May 7, 2011

Meet Clarisse

This is Clarisse . . .

For years, I've wanted a place to sit by a window to write/read/edit. When I pulled into our driveway, I saw two men carrying Clarisse (that's the name on the label) into our home.

Hubby saw me and said, "Happy Mother's Day."

Clarisse and I will spend many happy hours/days/time together. And because much of that time will be spent reading, I thought I'd share some of the best children's books I've read so far this year (and one book for adults that's narrated by a child).

While these books are wildly different, the thing each book has in common is that the author managed to get deeply into the mind and heart of the main character.

Turtle in Paradise -- Set in the Keys in the 1930's. Spunky main character and hilarious secondary characters. A gem!

Summerhouse Time -- A sweet story that's a quiet celebration of the power of family and love.

Something Like Hope
-- Oh my Lord! This author gets inside the head of a girl who is inside a juvenile detention center, trying to come to terms with her horrific past and find a way to create hope for her future. Hard-hitting, yet doesn't hit you over the head. Sparse prose that hits all the right notes.

Mockingbird -- Sad, but hopeful as a girl, who views the world through the lens of Asperger's syndrome, deals with the tragic shooting of her beloved brother. Bit by bit, both daughter and father find a way to find their way.

How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy
-- Holy crackers and cream cheese, author Crystal Allen is a new voice to pay attention to. Fell in love with Lamar from the first page. Unable to play a sport like basketball, which his superstar brother plays, Lamar must find something that works for a kid with severe asthma -- bowling. This fresh, funny and heartfelt novel deserves to win its own trophy!

If I Stay -- This young adult novel is surprising and beautiful as it tackles big questions about death and dying. The main character, unlike many fictional teens, actually likes her family. She struggles to decide what to do when they are all in a devastating car accident and she has to make an unfathomable choice. Lyrical language, musical themes, original characters. A subtle standout.

Everything is Fine -- I never knew what was coming with this book, written in unrhymed verse, but I couldn't wait to find out. Secrets. Sadness. Redemption. Tough topic, but everything about the writing was fine.

A Long Walk to Water -- Linda Sue Park is amazing. She tells two stories in this short novel -- one set in 1985 about Salva Dut, who traveled hundreds of miles to find safety from political violence in Sudan and one set in 2008, where Nya walks eight hours a day to get water for her family. The two stories intersect in a hope-filled conclusion.

Room -- Narrated perfectly by a five-year-old boy, Room tells the story of a woman who is forced to live in a small room by her captor. After having a child with the man, the young mother fashions as normal an existence as she can for her son. In Room, the boy finds stability and love; outside the walls of Room, he discovers confusion and pain. This gripping story keeps you turning pages until the true, satisfying conclusion. (This book is up there with The Help, Like Water for Elephants and Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place.)


Anonymous said...

Your new "chaise lounge" looks wonderful, Donna. Just calls to you to sit, read, write, edit, etc. What a terrific Mother's Day gift!!
I also wanted to tell you our book discussion group recently read "Room" and were blown away by it! We weren't sure what to expect, but the subject matter (in light of the recent Jaycee Duggard story)was so gripping. Many of us read it in one day/sitting. We were especially taken by how the author maintained the child's voice so well throughout the story, and the descriptions of how he and Ma were coping on the outside were touching. There were a couple of minor quibbles (from me, mainly!)but all in all, we agreed it was a very interesting and profound book. Glad you recommended it.

Marjorie Flathers

Wild About Words said...

Thanks, Marjorie! Yes, I agree completely about Room. An astounding and compelling read.