Sunday, May 16, 2021

Multicolored Covers

Clark, Yvette. Glitter Gets Everywhere
May 4th 2021 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Kitty Wentworth's mother has died after a lengthy bout with lung cancer, even though she didn't smoke. Her father and grandmother as very supportive, and have her in therapy with a colleague of her mother's, so she is able to articulate things that are bothering her. Her older sister Imogen is doing a bit better than Kitty, since she has a boyfriend and more outside interests, but Cleo the cat, a friend of her mother's, Kate, and neighbor Mrs. Allison, who is a contestant on The Great British Bake Off, as well as Sam, the therapist, are all helping. When her father has an opportunity to work on a long term project in New York City, however, Kitty is aghast that she will have to leave London. There isn't much of a choice, but she settles in to her new school fairly well and makes friends with Henry, whose father is a famous actor. There grandmother and Mrs. Allison visit, and it's not long before it's time to head home to England. When her father has an opportunity to spend several years living in New York, Kitty thinks that there might be some advantages to having two places she can call home. 
Strengths: It was good to see not only that Kitty was in therapy, but to see some of the discussions that she has with both Sam and her new therapist in New York. Middle grade authors love to kill off parents, but usually like to have the remaining parent lapse into LIMPS (Literary MiddleGrade Ineffectual Parenting Syndrome). I loved the grandmother and Mrs. Allison, and it made me think that there aren't enough happy, helpful adult characters in books as there should be! The move from England to New York is fairly interesting, Kitty's obsession with color is one that I share (anyone else just irked at the Pantone 2021 colors?), and Kitty settles into her new school (where she can wear tennis shoes!) well. I especially liked the analogy whence comes the title- grief is like glitter. Even though you think you clean it up, you can never get all of it, and it resurfaces at odd moments. 
Weaknesses: This got off to a slow start, and the move didn't happen until well into the book.
What I really think: There are so many books about parents dying, and my students have little interest in the topic. This one is better done, and does involve London, so I may purchase. 

Braden, Ann. Flight of the Puffin 
May 4th 2021 by Penguin/Paulsen
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In Vermont, Libby is very interested in art, but she is always getting in trouble for not following the rules at school. She is blamed for being like her belligerent father, but she isn't like that. She wants to use her art to help people, but her mother just thinks she needs to buckle down and do real work, like helping with dinner. Not too far away, Jack is fighting to keep his small rural school open. There are 17 students and two teachers, so the state isn't keen to award a grant unless updates are made. Jack makes a comment about gender neutral bathrooms that goes viral and causes a lot of problems. In Seattle, Vincent is interested in science and math, but his mother is artistic. Vincent is bullied, stuffed in a locker and constantly belittled, but still insists on staying outside of the box by wearing tight button down shirts to school. He eventually meets T, who is living on the streets after being kicked out by their family for identifying as nonbinary. These characters all converge after Libby sends hopeful postcards out into the world. 
Strengths: This author's The Benefits of Being an Octopus has been very popular, and this is on trend with many current social issues. The characters are all very distinct, and the story moves along quickly. The cover is very appealing. 
Weaknesses: The connection between these four disparate and far flung characters seemed a bit contrived, but it is a small world. 
What I really think: This has gotten a lot of love on Twitter, and will be popular with readers who are interested in current social activism topics or kindness initiatives. Reminds me a bit of Anderson's Posted.

 Ms. Yingling

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