Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Children's Fiction

Finished March 13
I couldn't sleep so I sat up and read a pile of kid's books I've been considering for gifts. And they were all winners!
I started with The Death Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean. This book follows a young boy in France, who has been told that he won't live until his fourteenth birthday. He has lived his life praying and following strict guidelines. As the day of his fourteenth birthday approaches, he breaks away from his life, taking on the persona of a variety of others as he runs from his supposed destiny. From ship's captain, to delicatessen worker, to journalist, to telegram boy, to the foreign legion, he finds himself friends, allies, and adventures. A great tale of belief, self-reliance, and perception.
Next up was When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. This tale follows Miranda a young girl in New York City. Miranda lives in an apartment with her mother, and helps her prepare to compete on a game show. Strange things start happening in her life. Her friend Sal gets punched for no apparent reason by a boy in their neighbourhood, the spare key for Miranda's apartment goes missing, and then she gets a mysterious note. It asks that she do something to save her friend's life. At first Miranda is confused and then scared. As another note comes to her, she begins to wonder if she can do what it asks. Along the way, Miranda makes new friends, and learn new wonderful things. A tale that was delightful.
The third book is Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. Here, Caitlin and her father are trying to come to terms with the sudden violent death of Caitlin's older brother Devon. Caitlin has Asperger's, and she has trouble reading other people's emotions and finding the appropriate response. She works with a counselor at her school who helps her find ways to improve her skills. As she looks for ways to deal with her own grief and loss and help her father deal with his, she becomes engrossed with the idea of Closure and works toward a way of finding it. A wonderful story that lets you inside Caitlin's head to see what someone with Asperger's experiences, and how their unique outlook can affect those around them. A wonderful story.
The fourth book I read was a Canadian fantasy book, Nieve by Terry Griggs. Nieve lives with her parents in a small town near a larger city. Her parents are professional weepers, hired by those experiencing loss or sadness. Her grandmother follows the old ways and has taught them to Nieve. When some of the people in town disappear, including Nieve's best friend Malcolm, she gets worried. Nieve finds strange weeds that start to grow everywhere and a duo, Wormius and Ashe, who arrive in town trailing a cloud of darkness. The darkness spreads everywhere and more and more people go missing. Nieve finally is able to go to her grandmother who shows her how to help her community overcome the darkness that is threatening to destroy them. From evil injections, to spirits, to magical footwear, Nieve finds new friends, strength in herself and great adventure. A very interesting tale of good versus evil.
A very productive night!

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