Review / Daily Bread

Daily-BreadBook: Daily Bread (2020)
Author: Antoinette Truglio Martin
Genre: MG, Historical [1911]

Basic plot: It is 1911. Crammed into a three-room flat in a Mott Street tenement, the large Taglia family needs all the help they can muster. Spunky songbird Lily wants to help by baking Daily Bread at the bakery like big sister, Margaret. But Margaret says Lily is just a little kid, and there is more to baking Daily Bread than height and an artist’s heart. Lily learns to navigate in a grown-up world when facing bullies, disasters, dotty bakers, and treacherous streets to cross by herself..

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Loved Margaret and her ambition! In some ways, she reminded me of Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I especially loved the little part where she reveals to Lily how she saves her money. Of course, what’s also nice is how this is juxtaposed by Margaret’s friend, Connie, and her views about money.

2) And then there was Lily’s connection to Mrs. Goldberg through song and dance (ballet). One particularly touching scene is when Mrs. Goldberg seems to be in a deep depression which is then breached by Lily’s song. Later on in the story, I found the revelation about the Goldbergs’ backstory to be fascinating.

3) And let’s not forget the knot surprises. I want a knot surprise! (Not with cheese, though. Jam, please!) Frankly, all the bread in this book did make me hungry. And, while I have never worked in a bakery, I have helped my mother bake bread. (There is almost nothing more fun than punching down the raised dough.)

4) I loved the Lower Manhattan setting. One of my favourite “tourist sites” in all of New York City is the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. It’s a spot I’ve repeatedly taken visitors when I lived in New York. This book took me back to those places!

5) When I first saw mention of the Triangle Waistshirt Factory, I knew there was something coming. Whether or not you’re aware of what happened there in 1911, this book will let you relive that historical moment in time.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I found the ending a little abrupt. Like, that’s it? I liked the ending, but I wanted a bit more of a resolution after the very traumatic climax. That said, it’s not a bad ending, it’s just that I wanted more.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book definitely had the flavour of the classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I would recommend this book to readers who are fans of authors like Patricia Reilly Giff, especially if you’re interested in the immigrant experience to New York.

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the author in exchange for an honest review.**


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 / Ten Rules for Living with my Sister

ten-rulesBook: Ten Rules for Living with my Sister (2011)
Author: Ann M. Martin
Genre: MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Pearl’s older sister Lexie has a ton of rules, one of them being: “No underwear visits from Pearl!” But when their grandpa, Daddy Bo, needs to stay with the family in their Manhattan apartment, suddenly the girls must share a bedroom.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I loved the humour of this book. Pearl is very likable, but I can also understand Lexie’s frustrations.

2) Pearl’s lists were awesome! She does one where she compares herself to Lexie.

3) One of Pearl’s big problems has to do with the fact that she doesn’t really have any friends. I like how Lexie helps open her eyes that it’s okay to be friends with somebody you might at first reject as a friend-material (like a boy!)

4) Daddy Bo! I loved this grandfather, especially his relationship with Pearl. However, it is hard at times to see how some form of dementia starts to affect him.

5) Loved the New York City setting… The one little fact of their school playground being on the roof is such a city-thing! And there are all sorts of little NYC stuff thrown in, like having bagels at the birthday party. (They even mention lox, although only one kid eats the lox!)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Sometimes Pearl did get on my nerves a bit. Maybe that’s just the older sister in me. (I don’t think I’d want underwear visits, either.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Loved this story of two sisters! Definitely would recommend for fans of Ramona Quimby. This book definitely had the Ramona vs. Beezus vibe… set in New York City! 🙂


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

Re-read: The Ramona Books – Part 2

Part 2 of Ramona Week! In honour of Beverly Cleary’s 104th birthday…

(Read Part 1 here.)


Ramona and Her Mother (1979)

ramona-motherRamona’s still in second grade. She’s having trouble because everybody says that Beezus is her mother’s girl. Isn’t Ramona her mother’s girl as well? This is the book where Ramona and Howie use the bluing, where Beezus gets her forty-year-old haircut, and Ramona decides to see what it’s like to be a firefighter and wear her clothes over her pajamas!

And to top it all, there’s the big crock-pot debacle which leads Beezus and Ramona to fear that their parents might be getting… a divorce! Eventually, Ramona learns that while her family might have problems, they still love each other.

One of my Favourite Quotes from the book*…
“All her life she had wanted to squeeze the toothpaste really squeeze it, not just one little squirt…The paste coiled and swirled and mounded in the washbasin. Ramona decorated the mound with toothpaste roses as if it was a toothpaste birthday cake.”

*I don’t think I’d ever have done this, but it does sound super-fun!! (And I don’t think I ever will do it. Too much waste! But it’s fun to read about. 🙂

My Burning Question about this book…
Where is Henry Huggins?! His parents are at the brunch in the opening chapter, but this is the place wherePOOF!he disappears from Ramona’s world.

My Rating: 4 stars


Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (1981)

ramona-q-age8This book holds a special place in my world. Firstly, it was my first introduction to the Ramona books. And secondly, I taught this book to my third-graders!

Not only is Ramona in third grade, but she’s now going to a new school and riding a big yellow bus. This book also introduces us to Yard Ape! But Ramona’s biggest challenge is… Willa Jean. I just love how she figures out how to use her sustained silent reading to thwart Willa Jean’s demands. (Like Ramona, I do prefer the term “sustained silent reading” to “DEAR”!)

This book really gets into Ramona’s head. She’s come a long way from being the pest from the early books. I love it how she’s growing up and we get to see that.

One of my Favourite Quotes from the book*…
“At last it was time for the egg. There were a number of ways of cracking eggs. The most popular, and the real reason for bringing an egg to school, was knocking the egg against one’s head. There were two ways of doing so, by a lot of timid little raps or by one big whack. Sara was a rapper. Ramona, like Yard Ape, was a whacker. She took a firm hold on her egg, waited until everyone at her table was watching, and ​whack​—she found herself with a handful of crumbled shell and something cool and slimy running down her face…”

*The best scene in the book! (Note: As I mentioned, I used to teach this book when I taught 3rd grade. One year, one of my students brought in hard-boiled eggs for Easter JUST SO WE COULD DO THIS! Yes, it’s fun to whack a hard-boiled egg on your forehead. There’s always that moment when you think… what if it’s really a raw egg?)

My Rating: 5 stars


Ramona Forever (1984)

ramona-foreverGuess who’s coming to visit? Howie’s Uncle Hobart! And on top of that, Ramona is sick and tired of being the one responsible for Willa Jean! This is the book where, finally, the sisters convince their parents to let them stay home alone after school. Of course, you know that’s not going to be easy.

There’s also big news with regards to their Aunt Beatrice. Yes, she’s getting married! And then, their mother announces that she’s [SPOILER!] pregnant. [End Spoiler]. A lot of changes for Ramona as she finished up the third grade.

One of my Favourite Quotes from the book*…
“’He’s Howie’s father’s little brother, only now he’s big,’ explained Ramona.

‘Why, that must be Hobart Kemp,’ said Aunt Beatrice. “He was in my class in high school.’ … ‘All the girls said he was cute…. He used to chew licorice and spit on the grass to make the principal think he was chewing tobacco like a professional baseball player…’

‘Where’s this cute licorice-chewing uncle coming from, and how did he get so rich?’
asked Ramona’s father, beginning to be interested. ‘Playing baseball?’

‘He’s coming from—’ Ramona frowned. ‘I can’t remember the name, but it sounds like
a fairy tale and has camels.’ Narnia? Never-never-land? No, those names weren’t right.

‘Saudi Arabia,’ said Beezus, who also went to the Kemps’ after school. Being in junior high school, she could take her time getting there.

‘Yes, that’s it!’ Ramona wished she had remembered first.”

*I love this dialogue exchange between the family. Including Aunt Beatrice! We don’t actually often SEE Aunt Beatrice in the books until now.

My Burning Question about this book…
Where is Yard Ape?! (Hint: Don’t worry too much, he comes back in the next book…)

My Rating: 3 stars


Ramona’s World (1999)

ramona-worldThis is the final book in the series! There’s a new girl in the fourth grade and her name is  Daisy. Soon enough, Daisy and Ramona become best friends. Ramona is starting to notice boys (ahem! Daisy’s older brother!) and she gets her first chance to babysit… well, catsit. And best of all, Yard Ape (aka Danny) is back in the story. And so is Susan of the boing-boing curls! And Ramona is happy being Baby Roberta’s big sister…

This book really is the perfect end to the series. It brings pretty much every loose end of the series together. The only missing person? Henry Huggins. Whatever happened to him? (Please Beverly Cleary, just ONE MORE book?! Fifth Grade Ramona!)

One of my Favourite Quotes from the book*…
“’Weren’t you wearing trousers?’ [asked Beezus.]

Ramona said in her most dignified way, ‘Princesses don’t wear trousers.’ She paused and added, ‘Unless they are in disguise.’

The family found this funny. Beezus recovered enough to say, “You must have looked weird, just your bare legs hanging down from the ceiling.’

And my underpants, thought Ramona in horror, not having pictured the scene from below until this moment. Did I fall far enough for them to show? What if Jeremy saw them? She could never face him again.”

*Best scene in the book is when she falls through the ceiling!

My Rating: 4.5 stars


YOUR TURN…

Have you read these books? What are your thoughts? Which one(s) do you like? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Re-read: The Ramona Books – Part 1

So… Yesterday (apparently) was Beverly Cleary’s 104th birthday. And so to celebrate this truly awesome writer, I’m going to do some mini-reviews on one of her most memorable characters: Ramona Quimby!

Beezus and Ramona (1955)

beezus-ramonaWe are first introduced to little Ramona Quimby through the books about Henry Huggins. In some ways, this book almost fits in better with that series, but for some reason, it’s considered Book 1 of the Ramona books, even if it’s not from Ramona’s POV! (It focuses on the point of view of Beezus.) And like in the Henry Huggins books, Ramona is… well, she’s a pest!

Ramona ruins a library book! She locks the dog Ribsy in the bathroom! She takes a bite out of every apple in the storage. Poor Beezus. But still, it’s fun to see Beezus figure out various ways to handle that pesky Ramona.

One of my Favourite Quotes from the book*…
“’Mother, what am I going to do?’ Beezus demanded. ‘It’s checked out on my card and I’m responsible. They won’t let me take any more books out of the library, and I won’t have anything to read, and it will all be Ramona’s fault. She’s always spoiling my fun and it isn’t fair!’ Beezus didn’t know what she would do without her library card. She couldn’t get along without library books. She just couldn’t, that was all.”

*I 100% get where Beezus is coming from! The horror of having to turn in a ruined library book. :/

My Rating: 3 stars


Ramona the Pest (1968)

ramona-pestRamona Quimby is in kindergarten! This (in my opinion) is truly Ramona’s first book. We get to see the magic of her thought process… like when she sits patiently because her teacher told her to “wait for the present” (thinking she was going to get a gift of some sort on the first day of school). We also get to see Henry Huggins in action (poor Henry) as the crossing guard who has to rescue Ramona from the mud.

And finally, there are those oh-so-tempting curls belonging to Susan (i.e. Ramona’s nemesis). Those curls are Ramona’s downfall. Just one little tug… BOING! Ramona gets sent home. Oh, the devastation! Convinced her beloved teacher hates her, Ramona refuses to go back to school. Will Ramona Quimby a school drop out at age 5?!

One of my Favourite Quotes from the book*…
“Ramona could not understand why grown-ups always talked about how quickly children grew up. Ramona thought growing up was the slowest thing there was, slower even than waiting for Christmas to come. She had been waiting years just to get to kindergarten, and the last half hour was the slowest part of all.”

*I think this quote best demonstrates why Cleary’s books remain as good today as when she wrote them. She understands what it’s like to be a child!

My Rating: 3 stars


Ramona the Brave (1975)

ramona-braveRamona isn’t afraid of anything… Especially not the first grade! And what’s really exciting is that the Quimby family is building onto their house so that Ramona gets her own bedroom. But she soon finds out that maybe she isn’t quite as brave as she thought when she has to sleep in that new bedroom… alone. And then there’s the dog on the way to school…

One of my Favourite Quotes from the book*…
“Ramona stood inside her new closet, pretending she was in an elevator. She slid open the door and stepped out into her new room, which she pretended was on the tenth floor.”

*I loved doing this as a kid. We lived in various houses and not all of our houses had this style of closet door. But when my sister and I got to share a bedroom with one of these “elevator” doors, you bet we took the elevator!

My Burning Question about this book…
Mrs. Kemp (i.e. Howie’s grandmother) babysits Ramona and Beezus when Mr. and Mrs. Quimby go to Parents’ Night at school. So, WHO is babysitting Howie and Willa Jean?

My Rating: 4 stars


Ramona and Her Father (1977)

ramona-father

This is probably my favourite of the books!

Mr. Quimby loses his job, and Ramona (who is now in second grade) wants to help out… If only she can get a job like those “rich” kids who do commercials on television. She and Beezus also team up to try to get their dad to stop smoking.

And then there’s the church Christmas pageant! Ramona has the perfect idea to dress up as a little lamb, but her mother never gets around to making the right kind of costume. It’ll take a little encouragement for Ramona to bounce back.

One of my Favourite Scenes in the book…
Ramona wants so much to help her dad earn a million dollars like the kids do on TV. She finds burrs and decides to practice by making a crown, just like in the commercial. Of course, once the burrs hit her hair, oh boy! Now it’s up to Dad to cut it out with scissors. But Ramona is bound and determined never to let him know the TRUE reason why she put the burrs in her hair in the first place!

My Rating: 5 stars


YOUR TURN…

Have you read these books? What are your thoughts? Which one(s) do you like? Let me know 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

Quick Pick Reviews #15

desirableDesirable // by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Genre: MG, Contemporary/Magical Realism (2008)

My Thoughts: This was a fun little book. And when I say little, I actually mean little. It was surprisingly short. Especially considering that the main character is in the eighth grade! I read it in a half-hour…

The story is about a boy named George who is anything but popular. He’s pretty much a loner and not even the other unpopular kids want to hang out with him. That is until his grandpa gives him a birthday gift of cologne called “Desirable”. Once he puts it on, suddenly everybody wants to be his best buddy… including the principal of his school.

I liked how it ended, but I didn’t quite see how it got to that place. [**SPOILER] With Danielle giving him the cologne. I didn’t see enough evidence that she even knew he had it in the first place. It would have been better if it had been a gift from his mum. [End Spoiler] That said, I still enjoyed this book! [3.5 Stars]


royal-giftA Royal Gift // by Marietta Moskin

Genre: Lower MG, Historical (1982)

My Thoughts: What an adorable book! This is the story of a Royal Wedding and two old ladies (sisters: Miss Agatha and Miss Prudence) who decide to give a gift to the prince and his bride. And the gift (with the twist at the end)… well, I won’t spoil it.

As a chapter book, there are gorgeous illustrations on every spread… some in black and white and others in colour. The whole book has a very old fashioned feeling to it. (Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this book is out of print! My copy came from my SIL and she got it from a library book sale. It’s a pity if it is out of print because the book and story are so beautiful.)

I really liked the author’s note at the end. She calls this story “one of those ‘it might be true’ type of stories.” Apparently, it made the rounds when the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and the Queen Mum) were married in 1923. [4 Stars]


Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)

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

Re-read: The Penderwicks series

The final book in The Penderwicks series was released just last week. I haven’t read it yet, but I intend to. So, while I wait to get my hands on the book, I decided to do a re-read of the other four books. Here are my thoughts…

**Note: This blog post MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. However, I have tried my best to keep things vague enough so that, in case you haven’t the books, there aren’t horrible secrets revealed.**

Book #1 // The Penderwicks

penderwicks1This is the book that starts it all. It’s highly inspired by Little Women and actually feels like it takes place in the past. (Although, Mr. Penderwick does have a computer, which tells us it is supposed to be happening in our present.)

We begin with the family, lost on their way to Arundel, where they are to spend their summer vacation. We meet Roselind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. (And there’s Mr. Penderwick, a head-in-the-clouds botanist who likes to quote phrases in Latin.) And it isn’t long before we get to meet Jeffrey, son of Mrs. Tiften, the owner of Arundel. Then we have some wonderful adventures, including a stand-off with a bull, missing bunny-rabbits, and a rope ladder that leads to Jeffrey’s bedroom.

One of the things I love about books like this is how it references other books. Like the whole “Penderwick family honor” thing. That’s a reference to the (motherless) Bastable children in E. Nesbit’s The Treasure Seekers who are seeking to restore their own family’s honour. Birdsall does put her own spin on things. I love the Penderwicks’ little rituals and code words. The MOPS (Meeting of Penderwick Sisters), MOOPS (Meeting of Older Penderwick Sisters), and the OAP (Oldest Available Penderwick) who’s supposed to keep an eye out for Batty.

On this re-read, the one thing I noticed is the vilification of Mrs. Tifton (and it extends to the other books as well!). Even before we meet Mrs. Tifton, she has a bad name… Harry the Tomato Man calls her “snooty as all get-out.” But we know that she loves Jeffrey. In fact, even though she has a hard time listening to Jeffrey, ultimately she does do what is best for him. BUT, for some reason, she is HATED throughout the books.

I mean ALL the books.

None of the kids like her at all. I wish Jeanne Birdsall had been a little more grey in her depiction. Not that Mrs. Tiften couldn’t be a source of friction. There are some wonderful moments where she obviously gets their names wrong (which shows us that she isn’t really paying attention to the children, even when they correct her). However this ends up as a bit of a plot hole when she greatly insults Roselind regarding Cagney. (From what I’ve been led to believe, I’m surprised Mrs. T even paid enough attention to notice!)

Here’s what I wish… Could Birdsall not have given her redemption in some way? Even if just for Jeffrey’s sake. (At least something to extend to the other books where she isn’t the primary antongist?)

My only other beef with this book (and with the next two books) is Sabrina Starr. I can’t stand Sabrina Starr! Come to think of it, Jane should be my favourite character, since I am drawn to writers (like Jo March). BUT, Jane’s creation of Sabrina Starr irks me. So. Much. And thus, so does Jane. (Sorry, Jane!)

Overall, I love the timeless quality of this book that starts it all. It gave me that feeling of reading Little Women, or Anne of Green Gables, or The Secret Garden or The Treasure Seekers… all books written 100+ years ago! I love the bond between the sisters. Really and truly, I found this book as much as a delight to read as the first time around.

A Favourite Quote from the Book

This book is set on the grounds of Arundel, a beautiful, stately home with wonderful gardens.

On one side of the property, a high stone wall separated the cottage from its neighbors. Along the front and the other side ran a boundary hedge. Skye knew that Mrs. Tifton’s gardens were beyond that hedge. She could walk back up the driveway and through the break in the hedge. Boring, and likely to lead to being caughtit’s hard to hide on a driveway. Or she could crawl through the hedge and emerge in some sheltered garden nook where neither Mrs. Tifton nor anyone else would be likely to see her.

Definitely option two, Skye decided.

The Penderwicks (Chapter 2)


Book #2 // The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

penderwicks2The main story revolves around the Save Daddy Plan. In this book, we get a prologue where we learn that Mrs. Penderwick (who died of cancer shortly after Batty’s birth) has put in place a plan (with the help of Aunt Claire) to get Mr. Penderwick a new wife. This idea horrifies Roselind and she and her sisters go to some length to save their father from their aunt who is trying to get her brother (Mr. P) on some blind dates.

This book takes place at the Penderwicks’ home during the school year. If you’re expecting Jeffrey, he does come into the book, sort of. Instead, we get to know the neighbours across the street: Tommy and Nick Geiger. (They’ll play bigger roles later in the series.)

The plot is all about little deceptions. First we have Roselind and Tommy, who won’t admit their feelings to each other. Then there’s the story of Jane and Skye flipping homework assignments. Jane writes a play for Skye called Sisters and Sacrifice (with Skye as the supposed playwright). But then Skye gets the surprise of her life when her teacher wants present “Skye’s play”, with her in the leading role! Hilarity ensues. Ultimately, this all comes back to Mr. Penderwick’s own little deception.

Which brings me to Marianne.

Yes, when Mr. Penderwick tells the girls about how he is seeing Marianne, I remember guessing right away what was happening here. When Aunt Claire asks Marianne’s last name, he definitely gives it away. (At least to an adult’s eyes.) Although, for some reason Aunt Claire doesn’t get the reference. (And I’m surprised the girls don’t do a search online and figure it out. But, although we do live in a modern world that includes laptops, these girls don’t seem to know about Google…)

Ah, yes. We get a little Parent Trap in this book… (I love The Parent Trap, so this isn’t a problem for me!)

A Favourite Quote from the Book

In this scene, Mr. Penderwick is about to go on his second blind date, which has been set up by the girls as part of the Save Daddy Plan. (They are attempting to give him such awful dates that he’ll want to quit dating forever.)

“What did Daddy say in Latin, Skye? Mendax, mendax—?”

Skye was relieved. Latin was easier than feelings. “Mendax, mendax, bracae tuae con—something.”

Conflagrant, I think,” said Rosalind, flipping pages. “I’ll start with mendax. M-e-n-d-e-x. It means liar. Daddy called me a liar!”

“You’d just told him his tie looked great.”

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (Chapter 9)


Book #3 // The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

penderwicks3In this book, Skye is the OAP… the Oldest Available Penderwick. In fact, I can almost see Birdsall saying to herself… Hmm, how do we get Skye to go crazy in this book? Well, let’s make her the OAP. Let’s get rid of the parents (and baby Ben). Let’s take Roselind out of the picture (by sending her to New Jersey). We’ll have to put an adult in (Aunt Claire), but we’ll take her out as soon as we can (with a badly sprained ankle). Let’s get rid of Skye’s special list of instructions (on how to take care of Batty). And bam! Skye’s in a perfect storm for a meltdown.

Like the first book, this is another vacation book. But the absence of Roselind does make things a little more chaotic. One of the funniest parts comes at the beginning before they even leave. Roselind is giving instructions about taking care of Batty. “Rule Five: Batty wears this [life preserver] whenever she’s near the ocean.” Skye points out that since they’re staying on the coast, Batty will ALWAYS be near the ocean. “Then she will always wear it,” insists Roselind. AND the younger Penderwicks (including Batty) completely accept this!

Skye is my favourite Penderwick, so I really did like this book. I loved seeing her stretched to her limit and how she manages to survive her OAP-hood.

By the way, Jeffrey’s back in this book! We see a beautiful mentorship begin between him and Batty as they discover that Batty is actually musical. I love how nobody (in the Penderwick family) believes this musicality is even possible since nobody else in the family has the talent for music. But Jeffrey and Batty have a surprise up their sleeve.

And, come to think of it, so does Birdsall, with regards to the neighbour, Alex. (Although, again, I remember guessing fairly early on, even on my first re-through, what was going to happen.)

Fortunately, this is the final time Sabrina Starr comes into the books. (Unless she makes an appearance in the final book, which I have yet to read.) I still can’t stand Sabrina Starr!

A Favourite Quote from the Book

In this scene, Jane is trying to write her first book about romance. But, she realizes that she has no experience with romance. So, she comes up with a Love Survey…

“Do you believe in love at first sight?” she asked out loud.

“Jane, what are you talking about?” It was Skye again, but this time she was only a few feet away. Jane had caught up without noticing.

“She wants to know if we believe in love at first sight,” said Jeffrey.

“More love,” said Skye, now hitting Jane with the paper towels. “As the OAP, I demand you don’t mention love for the whole rest of the day.”

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette (Chapter 5)


Book #4 // The Penderwicks in Spring

penderwicks4 Fast forward several years. When I first read this book, it took me awhile to realize that quite a few years had passed since the events of the previous book. (The one set at Point Mouette.)

In fact, in this book, the three oldest Penderwicks are hardly in it. I mean, they are, but they are not the protagonists. Actually, Skye (my favourite!) has the role of sort-of antagonist in this book. :/

Instead, Batty is the now “oldest” along with brother Ben, and little sister, Lydia. She starts a dog-walking business to help pay for singing lessons. Except the singing lessons are a secret, one she’s not even ready to share with Ben!

Batty and Ben have a nice relationship going. Batty is excitedly awaiting her birthday, but her older sisters make life difficult. Roselind brings home some crazy boyfriend from college. Skye is angry with Jeffrey and won’t let him come visit, much to Batty’s disappointment. And then Batty overhears something that throws her into turmoil.

One of the stars of this book is the neighbour, Nick Geiger. He’s home, on leave from the Army. He’s sports-crazy, but surprisingly he has a wonderful bond with Batty (who has NO interest in sports, whatsoever!) And, to tell you the truth, I think his character has developed much more than Tommy. Or even Jeffrey, at this point!

(Hooray! Sabrina Starr is gone!)

A Favourite Quote from the Book

This is a conversation between Batty and Ben, two of the “younger” Penderwicks (not including 2-year-old Lydia).

But Batty was already blocking the door again, wedging a chair under the doorknob. Then she turned down the music so that they could better hear each other. “I’m glad you’re here. I’m calling a MOYPS.”

“Another one? we just had one.”

… “MOYPS come to

“What about Lydia? She should be here if it’s a meeting of the younger Penderwicks.”

“This is really just for you. We’ll call it a MOBAB, Meeting of Batty and Ben, okay? Please?”

The Penderwicks in Spring (Chapter 18)


Book #5 // The Penderwicks at Last

penderwicks5And this brings me to the final book… which I haven’t read yet.

I don’t know if I’m setting myself up for disappointment… Perhaps. I don’t always like final books in series. So, I’m trying not to think too much about what this book might be about. (I have my suspicions about what she’s going to do.)

The only thing I will say here is that I really like how they designed all the covers for the series. The silhouettes are beautiful. I think perhaps that is partly what helps give the books their old-fashioned feel.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read these books? Which Penderwick is your favourite? Do you hate Sabrina Starr as much as I do? (Or, maybe you love Sabrina Starr!) I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! (And if you’ve already read The Penderwicks at Last, please don’t give me any spoilers!)

Review: The Seventh Wish

theseventhw.jpgBook: The Seventh Wish
Author: Kate Messner
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Basic plot: Charlie goes ice fishing and ends up catching a fish that grants her wishes. But the wishes all sort of backfire on her. When news hits the family that Abby, her sister, is facing the struggle of a life-time, Charlie’s determined to make one more wish…

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I love the opening with the ice flowers. That was a beautiful image to start the book. Especially with introducing the sisters, Charlie and Abby. (I do wish Messner that done a little more with this imagery later on in the book. So much potential there! This is where an Epilogue would have worked so nicely. A year later… Charlie and Abby go in search of ice flowers…???)

2) I loved the Fairy Tale element of this story. It had a Fisherman-and-his-Wife vibe. I love how the wishes don’t quite work out. (Like with Bobby vs. Roberto!)

3) I also loved the dramatic element. I don’t really want to reveal it in a spoiler, so if you want to find out, you will have to read the book yourself.

4) The word-game that the family plays was fun. “I’m thinking of a word…” It was truly heart-breaking when, in the second-half of the book, the dad tries to play the game, but the mom just can’t do it. It’s very touching when he reveals the word.

5) I love the Serenity Prayer and I like how it was worked into the story.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) There are some really tough themes in this book. And it’s coupled light-hearted fare like Irish Dancing and a Wishing Fish. This felt a tad disjointed to me. It’s like the book didn’t know what it was… A Fairy Tale? A Drama?

2) The drama element is well set-up, but then poorly executed at times. Especially when the mystery is solved half-way through the book. Charlie finds out right away, at the same time as her parents. I wish Messner had dragged this mystery out a bit longer. Let Charlie worry a bit more. Let her wonder why her parents are always whispering about something, or speaking in low tones on the phone. This wasn’t HORRIBLE, but I thought it could have been drawn out a bit more to better effect.

3) I can’t believe the mom and dad let Charlie go alone with Abby to the dance competition. I don’t want to give a spoiler here, so I won’t explain… other than to say that suddenly explaining that the dad had a flu bug or food poisoning was NOT the best set up. And there is NO WAY the mom needed to stay behind to bring him tea, water, etc. He’s an adult. He’d probably sleeping most of the day while they were gone. Frankly, I was not convinced. So much so that it brought me out of the story (which is not a good thing). It just seemed like the author needed some excuse to make the parents stay home. Well, in my opinion, it didn’t quite work. 😦

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3.5 stars (out of 5) – This was an odd mishmash of genres. I loved the Fairy Tale element of the wishing fish. I like the drama element. While I’m not sure if Messner fully pulled it off, I did like the book and it’s good enough to get 3.5 stars from me.