Good Enough to Eat

Cole, Brock. Good Enough to Eat. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007.
A tall tale, a folktale, a cautionary tale… When an ogre threatens a town, the people offer him a young girl. Scraps-and-Smells is poor and homeless, the perfect person to give away, they think. But she outwits them all. A marvellous story reminiscent of The Little Red Hen but far more joyful, this picture book is recommended for readers 7 years old and up who like to see people get their comeuppance. 
P.S. Anything written and illustrated by Brock Cole is worth reading. Look for his books! 

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Pine Island Home

Horvath, Polly. Pine Island Home. Toronto: Puffin Canada, 2020.
Feeling fatigued by the constraints imposed by this pandemic? Feeling irritable about life in general? Read a novel by Polly Horvath. She has an extraordinary ability to use life’s craziness to make us laugh. This latest novel is no exception. Four sisters are orphaned in Borneo when their missionary parents are washed away by a tsunami. Unfortunately, their great-aunt – who had volunteered to take them in – dies before they arrive. Now what will they do? Where will they go? The four girls decide to settle into their aunt’s rural home on an island off the coast of British Columbia and pretend that a grumpy neighbour is their legal guardian. Will their scheme work? Well, all ends happily but not before all sorts of crazy complications surprise everyone. This highly recommended novel will be enjoyed by readers 10 to 13 years old.

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Orphan Train Girl

Kline, Christina Baker. Orphan Train Girl: the Young Readers’ Edition of Orphan Train. New York: Harper, 2017.
Molly, a foster child in Maine, is court-ordered to do community service after stealing a book from the public library. Forced to help an elderly woman clean up her attic, she makes a friend who shares her own past as a homeless Irish-Catholic child sent out to work without pay in order to earn her keep. A powerful story based on history as explained – and illustrated with photographs – in an afterward. Highly recommended for readers 11 years old and up.

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Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Dear Reader,

If you like action novels and are a quick reader, you’ll have great fun with this 381-page novel about a blind orphan who is forced to work as a thief. Setting off on a great quest with three sets of magic eyes, Peter faces danger and finds friendship. He shows courage and discovers his home. Read this great novel – by a writer raised in Canada – when you have a long weekend and lots of time. Have fun!

Auxier, Jonathan. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes: A Story. Toronto: Puffin Canada, c2011.

You notice that it’s published by Puffin. Always take at least a quick look at a Puffin book. It might not be what you are looking for right at the moment, but you can be sure it will be well written. 

Ms. R. 

 

Some Kind of Courage

Gemeinhart, Dan. Some Kind of Courage. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016.
Joseph is alone in the world. His mother and sister have died of illness. His father has been killed in an accident. And the man who is supposed to take care of him has sold his beloved horse. So Joseph sets out – on his own – to find Sarah and buy her back again.  On the way, he teams up with a Chinese boy who speaks no English and receives help from a tribe of indigenous people. This heart-warming novel – set in 1890 in the state of Washington – will appeal to readers 11 to 15 years old who enjoy past-paced stories of adventure. 

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Seeing goodness…

A multiple award-winner and New York Times bestseller!

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. The War I Finally Won. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers 2017.
Do you need courage to have hope? Can you know something but not believe it? How do you learn to overcome fear? The story of Ada and Jamie, evacuated from London in The War That Saved My Life, continues in this 385-page novel recommended for readers 12 years old and up.
The story begins with surgery to repair Ada’s clubfoot. But surgery can’t repair the sense of rejection she still feels from years of abuse. And surgery can’t teach her how to trust anyone except herself. It is steadfast love from her new guardian and her own determination to learn that transforms Ada from a fearful 11-year-old to a confident 14-year-old ready to embrace the goodness of life.

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P.S. Part of the brilliance of this novel is its quiet complexity. While told from the limited point of view of Ada, the reader sees that we all have limited points of view. And sometimes our lack of knowledge limits our ability to see clearly. Lady Thorton is stand-offish due to limitations imposed by her childhood. People in the village mistrust Ruth – a Jewish refugee – due to ignorance of events in Germany. Susan assumes she will be rejected by a friend’s family, and Maggie thinks her mother doesn’t care about her. Over and over again, we see that life may have been terrible in the past but it can still be good in the future. And we are all lovable.

 

Who do you think you are?

Boyne, John. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2015.
When Pierrot is four years old, his father – a German soldier in the Great War – disappears. When Pierrot is seven years old, his French mother dies in a Parisian hospital. He is sent to live with his Aunt Beatrix, a housekeeper for Adolf Hitler. It is 1935 and life is changing in Europe.
What happens when people flatter us and make us feel important? What happens when lies start to sound like truth? What happens when we realize we’ve betrayed the people who love us?
Spanning the course of World War II and its aftermath, this 215-page novel by a breathtakingly powerful writer is highly recommended for mature readers 11-years-old and up. [France; Germany; Historical fiction; Hitler, Adolf; Orphans; Self-awareness]  

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