Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

apple and rainBloomsbury Children’s Books, 2015

Even though Nan tries to make the day special, Apple hates Christmas. No matter how hard Nan tries, for Apple, Christmas Day is overshadowed by the memory of her mum storming out of the house. That was eleven years ago, and she never came back. Nan doesn’t want to hear Apple’s thoughts on the matter, so Apple’s left to pine for her mother alone. When Apple’s mum does come back, Apple takes her chance to escape from her Nan’s serious ways and overprotection, but it’s nothing like the life she fantasized about. Her new life with Mum also includes Rain, a little sister Apple never even knew about but now is expected to care for. How will she navigate a life in which all the rules and expectations have changed?

This is a beautiful book. As Apple deals with family drama, school drama, and boy drama, she uses poetry to work out her feelings. The special gray exercise book that her English teacher gave her becomes her outlet and sounding board. In the end Apple learns a lot about poetry and, in the words of her English teacher, “poetry’s ability—and responsibility—to say what happens.”

This is a book to cherish and to read again. As much as I love books, I’m jealous of the small amount of shelf space I have in my house. But Apple and Rain is one to own, to look at fondly, to read again and to loan to a friend. Buy this book. You won’t regret it.

I read this book as an electronic ARC courtesy of Net Galley and Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Guest Post on Jarrett Lerner’s Blog

Some time ago Jarrett asked me to contribute a guest post to his series: “A Book That Changed My Life.” I knew immediately what I wanted to write about, but it wasn’t a book that changed my life. Rather, it was two books that formed my life as a reader even before I could read. These books built my joy and fascination with language from an early age and taught me that books could be enjoyed in community as well as alone.

You can read the post here:

Gift Book Suggestions 2014

Hanukkah’s begun and Christmas Eve is less than a week away. That means it’s official, the holidays managed to sneak up on me again. Here are my gift suggestions for the kid readers in your life.

Overall Top Pick:

Under the Egg

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald –This book has all the best qualities: a heroine you can’t help but admire, a cracking good mystery, a family in dire need, the setting in New York City, and good friends to see you through.

A great two-book combination for kids who like history:

Stay Where You Are And Then...Stay Where You Are and then Leave by John Boyne


Women Heroes of World War I...Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn J. Atwood

Finally, a couple of gripping young adult novels:

PointePointe by Brandy Colbert — lots of suspense lots of emotion and emotional struggles.

The Silence of Six The Silence of Six by E. C. Myers — a good old nail biter starring high school hackers.

Thanks for reading. I hope the upcoming weeks bring you peace, time with loved ones, and quiet hours to read good books.

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Bloomsbury 2014

Danger really is Maisie Brown’s middle name, but her life’s never felt particularly dangerous. Her life is pretty small; she’s a homeschooled only child with a mom and dad and one best friend, Luther. However, everything begins to change for Maisie when she finds a contest on the back of a cereal box. The prize for the contest is a stay at space camp.

It’s always been Maisie’s dream to be an astronaut, but with one whole arm and one prosthetic, she not sure the dream can ever become a reality. Space camp seems like a perfect opportunity to give it a try.

Maisie proves herself more than capable of any task space camp has to dish out, but space camp has extras that she didn’t expect: a seriously handsome camper, a mad scientist, and alien life forms that force Maisie Danger Brown to live up to her middle name.

Dangerous is an action-packed young adult story that allows readers to contemplate fun ideas like space travel and first love within an adventurous context, but it’s not simply an adventure or a romance. Themes of trust, loyalty, and secrecy pervade the narrative and give readers an opportunity to examine their own boundaries.

I loved being a part of Maisie’s life and journeying along to space camp and beyond. There’s enough action and suspense here to keep even the most reluctant reader going! This is a perfect book to put on your summer reading list.