Sheila, Jen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting the #IMWAYR meme.
By accident I read several books that fall in that in-between middle grade and YA readership this week. These are great books for kids who aren't quite ready for some of the themes and topics that appear in YA lit, but have moved a bit beyond elementary school.
When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens is told alternately in the modern-day voice of Audrey, first daughter living in the White House, and Alice Roosevelt, former first daughter. I found this book quite compulsively readable, even as I was mentally critiquing the lack of authenticity of Alice Roosevelt’s supposed diary. The premise is just really fun - a modern day first daughter (with very modern interests and worries) connects to a turn of the century first daughter via a primary source. Audrey’s voice was much more credible than Alice’s, but I both characters convey well the inherent challenges of being a teenager in the White House. This is a quick fun read.
How could I not love a book entitled The Ninja Librarians? The first book in a planned series by Jen Swann Downey, this installment introduces us to Dorrie and Marcus, siblings who accidentally fall into a passage to Petrarch's Library. There, they discover an undercover world of "Lybririans" who are using very unconventional means to essentially save the world. The sword-wielding, freedom fighting, time traveling librarians are a hoot!
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire really defies classification. Is it a fairy tale? Sort of. Is it a fantasy? Yes, and... so much more. Elena lives in the impoverished Russian countryside, desperately trying to keep her sick mother alive, despite a dire lack of food and warmth. One day a train comes to town (it is definitely the year of the train in children's literature), carrying Cat, a noble girl on her way to present an important gift to the tsar. Through a series of mishaps, the girls end up trading places and the peasant Elena is on the train hurtling towards the tsar and Cat is left hungry in the village. From there, things get very interesting, as Baba Yaga and other fairy tale creatures and characters appear. The magic is perfectly blended into the realism and the suspense of what might happens next kept me turning pages briskly. This is a long book (almost 500 pages) so it requires some stamina, but it is worth it!
Finally, J. Patrick Lewis's Harlem Hellfighters is something beautiful to behold. Free verse poetry and amazing illustrations about a regiment of African American soldiers who fought in World War I alongside the French. The text is fairly minimal for such a big topic and yet it manages to convey the magnitude and music of the Harlem Hellfighters. This is a very impressive offering.