to come to Everymay Farm? Were you afraid?

[E] I wasn’t sad to leave the last farm, because as the book tells, it wasn’t a very nice place for me. I was scared because I didn’t know if my new home would be better. I had been moved around before, and I wasn’t wanted at any of my past homes. After just one night at Evermay, I knew I was going to love it there. I wasn’t tied to a tree! I could run around if I wanted, and I did!!!

How long did it take for you to trust people?

I trust Susan, but I’m still nervous around strangers, especially the person who comes every so often and pokes me with needles “for my own good.”  Don’t get me started on the one that comes over with a sack full of tools used on my feet. I try really hard to put up with them because Susan is there, and she promises she’ll never to let anyone ever mistreat me again. I also have a friend named Scott who brings me apples. I bellow when I see his truck coming down the road and always meet him at the fence. He calls Evermay the “Hilton” for unwanted animals, but I don’t know what a Hilton is. I do know what it feels like to be wanted.

What is the favorite song that Susan sings to you? Do you have a favorite song for Susan?

[E] Can I be honest…she can’t sing. My ears are big and sensitive like a dog’s. That’s why when the train rolls by or a siren goes off, I bellow like a dog barks to block the high-pitched sound from hurting my ears. Her singing is kinda like that, but I know the kid means well. She makes up a song for every critter on the farm.

I’d probably bellow my version of My Girl, by “The Temptations.”  I‘ve got sunshine on a cloudy day…When it’s cold outside, I’ve got “EVERMAY.”

I think I could do a pretty good job with singing Aretha Franklin’s Rescue Me. For the most part though, Susan is the one who sings around here.

How did you feel when other animals started arriving at Everymay? Were you jealous, excited or anxious?

[E] I had been with other animals where I was before and I chased them. That is why my previous owners tied me to a tree. When Everymay started to grow and new animals arrived, I got excited. Susan taught me patience by introducing me to one new friend at a time. I’m always very excited to have furry friends!

I hear that you are an ambassador for the farm. What do you do?

[E] I’ve been called the poster child for Evermay. It turns out that I’m quite photogenic. My picture is used a lot on our Facebook page. I meet and greet critters and humans alike here on the farm. The picture book tells a little more about my duties as an ambassador. I don’t want to give to too much away!

Who are your best animal friends?

[E} Lambert the goat is my BFF. He arrived shortly after me and we hit it off right away. Well I might have gotten a little excited over his arrival at first, but I was still learning. I tried to get him to move up the field when he was only three months old. He wasn’t moving fast enough, so I picked the little guy up by the tail. Susan was NOT happy. I wasn’t allowed to be alone with Lambert for a very long time. I don’t want Lambert to leave me again, so I won’t do that anymore. If Lambert is taken away from me, I scream as loud as I can. And, he screams right back! My bellow can be heard a long distance by neighbors.

There is also a miniature mare I am quite fond of. Her name is Bella. We secretly meet by the fence under the elm tree. I could stand there for hours as long as she’s there. She’s so pretty!

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you?

[E] Flies can be very bothersome during Georgia’s hot summers. To help me, Susan bought me a donkey fly mask. When I wore it for the first few times, I had difficultly walking! I kept taking really high steps and even missed my footing. I had to learn to look past the mesh in the mask instead of at the mesh that was so close to my face. Susan said I looked like I had “a few too many.” I’m not sure what she meant by that. You can never  have too many apples.

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What is you favorite foods? How many time do you eat a day?

[E] I graze most of the day with my goat pals. We are fed grain and hay twice a day.  My favorite foods are apples and pears! Susan loves me so much that she planted pear trees. I also get carrots and ginger snaps made from the old family recipe. For the anniversary of my arrival to the farm every year I get a special dessert. This year it was carrot cake, last year apple muffins. In the summer I have watermelon, and I love to blow it out my nostrils when no one is expecting it!

What do you want to say to Susan and Clara?

[E] Thank you for giving me the chance to give back through this joint effort. It’s a grand story! I would also like to thank my illustrator Lynne Bendoly for making me look so adorable! And Susan, you scratch my left side more than the right.

Thank you for the interview. I appreciate your wanting to hear my side of this tale.

Hee Haw…Hee Haw…Hee Haw,

Edmund Pedro Pickle Chin Big Head Ed Elwood

Resources:

Clara Bowman-Jahn author photo(1)Authors Clara-Bowman Jahn and Susan April Elwood encourage you to read everyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA post, follow the blog and comment for prizes. The reader who follows each blog and comments on each stop of the tour will get first prize. And if there are many winners, they will deliver!

First prize is a print book of both Edmund Pickle Chin and Clara’s Annie’s Special Day. Second prize is either a print copy of Edmund or of Annie, you get to pick and finally third prize is a copy of the ebook of Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story.

BLOG TOUR DATES

May 26 / animal abuse and mistreatment Joanna –www.joannamarple.com

May 29/ author collaboration Stacy – http://www.stacysjensen.com

May 30/ PPBF and review Vivian – http://viviankirkfield.com/

June 2/ author interview Erik – www.ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

June 4/ Edmund interview Patricia – http://childrensbooksheal.com

June 9 /teacher info and guide Susanna – http://susannahill.blogspot.com