It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.
Silvey, Anita. Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete SeegerAugust 2nd 2016 by Clarion Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
This well-illustrated biography, we learn about Seeger's unconventional upbringing with educated parents, his musical career, and his interest in social justice. Difficult topics, like his parents' divorce, his investigation by the Un-American Activities Committee, and his marriage to Japanese-American Toshi Ota in 1943, at the height of World War II, are all covered fairly. The musical influences from which Seeger took his inspiration, as well as the musicians he inspired, represent such a wide range of performers that this is a fantastic book to have in a middle school library, and could be very useful in History Day projects. This was a well-researched and very complete book on an important figure in US history, but is also fun to read.
My only complaint is that the book ended rather abruptly. While Seeger was most active before the 1970s, he did continue to perform and become involved in politics. The book mentions that, but condenses the last 40 years of his life into very few pages. This was at odds with the pacing of the rest of the book, and left me dissatisfied. While I love the cover illustration, Seeger was so iconic (at every stage of his life!) that it's a tiny bit of a shame that a photo isn't on the cover.
Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
July 31st 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Purchased copy for Picky Reader!
Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley's children, James and Albus, are both off to Hogwarts. Albus is a somewhat awkward lad, and he's afraid that he will be assigned to Slytherin, which would be a bad thing, given his father's background. On the train, he happens to meet one nice boy, but he turns out to be Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Draco. He does get sorted into Slytherin, but it's not that bad. What is bad, however, is being the son of Harry Potter. He fights constantly with his father, is frequently in trouble in school, and takes refuge in his friendship with Scorpius, which of course his father forbids. When Albus overhears that the Ministry of Magic has a Time Turner, and the father of Cedric Diggory (along with his niece and nurse, Delphi) wants to use this to get his son back, Albus decides to run away from school, use Polyjuice potion to impersonate Harry, steal the Time Turner, and bring back Cedric. Of course, things go badly wrong, but through this experience Albus learns things about himself, his father, and the real fate of Voldemort.
Strengths: According to my daughter, this is everything that she could want. The words "Rowling Canon" actually came out of her mouth. She was pleased at the interplay between the past and the present, and there were some twists that she expected and was glad to see. Certainly, a must purchase for any library that has Harry Potter.
Weaknesses: Reading a script is always difficult for me, and there are lots of gaps due to the play format. The marvelous details and writing are not in this story because Rowling didn't write it. I can't think of another series where the author had an idea and instead of another book coming out, a play was produced. Also, I didn't like Albus. He was a brat. There's a lot of talk in blog reviews about Harry's difficult child hood making it hard for him to parent, etc., but Albus was just a prat. I did like Scorpius, though, and Draco came off looking much more sympathetic than one would have imagined.
What I really think: At some point, you just have to finish up any story and let it go. I'm sure that my daughter would read anything that ever came out about Harry Potter, but like Naylor's Now I'll Tell You Everything, sometimes it's best to leave things to the imagination. Now that we know there is a nursing home for wizards, do we really need a story where Albus puts Harry there?