Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (1998 Newbery Medal Winner) is a young adult novel in poetry about the difficulties of dust bowl living in the 1930s. A changing industry, magnified by severe drought and the Great Depression, meant that farming in rural Oklahoma was more difficult than ever. But Billie’s difficulties are compounded. It’s hard enough being on the brink of womanhood, but when tragedies strike, nothing will ever be the same again.
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Picture Book Sunday: My Family Tree and Me by Dušan Petričić

My Family Tree and Me by Dušan Petričić (Kids Can Press, April 2015) has zany illustrations and a creative twist on the entire “family tree” metaphor for family history.

The colorful family tree the author has illustrated represents people back to his great-great-grandfather on both sides. One side of the book portrays his father’s family, and the back of the book (going left toward the middle) portrays his mother’s side of the family. I love how the middle of the book brings both sides of the family together. For each generation, the previous generation is lightly sketched on a picture behind them, so the reader can easily compare the child to the parent: what does the younger generation carry over from the older generation? Noses, eyes, ears, and hair color are easily recognized as similar.Continue Reading

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

You know how sometimes a book reaches you at just the right time?

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl was truly just what I needed this Thanksgiving season. It’s a memoir of growing up but it is also about food in all the little events that make up a childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

I was able to take a trip away from home and away from my two young kids (and my husband) for the first time, essentially, since I became a mother seven years ago. It was a much needed break.

But in the midst of the turkey and pie, I also read this gem of a book and it hit me in all the right spots. Family relationships: I can’t ruin my kids too badly. Cooking: I’m not as hopeless as I feel. Life in general: It’s a mix of all the moments, and the joys of simple memories will probably win out in the end.

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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