Category: Realistic Fiction

Nest Review

I grabbed this book from the shelves because it was newer and I liked the cover art. I didn’t expect to be drawn in to the quiet life of eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein and the difficulties she faced in 1972 when her mother developed multiple sclerosis.

The writing in the book is wonderful; Chirp’s perspective on life she faces throughout the book seemed so innocent and real compared to the harshness of the situations she faces. The angry boy who lives next door lives in fear of his father’s wrath, and doesn’t like to go home. Chirp’s mom is dying from her disease and progressively becomes more depressed throughout the book. This book has more than it’s fair share of heartbreaking moments, and I would be hesitant to recommend this book to a child for casual reading. This book would make a great window for children who are dealing with similarly tough situations in their own lives.

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Walk Two Moons Review

I’m back! We’re starting right back where we left off at the end of the C’s with Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. I selected this book because it was awarded a Newbery medal in 1995, and a friend suggested it.

CRE - Walk Two Moons Cover

I thought this book was okay. Creech weaves the story of all her characters together in a way that is well done, and tells an excellent story that mixes missing mothers, depression, romance, and metaphors for the unexpected adventures of life together in this book. I do not normally read realistic fiction, and I feel that that is why this book fell flat for me. I felt it took forever to start moving the plot along, the romance between Sal and Ben felt forced, and Sal, a thirteen-year-old, drives four hours down a dangerous road on her own just after her grandmother was admitted to the hospital. I don’t know about you, but if my grandmother was admitted to the hospital and I was worried about her health I do not think my thirteen-year-old self would be able to think straight enough to make that kind of trip.

The Comeback Challenge Review

When I glanced at this next column of shelves, my options were split between three authors. Matt Christopher, Beverly Cleary, and Andrew Clements. Each of these authors has an entire shelf dedicated to their contributions to children’s literature, and I was torn between Cleary or Clements. In the end, I decided to choose the author I was most unfamiliar with, and whose subject matter is most unfamiliar to me. Matt Christopher seems to have found his niche writing fictional sports stories. These sports range from basketball to dirt bike racing. Knowing my knowledge in sports is limited, I grabbed one that had a focus on soccer.

In The Comeback Challenge, Mark Conway is struggling to deal with his parents’ divorce. He has been moved around many times in the past year, and until his parents work out the divorce in court, Mark has been ordered to live with his grandparents back in his hometown. He joins the soccer team, and despite being a really good player, the team captain Vince dislikes him for being a know-it-all who played soccer in England. Mark must learn to open up and talk to both Vince and his parents about why their behavior towards him makes him feel upset.

I liked this book well enough and I think Matt Christopher’s books would be good choices for reluctant readers. I expected that this book would solely be about playing soccer and the difficulties of getting along with the other teammates, so I enjoyed the fact that this book included a strong focus on Mark’s parents’ divorce. This makes the story a good mirror for children dealing with these problems in their own lives!

The Penderwicks Review

BIR Penderwicks

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy is a heartwarming tale that reminded me of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I loved the author’s ability to give each sister their own personality, and each girl shone in her own way, from responsible Rosalind, spunky Skye, imaginative Jane, and four year old Batty. The girls spend part of their summer on a family vacation at a cottage located on the Arundel estate, owned by a rather mean-spirited woman named Mrs. Tifton. The girls explore the lush gardens, make friends with the gardener Cagney, the cook, and young Jeffery Tifton, who develops strongly as an important character throughout the novel. Together they do their best to uphold the Penderwick family honor and stay out of trouble. Only one thing is for sure; this is a summer vacation they will never forget.

So much can be said as to how much I enjoyed this book, it definitely deserved the National Book Award it earned.  I think boys and girls from grades 2-6 would enjoy this story on their own, or read together.