Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Slip of a Girl

Giff, Patricia Reilly. A Slip of a Girl
August 13th 2019 by Holiday House
Personal Copy

In this novel in verse, we find Anna and her family struggling to stay alive in Ireland in the 1890s. They must pay the English lord more money in rent than they can afford. While they are growing some potatoes, the crops are not doing terribly well. Anna's brothers take off for the US, her mother dies, and her sister eventually goes to the US as well. Anna is left with her father and her developmentally disabled sister Nuala. When she throws a rock at the lord's house and breaks a window, Anna and her father are both hauled off to jail. Anna escapes, and takes off across the countryside with Nuala, hoping to locate an aunt. She does, and the aunt takes in the two girls. She takes a liking to Nuala, who blossoms under her care, and is glad to have Anna's help, even teaching her to weave. Eventually, when the Irish Land Wars come to her area, Anna goes home to help her father stand firm against the tyranny of the English.
Strengths: Giff has a passion for certain areas of history, and she's one of the few authors who writes about events in Ireland. I love that photographs of Irish homes and people being turned out of them were included. Anna is a great character who is faced with overwhelming odds but doesn't give up. This was a quick read, and I enjoyed it.
Weaknesses: I wish this weren't in verse. I could have used a lot more information about this historical event.
What I really think: This might do well with my students who love The War That Saved My Life, which one of the fifth grade teachers must do as a read aloud, and I must say I learned some Irish history from reading this!

Weir, Andy and Andersen, Sarah. Cheshire Crossing
Published July 16th 2019 by Ten Speed Press
Public Library Copy

Dorothy Gale, Alice Liddell and Wendy Darling all are consigned to an asylum in 1910 due to their dissociative psychosis, and have a nanny to take care of them as well as Dr. Rutherford. Alice is quite angry, but the other two have been in and out of places since their families learned that they think they can travel to other dimensions. Luckily, the asylum turns out to be a research facility where they hope to find out more about the girls' abilities. Alice still isn't having it, and sets off a series of travels where the girls slowly acquire each others' abilities and go into each other's worlds. This causes the Wicked Witch of the West (a younger, non-Edith Hamilton version) to meet an attractive Captain Hook, and Alice to have to deal with an older adolescent Peter Pan who is VERY interested in her. They also manage to get their nanny liquefied, but Dr. Rutherford manages to bring her back by adding a spoonful of sugar to her essence! Things are not tied up at the end, and there could well be more adventures.
Strengths: This was a super fun graphic novel mash up of the three stories, with a bonus entry for the nanny. Andersen's (Sarah Scribbles) is quite good, and the whole idea of the three being in an asylum together is clever.
Weaknesses: It's 1910. Why is Wendy wearing joggers and a belly shirt? The other two have on dresses and pinafores, so I was just confused. Also, I requested this thinking it was a novel, so was a little disappointed.
What I really think: The target demographic for this is probably adults, just because my students are no long familiar with The Wizard of Oz or Alice. Not even sure about Peter Pan any more. My daughter, who is the same age as Andersen, would love this. There are a few bleeped out curse words (also not in keeping with the time period!), and the age progressed Peter is pretty randy, but it would be okay in a middle school. I think I'll pass, although will recommend this to the high school librarians.
Ms. Yingling

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