SitSit by Deborah Ellis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book of powerful, profound, penetrating stories.
Kids don’t often have the opportunity to make decisions and choices for themselves. They aren’t adults, obviously, they don’t live alone, don’t have their own money and usually are lacking the maturity to make good decisions.
Not so in Deborah Ellis’s Sit.
1. Jafar is a youngster working in a sweat shop, wood working facility, where he takes the opportunity to carve a poem on the bottom of a chair. He feels like he is free.
2. Macie is a seven year old with a baby-ish time-out chair. Her mother has no clue about how to not make Macie feel humiliated in front of guests. Macie takes a small, but important and defiant-yikes!-step for her own well-being.
3. On a field trip to a concentration camp, Gretchen realizes that her family is German and begins to question how they might have handled their place in WWII. Good or bad? And how about now? She decides to ask questions.
4. Divorce announcement in a food court.
5. A school shooting in an Amish community, handled with dignity and grace.
6. A girl needs a day off from school – and probably a day off from home. She sees a pre-schooler about to do something that might get him in trouble. She decides to intervene and is surprised to tears when his mom is delighted.
7. Animal rescuer in post-earthquake/radiation Japan.
8. Positive-forward thinking in a hell-hole of a jail. (I don’t think I understand this one.)
9. Eight months trapped in a tiny apartment with other families after being smuggled out of Afghanistan – finally freedom when Noosala is brave enough to look out of the window.
10. What divorce and when parents fighting does to children – a wise woman at the Family Center helps a brother and sister hold on to what they love to do.
11. The end goes back to the beginning. Jafar takes us through his city…to his school – a school for working children (should there be such a thing in this world!???) where his teacher is talking to his class about poetry. 🙂



Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool

Easter Ann Peters' Operation CoolEaster Ann Peters’ Operation Cool by Jody Lamb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book belongs in all middle school libraries, counseling/student services offices and public libraries.

Seventh grade can be a vexing time and author Jody Lamb’s choice for Easter Ann’s setting provides a perfect balance of disorder at school and at home for the middlegrade audience and the serious topic of family alcoholism.

Despite the ongoing situation with her family, Easter Ann’s story is fun, funny and upbeat. And I love the subtle reminders that this novel takes place in my former home state – Michigan.

I would like to see Easter Ann return in a sequel – this is one book I didn’t want to end!

An updated Resource List is included in the back – help for those concerned about a family member’s alcohol consumption – in this new second edition.


Just Dance

Just DanceJust Dance by Patricia MacLachlan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sylvie Bloom is moving up from 4th grade to 5th grade and is sad to be leaving her most perfect teacher behind, one who knows what she is thinking without her having to say a word.
Sylvie’s teacher, Mrs. Ludolf, has a husband, the sheriff, who is almost illiterate and writes a “crime/news interest” column in the town newspaper. Mrs. Ludolf gives Sylvie her husband as her summer project – to write his column for him as she rides around town with the sheriff.
Sylvie also has a personal project this summer – to figure out why her mother, a famous opera singer, is content to stay in their small Wyoming town instead of returning to life on the stage.
This short book is a treasure.


Joplin, Wishing

Joplin, WishingJoplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part magical, part mystery, mostly realistic fiction, this book is a treasure.
Upon returning to school after her grandfather’s funeral, Joplin knows she is facing two tormenting dilemmas – her ongoing friendless state and the certain harassment from her classmates about her famous, eccentric, all-over-the-news grandfather. Kids get suspended, a teacher handles things poorly and Joplin takes a few days off, too.
Joplin brought home a broken antique platter from her grandfather’s house as a memento and has it restored with her aunt’s help. While feeling sad and lonely she longingly looks at the girl in the platter and wishes for the girl to be her friend and to have a friend at school. The next morning she notices a girl in her garden who looks like…the now missing girl from the platter! And Joplin makes a friend at school. Life gets complicated with this friend who has no home of her own and needs food, shelter and truly wants to get back to the mid 1600s. Life gets dangerous when a man from the 1600s wants Joplin’s magic platter.
Author Stanley brings us a main character who grows and develops, strong secondary characters, a good sense of place, and mystery and magic.
Starred review from Booklist is right on target.


Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost (Track, #1)Ghost by Jason Reynolds

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Castle Crenshaw, who calls himself Ghost, is a kid who gets himself into trouble. And that trouble makes this book hard for me to read – I put this slim volume down countless times while cringing as Ghost does something he knows he shouldn’t. Still, I had to finish this compelling story.

Ghost is a kid who can run like the wind, a kid who has caught the eye of a track coach, a kid who has no gym shorts, no gym shoes.

Ghost is a kid who lives in the projects, a kid whose dad tried to kill him and his mom, a kid whose dad is in prison, a kid who has a lot of anger inside of him.

Ghost is a kid with a mom who has ambitions to make their lives better.

First in a series.


The Seventh Wish

The Seventh WishThe Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlie is a smart, kind, industrious, talented seventh grader who finds a magic fish while ice fishing with some neighbors. The fish doesn’t want to get caught and offers a wish to the person who returns it to the lake. Her first fish wish kind of gets mixed up, a sort of miscommunication with the fish, Charlie guesses, and she decides to be more precise in her future wish making. 🙂

The book description says “Charlie feels like she’s always coming in last.” Yep. When she has something planned that involves her family’s help, her event gets put on the back burner. That’s what happens time and again. And it happens before her older sister’s addiction problem begins. As a parent, this makes me want to scream. I could think of at least two solutions to the first problem the family had with Charlie’s schedule and commitment. Why didn’t her parents work this out with her? It also involved another student and her schedule. This can be realistic family life, however, that priorities get messed up and problems are not worked out.


The Poet’s Dog

The Poet's DogThe Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Author Patricia MacLachlan gives us a heartwarming tale in the midst of a ferocious blizzard. Teddy, a talking Irish wolfhound, rescues Flora and older brother Nickel, leading them to the safety of his cabin. The rest of the story is a treasure, told by Teddy.

A “jewel” of a book!