Review: The Best Man by Richard Peck

Kirkus and Booklist named Best Man one of the best books of 2016. Archer Magill begins this story with a wedding that forces him to hide under the porch with his best friend, Lynette. The novel ends with Archer landing the role of best man in another wedding. In between, the story follows Archer and Lynette through elementary school along with Archer’s three wholesome role models: grandpa, his dad, and Uncle Paul. When a new student teacher comes to town, Mr. McLeod, Archer’s world is thrown for a loop—but one that he embraces. Archer is charmingly oblivious for the entire novel, but his innocence makes his growing up all the more powerful. Although this coming of age story follows Archer from first to sixth grade, the content is best for fourth to sixth graders. Reading this book is like eating a bowl of warm, homemade soup with the fireplace blazing…

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Review: A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Gerta wakes up one morning to find that a heavily defended wall divides her country. Her father and brother are caught on one side of the Berlin Wall while she, her mother, and other brother, Fritz, remain at home in a land where even bananas are a freedom not to be had. Desiring a better life on the western side of the wall, Gerta and Fritz risk their lives to build a tunnel to freedom and their family. Along the way, they must reconcile white lies, true friends, and false enemies. The ending seems unrealistic even for historical fiction, but maybe I just need to read more about the Berlin Wall. I kept hoping for a slightly stronger historical background and faster-paced novel—there is a lot of digging—but overall, A Night Divided introduces young readers to a piece of history and feelings that they may not be familiar with. Kate…

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Book Review: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi is a nine-year-old girl who lives by herself in Villa Villekula with her pet monkey and horse. Along with her friends, Annika and Tommy, she bakes cookies on the floor, defeats bullies, tells tall tales, and collects treasures. Pippi constantly finds herself in trouble while attempting to attend school and tea parties but also possesses unusual strength and the ability to charm robbers. Pippi Longstocking is the day-to-day chronicles of an eccentric girl. I read this title in school in second grade, but Pippi Longstocking is designated more for third to sixth graders. Pippi plays with pistols and tramps roam the streets at night. Glanzman draws Pippi as an impish looking girl, and her red hair and freckles set her apart from her Swedish friends. This otherness is furthered in the way that Lindgren describes other cultures. Like Dahl, she crosses the line into racism—although brushing “differences” off with the…

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