Happy book birthday to these middle grade books making their rounds through our reviewers!
Thank you to @kidlitexchange for providing the review copies of these books. All opinions are our own.
THE BRIDGE HOME by Padma Venkatraman
(February 5th 2019 ~ Nancy Paulsen Books)
Photo and Review by Michelle ~ originally on Instagram @mleonardwrites
Eleven-year-old Viji and her younger sister Rukku quickly discover how vulnerable they are when they run away from their abusive father and try to make a home for themselves in the streets of Chennai, India. The sisters find friendship in two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, and share an abandoned bridge with them for shelter. Viji is a great storyteller, and though they must spend their days scavenging through discards for food and trash to turn into recycling treasure, they imagine themselves a very good life indeed, especially since they no longer have to rely on untrustworthy adults. But then illness strikes, and Rukku and Muthi are both dangerously sick. Viji must decide if she is willing to risk sacrificing their hard-fought independence by seeking help from adults.
THE BRIDGE HOME was like a magnet in my hand. I couldn’t put it down; I read with urgency, caring for the children and delighting in the fullness of their lives and their friendship. Though they were living in the most extreme of poverty, the richness of their close, deeply-loving companionship and ability to confront difficulties shone brilliantly through the story. It’s nothing short of a miracle that the author described the caste system, child labor, and homelessness, yet reading the story seems luminous and extravagant. The writing is beautiful, the storytelling is masterful, rich with characters who became friends, a vivid and sensory-filled setting, and a deeply-satisfying plot that became an unforgettable experience. This story devoured my heart whole.
THE BRIDGE HOME is Padma Venkatraman’s MG debut, and I hope she has many more stories like this to share with young readers. The story makes for an excellent classroom read for those 10+. For sensitive readers, THE BRIDGE HOME would make a good read-together book so that the tough problems that are so stirring to the heart can be discussed with a sympathetic ear.
PAY ATTENTION CARTER JONES – by Gary D. Schmidt
(February 5th 2019 ~ Clarion Books)
Photo and Review by Katie ~ originally on Instagram @texasreadergirl
“Have a good day, young master Carter,” said the Butler. “Make good decisions and remember who loves you.” I looked at him. “I thought it was ‘remember who you are.’” The Butler looked back at me. “It is the very same thing,” he said.
This book is why I read middle grade. I honestly had no idea what it was about going in, but it’s Gary D. Schmidt, so it didn’t matter. And I’m so glad I didn’t because the synopsis really doesn’t do it justice. It’s about a boy, and his family, and his father who’s deployed, and cricket, but it’s really much more than the sum of its parts. I’ll say this: I had no idea the game of cricket could be so riveting, or such an apt metaphor for life. I’ll also say this: this book is exquisite, and I love it so very, very much. Just trust me and add this to your TBR ASAP. This comes out in February and I highly recommend ordering it today!
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