Category Archives: Children

The Big Break by Megan McDonald

An expanded version of the original first Julie book, The Big Break is all about the 1974 American Girl doll. The story is well-written and has lots of little callouts to the time period. The last couple pages give non-fiction information about life as Julie would’ve experienced it and explains why certain things were included (like Julie struggling with her parents’ divorce and working to get on the boy’s basketball team at school). I recommend this book to kids who enjoy American Girl books. It makes an excellent family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 17
Pages Read in 2020: 4372
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Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Kit: Read All About It! by Valerie Tripp

Kit is the American Girl doll from 1934. In Kit: Read All About It!, her first book, she has to deal with her father’s job loss, her home becoming a boardinghouse, and that her friend’s family doesn’t seem to be affected by the Great Depression. It’s great historical fiction for middle grade age kids. The end gives some extra factual information about the Depression and how life was in the early 1930s. I recommend this book for kids who like history.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 13
Pages Read in 2020: 3570
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Filed under Children, Historical Fiction

Joss: Touch the Sky by Erin Falligant

Joss, the 2020 American Girl of the Year, continues her story in Joss: Touch the Sky. She faces a loss of confidence just before the big cheer competition. She learns lessons about disappointment and failure and trusting your team. It’s a great story and my 11 and 13 year old sons really enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone who likes American Girl books. It makes a great family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 10
Pages Read in 2020: 2875
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Filed under Children, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

Aya is an 11-year-old dancer from Aleppo, Syria, forced to flee with her family due to the war. Making their way across the Mediterranean her father is presumed drowned and her mother’s mental health breaks leaving Aya basically in charge of her baby brother. In England they claim asylum and await the verdict of whether they can stay or if they must leave. Aya begins dance classes at a community center with a teacher who was herself a refugee during World War II. The book does a really good job of presenting the concepts of asylum seeker and refugee and what having to flee your home can do to you short and long term in a way that middle grade children – the age the book is aimed at – can understand. The story is told very effectively through both present day narration and flashbacks. It’s very well written. I recommend No Ballet Shoes in Syria to people of all ages.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 7
Pages Read in 2020: 2404
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Filed under Children, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Good Luck, Ivy! by Lisa Yee

Good Luck, Ivy! focuses on Ivy, the best friend of the 1974 American Girl doll, Julie. Ivy is a Chinese-American gymnast who has to make a hard choice between going to her family reunion (and eating Chinese food… again) or going to her gymnastics tournament (and risk falling off the beam… again). As with all American Girl books, it’s historical fiction written in a way that really interests kids. I highly recommend this book to both girls and boys.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 125
Pages Read in 2019: 31,819
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Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

Julie Takes a Stand by Megan McDonald

Julie Takes a Stand is the second book about Julie, the American Girl from 1974. Julie participates in the wagon train east to commemorate the bicentennial and then runs for study body president for her elementary school. My sons, especially my 11-year-old, loved the book. American Girl really is historical fiction done right. It tells the story on a kid’s level, but still is as accurate as possible. The last few pages are historical background showing where they got the ideas for what happens to Julie in the book. Julie Takes a Stand makes an excellent family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 124
Pages Read in 2019: 31,734
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Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Melody: Never Stop Singing by Denise Lewis Patrick

Melody: Never Stop Singing is the second American Girl book about Melody, an African American girl from 1964. Melody is just turning 10 and learning about some of the more serious concerns in the world. Things addressed include JFK’s assassination, Civil Rights, racism, and difficulties in the inner city black community. Everything is told on a level tweens can understand. My 11-year-old son especially liked it. It makes a great family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 121
Pages Read in 2019: 31,106
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Filed under Children, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review