OCDaniel by Wesley King is a much needed added addition to Young Adult collections, as it puts a frequently taboo subject (mental illness) at the center of the story. OCDaniel is about a middle school boy suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but he does not quite know what it is. He feels progressively frustrated with his strange obsessions and his inability to let go of things he knows are not reasonable. Enter a strange girl from his school who has her own mental disorders that make daily life miserable. She needs help, and since she recognizes Daniel’s issue, she believes he is one that is able to help him. Together, Daniel learns a little bit what a true friend looks like, and he is able to come to a recognition of the fact that he needs help in overcoming his unique condition.Continue Reading
Chloe in India by Kate Darnton is about an American preteen trying to find her place while living in a foreign country. Chloe is a preteen American girl who has moved to India, but she dislikes living there because she is the outsider. She has blonde hair, she doesn’t know Hindi, and she doesn’t quite understand the social circles in her small private school. As most fifth graders may feel, she wants to be popular.
Chloe’s story is one of growing into yourself and being okay with who you are. Although she really wants to fit in with the most popular girl in school, she recognizes that this girl is not nice and is actually not really any fun. The school system in India is such that the private schools are required to provide spaces for children who are unable to afford it. This is to give everybody the opportunity of a good education. One such poor girl, Lakshmi, joins Chloe’s class, and the two girls finds they have a special bond with each other. They enjoy playing after school hours at the playground together, and they both feel out of place in their new school.
When the school has a dance contest Chloe and Lakshmi decide to practice a winning dance together. They are determined to win! However, when it comes down to it, at school, Chloe is still torn because she wants to be a part of the popular girl’s circle well.
Chloe in India is a nice look at a culture that I was not familiar with. I like that we can see this glimpse into Delhi and that in the end, Chloe became comfortable with who she is. It was predictable, but I am glad she found the ability to stand up for her new friend.
I think it’s important to note that Chloe in India is full of subtle cultural and social commentary (Chloe’s mother was a sensational journalist) so obviously this book also became that. That’s not a bad thing: I think it is important for children to understand different cultures and the commentary gave such a glimpse. The book was not only commentary: it certainly was a fun story as well.
Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
Ancient Greek and Roman mythology has always fascinated me. First I fell in love with D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. But then, even as a young teenager, I remember reading Mythology by Edith Hamilton, one of the first “pop culture” books that brought Greek mythology into the main stream for the general reader.
It’s easy to see why. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology has taken thousands of different ancient Greek and Roman texts and whittled them down to the very essence of the story, summarizing both ancient belief system and traditional folkloric stories in a slim, easily accessible volume. I still like this all these years later, but I can see it for what it is now, and better understand how much is missing from it. Continue Reading
Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson is part a mystery story but also part a story of friendship in a friendly forest. Detective Gordon, a toad, is the only officer in the forest, and he sits alone at his desk. When a hungry and lonely forest mouse is caught stealing nuts from squirrel’s winter stock, he invites her home and gives her some food. He is aghast that she does not even have a name, and proudly bestows one on her. Buffy becomes his sidekick, and together they are able to find a solution to the stolen nuts in the forest. Detective Gordon is a fun addition to the early chapter book lists and I hope this is the first of many such adventures for the good detective and his meek side kick.Continue Reading