This was a fantastic novel with a strong main character. The book is about Bee Branch, an 8th grader with a Straight A report card. In reward for her good grades, she gets to pick anywhere to go for a trip, and she picks Antarctica. In the days leading up to the trip, her eccentric mom Bernadette battles angry moms, a very messy music party, and a rickety house.
Told in texts, emails, and letters, this is a one-sitting type book. What makes this different than every other book is its divine humor percolating throughout the novel. Ms. Semple also never takes her foot off the gas pedal, meaning she’s in it to the end. The book never drags and it is perfect for anyone looking for an intelligent and VERY funny book to throw in the beach (or pool) tote bag.
Dodger by Terry Pratchett was a 2013 Printz Honor Book about a guttersnipe living in Victorian-Era London. He makes a living my being a “tosher” – someone who walks through the sewers of London picking up anything of value that has washed down the drains. One night he emerges from the sewer to see a young girl trying to escape from two thugs, and he rescues her. Now Dodger is on a mission. He is going to make sure she’s safe from whoever is after her. That determination brings him into contact with “peelers” (police), journalists (most notably Charles Dickens who I liked much more in this book than by anything I’ve ever read BY him), Sweeney Todd (the murderous barber), and Queen Victoria.
This is one of my favorite books of this challenge. Once I put it down I wished I could immediately pick up another adventure with good old Dodger at the helm. He’s charismatic, honorable (despite his best intentions), people smart, and full of adventure. I had seen this book mentioned by librarians all over the country as a favorite. I just hadn’t been motivated to pick it up to read for myself until this challenge. I waited too long. This is one exceptional read.
What do you think – if the underbelly of London society had a yearbook, what would they write about good ole Dodger?
Girlchild was one of the Alex Award Winners for 2013. Girlchild is definitely an adult novel with mature and troubling content. Rory lives in a trailer park in Nevada where a code of silence prevails despite alcoholism, domestic disputes, and abuse. Rory’s mom clearly wants something better for her daughter, but her habit of trusting the wrong people have damaged Rory the most. The writing style is unique – chapters are just a few pages long and provide a glimpse into Rory’s life jumping forward and backward in time. Other chapters contain passages from social worker reports, portions of books, and in some cases are completely blacked out.
This book is described as heartbreaking. It delivers “heartbreaking” in spades. Readers meet a child full of life and personality and watch as she’s ground down by the cycle of abuse, addiction, poverty, and tragedy. The ending is somewhat open to interpretation.
Have you read Girlchild? What did you think about this Alex Award Winner?