Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
|This AWESOME photo was seen on Frankie's site...check it out!|
So, today we're taking on the world, one Middle Grade book at a time with Candlewick Press! First up, a reminder that we have this SUPER STELLAR AMAZING CONTEST GOING ON RIGHT NOW where you can win ONE of FIVE prize packs featuring NINE galleys of their upcoming titles...but it all ends AUGUST 10th! There, now that THAT's out there, let's talk about the two titles we're focusing on today...
Of the two titles on deck today, one celebrated its book birthday in June, while the other hits shelves (virtual and otherwise) tomorrow...and while both were amazing in their own right, one had to go first, so eenie-meanie-miney-moe, let's take a look at the new kid (as of tomorrow) on the block...
Jennifer Richard Jacobson
About the book...
Twelve-year-old Lowen Grover, a budding comic-book artist, is still reeling from the shooting death of his friend Abe when he stumbles across an article about a former mill town giving away homes for just one dollar. It not only seems like the perfect escape from Flintlock and all of the awful memories associated with the city, but an opportunity for his mum to run her very own business. Fortunately, his family is willing to give it a try. But is the Dollar Program too good to be true? The homes are in horrible shape, and the locals are less than welcoming. Will Millville and the dollar house be the answer to the Grovers’ troubles? Or will they find they’ve traded one set of problems for another? From the author of Small as an Elephant and Paper Things comes a heart-tugging novel about guilt and grief, family and friendship, and, above all, community.
When a family buys a house in a struggling town for just one dollar, they’re hoping to start over — but have they traded one set of problems for another?
This is a story about the "all mighty" dollar, or rather how far it can take you when given the chance. Problem is GETTING that chance is a whole other ball of wax...
Be honest. What would you think if someone in your neighborhood bought a home for ONE DOLLAR? I mean, it's a fixer upper to say the VERY least, but they pretty much own the home scott free minus that dollar. It sounds AWESOME, but there's always a catch (or twenty) when something sounds too good to be true. Just for starters, it'd be hard for many to not look down on them, either because they assume they are poor, riffraff, or simply looking for the easy way out in life. Then there are others that may resent the fact that THEY had to pay regular price for their own homes, even though they are situated in the same area, and going through their own struggles. Never mind the fact that the families buying into this deal are having to pay for all the rework out of their own pockets. Push aside the fact that the new families very presence is to help bring new life to their failing little town. Ignore completely the fact that without the children in these new families not only do their sports teams fail to meet the required number of players, but they'd have to shut down their local school and bus them elsewhere. Yeah...none of these things matter in the grand scheme of things though, do they?
I really liked how this story was tackled and not only the issues of the financial security, but also the even more personal side of things that each family was dealing with. We have the ones who moved from Hawaii to start a better life, the female couple wanting to settle their children into small town life for the community it brings, and at the center of it all, the Grover's, though they'd love to be anywhere but in the center of things. The family is making a go of it not simply to find a better life, but to allow their son, Lowen, a chance to move on away from the heartache and bad memories that haunt him. Thing about haunting thoughts...they follow you until they are dealt with and often come to a nasty head before the dust settles...hence the big move, hence the new beginning, hence the dealing with challenges that are beyond what any of them imagined because though it may be hard, it's not as hard as dealing with regrets.
In the end, it gave us a look at our own country's past (depression era as well as those tiny towns transitioning due to technology), as well as the dark parts of our hearts. We want to be giving, we want to be kind, but sometimes it's hard, especially if we feel put out...but if we try to put ourselves in the place of others before we react/respond, the world might just be a better place for it on the end. After all, we all need a friend from time to time to help shoulder the load, and there's nothing wrong with accepting a helping hand, so long as you extend the same when the time comes.
...and now for book two of our post...
A Tale of the Great War
About the book...
Twelve-year-old Patryk knows little of the world beyond his tiny Polish village; the Russians have occupied the land for as long as anyone can remember, but otherwise life is unremarkable. Patryk and his friends entertain themselves by coming up with dares — some more harmful than others — until the Germans drop a bomb on the schoolhouse and the Great War comes crashing in. As control of the village falls from one nation to another, Jurek, the ringleader of these friends, devises the best dare yet: whichever boy steals the finest military button will be king. But as sneaking buttons from uniforms hanging to dry progresses to looting the bodies of dead soldiers — and as Jurek’s obsession with being king escalates — Patryk begins to wonder whether their “button war” is still just a game. When devastation reaches their doorstep, the lines between the button war and the real war blur, especially for the increasingly callous Jurek. Master of historical fiction Avi delivers a fierce account of the boys of one war-torn village who are determined to prove themselves with a simple dare that spins disastrously out of control.
To me, this story is a children's version of World War II.
Whereas the adults were fighting for bloodlines, land, and glory, the kiddos were trying to top one another with the grandest button procured...sound simple? Sound like child's play? Well trust me, it's not. There are still those bragging rights for the one deemed the winner of them all, the power that comes with that coveted spot, and the lording over factor to deal with...depending on who wins. Patryk has a kind heart, but a determined spirit...the former serves him well with his family and friends, the latter may prove his end if he's not careful. It's that determination that drives him to keep playing Jurek's game, to see just who wins the button war, but not so that he can claim king of them all, but rather so Jurek can't. To say he's a bad egg would be like saying the Titanic was merely a boat...he's trouble with a capital "T", the stand-in for our story of that unfortunately memorable dictator we all know and loathe (sports a mustache, likes to stick his arm in the air like he just doesn't care, because he didn't...you know the one). If he wins, they'll be no living with him, and it's already hard enough as it is...but if he loses, now that's an outcome not yet considered, and perhaps just as scary.
It was really interesting to me how the author managed to break down this ginormous event in our history and make it "kid friendly", so to speak. If taken at face value, it's kids battling it out for having the best button, but all the things going on beneath the surface, all the dangers faced, hardships overcome, struggles endured, and lives lost, make it one story that will leave its mark with readers of the Middle Grade set and beyond.
Special thanks to Raquel at Candlewick Press for the ARCs for review. (THANKS!) For more information on these titles, the authors, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above.
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!