The Swallow : A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

The Swallow : A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter 

Age range: 9-12 
Pages- 315
Release date: 09/2014

Set in the 1960s in Toronto,Canada, this book follows two young 12 year old girls named Polly and Rose. In this alternate perspective book, the girls discover that they are neighbors who share a wall of their home. Both girls are seeking a friend, and they start to talk through the wall. They soon decide to meet in a graveyard behind their homes. When the girls meet, they instantly become friends...but something is off.  The girls walk past a grave stone with Rose's name on it. Could she be a ghost & not know it?  Polly has always wanted to see a ghost, and Rose has the gift to see ghosts. Using each other's interests and powers, the girls  discover a curse and discover more ghosts then they ever thought was imaginable. 


This book is filled with friendship, grief, and mystery. I still don't know what to think of it. There was a scene where Polly gets attacked by a spirit. I was a little disturbed by this. 

I felt like this book was complex. You didn't know what was real and what wasn't. It might be too intense for some readers, but I did enjoy trying to solve the mystery.  I also enjoyed the powerful theme of family and friendship.  Although it was creepy, it wasn't too scary. The ghosts were friendly for the most part. It makes me think of the movie Caspar. There was a lot of depth to it. 

I think readers who enjoy Mary Hahn books, might enjoy something like this. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. This is for the real ghost lovers. 

The author after all was inspired to write the book based on her own ghost experiences.  If you aren't a ghost believer, I would steer clear of this one. 

Overall I would give this read three stars. 

 I do see some of my tweens enjoying it, but just wasn't the right book for me. 

I have been reading a lot of dark middle grade lately. Has anyone else noticed the reoccurring themes of ghosts and pandemics?  

There also seems to be more and more historical mysteries lately. I like it, but I am a little surprised of this direction in middle grade literature. 

I did find a great list of middle grade novels through Voya Magazine. I was able to find this book and some other great reads. 

Check it out here: Voya Middle School Top Shelf

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

What is my new favorite book for reluctant boy readers? 

The Crossover!  

This book is completely done in verse. Here is some quick information: 

Age range: 9-12 years old
Pages- 240 

This book is about twin boys named Josh and Jordan. It is told from the perspective of Josh. Josh and Jordan have grown up surrounded around basketball. Their dad played professionally, & the boys have carried on his love for the game. When Jordan gets a girlfriend, things change. Josh must deal with not having his brother's full attention and he will have to face growing up. Things become even worse when his dad's health starts to decline. Can the boys handle life's crossover? 

I am not a sports lover, and I was putting off reading this book. I thought it would be another book about sports, but there is so much more to this story. It is about family and about growing up. While reading this book, I pictured a 12 year old boy raping about his life. There was a variety of poetry, and rhythm. Some of the poetry in the book was even in pictures. So! You should read this book instead of listening to it on audio book. Although, I think it would be a great read aloud in any classroom. 

On a scale 1-5, I would give this book 3 stars. 

It was great, but toward the ending of the book, I felt like the writing style went down. 

Don't let that detour you though! This book is still an excellent read. It is one that I will recommend to any sports loving reluctant boy reader. 

It is also another book you should be aware of for future awards and lists to come. :) 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson

Who do you think will win the Newbery Award? 

I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a Mock Newbery training at my library. For the training everyone read 6 books on the Newbery short list, and we voted on who we think would win. 

Can you guess who our pick was?  Ya, it is pretty much Jacqueline Woodson's year! 

Have you had a chance to read this book yet? 

I hope you have. Or I hope I can convince you to put it on your book pile. 

Brown Girl Dreaming  is an autobiography set in verse about Woodson's childhood. 

It is a gem that gives an explanation as to what it was like to grow up under Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights movement, and general life in the 1960s and 1970s.  Woodson is able to give a complete picture with her experience living in both in South Carolina and New York. It helped to get a sense of how life for African Americans were different. 

To me, this book was refreshing! Even though the book was in verse, the characters were rich & I found the historical context fascinating. 

My only complaint, is that I don't think it has much kid appeal. I think it is an important topic to discuss, but I don't think this is something that I could sell to a tween. 

Sadly, kid appeal is not a factor in the Newbery decision. 

I do think, however, that many adults will enjoy this novel. 

I am torn on who I think the new Newbery will be. I loved this book, but I also found The Night Gardner to be wonderful too. 

I can't wait to see who will win! 

Be sure to tune in ALA Youth Media Awards

On February 2nd at 8 am, the award winners will be announced. 

Snicker of Magic by Natalie LLoyd

Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll! 

I am getting ready to do an "Illogical Alice and Wonderland Valentines Day" program, and I am excited to hear that today is this literary giant's birthday.  

Speaking of programming, I am going to switch my focus of this blog more on books.  Being a librarian, I read more books then do programming. To me, being knowledgeable about books is more important. One of my favorite books I read recently was: 

  A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. 

Age range: 8-12
Pages: 320
Release Date: 02/25/2014

A Snicker of Magic is about a special 12 year old girl name Felicity Pickle. Felicity can see words all around her, and she takes it upon herself to collect these words. It comforts her, because her mother is cursed with a wondering heart. 

The Pickle family does not stay in one place very long. They are always on the move. That is, until Felicity's mother drives Felicity and her sister to her hometown of Midnight Gulch. 

Midnight Gulch just might be as special as the Pickle family. 

The town is rumored to have been magical. Felicity starts to feel at home, and she even makes a friend.

As the town history begins to unravel, however, Felcity finds that her family's curse is connected to the history of the town. Felicity must try and break the curse so she can stay in Midnight Gulch. 

This book is beautifully written, and the book is all about finding your voice. 

I think it could be enjoyed by kids of all ages. I found it to be a charming read. I think it would be great read for readers who enjoyed Because of Winn Dixie by Kate Dicamillo. 

The only thing I had a difficult time with was keeping track of the characters. Natalie does a wonderful job of spotlighting characters and creating a history of the town, but at times I had trouble remembering all of the characters. 

If you do read this book, I would suggest keeping a list of characters to refer to. Or, this might be a great read out loud as a family. That way there are more people to help you remember the characters! 

Overall, I would give this book 5 stars!

Even though I had trouble with the characterization, all of the characters had a purpose. I espcially loved the word play throughout the book. I felt like this novel was origonal and it was filled with  southern charm. Each chapter was like drinking a cup of sweet tea. It is sure to get many awards. I can see it on a lot of state award lists. 

The Night Gardener

I am on a quest to read some of the books on the short list for the Newbery Award. One book on this list is called The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. I can see why this book is on the short list. It is beautifully written. 

Here is a quick overview. 

~The Story ~

The Night Gardener is set in the Victorian period in England. It is about two orphaned children named Molly and Kip from Ireland. They are separated from their parents on a sinking ship set out to the Americas. Molly and Kip's ship arrives in England and they must find a job and shelter, but no one will hire a crippled boy and his sister. That is, until they receive a job at a place that all the villagers whisper about. As they arrive to the house, they notice the house is built within and surrounding a tree. Both children get a feeling that something is not right, but they have no where else to go. They accept the job to help clean and maintain the grounds of the house for room and board. As they work, however, they begin to notice some strange things. There is a mysterious figure who roams the grounds at night,,,the villages call him the night gardener. The family that Kip and Molly work for are sick, and the doctors do not know what is wrong. Molly and Kip begin to think that the night gardener is the cause of this sickness, but they also begin to notice that the family gets whatever they wish for. As the family receives more wishes, the sicker they become. Molly even makes a wish, and she becomes sick too. Can the Kip and Molly figure out what is going on before it is too late? 

~Tween you and Me~

This book has incredible imagery. As you read this book, you will become apart of the story. Before you start this novel, make sure to clear your schedule.  You will get lost in its mystery and Auxier's incredible story telling abilities. 

Even though this dark book is not for everyone, it is a great pick for readers who enjoy books by Neil Gainman. Its dark and mysterious nature reminded me Neil Gainman's Coroline. I think this could be a potential read-alike for reader's who enjoy Goosebumps. This book is definitely more scary, but readers who like that style are sure to enjoy it. 

 All in all, the literary style makes this book memorable. I give it 4 1/2 stars! ....because it was legitimately creepy & I will never go near a large tree again. After reading it however, I hope it does get a Newbery Award. It is a rare find. 

I can't wait to read more books by Auxier. He is sure to be an award winner. I know he is in my book.