Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Timeslip Tuesday- The Magic in Changing Your Stars

Henderson, Leah. The Magic in Changing Your Stars
April 7th 2020 by Sterling Children's Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In 2010, Ailey decides to try out for his school's production of The Wiz, and feels that he would make a great Scarecrow. He can't necessarily sing or memorize lines, but he loves to dance, and thinks that that talent, along with his sharp dressing, will be enough. His classmate Mahalia disagrees, and states that SHE is the one who should get the part. When tryouts go badly, Ailey is devastated. His grandfather, whom he adores, counsels him a bit, and alludes to his own dancing, which included meeting Bill "Mr. Bojangles" Robinson in his Harlem neighborhood when he was young. There's some mystery surrounding why his grandfather doesn't dance any more and instead runs a hardware store, and when Ailey is snooping through Gramps' closet, he finds a pair of tap shows that Robinson had given to Gramps. When he puts them on, he finds himself transported to Harlem in 1939, where he immediately stands out, thanks to his pajamas and microfiber robe! He obtains new threads, and sees several boys dancing. Sure enough, one of them is Gramps, who is known as Taps. Ailey witnesses the interaction with Robinson, and knows he has been sent back in time to help his grandfather out. Taps gets the shoes from Robinson, but is supposed to meet the dancing legend at a theater to return them and audition, but he is chickening out in a way that Ailey understands. Ailey is taken in by Taps' family, but a misunderstanding threatens to derail his mission to encourage his grandfather. Will Ailey be successful in his mission? Will it make a difference in his life in 2010 if he can help someone else overcome the stage fright he feels?
Strengths: Tap dancing AND time travel? Sign me up! Along with the great time travel method of Bill Robinson's tap shoes, this had a lot of great history in it, plus the very compelling mission of making the grandfather's regret go away. I loved Ailey's supportive family in his present, and he is appreciative of meeting his family in the past as well. Details about daily life in Harlem, as well as some African American entertainment history, make this a great read for those interested in books like Curtis' The Might Miss Malone or Tubbs' Selling Hope.
Weaknesses: One small historical error-- it's specifically stated that this is set in 2010, which was great, because it's a necessary adjustment in order for his grandfather to be the right age in 1939. However, "Teach me how to Dougie" seems to have been released in 2011. Also, Ailey is cocky about his abilities without the talent to back this up. This is absolutely how tweens operate, but makes him a bit less likable.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and I can see this being a big hit with the right reader.

James, Anna. The Lost Fairy Tales (Pages & Co. #2)
May 5th 2020 by Philomel Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Tilly and Oskar are enjoying life at Tilly's family's bookstore, and Tilly is getting used to her mother, Bea, being back after having been trapped in A Little Princess in The Bookwanderers. As Christmas approaches, there is trouble in the Underlibrary. Amelia, the head librarian, is being removed due to all of the problems with Chalke, and is replaced by Melville Underwood. Her grandparents seem leery of him, especially since he traveled into fairy tales and left his sister Decima behind. Fairy tales are very unstable, since there is no definitive Source for them, and Tilly's grandmother actually had specialized in mapping fairy tales. Still, there isn't much for the Pages to do, and Tilly and Oskar are set to visit his father in Paris. There are odd things that happen on the train ride there, but Paris in the snow is magical, and Tilly is glad to meet Oskar's grandmother, Clara, who is an illustrator. Clara takes them to a bookshop her friend Gretchen runs, and even though the children had said they would not book wander, they find themselves going into a fairy tale. Things are not quite right, however, and the tales seem broken. Oskar goes missing, but the two are finally able to get back. They enjoy Christmas in Paris, and again back in London. Tilly reads out loud to  her mother and finds that she is able to read stories into the real world, maybe because she is half fictional. When Gretchen shows up to spend Christmas with the Pages, uninvited, Tilly's grandmother is surprised; Gretchen had been a close friend 30 years ago, but the two had fallen out. When Gretchen tells the children that they need to travel into the fairy tales with her to help fix the magic, they agree, although Oskar is very skeptical. Will Tilly and Oskar be able to help, or will the evil within the Underlibrary community cause them problems?
Strengths: I did end up pruchasing the first book, and while it hasn't been wildly popular, it has circulated well with fans of Chris Colfer's Land of Stories and Buckley's The Sisters Grimm fans. This was an even better book the the first, which is no small feat. Instead of referencing books like Anne of Green Gables (Anne does make a brief appearance), the main focus is the problems with book wandering, with a helping of fairy tales. Add to that plenty of hot buttered toast, London and Paris in the snow, and a charming French grandmother, and this made for a wonderful, cozy read. We learn a little more about Tilly and her powers, and quite a bit about the book wanderer guidelines and administration. There are suitably evil villains, and the book ends with a clue to the next mission-- find the elusive librarians. The illustrations, though few, are marvelous.
Weaknesses: The beginning of the book could have had a bit more adventure instead of so much of the politics of the Underlibrary.
What I really think: This book wants me to recommend the first book even more. I'm curious to see where the next book will take us. I suspect the cover will be green. Also, I feel compelled to make Toad in the Hole for dinner tomorrow night!

No comments:

Post a Comment