RANT: If you only want book reviews, scroll down. I suspect that I will be ranting more often for the next four years. The Executive order signed yesterday by the president of this large and powerful country was cruel, ill-informed, un-American, pig-headed, and illegal. A family who had applied to immigrate several years ago was sent home within 3 hours of landing in Philadelphia. The adults had jobs, an apartment, sponsors and family here. They had been thoroughly vetted. Before their sponsors could reach the airport, the family was GONE!! This happened at every major airport in the US. Cruel, unfeeling and absolutely maddening! He did not check with the DOJ or the Department of Homeland Security. He just signed the paper. If he was MY apprentice, I would relish telling him he was FIRED.
We disembarked from our cruise yesterday morning - before this horrible paper was enforced. Had we disembarked later in the day some of the passengers may have found their vacation tragically shortened.
I try hard NOT to post about politics here but this can not pass unnoticed. I cannot keep silent about this. He is our president, an elected representative of the people of the United States - NOT the Emperor of the USA - NOT a tyrant. Okay, he might be a tyrant but he should NOT be. The United States is not his personal company, owned by his cadre of rich acolytes. Up until January 20th, this country belonged to us, WE, THE PEOPLE! It still belongs to the people. Someone should tell the president that.
Books: I read a lot on vacation.
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan. Joe and Ravi are in the same class. Ravi has just moved to the United States (Look! An IMMIGRANT!) Joe has struggled through this school for five years. Ravi was a popular, high achieving student in India but here, he is the kid with the weird accent. Joe has trouble concentrating. His new teacher doesn't seem to understand this even though he must go to the Resource Room for help in staying focused. After early misunderstandings, Joe and Ravi find themselves targets of the same trouble maker (who is CRUEL, ARROGANT and a BULLY). (Middle school)
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson. Andie's father has been in Congress for years. Suddenly, he is accused of misappropriating funds that should go to his charitable foundation. (Familiar? Thankfully, the comparisons end here.) Protecting her father's image has been a full time job for most of Andie's life. Andie has a pre-pre-med summer internship. And then, her internship is terminated, just like that. Her father is home for the first time in years. She takes a job walking dogs. Her close knit group of friends begin to unravel and she meets The Guy! Also, she finds out she likes dogs. So, it's good. (YA)
The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser. (Put two dots over the "a".) After personal disasters, Amy Lennox and her mother pack their bags and leave Germany for Scotland, Amy's mother's childhood home. On a sparsely populated island, Amy learns that she is a book jumper, from one of only two families of book jumpers who are pledged to keep books safe and untainted. Soon after she arrives, important elements of books start disappearing. When a book character washes ashore - dead - Amy has some detecting to do - all over the world of literature. There is a villain - a selfish, vain, capricious, immature, cruel.... Oh well, never mind. Once things start disappearing, the book gets pretty good. (YA)
When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin. The new emperor sweeps up the mountainside and drags away Pinmei's grandmother. Pinmei's neighbor, the boy Yishan, drags her to safety and together they set out to find the Luminous Stone that Lights the Night, the price for ransoming Pinmei's grandmother. Everywhere they go, Pinmei, usually as shy as a mouse, tells one of her grandmother's stories. In prison, her grandmother tells stories. SHE is the Storyteller. These stories often feature cruel, selfish, arrogant, vain people. Just as often, they showcase the power of kindness and truth. As in Lin's earlier books, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky, the tales are modeled on Chinese folklore and they move the plot to a very satisfying conclusion. And the illustrations are AMAZING. (Middle school reading level. Younger if read aloud. Older because the stories are awesome.)
Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur. An imagined country has been attacked by a vicious and voracious army. Children 12 and up are asked to take a test and volunteer to help win the war. Megs is sure to pass. Mathilde, her best friend, also takes the test though she expects to fail. It is a chance to help her family and it might save her life. Mathilde passes (Megs does not) and finds herself in a large estate, far from the fighting, surrounded by very bright and very talented children. Mathilde's talent is unexpected. How this talent helps the war effort, and how Mathilde stays true to herself, is a enthralling story. The book will stay with you. (Middle school and up. Great for discussion about talents, responsibility, relationships and war.)
I also read Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley. I pray that Flavia de Luce grows up very, very slowly. I LOVE these books. I had to go back and re-read two of the earlier books in the series (and a short story) after reading this. That's how I spent my vacation.