Saturday, September 27, 2014

Awake and Dreaming (Kit Pearson)

I asked the folks at the place where I buy books for my Grade 3 book club books for recommendations the other day, and this book was one of their recommendations. I hadn't read it so decided to find it.

I'm not sure it is right for my Grade 3 book club, but what a fabulous book! The edition I read had an introduction by Kenneth Oppel that was amazing as well.

Here is the Goodreads Summary:

Theo and her young, irresponsible mother seem trapped in their miserable, poverty-stricken life. Theo dreams of belonging to a "real"family with two parents and brothers and sisters, and her dream seems to come true when she is mysteriously adopted by a large, warm family, the Kaldors. For the first time in her life, Theo has brand new clothes and things of her own, security and good friends. But as time passes, the magic of Theo's new life begins - literally - to fade, and soon she finds herself back with her mother. Were the Kaldors real, or just a dream? And who is the shadowy figure who haunts Theo's thoughts?

I love the magic in this book. A ghostly writer haunts the Kaldors house and comforts Theo. I love the hope. Theo rises survives her tough life and even finds ways to grow despite the challenges. I love the connection to reading. Theo loves reading and her ghost friend was also a writer. I'm generally not a fan of finding out a part of a story was just a dream - but in this book it seems to work. I wouldn't say it totally has a happy ending. It has a 'we'll do the best we can' ending. It certainly fits. I love that it is set in BC as well.

Favorite quotes:

P. 224 Cecily:  "I think an open book symbolizes imagination. Only imagination will save people from their narrow, cramped expectations of life-like those my parents had." She chuckled. "But enough of my philosophizing. When you've done nothing but think for forty years you get pretty pedantic. 

P. 244 "Oh, Theo, forgive me - I keep forgetting how young you are. Material is what a writer calls the - the stuff, the ingredients for a good story. Your life may have been awful and it may become awful again. But it makes for a much better story than the Kaldor's easy life. Do you understand?

Theo's head was spinning. "No I don't."

"You will one day. But for now just keep observing the richness you have - Vancouver and Victoria, your mother and your aunt, the Kaldors, ....Watch it, use it. The bad times and the good times, too. If you watch carefully, there are always what I call shining moments, even in hard times - moments of sheer joy, when you're just glad to be alive.

...."Here's what I think Theo. writers are both awake and dreaming. They have to pay attention - to be mindful of all the small things in life, the details, whether ordinary or wonderful or terrible. Then they dream of what they can turn those details into. And if your life gets really difficult, Theo, there are two things you can do. You can force yourself to see people at a distance, like someone in a story. Then they'll lose their power over you, or yiu can make up something better and escape to it."


Abuse - there isn't a lot of abuse in this story. Theo's mom, Rae does hit her though and Theo learns to stand up to her and lets her mom know it is not okay to hit kids.
Addictions - Theo's mom smokes
Canadian Authors - Kit Pearson is a Western Canadian
Chasing Dreams - Theo wants nothing more than to be in a real family
Children - There are many children in this story
Family - Rae separates herself from her family and tries unsuccessfully to be a family for Theo. Her sister helps out. The Kaldor family is a "real" family to Theo.
Friendship - Theo has difficulty making friends sometimes because of the transient life they've led
Ghosts - Cecily, a dead author, becomes a friend to Theo
Homelessness - Theo and her mom move a lot and have times where they're homeless
Imagination - Theo deals with her life by sometimes escaping it into her imagination
LGBQ - Theo has a friend who has two moms
Personal Growth - Theo does a lot of learning and growing as does her mother
Realistic Fiction - A lot of kids live lives like this!
School - Theo attends many different schools due to moving so much

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Quirks: Welcome to Normal (Erin Soderburg)

It is always fun to get in on the beginning if a good series. It looks like I found one!

The Quirks are a family that have magical powers....or quirks. Everyone has a unique quirk - well, except Molly. She doesn't have any quirks at all. Quirks are a problem because it makes them unique, and sometimes kids don't like feeling different. Their quirks have made it difficult to stay anywhere for very long. They have finally moved to new town that they really like and would rather stay than run off when people start getting suspicious of their quirks. However, they have to find ways to fit in and to look normal in Normal.

Although it is a fun and imaginative book, it has issues that many kids think about: fitting in.

P. 139: Molly buried her face and Penelope's pillow and growled. She was frustrated with her family for getting in the way and being so different all the time. She was annoyed with her sister forgiving up. But mostly, she was disappointed in herself make everything work out the way it should.
      She and Pen lay in the dark, listening to the sounds of their coordinated breathing, each girl thinking her own thoughts. As she began to drift back to sleep, Molly thought about something she'd considered 100 times before: Why had the universe or God or whoever is in charge given her no quirks at all while her sister was stuffed so full of magic that she couldn't contain it?
     Penelope fit in with the other Quirks, but she might never fits in outside their house. Molly might never fit in as a Quirk...and because of her family, she was always going to have a hard time fitting in with the outer world, too.
     It just wasn't fair.

There is an epilogue at the end of this book, which leads perfectly into book 2: Quirkus Circus.

Book 3 is due out in January and then book 4 September 2015, according to the author's website.