If You’re A Parent and…You Want Reliable Book Recommendations

Posted by on July 18, 2019.

I’m very lucky that my eleven-year-old daughter likes to read. Ironically, I struggle to get her to read in the summer, which seems like the natural time to take a break with a book. So I offered to accept her challenge to read some of the books she was reading. The result: a two-part blog post where we read and review the same books. We agreed to answer four questions about each book without showing the other person. In this first installation, we reviewed four books from the Vermont Department of Libraries’ recommended books.

Two picture books from Vermont’s Red Clover Nominees (for kids grades K-4)

Drawn Together by Minh Le – Reviewed by Zoey, age 11

What was my favorite part about the book? My favorite part of the book was when the boy starts drawing in his style and then the grandpa brings over his art supplies and they start to draw together.

What do you think the book’s meaning is? I think the meaning of the book is that even if we speak different languages then we can still communicate through art.

Who is your favorite character and why? There are really only 3 characters in the book but I guess I like the grandfather because he can’t understand his grandson but he bridges the gap between them with art.

Do you recommend this book and why? I recommend this book because is shows that you can communicate with people even if they don’t speak your language just through art, dance, and laughter.

Drawn Together by Minh Le – Reviewed by Meredith, mom

What was my favorite part about the book? I love how the boy and his grandfather have very separate styles of drawing (that mirror their respect and knowledge of their heritage), but that by the end of the book, the old and new swirl around together. It does not give the feeling of being entirely settled, but that it might be someday.

What do you think the book’s meaning is? There is a way to bring together old and new ideas and values if there is a common understanding.

Who is your favorite character and why? I like the mom – she is only in a few illustrations, but you can tell from the drawings that she is anxious for her son and her father (I’m assuming) to find a way to enjoy their time together.

Do you recommend this book and why? Yes – it is such a nice story about both how difficult and how easy it can be to find common ground. The illustrations are amazing – beautiful and complicated!

 

The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee, Reviewed by Zoey, age 11

What was my favorite part about the book? I like the part where the little guy is floating around and is saying that this isn’t supposed to happen on this side of the book.

What do you think the book’s meaning is? I think the meaning is looks can be deceiving because the ogre is nice when everyone thinks it’s mean.

Who is your favorite character and why? I like the little mouse that scares the animals in the beginning of the book because it shows that even tiny things can be scary.

Do you recommend this book and why? Yes, I recommend this book because it teaches a good lesson.

The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee, Reviewed by Meredith, mom

What was my favorite part about the book? I like that on the other side of the book, they are having more fun, even though that is something we are sometimes nervous is the truth!

What do you think the book’s meaning is? As an adult, it is hard not to read our current political situation into the book. I like the message that it is not good to make assumptions about people, places, and things based only on what we have heard.

Who is your favorite character and why? I like the ogre who easily saves the little knight and does not fall into the same trap of judging too quickly. He welcomes the knight into his community, even though he expressed his unfair opinions.

Do you recommend this book and why? Yes, because I love how the illustrations support the message. The bad things on his side of the book happen without the little knight knowing, though, a sad but true reality for many people.

 

Chapter Book from Dorothy’s List (kids grades 5 and up)

Front Desk by Kelly Yang, Reviewed by Zoey, age 11

What was my favorite part about the book? My favorite part of the book is when Mia writes to people and asks them to donate money to them so that they can buy the motel.

What do you think the book’s meaning is? Even immigrants can live a good life and just because they are not native doesn’t mean that we can treat them like dirt.

Who is your favorite character and why? My favorite character is Mia Tang because she won’t give up on working the front desk and on the motel.

Do you recommend this book and why? Yes I do recommend this book because it tells a good message. Even though she didn’t speak the language, she found a way to write.

 

Front Desk by Kelly Yang, Reviewed by Meredith, mom

What was my favorite part about the book? I found this book a little stressful to read; I kept waiting for something really awful to happen to Mia and her parents. They suffered many small injustices and unfair set backs, but I am relieved that there was not an over-the-top unfortunate incident that really upended the family. I liked both the tension but goodness the author created.

What do you think the book’s meaning is? The insight into the immigrant experience, and I liked that their hard work paid off, both in building a strong employment and a mixed, meaningful community that operated more like extended family.

Who is your favorite character and why? I liked Mia – I liked that she worked so hard to prove her mom wrong about becoming strong in reading, writing, and speaking English. I loved the letters she wrote and how they printed them with her edits.

Do you recommend this book and why? Yes, it is full of reminders of much everyone struggles and that we need to treat everyone with respect and to honor hard work.

Chapter Book from Green Mountain Book Award (kids grades 9-12)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, Reviewed by Zoey, age 11

What was my favorite part about the book? My favorite part of the book was the plot twist at the end. I’m not going to say what it is because that will spoil the book.

What do you think the book’s meaning is? I think that the meaning of the book is that if you fall down to get back up again.

Who is your favorite character and why? My favorite character is Amari because of the plot twist at the end of the book.

Do you recommend this book and why?Yes I recommend this book because it is a thrilling and action packed adventure with a few casualties along the way.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, Reviewed by Meredith, mom

What was my favorite part about the book? I liked the relationship Zelie had with her family – she really wanted to respect their traditions and to help them improve their position, but she also challenged them, often over things she did not completely understand. It felt very true to life even though the situation was fantastical.

What do you think the book’s meaning is? “We are all children of blood and bone.” That we are all shaped from the people and events that came before us.

Who is your favorite character and why? Zane, Zelie’s brother, is my favorite – maybe because I am also the oldest child; he is working hard to provide and to keep everyone together.

Do you recommend this book and why? We listened to this book, and I recommend that because it was very fast paced action and a lot of characters set in a fantasy world, and the voices she made helped to keep track of it all!

Next review from NH’s state nominees:

The Day You Began by Jacqueline Woodson and Inky’s Amazing Escape by Sy Montgomery – NH’s Ladybug Award Nominees

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani – NH’s Great Stone Face Nominee

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman – NH’s Isinglass Award Nominee

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