Monday, September 5, 2016
It's a new school year and I am back to #IMWAYR! I have a new title to share and one that's "new to me."
I have always been a big fan of Barbara O'Connor and was thrilled to hear she was releasing a new book. I picked it up this weekend and didn't put it down until it was finished. LOVE!!!!!!
Eleven-year-old Charlie has been sent to stay with relatives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or as Charlie calls it, a hillbilly town full of kids who eat squirrels. Her dad is in jail "being corrected" for fighting all the time, and her mom is struggling with depression. Feeling abandoned, Charlie is certain that she will hate every minute of her new situation and does her best to make her feelings clear to everyone she meets. Her Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus are thrilled to have her with them and their neighbors, the Odoms, have a son that is sorely in need of a friend. Unfortunately, Charlie isn't as thrilled as everyone else. No matter how much the town and the people start to grow on her, all she wants to do is to go home to her mother. Her new friend, Howard Odom, does his best to help her control her famous temper, but Charlie has a lot of anger inside that keeps finding its way out through her fists. Charlie continues to feel out of place until one day when she finally catches the town's stray dog to make him her pet. As her love for her new dog Wishbone grows, so does her love for her new family and friends. When it's finally time to return home, Charlie has a big decision to make.
This story has heart. Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus just want to love the hurt right out of Charlie if only she will give them a chance. Sometimes it drove me crazy that she wasn't nicer to them, but Charlie felt as badly as I did. It is sweet and funny, and I especially liked all the ways Charlie knows how to make a wish- she has been making the same one every day for a year. 11:11 on the clock, eating pie a certain way, or wishing on a black horse while shaking her fist three times are just some of the silly traditions Charlie tries to make her wish come true. While the people of the town don't have much, it's clear they are full of love for her and do their best to make her feel safe and cherished. This is a story of friendship and finding your wish come true in unlikely places. It's easy to read and I think my students will enjoy it.
I'm a little late to read this one as it's been the talk of the book world for a while. Crenshaw is Katherine Applegate's first book since winning the Newbery Award for The One and Only Ivan. Get out your tissues for this one!
Jackson is a ten-year-old boy who lives with his parents and younger sister. His father has MS and they have fallen on hard times. Rather than ask for help from charity, the family is struggling to make it on their own by selling their belongings and even spending time living in their minivan. His father pan handles on the corner and his mother works two jobs. Most days there is very little to eat but Jackson has grown used to being hungry. His parents try to be cheerful and make the best of the situation not ever acknowledging how difficult this kind of life is for a young boy. Enter Crenshaw. He is an outspoken, seven-foot-tall, talking imaginary cat that only appears when Jackson needs a friend the most. While the boy does his best to keep quiet, be a good boy, and go along with his parents plans (whatever they might be), Crenshaw teaches Jackson that it's important to speak up and share his feelings. Jackson's voice is important, and he doesn't have to carry the weight of his situation silently.
This book was so moving. When Jackson described how little food they had to eat, and what it felt like to be smelly, I felt awful for complaining about silly things. This story is about a very serious topic but like The One and Only Ivan, there are moments of humor and inspiration. It's written in a way that makes it appropriate for young students and not too gut wrenching. Even though Crenshaw isn't technically real, his words of wisdom are important advice for all of us. This story is full of teachable moments, and it's an important book in this world of excess. I think this is a beautiful novel and deserves the many awards it's already won.