The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

I basically read this because I wanted to add it to the school collection. Tabby was also reading it. I really liked this and will definitely recommend it to people who like Olive’s Ocean, Summer of the Gypsy Moths, Love Aubrey, and other books of that ilk.
Suzanne’s friend dies by drowning over the summer. Since school started Suzanne hasn’t spoken and is, of course, in therapy. In flashbacks we find out that it’s not just that she is grieving Franny’s death-she’s also grieving Franny’s friendship. Before Franny died things were not good between the two of them. In fact, I was pretty shocked at how awful Franny turned out to be. And equally shocked by Suzanne’s response. But Suzanne was more understandable-she’s a quirky girl and that does not go over well with mean girl types. My heart was truly breaking for Suzanne. There are definitely some typical story elements here–the kind understanding teacher, the other outsider who turns into a friend, etc. What I liked so much in this story were the slightly different elements-Suzanne’s fixation on jellyfish, her research, and her ultimate (misguided, sad) plan.

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All Summer Long by Hope Larson

I love the cover of this graphic novel-just right for a summer story.

I feel like possibly more often in books than in real life are there these amazing boy-girl friendships. They struggle a bit during adolescence, but soldier on even when they boy or girl gets a boyfriend/girlfriend. They seem so prevalent that I was always surprised I didn’t have an amazing boy best friend.
Things I liked about this: the way it’s set up into weeks. They way small panels conveyed how bored Bina was without her next door/best friend forever/Austin.  The way Bina knows she is not longing to fit in, but is feeling a certain 13 year old itchiness. I also really liked how her family was so easily conveyed by small scenes.

One things I did not care for was the style of drawings of the people.
Overall good, and Tabby read it first and told me she really liked it.

Luvvy and the Girls by Natalie Savage Carlson

Yesterday afternoon I had a friend over and we were looking at some of my old cherished children’s books. I told her all about this one, as it was one of the first boarding school books I read and I loved it very much. After she went home I picked it up and ended up just quickly reading the whole thing. Guess what? Just as good as I remembered. And I’m going to say, although I often laugh at the old fashioned books, I can see from my adult point of view that it was a really good book. Although it’s set in 1915 it was written in 1971.
The things I so vividly remembered about the book were all there–fascinating cloistered nuns, strict rules, a poor homely orphan, and a goody goody.  Objectively speaking, it’s a good story about a girl going away to school, being homesick, figuring out who her friends are.
One thing I think I had not noticed until yesterday is that the girls in the story have the last name Savage and the dedication is to the Pupils of the Frederick Academy of Visitation, which is the convent school in the story and Savage is the author’s middle name. So now I’m convinced that her family really did go to this school and it’s not entirely fictitious but based on family stories and actual events. Perhaps the girls really did march by two on a long trek to a cemetery to gather violets. Perhaps they were allowed to spend a nickel each Saturday on ice cream cones and pickles (Pickles really seem to have been a popular snack in the olden days. At least according to this and All of a Kind Family.)

Pleased to say this held up and was just as enjoyable.

UPDATE! As I wrote this and then logged it on to Goodreads my mind has been blown. Because of the way Goodreads identifies things as part of a series they are calling this The Half Sisters #2.  That means there were MORE BOOKS ABOUT LUVVY (and her half sisters.)  What a shame I never knew this as a child (and how would I? the books weren’t labeled on the cover as part of a series and if it wasn’t on the shelf at my library I didn’t know about it. No following of authors on social media. Forthcoming new titles were not promoted. If it wasn’t at our library, I didn’t know about it.) Obviously I will be looking for the other titles now.

The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall

sigh……….I love the Penderwicks so much. I’m sad to say good-bye to them, but this was really a very lovely and fitting conclusion to the series. This book and the previous one kind of threw me for a loop with the leap ahead in time and change in focus on characters. I loved Skye, Jane, and Rosy so much that it was strange to have them become minor characters.

As befits a series ending, though, there were plenty of details that went back to those first books, starting with the setting–Arundel, where it all began! And for a most exciting occasion-Rosy’s wedding! What a treat to see them back there and listen to them rediscover it. Birdsall managed to not only find a good conclusion to the oldest siblings’ story, but to make me believe that even though there won’t be any books about it, I can imagine the next chapters of the younger siblings’ lives.

 

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

I loved this. What a beautiful story and so many great things to think about. This is a terrific example of literature for children that can bring up big questions, that can be thoughtful, that can be beautifully written, and still be exciting and engaging and child-friendly. This picks up shortly after the end of The Wild Robot with Roz having been refurbished and sent out to do more traditional robot work. This books shows the reader a lot more of what this future world is like and just how integral robots are to it and how advanced they are. Roz winds up on a dairy farm and makes her first human friends. Roz is so conflicted in this book and struggles with her essential question “Where do I belong?” This was a really wonderful sequel with a very satisfying ending.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Why on earth didn’t I read this when it was first published?! I even checked it out at the time and it didn’t “grab my attention” so I sent it back. Well, I ordered both this and its new sequel for the library and they arrived last week. On Friday morning I had a small group of students and decided to do something a bit different with them-we sat on the carpet and I cracked this open and read aloud. No discussion-just plunging in. The kids loved it and so did I. I took it home to finish it without them. I really don’t understand my hesitation last time, because I was totally caught up in the story and loved seeing the robot seem to have emotions and fit in with the animals and natural landscape and it got very exciting at the end and it was sad and emotional and just all around great. One good thing about waiting until now is that I have the sequel at the ready to read. This was just a lovely, lovely, weird story.

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green

A novel in verse and also an award winner this year. I figured that I could read this pretty quickly and that it might be the kind of book that would need a bit of recommending to get students to read, so I brought it home. I really enjoyed this. Macy is a likable character and it’s completely understandable how she feels overwhelmed and confused about her mom’s impending marriage. Instead of it just being the two of them she will be gaining a stepdad and two little sisters and moving into a new house. Macy also happens to be deaf. I liked how the author indicated which words were being signed having them in bold type. The “rainbow goddess” of the title is Iris, her elderly next door neighbor. Iris is also about to move and Macy is helping her pack-mostly her book collections. I, of course, loved Iris telling Macy about Anne of Green Gables and other books I know and love.
Lots of emotions, family issues, and realistic kid behavior.