Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Hidden Summer By Gin Phillips

What was going to be the best summer ever went suddenly awry.

13-year-old Nell and Lydia are best friends and have been for a really long time. They planned to go through summer like normal(sleepovers and just hanging out together). Then one day they are forbidden from seeing each other. Nell can't imagine what will happen if she loses her best friend and if she doesn't have a place to go to get away from problems at home. The girls have to find a place of their own. Nell and Lydia spend the summer hiding out on an abandoned golf course. They discover many hidden things and figure out that they are not the only ones seeking a safe place. Nell begins to realize what it means to be "seen" in this adventurous book.

I recommend this book for the upper grades and for anyone who likes a spark of adventure.

By Camille Norton

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I selected Brown Girl Dreaming because it is this year's Coretta Scott King Author Award winner. I later discovered that it is also a Newbery Honor Book, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, and a National Book Award Finalist. After reading it, I can see why it has racked up the awards!

This is a memoir of Jacqueline Woodson's childhood days written in verse. I agree with Mrs. Woodson that poetry is the perfect genre for this book. The chapters are short poetic snippets of memories that are sequenced in such a way that they tell the story of her growing up in both the South (South Carolina) and in the North (New York City). Her childhood included some very historic moments in the Civil Rights Movement from peaceful Martin Luther King with his freedom marches and bus boycotts to violent Malcolm X and the Black Power movement.

My favorite parts of the book were the chapters about her time in the South. I loved her descriptions of the time she spent with her grandparents: "the weight of our grandparents' love like a blanket with us beneath it, safe and warm."

I recommend this book to upper-elementary students interested in the memoir or biography genres. Despite the fact that it deals with some important, historic issues, the book is an easy read thanks to the verse and its short chapters.

By Mrs. Norton