Tuesday, May 31, 2016

April Round-Up

Image from ErinEntradaKelly.com
The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
Greenwillow Books, 2016
Immigrants from the Philippines, imaginative Sol and her little sister Ming live with their bitterly angry stepmother Vea in a rundown apartment in Giverny, LA. The girls long for their deceased mother, drowned middle sister, and father who has gone back to the Philippines. Sol keeps her spirits up by telling Ming fantastical stories. But little Ming is shattered when their adventurous, world-traveling Auntie Jove is revealed to be a myth. Set in the present day, this funny and heartbreaking book celebrates the resiliency of children and the power of stories. Sol’s strong relationships with her best friend Manny, tough-as-nails Caroline, and the silent elderly Chinese woman next door, are especially satisfying in their diversity and complexity. Although Vea has an unrealistic change of heart at the end of the story, Sol’s heart and soul keep this story afloat. If you like this one, don’t miss Blackbird Fly, also by Kelly.
Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 9+/Grade 4+

Image from MacMillan.com
The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
First Second, 2016
When young Kaidu arrives in the Nameless City, an important trade city connecting many provinces, he is daunted by his strict soldier's training. Then his father, whom he barely knows, introduces him to Rat, a street-wise girl who agrees to help Kaidu learn how to skim over the rooftops in exchange for food. Kaidu starts to feel at home in the city, just as danger shows itself. Rat gets wind of a conspiracy to assassinate the powerful General of All Blades. Can Kaidu and Rat get the message to the general in time? Set in an ancient Asian time and place (perhaps China?), this graphic novel moves quickly from scene to scene. The earthy color palette and great line work help to propel the fast-paced action. The three dimensional characters are flawed, yet compelling. Look for the sequel, The Stone Heart, set to be published in April, 2017.
Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 10+/Grade 5+

Image from KateDiCamillo.com
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick, 2016
There were three 10-year-old girls in the Ida Nee’s baton twirling class set to enter the Little the Miss Central Florida Tire 1975 contest. But they have three different reasons. Raymie Clarke needs to win so her father, who ran away with a dental hygienist, will dash home after seeing Raymie in the newspaper. Fragile and bedecked with bunny barrettes, Louisiana Elefantes wants to win to save her cat Archie from the Very Friendly Animal Center. Beverly Tapinski is tough as nails and her plans for the contest involve sabotaging it, rather than winning it. Nothing goes according to plan, but everything happens for a reason in this poignant and humorous historical story. DiCamillo writing, as always, is engrossing and thought-provoking. Told from Raymie’s perspective, the story celebrates unlikely friendships, and encourages readers to find hope in the small things. Fans of DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses and Hilary Mckay’s Casson Family series will find a kindred spirit in Raymie Nightingale.
Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 9+/Grade 4+