Sunday, July 21, 2019

Christmas in July

Garland, Taylor. Home for the Holidays
October 9th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Library copy

Alyssa has moved from the Northeast to Florida with her mother and brother because her mother has gotten a better job. She's not thrilled with having to go to the new school, but glad for her mother's opportunity. She makes a couple of friends; Becca is interested in her knitting, and Rachel and Elle are really kind and ask her to sit with them at lunch. The problem? The three used to be friends, but now Becca doesn't talk to the other two, and vice versa. Alyssa tries to get the three back together during sleepovers, but they just won't spend time together. Alyssa is also interested in the cats that live in a park near her, and she has also been working with the humane society to find a cat for her family. Becca brings over yarn and asks if Alyssa can knit fifteen scarves in a short amount of time for her aunt's shop-- Becca wants to help her new friend, but finds this to be a lot on top of her homework, household chores, and hanging out with friends. Eventually, she gets the friends back together, is closer to getting a cat of her own, and solves the mystery of why Becca can knit so quickly.
Strengths: This book had pitch perfect friend drama, children involved in positive activities, and cute pets! It's a great length, and the sort of upbeat, fast paced series book that I am going to pitch hard to my new 6th graders next year, since so many of them have trouble finishing books. I loved that Alyssa had such a positive attitude about everything, even her family's move, but she wasn't a goodie-goodie. The problems with the girls are dealt with in a realistic but helpful way. The other books in this series (which doesn't need to be read in order, but includes Twelve Pets of Christmas and Secret Snowflake) have been popular in my library; I had a couple of readers who ONLY wanted to read Christmas stories!
Weaknesses: I feel conflicted having Christmas stories in the library. I would love to see books like this featuring holidays from other cultures, and I suspect a Ramadan title (all I have is Sharif's Bestest.Ramadan.Ever, which is a bit older (2011)) would do well. On the flip side, Christmas is arguably a very secular, US holiday as well, so students who don't celebrate it might find books where it is a central topic informative.
What I really think: Already purchased, and looking forward to having Let It Snow come in with the August order.
Ms. Yingling

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