Monday, May 1, 2017
It's Monday What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 5/1/2017
I've been reading YA books for years, and I thought I had read about every possible heavy topic such as divorce, drugs, grief, self harm, sickness and the like. I was pleasantly surprised to pick up Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes and read about a topic I haven't encountered yet in children's books- hoarding. Hoarding has many psychological facets, but this book by Mary Lambert focuses not on the hoarder, but on the effects for the children living in that house.
Annabelle won't let anyone within five miles of her home for fear that her classmates will see chaos in her house. Over the years, her mother's "collection" has grown to include hundreds of newspapers, canned good, old toys, milk cartons, and a plethora of other useless items. Annabelle struggles with how to help her mom while trying to navigate middle school and the typical drama that goes along with that age. When her little sister Lindsay gets buried in old newspapers one morning and begins to have nightmares, Annabelle frustration grows. Her father leaves seemingly unable to cope with the mess and her grandmother comes to the rescue albeit not in the right way. Her methods of simply trying to throw the mess away makes things even worse.
This book was very well written and Annabelle's voice as the narrator is perfect, This is a very adult topic, but Lambert writes it in a way that is perfectly relatable for a preteen. It's a very moving story about family dynamics. The love and loyalty between the family members is obvious and as much as Annabelle wants her mother to stop, she also protects her mom from their grandmom who isn't exactly warm and fuzzy. As a reader, I felt Annabelle's angst and her embarrassment along with her feelings of helplessness. Her desire to be as neat and clean as possible (actually obsessively) is of course her way of trying to control a terrible situation. This is a great read and stays on the fringe of the horrors of hoarding just enough to keep it perfect for pre-teens. I will absolutely recommend this book to my students.
What a refreshing book for children! The Kindness Club: Chloe on the Bright Side by Courtney Sheinmel is a very cute story about Chloe, the new girl in school. The first day she gets "adopted" by the popular kids and is really excited until she sees their true colors. Led by the sneaky Monroe, the "It Girls" fit the bully stereotype perfectly. The girls in the It Girls Club have rules about what to wear, who to talk to, and even how to wear their hair. Chloe starts to feel uncomfortable by some of these new rules and is torn between finally being popular and doing what she knows is right. Luckily, she gets assigned a Science project with Lucy and Theo (two people she is not supposed to talk too) and they start The Kindess Club. They are out to prove that kindness benefits everyone.
This book was very easy to read and had an AWESOME message for kids. It's ultimately about how kindness trumps bullies and has countless lessons and teachable moments throughout. I think this is a book that will benefit every reader. There is a side story about Chloe's parents getting divorced but even then Chloe tries her best to put the kindness test into action.
I think it's a great story to read to a class or between parent and child. It's the first in a new series, and I'm looking forward to the others.