Monday, April 15, 2019

April is National Poetry Month -- how do you celebrate?

Sadly, I've neglected reading poetry during this national month celebrating Poetry. But now I'm reading an inspiring novel in verse. 

Does that count?


White Rose by Kip Wilson (April 2, 2019, Versify/HMH, ages 12 and up)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators. This debut novel recounts the lives of Sophie and her friends and highlights their brave stand against fascism in Nazi Germany.

Why I recommend it: The verse is spare and simple and gorgeously written. Interestingly, the narrative jumps back and forth in time, but even my injured brain is having no trouble following it. Keep in mind this is YA. It's a somewhat difficult, though perhaps timely, subject.

Bonus: This novel in verse was written by a young woman I met at the Highlights Foundation in 2017. So proud of you, Kip!

Favorite lines (so far, from p. 46):  

                                        It's been five years since
                                        Herr Hitler's thundering rise
                                        to power, and
                                        in that time so much has
                                        changed in our small city:
                                                  red flags draped
                                                             over offices, schools, homes
                                                  armed soldiers blocking entrance to
                                                             Jewish businesses
                                                  thick, hard dread
                                                              spilling over the streets
                                                              sharp as glass.


If you're looking for more traditional posts for National Poetry Month:

Please visit Jan Godown Annino at Bookseedstudio and Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise.

(And coincidentally, I met them both at Highlights, in 2016!)

Monday, April 8, 2019


The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles (April 2, 2019, Versify, 304 pages, for ages 8 to 12)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): Otto and Sheed are the local sleuths in their zany Virginia town, masters of unraveling mischief using their unmatched powers of deduction. And as the summer winds down and the first day of school looms, the boys are craving just a little bit more time for fun, even as they bicker over what kind of fun they want to have. That is, until a mysterious man appears with a camera that literally freezes time. Now, with the help of some very strange people and even stranger creatures, Otto and Sheed will have to put aside their differences to save their town—and each other—before time stops for good.

Why I recommend it: This is lively, fast-paced and funny, with plenty of kid-like humor. A winning combination. Heck, even I want to live in a town like Fry! There's a Gnarled Forest where trees never have leaves, an Eternal Creek, with no beginning or end, and strangers arrive through shimmering portals. All this is perfectly normal for Fry.

The cousins make a great crime-solving team. Before the story begins, they've already solved several cases like The Laughing Locusts, and The Mystery of the Woman in Teal. Wish we could read about those cases too! But freezing time is a great concept and Lamar Giles has a vivid imagination.

Favorite lines:  "(Otto) looped an arm over Sheed's shoulder, hoping his cousin didn't have his usual awkward smile. Their picture had been in the Logan County Gazette a bunch of times, and Sheed always looked like he was trying to suck broccoli from his teeth."

Lamar Giles is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books, and the editor of FRESH INK! Visit his website.

Here's Greg Pattridge's take on The Last Last-Day-of-Summer from March 24, 2019.

For other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts, visit Greg's website.