Doll Bones was on my list this week to read since it was the last of this years Newbery Award books that I had not read. Black did a wonderful job of pulling us along with her three characters as they created or were pushed into the adventures of the Queen. She walked that very thin line between magic and childhood fantasy. It was hard to tell which was at play in this book. I loved that she kept the possibility of magic alive through out the book.
It would be a wonderful fall read aloud or part of an author study. Her writing style is clear and simple – one that would be good for middle grade students to think about and model. I love the easy use of conversation between Zach, Polly and Alice.
I jumped from fantasy and magic to realistic fictions with religious connections. The Garden of my Imaan by Farhana Zia was being talked about in my adult children’s book group. (Chapter and Verse sponsored by Children’s Literature Network) I found this book interesting to read as it highlighted the push and pull for young Muslim girls as they are coming of age. Do you wear a hijab? Do you fast while at school? How do you share your families faith and customs with your friends?
Zia works hard to create a more universal conversation about being an individual and owning your own beliefs and customs. There is the topic of bulling, struggling with school work and making friends.
We discussed the issues of this book and if we feel it would be a book for our Muslim girls. (It has hints of Are you there God, it’s me Margaret? by Judy Blume) As teachers we are always seeking books that are mirrors and windows for the lives of our students. I had so hoped that this might step into that category but I have some concerns about what the Samoli parents might think. The main character is very western and although she is moving towards her religion her family is still very secular. ( I plan to share this will some Samoli teachers and see how they feel about it. I will let you know what I find.)
The child on the cover is again white and yes white girls are Muslim but it is clear in the story that these girls have deeper skin tone. Why are we afraid to place children of color on the front of a book?
I also had mixed feeling about the age this book was targeted towards. The writing style appears to reach towards a younger age but the topics the girls discuss seem a bit older. It is alway hard to navigate that writing space between 4th graders and 6th or 7th graders.
All said I would still add this book to my classroom collection. It is a topic not covered in children’s literature and it is a beginning to filling in the hole. I am excited to see where Zia will go as she continues to write.
My last read of the week was We were Liars by E. Lockart. This gem will be release in May of this year and I don’t know what to say. It is a great story, I loved the characters and hated the characters and I could not have predicted the ending at all. I am good at puzzles and mysteries and this one took me by surprise. A well to do family spends time on the private family island for the summer. It is family drama, relationships, wealth and cultural expectations.
It is a story that I just can’t tell you about because – you just need to read it to find out what happens. Not at all what I expected! A good Young Adult read!