Monday, July 16, 2012

JUMP INTO THE SKY for a marvelous Middle Grade Monday!



Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall (Knopf,  August 14, 2012, for ages 10 and up)

Source: advanced reader's copy from publisher

Synopsis (from Indiebound): Levi Battle's been left behind all his life. His mother could sing like a bird and she flew away like one, too. His father left him with his grandmother so he could work as a traveling salesman—until Levi's grandmother left this world entirely. Now Levi's staying with his Aunt Odella while his father is serving in the U.S. Army. But it's 1945, and the war is nearly over, and Aunt Odella decides it's time for Levi to do some leaving of his own. Before he can blink, Levi finds himself on a train from Chicago to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where his father is currently stationed—last they knew.

So begins an eye-opening, life-changing journey for Levi. First lesson: there are different rules for African Americans in the South than there are in Chicago. And breaking them can have serious consequences. But with the help of some kind strangers, and despite the hindrances of some unkind ones, Levi makes his way across the United States—searching for his father and finding out about himself, his country, and what it truly means to belong.

Why I liked it:  This is historical fiction at its finest. Told in a realistic 13-year-old boy's voice, Pearsall's moving and at times humorous novel isn't afraid to tackle tough topics like discrimination and abandonment.  You'll also learn about a little-known aspect of World War II: the black paratroopers of the 555th battalion. The characters are wonderful, from Levi to Aunt Odella, to Cal and Peaches, the Fayetteville couple who give Levi a temporary home, to the mysterious old Maw Maw Sands, who seems to know everything, and finally to Levi's father himself, the almost legendary Charlie Battle. 

As you read, you'll feel you are right there, in 1945. The scene in the grocer's in Fayetteville is etched in my memory, and I read this book more than two months ago.  Levi's just gotten off the train from Chicago.  He's hot and thirsty and he sees a Coca-Cola sign in the grocer's window.  But when he enters the shop and puts his money down on the counter, the grocer hands him a dusty grape soda instead and points a gun in Levi's face.  It's Levi's first experience with a white man in the South. And it's dramatic and intense.  I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this novel wins a Newbery honor in January.

For more MMGM recommendations, please visit the blogs in my sidebar to the right.  And if you're not in my sidebar, and should be, please let me know! 

Please remember to stop by Literary Rambles today for Natalie Aguirre's interview with Lenny Lee and a giveaway!

12 comments:

  1. I don't usually read historical fiction. But this sounds good. Thanks for sharing about it.

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    1. I know, Natalie. I never used to read it either. But it's growing on me. Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. Ohhhh! I have such a deep love for historical fiction, so this one goes on my list right away. Thank you for sharing about it because I hadn't heard of it.

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    1. Oh! I'm glad I could introduce it to you then, Barbara. I remember your love of historical fiction.

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  3. I always enjoy a good HF book and this sounds wonderful. I love that the story makes you feel like you are right there. I thought this review was excellent and I have added this book to my list (this is my first time hearing of it). Thanks!
    ~Jess
    http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

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  4. Welcome to my blog, Jess. I just found your website and became your newest follower.

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  5. Wow. This sounds like one heck of a good book--and the cover is great. Would be great paired with Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis!

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    1. You're absolutely right, Deb. I actually thought of Bud, Not Buddy while reading this, but the voice is very different. Both are excellent for anyone looking for multicultural books and boy books.

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  6. This is Katie from book club. I've finished Code Name Verity. When would you like me to return it to you?

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  7. This book sound like it would especially be of interest to people around here (We live in NC). Sounds really hard hitting.

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    1. That it is, Susan! But it's still a sweet story about a boy searching for his father. Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. What a gorgeous cover-- I'll have to check this one out, Joanne. This may be a good pick for my middle grade book club!

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YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation!