Welcome to the November 2020 round up. During November, we had sixteen reviews in the children’s and younger readers’ category – and only two reviewers! I know I always have a fair few in this category but was quite surprised that there was only one other reviewer – Veronica at the Burgeoning Bookshelf. We had five reviews in the young adult category from five different reviewers in November, making twenty-one in all for younger readers, which I think is our average for the year. It is interesting that whilst books for children’s and younger readers have had high review numbers so far this year, young adult has not – perhaps there is something more foreboding and uneasy in some young adult fiction, and people are finding more comfort in books for younger readerships. I have a few Young Adult books I want to read in what is left of this year if I can – otherwise, there’s always 2021!
In Children and Younger Readers, Veronica at the Burgeoning Bookshelf and I were the key participants. I read and reviewed fifteen – with many on the pile to get through for November. Veronica reviewed Come Home Ella, a story that helps teach younger children about the reality of premature babies, and the emotions that families deal with when this happens to them. As it is written through the eyes of a child, it is simple, and as Veronica says, hopeful, and gives enough information to help young children understand but not overwhelm them.
When it came to the other reviews logged, this month, quite unexpectedly, they were all from me – I had hoped that as in previous months, there would have been others to choose from and spread out the love a bit. Anyway, I’ll have to include a few of my own reviews! But which ones?
Let’s start with picture books. Lately, I have also been reviewing books for Scholastic, with the goal to being back at quiz writing in the new year. November was a bumper month for picture books to review from them, and one that stood out for me was Pandemic by Jackie French. I’ve loved Jackie’s books for 21 years, and appreciate the way she explores history, using the bigger backdrop of wars, colonialism, plagues and so many other things – between all her books, I think she has covered it all. Jackie takes a big event, and writes about it through the eyes of normal, everyday people, and in particular, women. In Pandemic, she focuses on family stories of what her grandparents went through in the years after World War One, after what was known as the Spanish Flu ripped across the world with the returning soldiers. It is a poignant book that uses an historical event to mirror what is going on now and remind us that just like the pandemic of a hundred years ago, we will eventually get through this one. It helps children understand that this has all happened before, and all will eventually be okay – we just need to be patient.
The second book I’m choosing to include is Ella at Eden: Musical Mystery, a fun addition to the latest Ella at Eden series from Scholastic, by Laura Sieveking. This was a lovely break from some of the heavier reading I’ve been doing that has dealt with tough subjects, or where the characters deal with complex issues that the reader needs time to process. I have been reading the Ella at Eden books since they first came out, and found this one very exciting, and fits in well with the characters.
In young adult books, we have seen a steady trickle of four or five reviews each month for the past few months, and someone always reads and reviews Anna Whateley’s Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal, which is exciting as we watch this #OwnVoices author achieve great things.
So one of the reviews I want to include here is A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson. Emily speculates on whether the character Is autistic or perhaps just very observant, and says that the convoluted mystery makes sense, and works as a Young Adult mystery. Emily recommends it for a light and fun read, with quirky characters.
The second book I am including was reviewed by Brenda Telford at Goodreads. Brenda read and reviewed The Wall Between Worlds by Ruth Fox, which Brenda says as the final book in the Bridges trilogy is a great finish, and that people must read this trilogy in order to truly appreciate the story, and is a great fantasy trilogy for those who enjoy fantasy.
That’s it for November, and next time I see you will be in January with the all year wrap up!