Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Forever This Summer (Love Like Sky #2)

Youngblood, Leslie C. Forever This Summer (Love Like Sky #2)
July 6th 2021 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

After the events of Love Like Sky, Georgie (who still struggles with family members calling her G-Baby) finds herself traveling from her suburban Atlanta home and all of her summer plans to Bogalusa, Louisiana to  help her Great Aunt Vie. Vie runs the local, popular diner, which Georgie's aunt and other friends and relatives have been helping to run since Vie is suffering from Alzheimer's, which is getting worse. Georgie hopes to work in the diner, but instead gets stuck do household chores. When she goes to the diner, she find out that Markie is working there. Markie is a tiny bit old than Georgie, was born with a limb difference, and was in foster care with Vie, but is now with a woman named Roselle. She's not quite sure what happened with her mother, who abandoned her as an infant. When Georgie's best friend Nikki comes to visit, the two want to help Vie, and decide to put on a talent show to raise money for Alzheimer's research. This takes a lot of time, and Georgie is also helping Markie find out about her mother, consulting the library as well as local residents who are familiar with the town and the people in it. When Georgie and Markie's family lives turn out to be connected, will this change Markie's future?
Strengths: It's good to see extended family portrayed in middle grade literature; all too often, books are limited to children and parents, with the occasional grandparent. Georgie's parents' situation is also a good inclusion-- there are not many books depicting parents who have remarried and have other children, although many of my students have family dynamics like that. The small town setting reminded me a bit of Strong's Just South of Home, and Georgie's visit to the mayor's office to ask for a permit for her talent show was fun. Marki's limb difference is handled sensitively, and her reactions to how others treat her seem accurate. I appreciate that she is shown on the cover; I've had several students with limb differences, and can't think of any other middle grade books that portray this. A great sequel to a strong first book. 
Weaknesses: I had a bit of trouble keeping Markie and Nikki straight-- the names are so similar. I would have liked to see more of the family dynamic with the father and stepmother, since that was so interesting in the first book. We do get a little bit, and Peaches makes a brief appearance. 
What I really think: The first book has circulated well, so I'll definitely purchase this second one.

Sheth, Kashmira. Nina Soni: Master of the Garden (Nina Soni #3)
April 1st 2021 by Peachtree Publishing Company
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

We've seen Nina's struggles with friends (Former Best Friend) and with her sister Kavita (Sister Fixer), but now she is turning her attentions to a much more enjoyable project-- planting a garden! Her mother is a professional gardener, so has access to lots of equipment and seeds, and Nina uses what she has learned about planning to come up with a garden that she hopes will produce enough food so that she can sell some of it. Her friend Jay is also interested in gardening, but Nina is worried that he and her sister will not be on board with her ambitious plan. After a lot of work, the garden is finally planted, but there are slugs, rabbits, and other problems that make Nina worry that she won't have a good crop. Nina learns a lot about the process of gardening, and realizes that it is not as easy an undertaking as she thought!

I love this family centered story. Siblings are hugely important to young readers, and there are not as many books that explore these relationships as there should be. Nina loves Kavita, but is often annoyed by her exuberance, her spontaneity, and her younger outlook on life. I also like the fact that Jay seems to have very different interests from Nina, but they are still able to be friends. 

There are so many good details about what goes into making a garden-- this could practically be a textbook! Nina makes many lists and plans, and keeps good track of her successes and failures. 

Nina would be best friends with Carolyn Haywood's Betsy, and I can see her getting into some quality trouble with Harley's Charlie Bumpers. Perhaps she could get some gardening help from Cheng's Anna Wang, or Meyerhoff The Friendship Garden crew!

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