Friday, April 23, 2010


Publisher Review: When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead

This first caught my attention because it is last year's Newbery winner, and I try to make sure I hit those big titles amidst my reading. The jacket blurb sounded decidedly strange, leaving more questions than anything, and it seemed like this was one you'd have to read to get, as if it was defying attempts to describe it.

It didn't grab me on the first few pages, to be honest. But once I started further in, and started to care about the characters and be curious about where the story was going, it became a series of events that were a little strange, full of hints, and weaving their way slowly towards a fascinating conclusion.

It's definitely a book for older children - it contains some minor violence, some abstract concepts, and a horrible accident, and would just fly over the heads of younger children. But for the child who can follow it and stick with it through the first little bit as it gets going, it holds rich rewards. It's a book that has stuck with me after I closed it, a sure sign of a worthwhile read.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010


Earth Day: Not Your Typical Book About the Environment

by Elin Kelsey

This book starts from the premise that most books about the environment are depressing - heavy, doomsaying, guilt-inducing, and laying the onus squarely on the reader to fix it. Yikes. From there, it promises to inform and inspire hope rather than horror.

She goes on to talk about a lot of factors that affect the environment and a lot of the problems that we are seeing. A lot of the information centres around our lifestyles and how they impact the world, showing the ripple effects that we have on the planet.

As promised, though, she looks at many sides of each issue, as well as areas where research is showing new promise for future improvements. In some cases, this this means she shows the flaws in things we believe are answers, but she always points out several pros and cons, making the book more about information and choices than about lessons.

The book is text-heavy and densely packed with information, as it is a non-fiction book for kids in middle grades (I'd say grades 4-8), but the tone is light and conversational, making it a surprisingly easy read.

A great gift for a curious or environmentally conscious kid, or a starting point for doing a project or making a change, I recommend this one as a great way to start learning about earth and what we can do to help her out.

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