Who Was That Masked Man Anyway? Avi

When I was a kid, I had a bike and a backpack. I’d ride up to the library at least once a week all summer long and check out a bag full of books. The next week, I’d take them all back and restock. If I found an author I liked, I would check out every single book I could find by that author the next week.

There were some authors I always returned to. One of them was Avi.

I don’t know which came first: meeting Avi, or reading his books. But when I was third grade, I was selected from my class for the “Young Authors” program, and I got to meet Avi himself, who told us his story, why he loved to write, and so forth. I knew from that moment that I’d be an author too. Although I have not really written children’s fiction as I thought I wanted to as a child, I certainly have kept reading, and as my 6+ years of blogging about reading may indicate, I like writing quite a bit too!

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Avi is such a fascinating author to me because not only does he write realistic children’s fiction (like Nothing But The Truth), he also writes ghost stories (like Something Upstairs), mysteries (Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?), historical fiction (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Crispin: The Cross of Lead), historical-ghost-mystery (The Man Who Was Poe) and fantasy (Poppy). There are a million other subgenres he’s written too: I must admit, I have not kept up with all his new books since college and motherhood have come along! (I love that, now that my son is getting older, I have more “excuses” to revisit middle grade fiction!).

Who Was That Masked Man Anyway? (originally published 1992, reissued by Scholastic Paperbacks 2014) is one of the most unusual novels I’ve read: it is written entirely in dialogue. No, it’s not a play: there are no name indications in the text, nor are there settings and stage directions. Indeed, every single line that appears in the book is a line of dialogue. Continue Reading

The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi

The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi (Tundra Books, 2012; originally published in New Zealand) focuses a child’s relationship with her grandmother, who suffers from dementia. Perry is an only child, and I love how her budding relationship with Gran teaches her parents a bit about priorities, family, love, and friendship.

Perry’s parents over schedule her days, so when her mother finds a weekly lesson canceled and she struggles to find a replacement class, Perry knows just want she wants to do. She wants to visit her grandmother in her nearby nursing home each week.  Her parents are not sure: does Perry understand that Honora Lee cannot remember from day to day? Nevertheless, they allow her to go. Continue Reading

How to Make a Planet by Scott Forbes

I am an active Christian. I believe God created the world. I also believe we do not know how God created the earth, and I do not believe in a literal, seven-day creation. All I have learned about the big bang theory and the evolutionary history of the earth has only solidified that testimony that I have that God is behind it all.

That said, I’m always careful about which books I share with my kids that deal with the big bang, the expanding universe, and evolutionary biology. Some of these texts for kids disparage those that believe in God as creator, or otherwise dismiss the possibility of both creationism (i.e., God created the earth) and the evolutionary sciences as evidenced by science as possibly co-existing.

How to Make a Planet by Scott Forbes (Kids Can Press, March 2014) teaches about the big bang and early evolutionary history just right. It focuses on the science, based on the evidence we can see around us.  Even the title seems to underscore that someone could make a planet. While the book does not have discussion of God or a “creator” in a religious sense, it also does not eliminate the fact that it could have been created by a higher power purposefully. The “instructions,” although written to the two children that appear on each of the pages, could just as easily have been directed toward God creating the world in His way.Continue Reading

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

I have not read many middle grade or young adult books lately. I’m stuck in picture book world a lot these days.

But, as it is poetry month, I have been reading about teaching poetry. One book keeps getting suggested, again and again: Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.Continue Reading