New Kwame Alexander title

Newbery award winning author, Kwame Alexander, has a new middle-grade novel release: The Door of No Return. Symphony Space’s Thalia Kids Book Club is presenting Alexander on Saturday October 1st at the Leonard Nimoy Theatre (95th ST and Broadway). A reading, book discussion and signing will be held at 1pm. Hugely popular and dynamic, Alexander is an engaging author and speaker not to be missed.

Back to the Prairie: a Home Remade, a Life Rediscovered

Back to the Prairie is Melissa Gilbert’s memoir of her recent years, starting in 2019 with the purchase of a home and property in upstate New York. Living in rural Michigan after marrying actor and director Timothy Busfield, Melissa & Timothy’s work takes them to New York City. Life in the busy and hectic Big Apple leads the couple to purchase a house in the country to relax and get away from all the demands of modern day living. However, the home they purchase has been abandoned for years, and takes the two (along with the help of friends) a great deal of sweat and equity to ready it to be lived in. This is accomplished just before COVID 19 strikes the country, and they settle in as pioneers, living off the land. Ms. Gilbert is a down- to- earth writer, and I enjoyed reading about her life and times.

Catherine Called Birdy- the movie

1994 Newbery Honor winner, Catherine, Called Birdy is historical fiction for middle-schoolers set in the Middle Ages. In the year 1290, 13 year-old Birdy is “unwillingly keeping a journal at the behest of her brother, a monk, Birdy (daughter of a 13th-century knight) makes a terse first entry—”I am bit by fleas and plagued by family. That is all there is to say”—but is soon confiding her pranks and troubles in fascinating detail.” This first novel from almost 30 years ago is now a movie to be released later this month written and directed by Lena Dunham. Cushman went on to become a mainstay in middle school literature. Authentically writing about various historical periods, Catherine, Called Birdy contains just the right amount of humor and icki-ness that appeals to this age group. Not just for social studies teachers, the diary of Catherine has readers rooting for her from page one until the end. I look forward to meeting her on the big screen.

Midnight on the Marne

I haven’t read a lot about World War I, so I enjoyed this title by Sarah Adlakha. Her main character is a French woman named Marcelle Marchand, who joins a nursing unit along with her sister Rosalie, with whom she is very close. Marcelle also becomes a spy for the British Intelligence, and is called “the witch of the river” for her ability to outsmart the Germans. Eventually she is captured, and tortured until two American soldiers help her escape. The descriptions of the torture were tough to read, but it was the reality of her experience. The author offers differing views of the plot, with the idea that two of the characters return after being killed, to change outcomes of the war. Adlanka did model her story on real people, places and events, even while taking liberties with other elements. All in all, it was a satisfying read.