book review

Book Raves

Braced: Book Rave

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In her seventh grade year, Rachel Brooks plans to start on her school’s soccer team, hang with her best friends and maybe get a boyfriend. She doesn’t plan to wear a hard plastic back brace twenty-three hours a day that stretches from her shoulders to her hips.

Rachel nbracedeeds the brace to prevent the curve in her spine, caused by scoliosis, from getting worse. She understands how important it is, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the brace changes everything. Wearing clothes, playing soccer, even hanging with her friends become new and daunting challenges. To make matters worse, her mother doesn’t seem to understand why she’s having such a hard time adjusting to life in the brace.

Readers will ache as Rachel confronts cruelty at school, misunderstandings at home and disappointments on the soccer field. Author Alyson Gerber has crafted an honest, realistic, funny voice that will draw readers in and keep them rooting for Rachel till the very end. Particularly poignant are the complicated relationships that Gerber draws between Rachel and her mother and Rachel and her best friends.

An important book about finding inner strength even in difficult situations.

Book Raves

The Poet’s Dog: Book Rave

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Teddy, a dog, lives in a cabin in the woods with his best friend, Sylvan, a poet. Sylvan reads him stories every night, so many stories that he learns how to talk. But, although Teddy can talk, only special people can hear him, i.e. children and poets. Teddy is happy in his cabin with Sylvan, until one day Sylvan gets sick.

A quiet tale about the healing power of friendship, The Poet’s Dog manages to be poignant, heartbreaking and heroic all in under ninety pages. This is a perfect winter read, especially for me, since my life dream is to live in a cabin in the woods with my dog and write 🙂

Book Raves

Bone Dog: Book Rave

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Bone DogThis Halloween, I rediscovered one of my favorite picture books, the whimsical, heartbreaking Bone Dog by author/illustrator Eric Rohmann.

One night under a full moon, Gus’s faithful dog and best friend, Ella, tells him she’s getting older, but promises to be with him no matter what happens. Ella passes away soon after, leaving Gus so sad he never wants to leave the house. When Halloween comes around, however, he pulls on his costume and sets off trick-or-treating by himself. The spread showing Gus standing alone in a graveyard holding his candy hits especially hard, due to Rohmann’s muted colors, beautifully stylized imagery and evocative phrases like, “The clouds swallowed the moon.”

Gus’s loneliness is interrupted when a band of wise-cracking skeletons rise from their graves to surround him. They invite him to join them in a raucous danse macabre, until they figure out that he’s not a real skeleton, just a boy in costume, and they decide to eat him instead.

Just as silhouetted skeleton fingers reach across the page to snatch Gus, Ella, now the Bone Dog, descends from the sky surrounded by an ethereal glow. With Ella’s help, Gus frightens off the skeletons, and the two friends return to the same moonlit hill they sat on when Ella was dying. When Gus asks if he’ll ever see Ella again, she repeats that “a promise made under a full moon cannot be broken,” and readers know that she’ll be with Gus always, if only in spirit.

This is a perfect, subtle, simple and yet expansive book on finding solace and wonder in the death of a beloved pet. Like all great storytellers, Rohmann helps readers understand and transcend one of life’s most distressing situations.