Peas and Carrots, by Tanita S. Davis

Peas and Carrots, by Tanita S. Davis (Knopf Books for Young Readers , upper MG/YA, Feb. 9, 2016) is the story of two 15-year-old girls, Hope and Odessa, who are forced to live together by fate (in the form of Hope's parents).  Hope's parents took in Odessa's little brother several years ago, and now have opened their home to Dess as well.  Hope and Dess are the same age, and the same gender, but don't have much else in common.  Hope has been loved and cared for by both parents in a comfortably affluent home for all her life, Dess lives in a constant state of anxious stress-- her drug addicted mother is going to testify against her nasty felon of a father, and it's easy for Dess to imagine him coming to take his anger out on her.  So do Dess and Hope form an instant bond and become true sisters to each other easily?  Nope.

Told in the alternating perspectives of the two girls, Dess and Hope navigate their uneasy new relationships with  Dess lashing out with barbed remarks and general hostility, and Hope responding with hurt and resentment.  But as the weeks unfold, Hope find the backbone to zing right back at Dess (though she'll never be in Dess's league), and Dess's hostility fades to the point where instead of taking Hope down, she is encouraging Hope to take chances (with both fashion and boys).

But Dess's fear of her father continues to weigh on her, and when her grandmother has a bad fall, Dess is sure it was her father attacking her.  Dess has not seen her grandmother since she was eleven, when her grandmother refused to offer her and the baby brother a home with her.  They had been close to her before, but all the letters Dess has gotten from her since have sat unread, until now. With the possibility of her grandmother's death very real, Dess reads the letters, and knows she must visit her grandmother, even though running off from her foster home means that she'll now have to fend for herself.

But Hope and her family come through for her, and Dess realizes that she doesn't have to be quite as tough and independent as she's been bracing herself to be all these years.

So it's a book about any number of things, but the book as I read it was a story about growing up and being a teenage girl and navigating friendships with people who aren't like you, and though I, like Hope, looked at Dess with wary eyes, she grew on me, and though, like Dess, I thought Hope was a tad immagure and wet, and needed more self-confidence, Hope also grew on me, and I liked very much reading about the relationship they were able to build.   So even though there are dark and gritty things always present in Dess's mind, the book itself didn't feel like a "problem" novel; it felt warm and friendly.   And the bulk of the credit for this goes to Hope's parents, who are truly lovely and good hearted fictional parents, which makes for a refreshing change!

I also appreciated the casual (by which I mean not emphasized with heavy moralizing) inclusion of issues of body acceptance, religion as meaningful part of Hope's family's life (one they weren't going to force Dess to participate in), and even more so, issues of race.   When I saw the cover, knowing one of the girls shown was a foster kid from a gritty urban background, I assumed it was the black girl.  Which is not the case; Dess is a white girl fostered into a black family.  And this is something that comes, for the characters, as something to be navigated as their own assumptions and the assumptions of outsiders are challenged.  Which in turn nicely challenges the assumptions a reader might be bringing to the story.

What I personally liked best is that Dess is a sewey-crafty sort of person, who can take an old grandma sweater and make it into a fun and flirty dress (for Hope, and it looks great on her, though she can't help but nervously keep trying to pull the short hemline down).  I'm not sure why, but I really like to read about that sort of thing....

So yeah, I enjoyed it lots, which is nice for me because Tanita is a friend of mine and she sent me a review copy, and in such cases it always much more comfortable to be able to say "thank a lot, I really enjoyed it" than not to be able to.

Peas and Carrots teeters between middle grade and YA in feel, making it a good for the seventh or eight grader who is starting to look upward.  There are references to teens doing drugs and drinking, though the kids here don't, and there's teen romance stuff starting to happen, though there's no sex.


This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs (2/7/2016)

Welcome to this week's round up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs! Please let me know if I missed your post.

The Reviews

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrated byTerry Denton, at Sharon the Librarian

The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn, by Sam Gayton, at A Throne of Books

The Alchemist's Theorem, by Margaret R. Chiavetta, at Leaf's Reviews

Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum, by Gregory Funaro, at Fantasy Literature

Behind the Canvas, by Alexander Vance, at Sharon the Librarian

Beyond the Door (Time Out of Time, 1) by Maureen Doyle McQuerry, at The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

The Buccaneer's Code, by Caroline Carlson, at This Kid Reviews Books

Cart and Cwidder, by Diana Wynne Jones, at The Book Smugglers

A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans, by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder, at Word Spelunking

The Dragon's Return (Zodiac Legacy Book 2), by Stan Lee at Barnes & Noble Kids Blog

Escaping Peril, by Tui T.Sutherland, at Hidden In Pages

The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, at Buxton's Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels

Games Wizards Play, by Diane Duane, at BooksForKidsBlog and Barnes & Noble Kid's Blog

The Golden Vendetta, by Tony Abbott, at Boys Rule Boys Read!

The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley, at Tor

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw, by Christopher Healy, at The Book Wars

The Icebound Land, by John Flannagan, at Buxton's Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels

The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge, at School Library Journal

The Night Parade, by Kathryn Tanquary, at The Book Wars and Book Swoon

Quest Maker (The Last Dragon Charmer #2) by Laurie McKay, at Ms. Yingling Reads

The Runaway King, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, at Buxton's Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels

Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, by Patrick Samphire, at Charlotte's Library

The Shadow Thone, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, at Buxton's Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels

Shipwreck Island, by S.A. Bodeen, at Buxton's Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels

Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den, by Aimee Carter, at On Starships and Dragonwings, The Reader Bee, and Barnes & Noble Kids Blog

Space Case, by Stuart Gibbs, at The Book Smugglers

Stopping for a Spell: Three Magical Fantasies by Diana Wynne Jones, at Back to Books

Time Travelling with a Hamster, by Ross Welford, at The Book Smugglers

The Tune Is in the Tree, by Maud Hart Lovelace, at Semicolon

The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons, by Barbara Mariconda, at Leaf's Reviews

Three at alibrarymama--Moon Rising, by Tui T. Sutherland, Valiant, by Sarah McGuire, and The Toymaker's Apprentice, by Sherri L. Smith

Authors and Interviews

Aimée Carter (Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den) at Nerdy Book Club and The Book Cellar

Danika Dinsmore (Narine of Noe), at Dead Houseplants

Jim C. Hines (currently at work on his first MG) on representation at Paranormal

Other Good Stuff

The characters of Harry Potter  have been anime-afied, via Tor

And you've probably already seen J.K. Rowling's new information about her wizarding world

A Wrinkle in Time mapped, at Tor

A Tuesday Ten on Mars, at Views from the Tesseract

There's a kickstarter going to help fund The Worlds of Ursula Le Guin documentary

(I've been blogging for nine years now, and have done this round up over 300 times, which is a lot of work (what with searching through well over a thousand blog posts every week to find the links).  So I went ahead and added the "buy me coffee" button over on the right, though I have conflicting feelings about it....)


In which I express love for A Thousand Nights, by E.K. Johnston

I am late to the party on this one...A Thousand Nights, by E.K. Johnston came out in October, and I feel that many of you all whose blogs I read have already read it and liked it, although I didn't actually read qua read any reviews, because of not wanting any spoilers (which was probably good, because it's very hard to write about this one without spoilers).

So this is a re-imagining of the story of the Arabian Nights, and it pleased me awfully much indeed.

Once there was a shinning young king, Lo-Melchiin, who rode out into the desert.  The thing that rode home again, in that same body, was a monster.  A monster who drew power from the deaths of young women, marrying and murdering wife after wife.  But the newest queen is not like the others.  She stepped forward to be chosen, to save her beloved sister.  And she is not killed.

There in the stone walls of the city she tells stories, not a narrative to entertain her monster husband, but a weaving-together of words and memories as she fills her empty time of waiting with the woman's work of spinning.  And in the desert, her sister is telling a story too, as fiercely and determindly as she can, spinning the tale of a living legend that makes of her sister a smallgod of their people.  And as the prayers to the smallgod queen swell and spread from woman to woman, the force of the telling becomes a force the queen can use to make her own words powerful enough to  defeat the demon possessing Lo-Melchiin.

So basically it's a story of telling and prayer becoming magic, and the words and power and creative work of women, mostly unseen and overlooked by men (including the demon king) are what brings about victory over evil.  It's not a romance; never did the young queen desire the king, which would have been icky because she was clearly aware that he was a viper in human form.  She did believe, though, what the king's mother said, that he had been a good man before, and so we are left with a hopeful future for the two of them.

I just went to Amazon to snag the link, and was curious to see why some people had given this book, which I loved, only two stars.   One problem some people had was that the main character and her family members were not named.  This did not bother me, because I did not realize it until close to the end of the book, when I was starting to think about how I would write about it.  The characters get their main strength and purpose from their relationships to each other; that is the central story of their lives.  So I did not mind the queen's sister just being her sister, and not named, and since I was incrediby absorbed in being right there with the main character it never occurred to me that I didn't know what she was called.  And I think it's kind of fitting that she should have no name that the reader of her story knows, because she is a locus of the being of so many women....

And I just want to say that

--I was glad that there was a place in her story where we could be sure that her father and brothers loved her too, because though sisters are the best, they aren't of course the be all and end all....

--I am not sure why this is categorized as  YA; it didn't feel YA-ish, perhaps because the romance bit didn't happen, although romance shouldn't be a pre-requisite for YA fantasy....I think that people who enjoyed Uprooted by Naomi Novik might like this one too, and that one was marketed for adults, despite having a romance and a similarily  young heroine.....

--It's a diverse read, in that the people of this desert realm are brown skinned, and Johnston sets her story, as is so often the case in Arabian Nights retellings, in an Arabian-esque place and culture.

Final answer--I really really liked this one.  Possibly because I really like books in which the Telling of things matters lots, and possibly because I really like books in which textiles and magic get mixed.


Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, by Patrick Samphire--an exciting adventure on Regency Mars

Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, by Patrick Samphire (Henry Holt and Co., January 2016), is my favorite book of 2016 thus far.  It is the sort of book that renews one's faith that middle grade science fiction/fantasy books can still offer new and wondrous things even for one who has read thousands of them.  The basic premise of the worldbuilding is that there are slip-ways created by Martian dragons long ago that connect Mars to Earth, and the discovery of these paths in the 17th century allowed the British (and other terrestrial civilizations) to establish colonies on Mars. It is now 1816, the Napoleonic era, and a boy named Edward and his family live a very comfortable British Imperial existence on Mars.  The ancient Martian civilizations are no more, although there are still plenty of native Martians around (they are human as well, though physically different due to centuries of life on a planet with lower gravity).  And the tombs of the Marian emperors of centuries past are rich repositories of wondrous technology...the sort of technology that could tip the balance of the ongoing war on Earth in Napoleon's favor if he could get a hold of it....

Edward's father is a brilliant inventor and devisor of mathematical and mechanical constructs.  His most recent project is a wondrous abacus that is essentially a water powered computer, and it has drawn considerable attention--a new map showing the location of an undiscovered Dragon Tomb has been found, but the symbols pinpointing its location are undecipherable, and the new abacus might be able to do it.  And so a disgraced ex-explorer desperate for fame and fortune kidnaps Edward's family, with the exception of himself, his little sister, Putty, and his older sister Olivia.  This villain is planning to force the father to decode the map.  Fortunately Cousin Freddy, who arrived on the scene just before the kidnapper (not a coincidence) isn't the bumbling idiot of his public persona (think Scarlet Pimpernel). And so Freddy, Thomas, Putty, and Olivia set out on a mission to save the family and find the dragon tomb first.

What follows is wild adventure on an alien planet with all sorts of strange flora and fauna, full of steampunkish technology and mechanicals (both helpful and hostile) set in a fascinating British colonial society reminiscent of the British Raj with a dash of regency romance.  The four main characters are all great--poor Edward, though he wants so badly to be a hero, mostly ends up being battered and knocked unconscious, though he has his extremely useful moments of bad guy foiling.  Putty, the little sister, is smart as a tack and as stubborn as a mule, and they would never have made it without her intelligence and determination.  Even Olivia, who never was much regarded by her family (not as pretty as her big sister or as smart as her little one) gets her chance to shine, and is rewarded by the romance part of the story.  And as for Freddy, I am predisposed in the favor of anyone who reminds me of the Scarlet Pimpernel.....

My only complaint is that I wish we'd got to spend more time actually exploring the Dragon Tomb once we got there!  It felt rather rushed; a here we are and look! a mummified dragon, and isn't the technology cool looking glimpse, and then nothing more substantial. 

So I really like it, but am find it tricky to put into words what sort of kid I'd recommend it to.  One who likes spy stories, and adventures on alien planet stories (not that there are many kids exploring alien planet stories these day; perhaps Minecraft comes closest; the cover art reminds me of Minecraft, so perhaps the publisher was thinking along the same lines)...but also one who likes books like Kat, Incorrigable, by Stephanie Burgis, with historical settings mixed with magicalness (I was thinking of Stephanie Burgis' books as I read, and was amused to see that she is the author's wife, who is thanked in the awknowledgements for her help).  I do know that I am able to recommend it to grown-ups who like the same middle grade speculative fiction books I do, which is something....and I also know that I am very much looking forward to the sequel (The Emperor of Mars), and I hope it goes into the culture confict on Mars more than the adventure/danger plot of this first book allowed.


This week's roundup of middle grade fantasy and science fiction (1/31/16)

This was one of those weeks where I didn't get to my blog reader (I use bloglovin) till yesterday, and then after checking 5 posts of over 700 I accidently clicked "mark all as read" and so in order to find the mg spec reviews, I went to each blog on my list individually which took ages and was rather sad, because so many of the blogs I follow are moribund.  So if I missed your post, this would be why, because it was rather difficult to stay focused.....

The Reviews

Beetle Boy, by MG Leonard at The Book Zone (for boys)

Bounders, by Monica Tesler, at The Book Wars and Charlotte's Library

The Cat Who Came in off the Roof, by Annie Schmidt, at Ms. Yingling Reads

The Changeling Sea, by Patricia McKillip, at Fantasy Book Café (more all ages, really, than MG, but I'm always eager to plug McKillip's books!)

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, by Janet Fox, at The Booklist Reader

Criminal Destiny, by Gordon Korman, at Ms. Yingling Reads

The Dragon of Trelian, by Michelle Knudsen, at Read Till Dawn

The Dungeoneers, by John David Anderson, at Semicolon

Fires of Invention, by J. Scott Savage, at This Kid Reviews Books

The Fog Diver, by Joel Ross, at Semicolon

The Goblin's Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice, by Andrew S. Chilton, at Librarian of Snark

Jungle Jim and the Shadows of Kinabalu, by James King, at Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

My Diary From the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson, at Ex Libris

The Night Parade, by Kathryn Tnaquary, at Cracking the Cover

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, at The Children's Book Review

The Ruins of Gorlath (Rangers Apprentice book 1) at Buxton's Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels, and also  Book 2, Book 4Book 5, Book 6, Book 7, Book 8, Book 9, Book 10, Book 11, and Book 12  and then keep scrolling for the first 4 Brotherband chronicles.

Rise of the Wolf, by Jennifer Nielsen, at Read Till Dawn and Cracking the Cover

Secrets of Valhalla, by Jasmine Richards, at Librarian of Snark

Shadows of Sherwood, by Kekla Magoon, at Welcome to ny (New) Tweendom

Vison of the Griffin's Heart, by LRW Lee, at This Kid Reviews Books and Log Cabin Library

Zaia Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood, by Keira Gillet, at Log Cabin Library

Two at alibrarymama--The Forgotten Sisters, by Shannon Hale, and Nomad, by William Alexander

Authors and Interviews

Lisa Papademetriou (A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic) at Cynsations (giveaway)

Margaret Chiavetta (The Alchemist's Theorem: Sir Duffy's Promise), at Nayu's Reading Corner

Keira Gillet (Zaria Fierce series), at Mom Read It

Helen Moss (Secrets of the Tombs series), at Middle Grade Strikes Back

Kandi Wyatt (Dragon's Future) at Carpinello's Writing Pages

Marie C. Collins (A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp), at Carpinello's Writing Pages 

Other Good Stuff

Frances Hardinge's  book, The Lie Tree,  has won the Costa Book of the Year Award.

The Bodleian Library has made a free dowloadable coloring book from its collections


Bounders, by Monica Tesler

Bounders, by Monica Tesler, is a debut middle grade sci fi story that I feel can reasonably be described as a simpler, somewhat watered-down version of Ender's Game for younger readers, in which the characters aren't as formidably smart, and the enemy isn't as immediately apparent.  In this future version of Earth, certain kids have been chosen to be the first class sent to space to train as bounders (which I understand to be a way of travelling vast distances through quantum particle manipulation); they might not be a smart as Ender and co., but they haven't been picked for their IQ scores.  Instead, they have been bred to have the traits of the Autism spectrum, ADDHD, Executive Functioning Disorder, OCD, and all the other non-neurotypicalnesses that are diagnosable these days.  These characteristics had been bred out of the human population, but it turns out that they are just what Bounders need to be successful. 

On Earth, these kids, pejoratively called B-wads, were teased and bullied.  Now they are headed up to a space station, the first class of "recruits" to become bounders.  12 year old Jasper, the main character (attention deficit disorder), and the other four kids in the group he's been assigned to, soon realize that there are secrets they haven't been told, and that there are reasons for the breeding program (and serious ethical questions about it), and reasons why there's a military aspect to the whole operation.   Snooping around and seeing an imprisoned alien from a strange species he's never seen before is a bit of a giveaway.  And then there are the gloves that let the kids manipulate their Bounding abilities, technology that is very different from anything developed on Earth....(the gloves are wicked cool, I must say, dating myself more than somewhat.  I don't think they say "wicked cool" anymore).

I am pretty sure that a nine or ten year old who has never read Ender's Game, and who enjoys speculative fiction school/training mission stories, in which kids are forced to become loyal comrades to each other, will enjoy this one just fine, and am kind of thinking that kids who are aware that they've been labeled with various diagnoses will find it interesting to see the traits that get them into trouble at school, or make it hard to have friends, are valued here (although since it takes a certain amount of introspection to recognize that one has particular traits, and since introspection isn't necessarily strong in lots of quirky kids, this might be a somewhat moot point). 

Because the Bounder kids are such a bunch of quirky misfits, there's a delicate balancing act required to make them people, and not just bundles of characteristics, a balance Tesler doesn't aways manage to achieve.  One character in particular, a girl named Mira, is pretty far along on the Autism spectrum (non verbal, non compliant, no obvious awareness of social norms), but she is almost magical in her fey gifts, so much so that it made me a little squirmish.  Especially when Jasper developed a Special Bond with her, and she became something close to his Magic Pixie Dream Girl. We never get much sense of her as a person apart from her fey-ness.   But Tesler does do a good job showing the strengths of certain non-neurotypical qualities; one character is one of those information gathering type kids, and his attention to fact, to history, and to detail makes him great at military tactics.  And Jasper's own ADD tendencies make intuitive manipulation of reality easier, in as much as reality is kind of optional for him in any event.

I myself enjoy stories of kids in school-type situations (as long as it isn't All about bullying, because bullying is so often not subtle; there is some here, a bit more than I'd have liked, but not enough to have affected my reading experience negatively).  And I like kids in space learning that there's a lot more going on, that's high-level secret and dangerous.  And this is very much a first story of a larger whole, setting the stage and introducing the proponents and the problem I am interested enough to want to keep going--I want to find out more about the aliens, and what is motivating them, and what they are thinking and feeling.

Short answer--not a must read, but not bad.  One for the younger middle grade readers, who have not yet chased aliens into outer space.

Let's see what Kirkus says! I have added my comments in blue.

"While the origin of the Bounders is intriguing (agreed--it's very intriguing), it is not enough to overcome the dodgy science (I am perfectly willing to suspend my disbelief about science, especially in books for young readers who hare my ignorance of the possibilities of molecular resonance and quantum mechanics.  If the science seems more like magic than anything else, that's ok with me), cardboard characters (cardboard is too harsh; see my thoughts above), and meandering plot (the plot of the book I read took me from Point A to Point B with no meanders at all.  I would have welcomed a bit more meander, frankly.  Maybe my idea of a plot meander is different). Slow-moving and lacking tension (well, it is a bit slow to get the "real" action, but sometimes the point of a book is the journey), this is one space adventure that is not out of this world (I'm not saying it's the greatest thing since sliced bread myself, but it is the sort of book I think an adult well versed in similar stories just can't appreciate as much as the target audience can).

(here's what else I think--I think I enjoy using Kirkus as a straw man a bit too much.)


Flashback Four: The Lincoln Project, by Dan Gutman, for Timeslip Tuesday

Dan Gutman needs no introduction for anyone familiar with kids books--the Genius Files, My Weird School, and the Baseball card Adventure series have won him many young fans.  And now he is turning his attention to time travel with Flashback Four: The Lincoln Project (HarperCollins, upper elementary/younger middle grade, February 23, 2016).

So four kids travelling back in time to an important moment in American history (in this case, the Gettysburg Address) isn't that remarkable a premise.  But Gutman, as one might expect, makes it interesting.

This is organized, planned, time travel with high tech science (and lots of funding) driving it.  The four kids receive individual invitations to be part of it (although at first they don't know what the invitations are really for.....).   A solid chunk of the beginning is setting up the whole How and Why and Where of the time travel, a reason is given for why kids were chosen to be the travelers (although there's no reason why these particular kids were picked), and they get coaching on 19th century idioms, food, and clothing.   Their mission is not to change history, but simply to take a photo of Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address--nice and easy.

Except it isn't easy.  They arrive a day early, and one of the team members, Julia, gets somewhat distracted by thoughts of selling souvenirs on ebay, causing difficulties.  They have no food and nowhere to stay.  But they muddle through, and there they are, ready to point and shoot at Lincoln, and then things get really quite tricky when they arrested for attempted assassination.  The tension doesn't last long, though, and they return safe home. 

It's a fun, easy time travel read, good for confidently reading second graders up to fifth grade or so.  It's mostly entertainment, but there are a few little touches of thought provoking comment on the historical context.  For instance, one of the four kids is black, and so we are given his reactions to certain events from the perspective of a position that is more dangerous than that of his white comrades.  The inclusion of actual historical photographs (including one of dead soldiers lying on the battlefield, which is sad but not grotesque) adds educational interest and pleased primary source-loving me.

Definitely one to give to the kid who loved the Magic Tree House books last year.

Disclaimer: ARC acquired from the publisher at ALA Midwinter

Cry of the Sea, by D.G. Driver

Multicultral Children's Book Day is coming 1/27/16! A while back, reviewers like me signed up to be matched with multicultural books, and  links to all the book reviews resulting will start going up on that site today.
My book to read was Cry of the Sea, by D.G. Driver, an upper MG/lower YA mermaid story with an unusual twist--if you love mermaids, but aren't keen on truly fantastical fantasy, or really wild sci fi, and if you like reading about high school social drama and fighting for the environment, this is one you might like lots.
Juniper Sawfeather, like many teenaged girls, is being pressured by her parents.  They assume she will follow in their footsteps as environmental activists, and they ignore her (really immaturely) when she makes efforts to chart her own path toward marine biology. Being roped into all her parents' activism hasn't done much for Juniper's popularity at school, either--the mean beautiful girls, present in full stereotypical force, think she's a looser.
But then Juniper finds mermaids.  When she and her father rush to the scene of an oil spoil on the Oregon coast, there they are, three of them--half fish, half human in appearance, their gills choked with oil.  Two of the mermaids die, but one lives, and Juniper and her father rush the creature to the lab that's bracing to receive the influx of oil spill victims.
Juniper sees a person when she meets the mermaid's eyes, and as she enters the mermaid's tank (in scuba gear) to help clean her off, their minds meet too, not in full on telepathy, but more general communication.  And so when the mermaid mysteriously vanishes from the lab, along with its chief scientist, Juniper is desperate to find out what's happening.
After her video footage of the mermaid goes viral, the popular kids become Juniper's unlikely, and not quite trustworthy, allies, in a confrontation with scientists working for the folks responsible for the oil spill.  Can a bunch of kids use the power of the press (and the internet) to shape what happens to Juniper's mermaid, and others of her kind?

Obviously the mermaids tilt this story into the realm of speculative fiction, but the tone and Juniper's point of view keep it feeling very realistic.   Young environmentalists (I'm thinking eighth graders) will enjoy sharing Juniper's anger at the perpetrators of the oil spill, her fascination with the mermaid, and her nascent relationship with the really cute college intern who seems to be returning her interest very nicely....There's no sex or swearing, so it's appropriate for that age.   The social drama part of the book didn't quite convince me, but may well ring truer for the intended audience.   I myself would have liked more exploration of what sort of creature/person the mermaid actually was; she doesn't actually get much page time.

Apart from generic social awkwardness and environmental activism, Juniper is different from the other kids in that she is half  Native American; her dad is Chinook.   She herself does not identify as Chinook in any meaningful way, nor does the author provide a convincing cultural context or sense of Juniper's identity as a Native person.   As a result, I am not comfortable recommending this book specifically as a window or a mirror into the experience of a Northwest Coast Native teenager.
In Juniper's own words, when her father tells her a "legend of our people" she thinks to herself "I hated to be lectured about my father's people. I felt as much part American Indian as I did part elephant." (p  75)  Bits of information about Chinook identity and culture seemed a bit off to me, and I didn't feel the author had done much in depth research, or talked to any Chinook tribal members. 
Her description of the Potlatch as casting material goods into the water is very odd; this doesn't fit with standard accounts of what the Potlatch is.  Mr. Sawfeather is supposed to be an activist for the tribe but his activism is unspecified;  the Chinook Nation has for the last few years been engaged in an intense struggle for recognition, which would have solidified his identity if that specific had been included.  Also the book ends with a threat to Chinook lands; not being federally recognized, the Chinook Nation has no reservation, so I'm not sure what the "tribal lands" would be.  Kind of minor points, but there was just not enough here to really conventionalize Juniper has a believably Chinook father.
And I found this bit of banter, with the cool beautiful boy who is the romantic interest/hero offensive, more offensive than Juniper does--
"I sighed and rolled my eyes and moved away from Carter enough to be dad-approved.  "Ugh."
"Ah, there's that American Indian in you, Miss Sawfeather," Carter laughed.
I smacked him.  "That I so inappropriate.  I take away your coolness points."
"Sorry," he said, but he was still snickering."  p 85 
Carter gets to keep golden boy status, despite this nasty remark.
My general feeling is that the father's Native American identity is there to add weight to the environmental concerns of the book, and it's more window-dressing than anything else.  So I would not recommend reading this book just for its multicultural aspects; it disappointed me in that regard.

Do head over to the Multicultral Children's Book Day page for more!
Here's a bit more information about it:

The MCCBD team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

The co-creators of  this great event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from /Jump Into a Book

Thanks to all the sponsers:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts; you can visit the links below or see them all  here.

All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share,Educators Spin on it,Growing Book by Book,Imagination Soup,I’m Not the Nanny,InCultural Parent, Kid World Citizen,Mama Smiles,Multicultural Kid Blogs,Spanish Playground

And finally, there is a Classroom Reading Challenge. This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children's book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.

What we could really use some help with is spreading the word to your teacher/librarian/classroom connections so we can get them involved in this program. Here are words you could spread:

Teachers! Earn a FREE #Multicultural Kids Book for Your Classroom! #teachers, #books #teacherlife 

The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free diversity book! #teachers, #books


This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs (1/24/16)

Welcome to this week's round-up; I hope you find lots to enjoy!  You won't find much from me, because I have been in a terrible review slump and the books they are building up something fierce. Please let me know if I missed your post!

The  Reviews

Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum, by Gregory Funari, at Sharon the Librarian

The Blood Guard, by Carter Roy, at Cindy Reads A Lot

Bloodstone, by Allan Bouroughs, at Charlotte's Library

Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley, at Buxton's Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels

Dark Days (Dead City #3), by James Ponti, at Ms. Yingling Reads

 A Frozen Heart, by Elizabeth Rudnick, at Metaphors and Moonlight

Ghost Horse Mystery, by DJ Arneson  and Tony Tallarico, at Views from the Tesseract

The Goblin's Puzzle, by Andrew S. Chilton, at Ms. Yingling Reads and Waking Brain Cells

Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic, by Ursula Vernon, at School Library Journal

Hoodoo, by Ronald L. Smith, at Akossiwa Ketoglo

Keeper of the Lost Cities, by Shannon Messenger, at Destined 4 Weirdness

Monstrous, by MarcyKate Connolly, at On Starships and Dragonwings (audiobook review)

The Night Parade, by Kathryn Tanquary, at Teen Librarian Toolbox

Rise of the Wolf, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, at Read Till Dawn

The Shadow Keeper, by Abi Elphinstone, at Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Shadows of Sherwood, by Kekla Magoon, at Welcome to My (New) Tweendom

The Sign of the Cat, by Lynne Jonell, at Semicolon

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye, by Tania del Rio, at School Library Journal

Young-Hee and the Pullocho, by Mark James Russell, at The Book Wars

Authors and Interviews

Patrick Samphire (Secrets of the Dragon Tomb) at Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 Danika Dinsmore (Narine of Noe) at Laurisa White Reyes

Other Good Stuff

A nice midde grade book list for fans of King Arthur, at Project Mayhem

a Tuesday Ten of spec. fic. Newbery winners at Views from the Tesseract

XKCD is even more brilliant than usual, with this helpful infographic inspired by the possibility of a vast dark ninth planet  (I especially love the "fools planets").


Bloodstone, by Allan Bouroughs

Bloodstone, by Allan Bouroughs  (Pan Macmillan; Main Market Ed. edition, December 1, 2015) is a steampunkish adventure that sends its characters on a dangerous mission to find the lost treasure of Atlantis.  It's the sequel to Ironheart (Sept. 2015), but works just find as a stand-alone.

In a world where the Great Rains have wrecked havoc, a girl named India is apprenticed to great tech-hunter Verity Brown, and together they travel the globe, scavenging for lost technology to sell.  But in Sing City, things go badly wrong.  They've attracted the unpleasant and dangerous attention of Lady Fang, the criminal overlord of the City, and India is falsely accused of attempting to assassinate the leader of an order of Recycling Monks.  When a treasure-seeking zealot antiquarian, Professor Moon, seeks to recruit them on a wild and  impossible mission to find Atlantis in Antarctica, it's their best and fastest way out...but the Monks and Lady Fang are both unpleasantly anxious to track them down, for Professor Moon has come into possession of the monk's piece of an ancient, and powerful, stone--and this piece of the Bloodstone has  magically joined itself to the one he already had.  If the third piece is found and rejoined with the others, it will become the key to unlocking the fabled lost tech of Atlantis that Professor Moon is convinced exists.

So what follows is a madly dangerous trip south, in which India and Verity are pursued by enemies and beset by sea monsters.  And when all three piece of the Bloodstone are rejoined, and "Atlantis" is in fact found, beneath an extinct (?) volcano, things get even more hair-raising, with near-certain death narrowly avoided time and time again.

This is one for older Middle Grade/younger YA readers who love dangerous adventures, in which every twenty pages seems to bring in new ways to die!  Lots of shooting of interesting weapons, lots of desperate attempts to get technology to work, strange creatures and adventures, and a truly extraordinary discovery at the end of it.  The adventures are given a human element by the character of India, who is a truly loyal friend and perseveres bravely despite the odds.

Give this one to fans of the Copernicus Legacy series--they will love it!  It was not exactly my own cup of tea (me not being a frantic danger on every page person, and me also being un-enthused by Oriental villain lady crime bosses like Lady Fang), but even I found it a page turner, especially once the expedition reaches Atlantis.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs (1/17/16)

Here's this week's round-up!  Please let me know if I missed your post.  It is quite possible that I have because I have been poorly and wooly headed.........

The Reviews

The Candy Shop War--Arcade Catastrophe, by Brandon Mull, at The Write Path

The Cat Who Came In Off the Roof, by Annie M.G. Schmidt, at Fantasy Literature

Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate, at Sonderbooks

The Doll People, by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, at Leaf's Reviews

The Forbidden Library, by Django Wexler, at Puss Reboots

The Girl Who Could Not Dream, by Sarah Beth Durst, at Fantasy of the Silver Dragon

Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk, by Liesl Shurtliff, at One Librarian's Book Reviews

Jinx's Fire, by Sage Blackwood, at Rachel Neumeier

The Last Ever After, by Soman Chainani, at The Book Smugglers

Mary Poppins Comes Back, by P.L. Travers, at Log Cabin Library

The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood, at Strange and Random Happenstance

Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman, at Sharon the Librarian

Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DeCamillo, at Educating Alice

Return of the Forgotten (Mouseheart #3), by Lisa Fielder, at Ms. Yingling Reads

The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud, at Fantasy Literature

The Stolen Chapters by James Riley, at Read Till Dawn

A Tale of Highy Unusual Magic, by Lisa Papaemetriou, at This Kid Reviews Books

Time Window, by Kathryn Reiss, at Charlotte's Library

The Wrinkled Crown, by Anne Nesbet, at Charlotte's Library

A passel of MG fantasy from 2015 at Librarian of Snark

Authors and Interviews

Anne Nesbet (The Wrinkled Crown) talks humming at Project Mayhem

Sara Pennypacker (Pax) at SLJ

Other Good Stuff

At Educating Alice, Monica has some scope on Megan Whalen Turner's next book(s)!

There's a petition going to name Element 117 "octarine" in honor of Terry Pratchett; here's more info. at Tor.

"Why the British tell better children's stories" at The Atlantic.  Rather interesting in a somewhat provocative way.

And because book pictures are pretty, here are the books that came home from ALA with me (I a wondering if I am personally drawn to blue and black and brown because of being inherently a melancholy person, or if it was just chance; if anyone else went to ALA and came home with yellow, orange, red and bright green books let me know.....)


Space Dumplins, by Craig Thompson

Why I am reviewing Space Dumplins, by Craig Thompson (GRAPHIX , August 25, 2015, middle grade graphic novel), today (after having it in the house for months):

The Amelia Bloomer Project list was announced yesterday, and as usual it is a great collection of books celebrating girls and women whose lives and choices give us feminist role models.  I was home sick and feverish yesterday when I read the list, and that might be why when, feeling better today (though still poorly), I tidied a pile of books (as one does) and I saw in the pile Space Dumplins, and thought I remembered seeing it on the Amelia Bloomer Project list.  I think my mind had conflated Interstellar Cinderella and Dumplin', which are in fact on the A.B. list.  But in any event, before I realized that it isn't in fact on the A.B. list, I was inspired by my mistake to sit down and finally read Space Dumplins, and did not, in my reading of it, find it lacking in feminism....much in the same way that Zita the Space Girl was an A.B. listed book back in the day. 

So in any event, there will never be a better time than today for me to actually review it, so here I go:

Violet and her mom and dad are a close-knit family, not well off (they live in the intergalactic equivelant of a trailer park) but very loving.  Except that, as is so often the case, the financial thing has made things a bit tense between Violet's parents.  Then her dad, a big tattooed guy who lets Violet drive his space truck equivalent, goes off on a longer term job than usual (he is a harvester of space whale poop, which powers this civilization).  And her mom, a fashion designer, gets a promotion that takes her and Violet up to one of the more elite nodes of residence, a high-falutin space station. 

And then her dad goes missing. 

Violet's mom makes all the calls she can, but no one is interested in helping her (her husband isn't important enough).  So Violet sets off to do the rescuing herself, getting her own space motorbike equivalent in working order and heading off on her father's trail, with two mostly stalwart comrades-a sentient chicken boy and an orphaned alien boy.   Turns out her father's ship has been swallowed by a space whaler, and turns out the rich and powerful were doing some questionable whale experimentation....and then it all turns out alright, yay!  (that was me leaving out lots of plot particulars--this is a longish graphic novel, and there are lots of particulars that add to the story and the world-building).

So--this is the only book for middle grade readers, graphic novel or otherwise, that is clearly about a working class kid in space.  Violet doesn't have the material trappings of the rich girls at the school on the space node where her mother's new job is, and she doesn't get into the school either, because her father's past as a somewhat delinquent youth showed up in the background check.  Her mother is hired for the fashion job on the space station because she'll be able to supply the folksy edge that "her people" (the ones living outside the space stations) have.   And I think it is feminist in the Amelia Bloomer list criteria sense, in as much as Violet has many mechanical and technological skills that are still unfortunately coded as male in our society, and uses them to save her dad.

The illustrations are complex and detail rich, depicting a sort of mad almost steampunk welter of technology, helping carry the story along nicely.

In short, it's easy to recommend Space Dumplins to any fans of Zita the Space Girl, or to any young reader whose looking for wild and whacky adventure in space.  Kirkus agrees with me on this one (I just checked), saying almost exactly the same things:

"Thompson's art is wild and busy, with overcrowded, unconventional panel structures. The worldbuilding is a strikingly imaginative pastiche that seamlessly blends biblical references, poop jokes, and social satire. Fans of Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl series should gravitate to this offering.
A weird and wonderful intergalactic tale."

And when Kirkus and I agree, they are almost always right, so there you go (although there weren't exactly "poop jokes" so much as running (as it were) references to space whale diarrhea, so don't be put off by Kirkus' suggestion that there's lots of potty humor).

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher at BEA (I think).


Time Windows, by Kathryn Reiss, for Timeslip Tuesday, with bonus Time Travel book ID question from a reader

There are a whole slew of 2016 YA time travel books coming down the pipeline, and I actually got a few up at ALA midwinter, but it's still a bit aways from their publication dates, so I grabbed one of my TBR shelf at home for this week's Timeslip Tuesday--Time Windows, by Kathryn Reiss (1991).

Miranda and her parents are excited to  move into a big old house that's been sitting empty for ages, and she's pleased to find in the attic a lovely dollhouse that is a replica of the actual house.  She looks into the house through its windows, and sees and hears former inhabitants of the real thing going about their lives!  Miranda passes hours of each day watching their goings on, and learns that there are two families that keep appearing, one from the 19th century and one from the mid-20th century.  The mother in the 19th-century family is beautiful but terribly cruel to her little girl, Dorothy.  And (this is the scary part), the cruel-ness of that long ago mother is haunting the house.  Miranda watches the mid-20th century mother get infected, changing from a gentle loving mama to a hateful abusive one and, even more horribly, she watches her own mother (who she calls Mither, which I didn't care for) start quoting practically verbatim the words of the first evil mother, and starting to behave just like her too. 

Miranda, with the help of the cute boy next door, finds the reason why the infection of maternal mother clings to the house, and things tilt somewhat to horror when she and the boy find out what happened to little Dorothy.  It is rather creepy and horrible.   Fortunately Miranda is able to use the magic of the dollhouse to set things right, and all the bad stuff with her mother gets overwritten with the good mother stuff that should have been there from the beginning.

So this is an interesting time slip experience; Miranda is almost entirely a passive viewer of the past, until right at the end when she actually sends an object back in time.   I found the premise pleasing, especially the historical detective story aspect of it, and the horror aspects of the whole experience, in which time slip is combined with haunting, worked well.  Miranda was neither a compelling nor dis-compelling heroine; she wasn't, in and of herself, that interesting, and it struck me as really implausible how the neighbor boy falls hard for her almost at first sight, and how both of them start taking it for granted that he'll be hugging her and taking her to the movies.  Most girls, even if they are involved in time slip mysteries of horror, have a few thoughts to spare for the boy that's hugging on them, but Miranda just takes it for granted....

Final though--not bad, definitely creepy, probably won't ever re-read, though I bet I would have if I'd read it when I was 11 or so.

Bonus Time Trave Book ID Question:

A blog reader just sent me the following request for book id help, which I was unable to provide:

"I read the book in question while in middle school...so it would have been
 published before 1991. I think the main character was a boy. He is staying
 at some sort of old home-a castle? He visits a room in the attic or tower
and from there is able to slip through a wall? door? mirror? back in time-I
 think to medieval England. There may be another character, an older
 gentleman who is caring for him?

Any thoughts?


The Wrinkled Crown, by Anne Nesbet

Yay!  I have written a review, despite writing it in the same living room as two adolescent boys stressed about school work and breathing at each other in aggravating ways, followed of course by whacking each other etc.  I hate winter because we all end up in the room with the wood stove.  Clearly we need a second wood stove in another room far far away (like someone else's house).  So in any event I am very glad to have written about a book despite everything!  Especially glad to have written about a book I enjoyed, because it frets at me when I don't get to writing about books I think deserve to be written about....

And so-- The Wrinkled Crown, by Anne Nesbet (HarperCollins, November 2015).

Linnet's story starts up in the Wrinkled Hills, where the twisty landscape holds magic, and where girls aren't allowed to play, or even touch, the stringed instrument known as the lorka before they turn 12 because if they do, they will be taken off by the magic to Away.   Linnet knew this perfectly well, but it didn't stop her from making one for herself- her wanting was to great for caution to hold her back.   But the magic twists itself, and instead of Linnet being taken, her best friend's spirit is instead.  Her fading body is all that's left.

Linny's mother came from the city down below the Wrinkled Hills, where the twistiness of magical  foldedness met the straight and level Plains that could be surveyed and measured nicely.  She thinks it's possible that the sister she left behind when she adventured into the hills might have a remedy that will bring Linny's friend back.  So down out of the hills Linny goes...accompanied by Elias, her father's apprentice in lorka making  (whom Linny doesn't much care for, since he got to learn instrument making above board and with encouragement, and she didn't.)

There in the city divided between magic and science Linny finds herself greeted as if she stepped out of a legend.  And, while narrowly avoiding being used by a whole score of people with different ideas of how a living legend might be useful, she actually does what the Legendary "Girl with a Lourka" was supposed to do...

But being a Chosen One of Destiny was not why Linny came to the city in the first place, so she continues to search for her aunt, who is out even further from the magical hills of her home.  And there are fresh dangers and excitements, and there's the whole question of whether a "cure" for magic is a good thing or not,  but it's clear that it's a really good thing in the end that Elias came too, and it is also a really, really good thing that Linny has been adopted by a most extraordinary cat (a great cat, both sciency and magicy!) and in any event that's the gist of it.

So this is an interesting story of magic vs. science, but the "vs." part isn't there in Linny's mind because she can appreciate both, so it's also a story of appreciating different perspectives on reality.    And it's about factions trying to use legend to gain power.   It's not tremendously subtle political intrigue, and so that part of the book on its own isn't quite quite strong enough to make me throw the book eagerly in the direction of grownups who like MG fantasy (although it's pretty much just right for ten-year-olds).   But mostly the book is about a brave girl with very interesting magical and musical gifts (and a very interesting cat friend!) being clever and determined, and this I enjoyed very much, and so I happily can recommend The Wrinkled Crown very nicely indeed to both the target audience and to grown-ups who like the same sort of MG fantasy as I do.

(final thought--my 12 year old son is aging out of MG and is reading YA now.  Which I guess was bound to happen.  But I would have given him this one in a second two years ago, and now am not sure that it would grab him...which makes me a bit wistful.)

(second final thought--I always appreciate girls who take delight in sewing and make it something magical, because I rather like embroidery and get cross when we don't let girls do it anymore because they have to be off climbing trees or doing other "boy" stuff.  So I really liked that Linny's friend who gets magiced away is an extraordinary embroiderer, and that one thing she sewed is absolutely lovely and magical  and also a very useful thing for Linny to have taken down to the non-magic world).


This week's round-up of middle grade fantasy and science fiction from around the blogs (1/10/16)

Here's me back from Boston with a slew of books, finishing up this week's round-up.  I accidently marked about fifty posts in bloglovin read by accident, so if you don't see yours here, that's what might have happened to it.

And now that I have EVEN MORE Books in my house to read, I had better get cracking on writing some reviews (I had two this week, but for B. and N., not from my own list of books to review....)

The Reviews

Beetle Boy, by M.G. Leonard, at Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley, at Geo Librarian and The Children's Book Review

Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate, at Next Best Book

The D'evil Diaries, by Tatum Flynn, at The Bookshelf Gargoyle

Ennara and the Fallen Druid, by Angela Myron, at Cover2CoverBlog

Escaping Peril, by Tui T. Sutherland, at the Barnes and Noble Kids Blog

The Girl Who Could Not Dream, by Sarah Beth Durst, at A Backwards Story

The Goblin's Puzzle, Andrew S. Chilton, at Pages Unbound Reviews

The Hollow Boy, by Jonathan Stroud, at Leaf's Reviews

Into the Waves, by Kiki Thorpe, at the Barnes and Noble Kids Blog

The Last Bogler, by Catherine Jinks, at BookForKidsBlog

The Mad Apprentice, by Django Wexler, at Middle Grade Strikes Back

The Night Parade, by Kathryn Tanquary, at Me On Books, In Bed With Books,  and The Bookshelf Gargoyle

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, by Jackson Pierce and Maggie Stiefvater, at Jean Little Library

Renegade Magic, by Stephanie Burgis, at Strange and Random Happenstance

Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, by Patrick Samphire, at Random Musings of a Bibliophile

Star Wars--The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, at Boys Rule Boys Read

Switch, by Ingrid Law, at Destined 4 Weirdness

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones, at Kitty Cat at the Library

Two at Great Kid Books--Diary of a Mad Brownie, and Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures

Two at Ms. Yingling Reads--Bounders, by Monica Tesler, and The Stone Warriors, by Michael Northrup

Two at alibrarymama--I'm With Cupid and Shadows of Sherwood

Authors and Interviews

Gregory Funaro (Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum) at The Hiding Spot

Other Good Stuff

Frances Hardinge has won the 2015 Costa Children’s Book Award for her book, The Lie Tree

I made a list of great books on the care and keeping of magical creatures, at the Barnes and Noble Kids Blog

Star Trek Forever!  May our mail keep going boldly with these new stamps.

This week's MG Sci fi/fantasy round up will be rather late today

I am trying hard to get out of the house and up to ALA in Boston; I'll get the round up up when I get back this evening (d.v.)


Until We Meet Again, by Renee Collins, for Timeslip Tuesday

If you love Time Travel romance, with the two beautiful characters sitting on the knife edge of "will they be able to be together or will Time always separate them?" and if you are prepared to forgo any critical mindset with regard to insta love that somehow in a matter of days leads to a relationship of Utter Meaningfulness and if you don't mind a sort of cheesey secondary plot thrown in involving the mob and extortion, and if you think that rich spoiled kids are just the sort of people you want to imagine yourself being/falling in love with This is a Book For You!  Sadly, Until We Meet Again, by Renee Collins (Sourcebooks Fire, YA, November 2015), is not for me.

Cassandra slips through time back to the 1920s when she goes down to the beach one moonlight night, and there she meets her insta love Lawrence, who happily insta loves her right back.  When they figure out that they are not in fact co-temporaneous, and that the only place their two times overlap is this piece of beach, they are naturally distressed.  They become even more distressed when Cass looks Lawrence up in the archives of the local library and finds out he is about to be murdered.  (The fact that they've already changed time enough so that someone has died who in the original timeline did not die distresses them briefly, but not enough so that they are willing to stop seeing each other).  So Cass and Lawrence in their own time try to figure out who will kill him and how to stop it, and lo!  Lawrence discovers that his uncle is involved in shady dealings with the mob.  And lo!  Cass's mother discovers her daughter is sneaking off to the beach at all hours to canoodle with a strange guy (the time travel is not exclusive to Cass).  Everyone is distressed.  But the real distresses for Cass and Lawrence is wondering if they can ever make their dream of beautiful love forever become reality (the beach is getting old.  They'd really like to get a room). 

So it was kind of interesting to see dude from the 20s meet girl from the teens.  But it didn't work for me.  I found myself wit a basic inability to accept that Cass and Lawrence were at all interesting and a basic inability to believe in their Young Love:

--I was annoyed at Cass's mother being a real bad parenting piece of work and shoving preppy dude Brandon at her and making plans for the two of them when she is clearly uninterested:

Brandon offers to go home, but "I don't think so," Mom says.  She steps out of Brandon's line of sight and gives me a stern, why-are-you-being-so rude look.  "Brandon's been waiting almost an hour for you.  Whatever you have to do can wait until tomorrow." Cass did not invite Brandon over, he just showed up.  And now she has to entertain him just because he's there?  No.  I was annoyed at Cass too for not just saying no to her mom and to Brandon. Pretty feeble.  It's all a set up for Brandon to be a potential suspect because of jealousy in the murder that hasn't happened yet.

--I do not think that even in the 1920s a guy would say to a girl "Faye. Talk to me.  Tell me why you're being this way.  Is it...lady troubles?"  What? Faye has been coming on strong to him in the sexy dept. and then attacking him when she's rejected, and he thinks that "lady troubles" might explain it?  And not something to do with "the muscular Italian fellow" who's been staring at them intently and clearly agitating Faye?

--Lawrence, a would-be poet, got on my nerves lots with his poetic thoughts. 
"I want to lie beside her in my bed and take her in my arms as we fall asleep to the serenade of crickets.
My breath trembles at these yearnings I cannot quell."  I cannot stand trembling yearnings of unquellable-ness.  Makes me twitchy,

So nope, not one for me, but you don't have to take my word for it.  Kirkus disagrees with me, for instance, calling it "Suspenseful, poignant, and romantic: well worth the read."

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