Review / How to Speak Dolphin

jkt_9780545676052.pdfBook: How to Speak Dolphin (2015)
Author: Ginny Rorby
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Lily loves her half-brother, Adam, but she struggles with dealing with his autism. Her stepfather relies on her too much. Adam loves dolphins, so when Don goes to help a young dolphin with cancer, he brings Lily and Adam along. He instantly sees the bond between Adam and the dolphin, Nori. Lily and her new friend Zoe are concerned for Nori (a wild dolphin) being held in captivity even after her cancer is cured. But Lily worries that Nori is Adam’s only hope…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I really enjoyed all the information about dolphins in this book. There are a few short chapters sprinkled throughout the book where we get Nori’s POV. (Nori IS the dolphin.) And then there’s the info uncovered by Lily and Zoe, especially regarding dolphins in captivity. 

2) I was definitely rooting for Lily. She was such a responsible and resourceful girl. Her patience and care for Adam (her autistic half-brother) was wonderful to see. But it was also heartbreaking that she had to act like a mother to Adam (their mom was dead) at such a young age.

3) And then there’s the stepdad Don (Adam’s father). I was intrigued by this character. At times, I hated him for relying on Lily so much. But then, the author would let a little humanity peek through and I felt compassion for him. There’s a particularly touching scene where Lily (*slight Spoiler) calls him “Dad” instead of “Don” (End Spoiler).

4) I loved watching Adam progress over the course of the novel as he gets help for his autism. Suzanne (the nanny) is great and so is the school!

5) I loved when Lily met and connected with Zoe (a blind girl). It was nice to see the friendship that develops, especially over their concern for Nori, the dolphin, in captivity.  And with regard to Nori, I like how the situation is painted as the complex issue it is.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Very slight issue here, but Lily has several (too many, in my opinion) moments when she feels bad for pointing out Zoe’s blindness. And Zoe’s reaction is always the same. No big deal. It just felt repetitive and didn’t really go anywhere. Not a major problem.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book is for the animal lover in your life! Dolphins are amazing creatures. And I love the connection Adam and Nori have in the book.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

#MGTakesOnThursday / Bat and the Waiting Game

bat-waiting-gameBook: Bat and the Waiting Game (2018)
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Genre: Lower MG, Contemporary

Rating: 4 stars

This book in three words…

Siblings, Autism, Skunks

Favourite Sentence* from Page 11…

“I don’t talk about the audition nearly as much as you talk about Thor,” Janie said.

“How much can anyone say about an audition?” Bat said.

“How much can anyone say about a skunk?” Janie said.

(*Or Favourite Sentences?)

My thoughts on this book…

This is a lower middle-grade book about a boy who copes with autism. And he has a baby skunk that helps him out. What’s not to love about a baby skunk?! (Hmmm? I wonder.)

This is a nice quick read. It gives a nice glimpse into the mind of a child who has to deal with the sensory issues of autism. And he has a lot of little annoyances to navigate, especially when his big sister gets a part in the school play.

Apparently, this is a sequel to another book that I didn’t read. But, I didn’t find that to be a problem. Very cute story.

Did I mention the skunk?


This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/07/09/mg-takes-on-thursday-6/

How to take part…

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

Review: Just My Luck

just-my-luckBook: Just My Luck (2016)
Author: Cammie McGovern
Genre: Lower MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars

Basic plot: Benny’s in fourth grade, and he doesn’t have it easy. When his dad has an accident, Benny’s afraid it might be his fault. He also has to watch over his autistic older brother George. And on top of that, his teacher’s acting weird. That’s when his school comes up with a “footprints” project about helping others. But nobody seems to notice what Benny does. Why should Benny even try any more?

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Benny was a sympathetic and interesting character. He’s not particularly good at, well, at anything… except well, when he is good at it. His super-power? Is being nice and kind. So, when all these bad things happen to him, you’re bound to feel bad.

2) I like how McGovern dealt with the school footprints subplot, especially with regards to Benny’s friend Jeremy. Jeremy keeps boasting about how easy it is to get his name on a footprint while Benny can’t get his name on a single one! Then [*Spoiler] when he does, he ends up giving it to Jeremy! And speaking of the friend Jeremy, I was glad to see how that subplot wound up with Benny’s discovery that he has been misjudging Jeremy’s motives and actions. It’s definitely a good reminder for all of us that we have to be careful how we read other people and their actions. [End Spoiler]

3) The mystery of what was up with Mr. Norris was well-played. It kept me guessing and interested. I didn’t exactly figure it out, but I came close.

4) The subplot with Lisa was interesting. What a complex situation! I liked how she was brought into the final scene. (But I’m glad the brother Martin has moved on from her!)

5) I liked the relationship between Benny and his brother George. I also enjoyed how they are connected with the whole bike-riding thing that keeps being brought back to the story. This is the shadow following Benny… its connection with the dad and the dad’s accident. Nicely done!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I did find Benny to be a little young at times (and a bit of a crybaby). Maybe I keep thinking he’s older than he is. (He’d be around nine years old.) I don’t mind a little crying, especially at a cathartic moment in the plot. But I think there are lots of ways to show emotion without tears flowing. (Note: Maybe this was just me.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I found this to be an interesting read overall. I liked all the characters and how all they all intersected with one another. Benny’s a sympathetic character, just trying to find his place in the world.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Planet Earth is Blue

planet-earth-blueBook: Planet Earth is Blue (2019)
Author: Nicole Panteleakos
Genre: MG, Near Historical [1986]
Rating: 4.5 stars

Basic plot: Nova is autistic and pretty much nonverbal. She loves all things “space” and is excited about the upcoming launch of the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle. She knows that older sister Bridget promised to watch it with her, and Bridget is the one person in Nova’s world that is always there for her.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) So, I love near historical novels… Not surprised that this one (that takes place in 1986) interested me. Of course, knowing that this book is centered around the Challenger was bittersweet. I loved how the author was able to incorporate that into the story. (One of the scenes that takes place prior to the launch is the incident where Nova is playing with her toy astronauts in the attic.)

2) The relationship between Nova and her sister Bridget is told mostly from Nova’s “letters” to Bridget. This is a very clever way to give us Nova’s thoughts when she rarely speaks in the story. It was also a great way to get to know (and love) Bridget the way Nova knew (and loved) her.

3) I loved Nova’s foster family. (The one she’s with, not the ones from her past.) It’s nice to see a family that knows how to work with Nova and accept her for a person. Both parents are great, and so is Joanie the college-aged daughter.

4) All the pop-culture references were spot on with their thematic significance, even ones that don’t seem to be at first. (I’m looking at you, Bridge to Terabithia poster!) I wasn’t too familiar with David Bowie’s song Space Oddity (which is quoted from extensively in the book, even lending a lyric to the title of the book!), but the other references were fun throwbacks to childhood in the 1980s.

5) I do like the cover. Nicely done. 🙂

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I did NOT like how she did the Neil Armstrong quote in the book: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” In 1986, we did NOT use the word “a”, and nobody I knew ever made fun of Armstrong for saying it that way. Of course, it does make more sense with the “a”, but if we want to be historical, Nova would not have known the quote with the “a”. That really, truly bothered me!!!! (Okay, I’m calm again. Rant over.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4.5 Stars (out of 5) – I know it’s written for kids, but this is the type of book that may be more interesting to the adult reader. That said, I really did enjoy it. It does have some sadness in it, so be warned (but if you know what happens to the Challenger, you should already know that).


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: On the Spectrum

on-the-spectrumBook: On the Spectrum
Author: Jennifer Gold
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic Plot: Clara’s guidance counselor is worried that she has an eating disorder called orthorexia. Clara thinks she’s just being healthy about her weight. Then she goes to Paris for the summer to visit her dad and his new family. Her half-brother, Alastair, is on the spectrum for autism. As he and Clara walk about Paris, they challenge one another to take baby steps in overcoming their great fears.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Paris? Croissants? A boulangerie? Yes. Yes. Yes.

2) Love the cover on this one. I like the line drawings of the different buildings. And then there’s the little line drawing of Clara and Alastair at the bottom.

3) So, this is a book about a girl (Clara) who struggles with orthorexia, an eating disorder fixated on healthy eating. Not quite anorexia, but its “healthier” cousin. And Clara’s struggle in this book is depicted in such a real way. Same goes with her ballerina mom. The opening of the first chapter (which is kind of like a prologue) is quite poignant. The beginnings of Clara’s obsession with making sure she has a flat tummy.

4) The relationship that develops between Clara and her brother, Alastair, is sweet. I’m almost surprised at how quickly it happens. Especially since she hasn’t seen Alastair since he was practically a baby. But for some reason, I did believe it.

5) I loved the comparison of the two siblings both being “on the spectrum”, each in their own way… Alastair for autism, and Clara for an eating disorder.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I think we spent too much time in New York City at the beginning of the book. We needed to get to Paris quicker. That said, I know we need to start with her normal life, but we could have lost a couple of chapters, no problem.

2) I didn’t like some of the on-the-nose dialogue, especially between Mag (the stepmum) and Clara. I’m not sure apologies come that quickly or easily. It just seemed like something out of a “How to Heal Families” scenario from a psychology text book…

3) Too many kisses, too early on. Not so spoil who kisses whom… But there were too many “first date” kisses, in my opinion. It kind of made all of the kisses lack-lustre.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I enjoy learning something and definitely learned about eating disorders in this one. I thought the author was able to really get in the head of Clara regarding her eating struggles.