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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Flashback May 2009

What I was reviewing in May 2009:
flashback 31 500x307 Flashback May 2009

Being Bindy by Alyssa Brugman. From my review: “Bindy is experiencing the worst. year. ever. Yet she manages to get by. For one thing, while Bindy may not be as “grown up” as Janey and her new group of friends, Bindy doesn’t care. When things began going bad at the movies, she had no qualms about calling her father to take her home. She’s not going to change her looks or her clothes; she’s not going to pretend to like different TV shows. She doesn’t think that Janey’s new behavior, which includes making out with boys and drinking, is cool. Bindy thinks she’s alone; but she’s not. Her brother, who she thought of as the guy who disappears into his room to play computer games, turns out to be an ally. And she discovers that not everyone at school sees Janey and her new friends as the A List. Being Bindy has a refreshing family dynamic that is neither too perfect nor overly dramatic. . . . Bindy is young; but eighth graders are young. As she faces all the things that can make school horrible, she grows stronger but is not forced to grow older. This is not a book where Bindy discovers that makeup is fun and wow, Janey’s right; it is fun to date boys. Rather, Bindy grows up, by seeing the flaws in others and accepting them and loving them despite the flaws. She finds a place for herself by being herself – by being Bindy.”

Feeling Sad by Sarah Verroken. From my review: Poor Duck. “Everything around her seems so gloomy.” The only color in her world comes from her toy, Cuddly. Everything else is black and white. She is “grumpy and sad,” and so is her world. Slowly, as her mood lifts, color returns to her world. . . . On another level, it’s not just sadness — it’s also depression. And kids can be extreme in their emotions; high highs and low lows. And they see it in others. So a book that shows that — that reflects that reality? Especially that sometimes people (and Ducks) just feel sad for no reason? And does it without being all obviously bibliotherapy about it? Good.”

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything by Lenore Look. From my review: “Ruby Lu is in second grade. And the best. thing. ever. has happened: “The best thing about having a cousin come from another country to live with you is everything.” Flying Duck is full of wonders, from signing Chinese Sign Language to using chopsticks to pick up peas. What happens when having an immigrant cousin gets old? . . . Ruby’s family is Chinese-American. It’s woven into the story; it’s not the point of the story. The point of the story is a second grader figuring out how to be a friend to her cousin, and thinking getting glasses is cool, and seeing if it is hot enough outside to fry an egg. Or a pot sticker. Or a hamburger.

Alvin HoAlvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things and Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. From my review: “Alvin is such a great seven year old! And Look does a masterful job of showing the complexities, humor, and politics of the elementary school world. Kids will be laughing and enjoying the typical things Alvin encounters: a friend with chicken pox, playing Houdini, breaking something he shouldn’t have borrowed and dealing with the consequences. Alvin doesn’t talk in school; outside of school, he does. He is digging holes in the backyard, he is “Firecracker Man,” he is playing with his friends and striving to “be a gentleman” like his father. Alvin’s not-talking is not part of the plot. Nope, it’s just part of who he is. Flea (aka Sophie), his friend from school, wears an eye patch and has one leg longer than the other. There is no drama about that; no “life lessons”. It’s just who she is. Period. Which is great, and much better than turning Alvin or Flea (or their friend Jules who is just Jules, maybe a boy, maybe a girl, no one cares) into an “after school special” lesson.”

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink. From my review: “November, 1890. Lia Milthorpe has just buried her father. Her mother died years ago. They may have a big house and family money, but sixteen year old Lia, her twin sister, Alice, and their ten year old brother, Henry, are alone except for their mother’s sister, Aunt Virginia. Lia think she knows all about her family. She’s about to discover secrets, deadly secrets, that go back generations. It begins with a strange marking that appears on her wrist…

Board Books: Princess? and Pirates illustrated by Viviana Garofoli. Play Ball illustrated by Santiago Cohen. Alphabet House by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. From my review: “A Princess goes about her day — waking up, eating, playing. The illustrations are colorful and details stay the same from picture to picture. Everyone is a Princess — or Prince. Garofoli also illustrated the board book, Pirates. (Yeah, I’d love to see a crossover — Pirates and Princesses!)”

The Killer’s Cousin by Nancy Werlin. From my review: “David Yaffe has moved into his Aunt Julia and Uncle Vic’s house for his senior year of high school.His second senior year. His first senior year was interrupted by the trial — his trial. Accused of murdering his girlfriend, Emily. Acquitted.When he moves into the attic apartment at his relatives’ house, his 11 year old cousin greets him with a question about Emily’s death. When David did it, when Emily died, she asks — did he feel powerful? Was he glad? It’s not going to be an easy year.”

Bad Kitty Gets A Bath by Nick Bruel. From my review: “How to give a kitty — especially a bad kitty — a bath.”

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. From my review: “Mrs. Bennet wants to see her five daughters married; Mr. Bennet wants to see them survive the zombies. When rich Mr. Bingley appears to have feelings of matrimony towards eldest daughter Jane, all seems to being going as Mrs. Bennet plans. Alas, Bingley’s good friend Mr. Darcy seems to not approve — and also seems to be taken with second sister, Elizabeth. Elizabeth, the best fighter of the sisters, will not let the Bennet family honor be slighted and vows revenge.”

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams. From my review: “Kyra Carlson is almost 14; as the oldest daughter in her family, she will be the first to be “chosen”, to be married. She is one on the “The Chosen Ones,” who live on a compound, secure in their knowledge that they live the way God wants. Outside the gates, it is Satan’s world. But Kyra has always wanted to know about the world outside the fence, a world where children like her eldest sister, Emily, aren’t ignored for being different and slow; a world where there aren’t multiple wives; a world where she isn’t expected to marry a man over fifty years older than herself.”

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

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