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Holly's Reviews

The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm

Although readers have waited 11 years for this sequel to the 2000 Newbery Honor book Our Only May Amelia, no time has passed for our protagonist, still 12 years old and living in rural Washington at the beginning of the 20th century. Although perceived as “trouble” by her father simply because she’s not a boy, May Amelia’s resolve and “sisu” (Finnish for chutzpah) never wavers. Her striking narrative voice is edgy and accessible, and Holm’s choice to forgo quotations marks in favor of the creative use of capital letters adds a modern quality to this unique historical novel. An engaging and original look at turn-of-the-century misogyny and feminism, skillfully told.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
The Trouble with May Amelia Cover Image
By Jennifer L. Holm, Adam Gustavson (Illustrator)
$5.99
ISBN: 9781416913740
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - May 1st, 2012

My Side of the Car written by Kate Feiffer and illustrated by Jules Feiffer

Two Feiffers meet at the intersection of seriousness and silliness in this brief story about a trip to the zoo in which it is raining on one side of the car, but definitely not on the other. While maintaining a narrative that is clear, endearing, and humorous, daughter (Kate) and father (Jules) raise questions about the fallibility of memory and the stability of reality. And if the story is not enough, they include the real-life dialogue that inspired it as backmatter. The best part is, no one—not Kate, not Jules, and not the reader—knows what “really” happened that day. Ages 4 and up.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
My Side of the Car Cover Image
By Kate Feiffer, Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780763644055
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Candlewick - April 26th, 2011

Orani written & illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

In this autobiographical picture book, Claire A. Nivola (Planting the Trees of Kenya) recalls her childhood memories of her father’s birthplace on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. Nivola’s lucid prose and paintings (reminiscent of Carmen Lomas Garza’s Family Pictures and Barbara Cooney’s Island Boy) immerse the reader in a sensory experience—the intensity of sunlight, the sweetness of fruit, the annoyance of flies, the “unspeakable strangeness of death.” Although an author’s note gives context to the era in which the narrative takes place, the story recalls a time of life before that context is necessarily important, in which events—birth, death, the eating of a fig, the baking of bread—simply happen, moment to moment. In this way, Nivola nearly slips into romanticism, but only just enough to make us fall in love with the beautiful Orani. Grades 1–4.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
Orani: My Father's Village Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780374356576
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - July 19th, 2011

Mirror written & Illustrated by Jeannie Baker

This conceptually original picture book in English and Arabic contains two stories to be read simultaneously, one from left to right about a day in the life of a boy in Sydney, Australia, and the other from right to left about a similar day for a boy in rural Morocco. Each page shows, side by side, an activity(breakfast, a trip to the metropolis, going to the store) illustrated in Baker’s meticulous collage. More than an impressive picture-puzzle book (though it is certainly that), her ingenious tableaus compel us to slow down and notice the delightful, surprising similarities and differences in the lives of these two individuals. Beautiful and thought-provoking. Ages 4–10.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
Mirror Cover Image
By Jeannie Baker, Jeannie Baker (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9780763648480
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Candlewick - November 9th, 2010

How Oliver Olson Changed the World by Claudia Mills

Oliver Olson’s problem could easily be every kid’s dream: His parents do his homework for him. But they are also so overprotective that the 3rd-grade space sleepover is absolutely out of the question for Oliver. When he connects with outspoken classmate Crystal about their mutual dismay at Pluto’s demotion from planet-status, Oliver begins to feel more confident about expressing his opinions, even as he fears disappointing his parents. Heartfelt and emotionally resonant, but full of humor and deftly drawn characters, Mills has created another winner for young readers. Grades 2–4.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
How Oliver Olson Changed the World Cover Image
By Claudia Mills, Heather Maione (Illustrator)
$6.99
ISBN: 9780312672829
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Square Fish - October 25th, 2011

The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm

Although readers have waited 11 years for this sequel to the 2000 Newbery Honor book Our Only May Amelia, no time has passed for our protagonist, still 12-years-old and living in rural Washington at the beginning of the 20th century. Although perceived as “trouble” by her father simply because she’s not a boy, May Amelia’s resolve and “sisu” (Finnish for chutzpah) never wavers. Her striking narrative voice is edgy and accessible, and Holm’s choice to forgo quotations marks in favor of the creative use of capital letters adds a modern quality to this unique historical novel. An engaging and original look at turn-of-the-century misogyny and feminism, skillfully told.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
The Trouble with May Amelia Cover Image
By Jennifer L. Holm, Adam Gustavson (Illustrator)
$5.99
ISBN: 9781416913740
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - May 1st, 2012

The Queen of Water by Laura Resau & Maria Virginia Farinango

Based on the true story of coauthor Farinango, this collaborative novel provides a nuanced look at race and class in late 20th-century Ecuador. Born in an impoverished Andean village but sent to work for a well-to-do family at the age of 7, Virginia finds herself at the nexus of two cultures as she enters her teens—that of her indígina heritage and that of her mestizo employers. The narrative voice overlaps, deepening our understanding of Virginia as she speaks in the present moment as well as retrospectively. The result is a fully fleshed-out coming-of-age/identity story. Ages 13 and up.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
The Queen of Water Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780385738972
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Delacorte Books for Young Readers - March 8th, 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

In a not too distant future, 17-year old Nailer lives and works on the Gulf Coast salvaging scrap from defunct oil tankers with his crew of “ship breakers.” Like many works of science fiction, the premise of Bacigalupi’s Printz Award–winning YA debut is frighteningly plausible—dare I say imminent?—but what sets Ship Breaker apart is the vividness of Bacigalupi’s prose, and his thoroughly developed, diverse cast of characters. Ages 13 and up.

Reviewed by: 
Holly
Ship Breaker Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780316056199
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - October 3rd, 2011

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