Tuesday, March 28, 2017

MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON by Linda Williams Jackson. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 308p. ISBN 978 0544 785106 hc.$16.99   Gr. 5-8    JUV FIC

Rose Lee Carter works around the house and in the fields of her grandparents who are sharecroppers on a Mississippi cotton plantation.  She knows her place in the world is at the bottom rung of every ladder that life has to offer.  Her mother deserted her for a new husband and his children.  Her grandmother, Ma Pearl, favors her light-skinned cousin over her and expects Rose to work hard enough for both of them.  She has an escape at school, where she's an exceptional student, until Ma Pearl threatens to put an end to that also.  On the bright side, Rose has a friend in the preacher's son, Hallelujah, who keeps her apprised of civil rights violations by white families in the state and the activists who are trying to let colored men vote without being killed for their efforts.  There's a lot of history woven into this story of family and community relationships in the deep south of 1955, including the infamous trial and acquittal of the men who killed Emmett Till for allegedly whistling at a white woman.  Rose uncovers some family secrets toward the end of the story and finds the courage to shape her own future.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WHERE ARE YOU GOING, BABY LINCOLN by Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, 2016. 112p. ISBN 9780763673116 hb. $14.99    Gr. 2-3   JUV FIC

When Lucille Lincoln, a.k.a. Baby, begins to feel confined by her life, she takes a "necessary journey" to seek something different.  Her life is run by her older sister, Eugenia, who makes lists of goals for each day, doesn't smile, and never reads the comics page of the newspaper because silliness is a waste of time.  Don't be fooled by Baby's name.  The book's cover gives a hint that Baby is really quite mature.  Baby's adventure begins on the train as she meets several people along the way.  She soon finds out that there's a wider range of acceptable behavior than that allowed by her sister, and gains confidence in her own talents, all through the power of conversation.  When Baby reaches the end of her train ride, she feels apprehensive and alone, until she spots none other than Eugenia on the platform waiting to take her back home.  Baby's life improved after her "necessary journey" because she added her own preferences to those of her sister's, making allowances for both personalities.  The message of this gentle story is that it's never too late to make positive changes in your life.  This is the third book in the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 49855

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

ROBINS! How They Grow Up by Eileen Christelow. New York: Clarion Books, 2017. 48p.  ISBN 9780544442894 hc. $16.99    Gr. 1-3    E PIC

Find out everything about Michigan's state bird, the robin, in just 48 fact-filled pages.  Christelow tells readers the habits and instincts of this beloved bird whose appearance signals the first sign of spring.  Who knew that their annoying habit of building nests under the porch roof was intentional to shelter their early spring babies before the trees have leaves? The realistic illustrations are set in blocks to simulate action on the page, making the story quite exciting when danger is near.  Two of the original robins from the story add their conversational comments in speech bubbles at the bottom of the page.  In addition to the factual information within the story, there's a glossary in the back and a list of more information about robins.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

THE SEVENTH WISH by Kate Messner.  New York: Bloomsbury, 2016. 228p. ISBN 978-1619-633766 hc. $16.99    Gr. 6-8   JUV FIC

Winter has arrived on the tails of the new year, as Charlie, along with several of her friends, gets ready for the upcoming feis, the competition for Irish dancers. Charlie loves everything about dancing, the unity of the dancers, the rhythm of the hard shoes on the floor, and the beautifully extravagant costumes.  The only thing she doesn't like is the cost of the those costumes.  This year she's decided to supplement her budget by ice-fishing with her neighbor and selling her catch to the local store.  One of her first catches is a small fish with green eyes that says, "Release me and I will grant you a wish."  Charlie catches the same fish, each time honing the wording of her wishes, as they seem to be granted with unexpected outcomes.  Soon Charlie's everyday problems are overshadowed by her sister Abby's heroin overdose while at college.  The whole family turns its focus to Abby's recovery, compromising Charlie's dancing dreams.  Could one last wish bring her family back to normal?  This is very serious content for a juvenile book, but Messner builds a compassionate story around the topic of addiction and drug abuse.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI