This is a delightful read; written by scientist and well-published author Sy Montgomery, How to Be a Good Creature affords glimpses into her life, divided among her various relationships with different remarkable animals. They range from border collies to animal personalities she encountered during her numerous expeditions to many parts of the world. For example, Clarabelle, the pink-toed tarantula Sy met in French Guiana, and the three emus she happened upon in Australia, are only a few who supplied Sy with lessons in how to be a better “creature”. I heartily recommend this unusual book: Montgomery’s plain writing is so refreshing, her optimism is very uplifting and the illustrations by Rebecca Green are adorable. Not to mention it’s a quick read for those who are under time constraints on their reading…
Month: December 2018
The Dream Daughter
Do you believe in time travel? Diane Chamberlain’s latest novel reads as a journey through time for many of its central characters. Carly Sears has lost her husband to the Vietnam War, and when she finds out she is pregnant, she feels this will be the comfort she has been trying to find since his death. But this is 1970 when Carly finds out her baby has a fatal heart defect, and there is no medical technology available to correct the problem. However, her brother-in-law Hunter suggests a possible way forward. Carly weighs the risks and makes her decision. The story has a great twist at the end, and one roots for Carly and her daughter throughout the novel. Definitely recommended for fans of mother-daughter stories.
Written by Kate Atkinson, this novel skips back and forth between the present day of 1950 and 10 years earlier, when the protagonist, Juliet Armstrong, worked for MI5 during the war. She was tasked with typing up the conversations of known Nazi sympathizers and spies who met in the flat next door. Transcription is a character laden novel, with figures on both sides of the war fully fleshed out, from Mr.Toby, a British spy who is pretending to be a spy for the Gestapo ( and wore a “bashed trilby and old trench coat”) to Juliet, a quick thinking young woman who was able to help with the disposal of a body and the ensuing cleanup. It was a bit slow at times for me, and the cast of characters was tough to keep straight, but I enjoyed the surprising twist at the end of the novel. Recommended for those who enjoy character- driven fiction…
There are three books that I have read this year that I believe are real contenders for this years Printz Award. Sadie by Courtney Summers is one of those books. For fans of true crime, especially true crime podcasts, this book is perfect. Told from two points of view Sadie herself and West McCray’s transcript of his true crime podcast The Girls (which is reminiscent of Serial), this book perfectly pulls you in and strings you along during this beautifully crafted mystery.
Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water after her drug-addicted mother abandons them. But when Mattie is found dead – brutally murdered, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him – clues that involve her past.
When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, and hoping to find her before it’s too late.
The interchanging points of view allow you to experience Sadie’s desperate search while keeping the mystery of what happens to her (and what happened in her past to set her on this wild goose chase) a secret.
This book is thrilling and touching at the same time- not an easy feat. Keep your eye out for this one!
Guardian’s best books lists for children
Some of The Guardian’s titles that made the best lists for 2018 are USA born and others UK. There’s a rehash of ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ on the list and a new Jacqueline Wilson title. Other familiar names include one of my favorites, Hilary McKay (‘The Skylark’s War’). David Almond also has a title on the list (‘The Colour of the Sun’). The Guardian includes a section on the best children’s poetry books of 2018, a category most USA lists ignore.