Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling

Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling (Algonquin Books, January 13, 2015) is a middle-grade nonfiction story about two young girls who sought to escape slavery in 1840s Washington, D.C.

Emily Edmonson was only 13 when she joined siblings and others on the small ship The Pearl in hopes to escape North. It was the most daring mass slave escape ever attempted, and it was tragically captured before it reached the safety of the North. The book captures the horrors of slavery from a unique perspective: that of a girl on the brink of freedom.Continue Reading

Socks by Beverly Cleary

Socks (1973) is not a Beverly Cleary book I ever discovered as a child, but I love it! It’s a simple story told from the perspective of a cat named Socks, beginning with his first day of true consciousness: the day he would be sold by the boy and girl who had taken care of him for his first weeks of life. From that first adventure being dropped in to the mailbox until the end of his story, Socks is a happy cat. It does just happen that he occassionally is misunderstood, and that is where the humor can be found!

I loved how Beverly Cleary was able to make the cat’s emotions so realistic. It is told in omniscient narrator (no “I” narrator being the cat), so we also get a glimpse of what the children and the adults are thinking as time passes. But much of the book focuses on how Socks interprets the events around him. He is a truly loveable cat.

I must admit that I am not a pet person at all, but this book still brought cats into a warm place in my heart as I considered how the cat interpreted the events around him and how he eventually won over those who did not like him. It’s a book for the cat-lover and the non-cat person as well! It is definitely a fun middle-grade book for the early reader that has aged well in the past 40+ years.

Picture Book Sunday: Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee

Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee and illustrated by Lori Joy Smith (Kids Can Press, April 2015) is a book about friendship. Annie feels left out when a new girl moves in, because her best friend Lillemore has become friends with someone else!

I loved the simple format of this book. It is a pretty straight-forward book: jealousy at the most basic. But of course Annie learns that because Lillemore and Lilianne have a lot in common, that means that she, Annie, also has some things in common too!

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I had heard of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It’s one of those books that has been on the top of “to read” lists since it came out in early 2012. Now that I have read it, I know why.

At the center of Wonder is a boy, August or Auggie Pullman, with a severe facial distortion. Since he has been in and out of surgery for his entire life, he had never been able to attend school. Now that he is 10, his surgeries have lessened, and it is time for him to try a mainstream school with his peers. But although Wonder puts Auggie in the center of the story, it is really a story about kindness, acceptance, and overcoming bullying. Continue Reading