Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, the Newbery Award Winner for 1991, is celebrating its 25th anniversary since publication. It’s hard for me to imagine this book being an “old” one, but since I knew I read it as a child, I should not be so surprised.

Maniac Magee is the story of a legend, a homeless boy called “Maniac” who stumbles in to a racially divided town and manages to break barriers and build new bonds of friendship among the town residents. This legendary story takes place in a timeless yet obviously historical era, a decade maybe in the 1960s or 1970s. It seems contradictory to say it’s timeless and yet in the past; yet, that is how it feels as I read it. Continue Reading

Ten Rivers that Shaped the World by Marilee Peters and Kim Rosen

Ten Rivers that Shaped the World by Marilee Peters and Kim Rosen (Annick Press, Aprill 2015) is a delightful children’s nonfiction book about the significance of ten rivers on the history of the world. The rivers chosen are not necessarily the most infuential or the most interesting, but together the histories provide a well-rounded overview of world history and impact of rivers on the development of history.

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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.