Review / All the Impossible Things

all-the-impossible-thingsBook: All the Impossible Things (2019)
Author: Lindsay Lackey
Genre: MG, Magical Realism

Basic plot: Red is a foster kid who’s been in and out of foster days. And her newest placement, with a family who owns a petting zoo of sorts, is just going to be temporary. That’s because Red’s mom will be released from prison, and she promised to stay off those white pills. But then Red meets a the tortoise named Tuck and she starts to fall in love with her new foster home. So, what can she do when she learns that her mom is getting out on good behaviour? 

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I felt the emotional struggle of poor Red through the ups and downs of being a foster kid. The magical realism kicks in with the fact that her emotions are somehow connected to wind. Red’s mood can cause horrible storms. It’s a neat little twist on a term called pathetic fallacy. (I love that term!) 

2) How great are Jackson and Celine! They’re the foster parents. At first, Red isn’t sure about them, but through the book, we see her becoming more and more comfortable around this couple. I love how they interact with Red, especially when they see her connection to their tortoise, Tuck! (All the animals on the farm have great bookish names… like Frodo and Gandalf and Bronte!)

3) And then, there’s Marvin. Love this kid! He instantly reaches out to Red and accepts her, even when she’s a little too quiet. I like how he works with her to get the video production to help at the end. And the Hawaii connection is interesting.

4) Even though Gamma (Red’s grandmother) is no longer alive in the book, we get little flashbacks to when she cared for Red. She’s the one who gets Red to write in a notebook about all the impossible things. Because a thing is only impossible until it is done. I love her wisdom and her love. And I like how the impossible things permeates throughout the narrative.

5) The scenes with Red’s mom were painful, but I liked the realism there. She really struggles with being a mom. And I like how Lindsay Lackey shows how complicated life can be.

6) The cover is beautiful!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I mentioned earlier that there’s a scene where Marvin is helping Red with producing a video. Right at the end (Spoiler!) he loses the footage. “Sorry, Red!” This scene is almost an afterthought, a throwaway. As somebody who does work with video, I’m not even sure how he lost the edit. Did he just erase the original videos… ALL of them? That’s pretty hard to do unless your drive fails or something. In any case, the part of the story felt like a cheap way out for the author. I would rather have seen this actually play out in real time with Marvin and Red reacting to what is happening… and not simply as a report from Marvin. (End Spoiler)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Loved this book! It’s really a contemporary novel with elements of magical realism. I would recommend it for readers who loved The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson.


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: Every Shiny Thing

every-shiny-thingBook: Every Shiny Thing (2018)
Author: Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic plot: Lauren feels lost when her autistic brother goes away to boarding school. When Lauren’s best friend doesn’t seem to understand, Lauren starts spending more and more time with the new girl, Sierra. Sierra’s a foster kid who just wants to go back with her mom. But she’s drawn to Lauren and soon becomes the only one who knows about Lauren’s little problem: shoplifting. But Lauren isn’t stealing things to be bad. Her plan is to help others. Sierra doesn’t know quite what to do…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The dual POVs work quite nicely in this book. Lauren’s POV is written in prose, while Sierra’s is written in blank verse. At first it was jarring, but I came to like it.

2) I liked how Lauren (the rich kid) is the one with the sticky fingers, rather than Sierra (the poor kid). I love how Lauren rationalizes everything! And Sierra’s struggle about what to do. I loved how complicated everything was.

3) I enjoyed watching Sierra’s growth in the book. I think I probably liked her more than I liked Lauren (who got on my nerves sometimes). I liked the development with the foster parents: Anne and Carl.

4) Ryan isn’t in the book much, but his presence is felt in the book. He’s the brother who’s away. He’s also the reason why Lauren’s starts her own little Robin Hood campaign.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) So I loved all the restitution at the end, but I almost think Lauren got off a little easier than if it had been Sierra.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – Enjoyed this story, especially Sierra’s POV.


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: Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth

imagesBook: Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth
Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce
Rating: 3.5 Stars:

Basic plot: Prez is in foster care (or Children’s Temporary) when he meets an alien/dog named Sputnik (he’s really an alien, but everybody thinks he’s a dog). Sputnik’s goal is to save earth from annihilation. All Prez wants to do is go home and live with his Grandad.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The List and how it works into the chapter titles and the plot.

2) I really liked Prez. He’s quiet and doesn’t talk much, but this didn’t feel gimmicky to me. We really get to know him through his first-person narration. And of course, through his conversations with Sputnik in his head. I really liked how this backfires on him a few times.

3) The plot connects realism with complete fantasy very well. There are some crazy, memorable moments, including the light sabre and Hadrian’s Wall (not at any way connected, by the way, but I won’t spoil it here).

4) The relationship of the Grandad and Prez. And how Prez starts to figure out what’s real and what’s not with regards to the map and the sea chest, etc.

5) Laika. The space history buff in me got quite excited when Laika comes into the story. (The journal is quite clever.)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) For some reason, I wasn’t crazy about Sputnik, the alien/dog. In fact, I would never want to meet Sputnik. Ever. I felt I should like him, but I don’t. And I feel kind of bad that I don’t.

2) This isn’t a page-turner. Is that bad thing? Maybe not.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3.5 Stars (out of 5) – Liked quite a bit, but didn’t super love it. The best parts are Prez and the Grandad. I would definitely spend an afternoon with them, as long as they promised Sputnik wasn’t going to show up!