The four I am highlighting today have a little more weight to them than the chapter books I showcased last week. (Okay, with the exception of the deeper One Crazy Summer, but I couldn't resist that great title.) These certainly aren't the darker books of Young Adult, but each has it's own serious aspect. And they are also all spectacular books.
by Anjali Banerjee
When eleven year old Poppy skips a trip with her parents to India, she makes the decision with a goal to be a vet like her Uncle Sanjay. What she finds is that it working with animals can be difficult, gross, and heart-breaking. Over the summer Poppy also adjusts to the slow-pace island lifestyle, makes new friends, and learns more about herself. She even comes to handle the animals in emergencies and in passing. This book is a lovely read, but the sections on animals suffering or dying are emotionally intense - especially if you've been through it personally. The author handles the topic with grace, but be fairly warned.
by Sue Corbett
Felix knows baseball. As the son of a Cuban superstar, some might say that the eleven year old was born to it. Even if his mom won't talk about his father now. Mistaken for a batboy by a local Cuban team, Felix takes the opportunity to hang out with the ballplayers - and maybe find out something about his dad. Certainly a book that features the game well, but also the complexity of relationships and secrets.
The Liberation of Gabriel King
by K. L. Going
Gabriel King is afraid of everything - spiders, robbers, cows - but his biggest fear is moving up to the next grade, where he'll be in the same school as the bullies who pick on him. His best friend Frita decides to take the summer to liberate Gabriel from his fears one by one. She's rarely afraid, but one of her biggest fears is about to confront the pair head on. Set in the deep south in 1976, this book is a drama, comedy, and historical fiction. It tackles fear, hatred, racism, but ultimately is about courage. And friendship. Wonderful book.
Turtle in Paradise
by Jennifer L. Holm
Turtle and her mom have always gotten through tough times together, but now that mom is employed as a live-in maid for a woman who doesn't like kids, Turtle is send to live with relatives in Key West. It's the middle of the depression, and many folks don't have much, but Turtle is still surprised by the poverty on this little stretch of land. Almost as surprised as she is by finding all of her long-lost relations. With the sea and the trees to provide, the families get by - even if shoes are a rarity - and there is even some fun to be had in seeking payment of sweets for babysitting. There are also literal treasures to be found, for those crazy, brave and bored enough to seek them. And along with her cousins, Turtle finds herself right in the middle of all of the adventures. Some frightening stuff in a hurricane, and Turtle's family situation give weight to the lighter side. Enjoyable read that exposes a lost place in time.
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