Since I’ve read several YA books lately and they all happen to be blue, I came up with a very creative title for this post. 😉 Even if you don’t typically read YA fiction, I highly recommend these.
Sweet Home Alaska
Carole Estby Dagg
Terpsichore and her family move to Alaska during the Great Depression as part of a New Deal plan to help struggling families and to settle the new territory. She works hard to convince her mother that they should stay by helping her father on their farm, founding a community library, and creating a life for their family. Terpsichore loves Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and often finds parallels between her life and Laura’s. (These are the only Little House books in publication at the time–Little House on the Prairie appears later in the novel.) She even names her prize-winning pumpkins Laura and Almanzo!
My main problem with this book is the title. I’m not sure what I would have called it, but I’m not a fan of the author’s choice. Ha! I did enjoy learning a bit about American history that I didn’t know previously–the Alaska settlement plan is all based on fact, as are many of the details Ms. Dagg included. I would recommend this one for the middle school crowd: 8 and up.
Report Card: B+
Pam Munoz Ryan
This book is incredible. The author tells the stories of three different children on different continents immediately before and during World War II. The thread that ties them together is a harmonica that they all end up playing. Beyond that, these stories are set within a frame story that’s part of another story! Confused yet? It sounds nuts, but it works.
Echo reminds me of All the Light We Cannot See, but for the younger set. I would probably hold off on this one until 6th/7th grade mostly because 1)it’s huge (and therefore intimidating) and 2)it deals with World War II and the accompanying issues of the Holocaust, concentration camps, and death. I have heard great things about the audio version of this book as well.
Report Card: A+
The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book is a clever retelling of The Jungle Book, except the jungle is a cemetery and the animals are the souls of the dearly departed. Nobody Owens ends up in an old cemetery as an infant and stays there, protected by its inhabitants for 15 or so years. It’s a fun coming-of-age story, as Bod deals with his past and moves into his future during the course of the story.
This novel has a Harry Potter vibe to it: lots of supernatural and fantasy and weird made-up facts. I love that Mr. Gaiman wrote this book for his kids. 🙂 I would recommend this book to the middle school + crowd as well.
Report Card: B+
Photo credits/Amazon links: https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Home-Alaska-Carole-Estby/dp/0399172033/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1497379292&sr=8-1; https://www.amazon.com/Echo-Pam-Munoz-Ryan/dp/0439874025/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1497379349&sr=8-1; https://www.amazon.com/Graveyard-Book-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0060530944/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1497379442&sr=8-1