Flashback February 2010

A flashback to what I was reading in February 2010:

Dream Life by Lauren Mechling. From my review: “Claire Voyante has a gift: psychic abilities that help her solve mysteries. Naturally, it’s not something she shares with her fellow students at Henry Hudson High School.”

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. From my review: “1968. Delphine Gaither, 11, is the oldest sister, the responsible one, who is in charge of Vonetta (age 9) and Fern (age 7) as they travel from Brooklyn to Oakland, CA to visit Cecile, the mother who left them shortly after Fern’s birth. In One Crazy Summer, the three girls learn not just about their mother and about themselves, but also about the larger world. The world of 1968 is one where grown ups argue with children about whether they use the word black or colored; a seven year old is taken to task in public for having a white doll; and poetry is not just words on a page. I love the Gaither sisters! I love how they stick up for each other in public, yet get mad at each other in private. I love how they have this thing where they don’t just finish each others sentences — when taking on someone, they converse as if one, a solid family unit.”

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood. From my review: “Miss Penelope Lumley, recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is resolved to get a position as governess. What, she wonders, will they ask? Will they quiz her on the capitals of central European countries? At no point does she wonder, “what if my young charges were raised by wolves and only recently discovered and have never even had a bath? when is the right time to start Latin for such children?” Had she wondered that, she would have been better prepared for the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place.”

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab. From my review:It’s been a year since Neily’s ex-girlfriend Carly was murdered. One year; and now that senior year has started, it should be behind him. Someone was arrested, a trial was held, the murderer is in jail. Neily is still conflicted about his feelings about Carly, their time together, their breakup, her murder, so when Carly’s cousin Audrey approaches him with her belief that the real murderer is still out there, he’s not sure what to do. Pure brilliance. A wonderful mystery.”

Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal. From my review: “Before 1972, the opportunity for girls to play sports, especially organized sports in school, was extremely limited. Donna de Varona, an Olympic medal winner in 1964, did not have the ability to pursue her sport into college because of the lack of university level swimming programs or scholarships. Title IX was passed in 1972, prohibiting sex discrimination in education. That one law changed everything, resulting in today’s society, where the idea that a girl wouldn’t be playing soccer or able to go college on a sports scholarship is unheard of. How did that become possible? Let Me Play is a fascinating look at a cultural shift in how society views girls and sports, from girl as observer to girl as participant.”

The Exiles by Hilary McKay. From my review: “The [Conroy] girls are unique, independent and delightfully real in their sense of honor and morals. Early on, one of their younger sisters has gotten in trouble for something and is obediently waiting to get punished. Her older sisters “looked at her in despair. They believed in behaving as though they were innocent at least until they were proven guilty, and quite often even after that.” Ruth and Naomi are not saying to lie or be obstinate; rather, they are saying why give in so easily? Why, just because you’re the child, accept the adults’ version? Why not stand up for yourself and your view of events? They despair not at their sister’s obedience, but rather at her not asserting herself and her voice.”

Lockdown (Escape From Furnace) by Alexander Gordon Smith. From my review: “Alex Sawyer admits he is a thief. Has been for two years, since he was twelve. Started with money from kids on the playground; moved up to burglary. But he is NOT a murderer. He did not kill his best friend, Toby. Nobody believes him, though. So Alex gets sent to the worst prison ever imagined: Furnace. Beneath heaven is hell. Beneath hell is Furnace.”

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott. From my review: “Genna Colon, fifteen, lives in a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with her overworked mother and three siblings. . . .  One night, after a fight with her mother, Genna runs to the local gardens and makes a wish at the fountain. Suddenly, she is back in time. Still in Brooklyn, but as for the time? It’s the Civil War. She’s dazed, confused, and hurt. The first people who find her don’t help; instead, they are two white men who assume she’s a runaway slave.

The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students by Suzanne Jurmain. From my review: “Prudence Crandall was smart and a hard worker. She went to school, taught, saved, and then opened her own school for girls. One day a teenage girl approached her with a simple request: she wanted to learn so that she could teach. Would Miss Crandall admit her to the school? Isn’t that what every teacher wants, students eager to learn? Asking to come to school? Except that Sarah Harris, the girl asking the question, is African-American. And the year is 1831. The town is Canterbury, Connecticut.”

Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser. Picture Book. From my review: “Deer casually mentions to Squirrel, “winter is almost here. I think it’s going to snow.” Squirrel decides to stay up during winter to see snow; soon he involves Hedgehog and Bear in his vigil. But they’ve never seen snow; they just know its “white and wet and cold and soft.” Will the animals stay up long enough to see snow? Or will they find something different that they think is snow?

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore. From my review: “Sylvie Davis’s dreams of a ballet career ended when she broke her leg during a performance. While her mother is away on her honeymoon, Sylvie gets sent to stay with Aunt Paula, a relative she’s never met, to stay at the family home in Alabama, a place she’s never been. Sylvie Davis discovers that the Davis family has roots in Alabama. An old, large home. A history going back generations. People who think they know her because she is a Davis. There are even stories of ghosts: a running girl, a Confederate Colonel. Sylvie thinks they are just stories, until strange things start happening to her and around her. Who is she? Who can she trust? What is going on? Is she going mad, or is magic real? You know all those Barbara Michaels books you go looking for? Young girl, old family home, dueling love interests, with the three s’s: setting, suspense, supernatural? And when they’re done, you wonder what to read next?”

Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson. From my review: “Joshua Wynn is a perfect seventeen year old, just like his parents want. He’s the role model, the evidence of his parents goodness. He’s the son of Rev. Isaiah P. Wynn, with all that demands. Then Maddie comes to town; his friend from childhood, another preacher’s kid, but instead of being a good kid (like Joshua) she is the wild child people whisper about. Joshua begins to question what it means to be good; what it means to be a role model; and what goodness really means.”

Bodies From the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii by James M. Deem. From my review: “Bodies From the Ash contains many stories. Pompeii: a Roman city during the early days of the Empire. It’s also Pompeii: the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that buried a city and its people. And Pompeii: the science behind the bodies. And Pompeii: the evolution of archaeology from treasure hunting to science. Finally, Pompeii: the preservation and storage of artifacts.”



5 thoughts on “Flashback February 2010

  1. Some old friends and several new ones added to my list, which I can’t get to until I’ve read all the contenders for Battle of the Kids’ Books.

    One Crazy Summer – not only do I love the Gaither sisters, I really enjoyed how realistically their sibling relationship is portrayed. Loving but not without conflict and rivalry. One of my favorite things about the book is that Rita Williams-Garcia did not compromise in her portrayal of the mother. I loved that she remained true to the character and did not go for cheap sentimentality and though she was a difficult person you understood her by the end. Great book. For those who enjoy audio books, it’s is also available in a wonderful audio version masterfully narrated by Sisi Aisha Johnson.

    My love for the Incorrigible Children series is unlimited. So original, funny, clever, and with great word play. These books are just fun. I’m impatiently waiting for the next book and trying to figure out the mystery. Do you know (i) when the next book is being released; and (ii) how many books are planned for this series?

    A Wish After Midnight sounds very similar to The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman. How do they compare?

    Just wanted you to know that I really enjoy these Flashback posts. It’s fun to be reminded of books I’ve read or missed the first time around. So many great books published earlier that are lost in the rush of the shiny new thing. Thank you for taking the time to create this series.


    1. I am so looking forward to the sequel to ONE CRAZY SUMMER!

      And for the Incorrigibles, I’m not sure how many books are planned. I’m really curious to see how the backstory (the origins of the children) is resolved.

      I haven’t read THE FREEDOM MAZE so I cannot comment on them.

      I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the flashbacks — I know I’ve had fun remembering some great books from past years.


  2. So am I. I think I gave a little clap when I first read there was going to be a sequel to One Crazy Summer. I mean it doesn’t need one. It definitely stands alone. However, I just love those girls so much that I can’t wait to find out what they’re up to.

    Not that you need any more books to read but I do recommend The Freedom Maze.. I’m a sucker for time travel books – as long as rules are observed. Ana over at The Booksmugglers LOVED it. She gave it one of their rare 10 rating. I really liked it but probably would give it an 8 (Excellent) on the smuggler scale, If you do read it, I”m sure I’ll read about it here.


    1. My ultimate dream for ONE CRAZY SUMMER is that it becomes the type of classic series like LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, BETSY TACEY, ALL OF A KIND FAMILY, etc.

      I’ll add FREEDOM MAZE to my pile — it sounds like my type of book.


  3. Oh, I love your dream for One Crazy Summer. If you don’t mind, I’m going to share it. I’d love to watch the girls grow up, especially in such an interesting era, and how the changing mores affect them and their grandmother who is so traditional. It’ll be nice to have a series just about growing up and not saving the world. There’s the Pendewicks but if Ms. Williams-Garcia follows our dreams (see I’ve already preempted your dream), then there will be one with girls of color.

    ICYMI: here’s a video of Ms. Williams-Garcia speaking about One Crazy Summer and how hard it was writing the poetry in the book. An interesting look at the writing process.

    Off topic: I just received a notice that the new Kiki Strike book is in at my library. Can’t wait. Will be reading it right after Out of the Easy, Ruta Sepetys’ new book. Here’s her book trailer, which is 8 minutes of her discussing her inspiration and research in New Orleans. Fascinating.


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