Tag Archives: juvenile fiction

American Girl Parody

You all know I work in an elementary school library, and I try to keep up with new releases especially in the graphic novel genre because it is so popular with our students.

“Be Prepared” is a terrific new graphic novel about a Russian immigrant girl trying to fit in with the kids at school.

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In the first few pages she attends a birthday party which has a fun parody of American Girl dolls.

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Of course, all the “cool” kids give the birthday girl American Girl presents.

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Vera didn’t bring an 18″ doll to the party (because she doesn’t have one!), so while the girls play, she has to borrow a lowly Barbie doll.  Sigh.

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Aw, Vera… we have all been there!  It can be hard to fit in.

We bought Brianna’s first doll (Josefina) from my sister-in-law at about 50% off.  It still felt like a big deal even at half-price.  When Saige came out about 8 months later, that was the start of the slippery slide into fandom!

How did you acquire your first AG?  Did the price require you to convince yourself or your parents?

 

Luciana, A Mixed Bag

Hello Doll Fans,

I have had ample time to get caught up on my AG reading list because our whole family has been home sick with varying degrees of stomach virus. ‘Tis the season!

Brianna and I have both read Luciana’s first book about her experience at Space Camp, and our reviews are mixed.

The book has a lot of characters… I would estimate 10-15. It was hard to keep track of who was who, and at the end I didn’t feel much of a connection to anyone. Personally, there was too much discussion of various robotics parts to keep my interest. Maybe today’s 21st C makerspace kids will find the storyline more compelling.

I will give AG credit for really sticking with the science and technology theme in the book. The story immerses the reader in a week at Space Camp, and if that encourages girls to seek careers in science, that would be terrific!

Luci wants to be the first person on Mars. As a reader I wanted to know more about that–what will it take to accomplish that and why do we want to go?

I can’t help compare Lucy’s book to another contemporary character, Z. Yang. Z’s book immersed me in the stop motion and videography world, another topic I know little about, but it piqued my interest and I thought Z was a well-developed character that modern girls could relate to.

On a scale of 1-5, Brianna and I rate Luciana’s book 2 robot dogs.

Waiting for Nanea – Author Kirby Larson

There is just over a month until the release of Nanea Mitchell (August 24th), a Hawaiian girl living at the time of Pearl Harbor.  Nanea’s books are written by distinguished author Kirby Larson.

Prior to writing Nanea’s books, Larson wrote about the Pearl Harbor-era in her book Dear America – The Diary of Piper Davis: The Fences Between Us.  The book opens in Seattle, 1941, with Piper’s brother Hank departing for his naval base in Pearl Harbor.  Piper’s father is a Baptist minister who serves the Japanese-American community in Seattle.

The book focuses on the after-effects of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, namely the war with Japan and relocation/imprisonment of innocent Japanese-Americans living on the west coast.  This story about an attack leading to war and racial profiling of U.S. citizens seems terribly timely and familiar.

Before the war, Piper is just a regular 13 year-old girl upset because she is a “PK” (Preacher’s Kid) and therefore she isn’t allowed to wear lipstick.

Monday, November 10, 1941

It’s not fair!  I bought that tube of Tangee lipstick with my own money, and Pop won’t let me wear it.  He wants me to be such a Goody Two-shoes. . . . All I know for sure is that I am the only girl in the seventh grade with naked lips.

After the bombing, Piper finds herself with a first-hand view of the conditions experienced by innocent Japanese-Americans who were relocated to remote deserts and incarcerated: no sewer, no coal to heat with, extremely poor food, and no running water.

I was able to visit one of the Japanese camps in California many years ago.  Manzanar was one of 10 camps used to relocate and imprison Japanese-Americans because of their ethnicity.  It is in a very remote part of California near the Mojave desert.

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My photo of Manzanar.  I believe this is the Guard Station at the entrance to the camp.

Larson’s Dear America book brings to life many timely ethical issues, which I will leave to you to ponder should you pick up the book.  I recommend the book 5th grade and up based on the complex social issues of this era.

Brianna adds . . . 

Another great World War II book written by Kirby Larson is called Dash.  Eleven year-old Mitsi Kashino, a Japanese – American, has lived a pretty normal life with her parents, siblings, and beloved dog Dash. That was up until the attack on Pearl Harbor and the terrifying anti – Japanese sentiment. Many of her friends and classmates begin to turn on her.

Mitsi and her family are sent to a scary, big incarceration camp. The worst part is that Mitsi is separated from her dog, Dash. All Mitsi wants is to find her beloved dog again.

I (Brianna) recommend this book for kids in 5th – 6th grade. I remember reading it in the early part of 5th grade as an AR (Accelerated Reader) book. It was amazing!

We hope you look into these books by award-winning author Kirby Larson this summer before the release of Nanea!

 

Maryellen’s Sewing Worries

Excerpted from Maryellen’s second book ‘Taking Off’ by Valerie Tripp (no spoilers).  Slight changes have been made for clarity. Kit plays Maryellen’s friend Karen, and Dakota plays Maryellen’s Italian friend Angela.  Maryellen wants to have a movie star-themed birthday and wear her bridesmaid dress to make her look like Debbie Reynolds.

“I can’t wait to see your bridesmaid dress,” said Karen. “I bet it’s gorgeous.  What does it look like?”

“Well,” said Maryellen. “It will be gorgeous, when it’s finished.  Mom’s making it.”

“Oh,” said the girls.  They hesitated for a teeny, tiny second.  “Good.”

Maryellen knew what her friends were thinking, because she was thinking the same thing, too.  They’d all had unfortunate experiences with their mothers making dresses as part of do-it-yourself crazes.  Maryellen knew that her friends were too polite to say so, but dresses made by mothers did not always turn out very well.

Angela was the first one to think of something optimistic to say.  “Since your mom is making it, your dress will fit you perfectly,” she said.

Maryellen grinned gratefully.  “I certainly hope so,” she said.  “Or else the movie star I’ll look like at my birthday party will be the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz!”


Have you had any sewing mishaps?  In high school my mom and I tried to sew a skirt for me out of a lightweight navy polka dot fabric.  The skirt turned out so small we turned it into a scarf!  I’m blaming the pattern because my mom is terrific at sewing and crafts.

You’ll have to read Maryellen’s books to find out more about her dress . . .

Thanksgiving: The Day After

Twas the day after Thanksgiving, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for Maryellen . . . who was on her second draft of a Christmas wish list.

img_8083All the big girls had gone out for 50% off on jeggings at Old Navy, so it was just Maryellen, Tutu, and some Christmas music on the the ol’ record player.

Christmas lists were something Maryellen took very seriously.  In such a big family, Christmas  was a rare opportunity to get something new.

The back door slammed shut and in walked Josefina.

img_8084“Josie, I thought you went to the mall.  What’s in the paper bag?”

“I went to the grocery store.  It was really quiet there!  I’m just in the mood for something different to eat.  I’ve had all the turkey I can take!”

“Come join me in the kitchen if you want to help.”

img_8085Maryellen jumped at the opportunity to spend time alone with Josefina.

She called out, “Hey!  wait for me!”

Josefina was unpacking the groceries.

img_8090“Looks like Grace went a little overboard on the pastries,” Josefina said.  “There’s barely any room for food!”

img_8091“What are we making, Josefina?  I want to help!  Why is there a tomato on the counter?  Are you making salads?”

Maryellen’s questions made Josefina a bit annoyed, but she let it slide.

“I’m making something Italian that serves a crowd – lasagna!  You can help by chopping some tomatoes while I finish unpacking groceries,” said Josefina.

img_8089Maryellen was in awe of the way Josefina knew how to make lasagna without even using a recipe.  She vowed to try to spend more time in the kitchen so she could be as good as Josie some day.

Josefina showed Maryellen how to layer the noodles, sauce, and cheese.  While it baked in the oven, Maryellen set the table as fancy as she could for her special meal with Josefina.

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Josefina was famous for her garlic bread, which was more butter than bread.

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Finally the golden, cheesy lasagna came out of the oven, and it was just Maryellen and Josefina enjoying the quiet in the house and eating something that was definitely not turkey!

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How was your Thanksgiving?  Josefina appears in the story for my Mother-in-Law, who is a Josefina fan.  The lasagna set was my purchase from the Toys r Us AG launch a few weeks ago.  It was kind of a frivolous purchase, but look at it!  No regrets.

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American Girl: Ultimate Visual Guide

The DK publishing American Girl: The Ultimate Visual Guide is out and my copy arrived today!

American Girl Visual GuideHere’s a bit about what you can expect in the book.

There are fun facts about the development of American Girl products.  Below you can see the various outfits that were considered for Saige.

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There is a timeline several pages long that covers the company’s beginning to present day.

img_7896There are four pages for every historical doll, and two pages devoted to historical friends.

img_7897img_7898img_7899Historical dolls who are also part of the BeForever line are shown in original and BeForever clothing, with perhaps a slight edge for BeForever (especially in the case of Samantha).

All Girls of the Year are represented as well as their friends (Gwen, Sonali, etc).  The pages devoted to the GOTY characters vary based on collection size.

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The TrulyMe line is organized by activity/season/theme.  Here you see the layout on the topic of “Sports”.  Some of these pictures will be familiar from the catalogs.

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There is some fun trivia in the book, such as “tallest item sold” and “item with the most pieces.”  Would you like to take a guess?

Finally there is information about some of the American Girl development team.

img_7902The book is not a complete guide to everything ever produced.  I’d like to have one of those!  This book will best be enjoyed by those newer to American Girl, and definitely kids!  The large, hardcover book retails for around $20.00.

 

New American Girl Books in September

American Girl Visual GuideToday when I was checking my pre-order for the “American Girl: Ultimate Visual Guide” book, I noticed another new book to be released in early September: “Ultimate Sticker Collection: American Girl” by DK Publishing.

American Girl Sticker BookI think both look like fun!  The Visual Guide looks like it will include information on retired historicals and the Pleasant Company era. I am checking prices every now and again and I will let you know if I see them drop.  If you pre-order on Amazon you are guaranteed the lowest price.  Right now the Visual Guide is about 19.00 and the sticker book is 12.99.  Since DK books are available everywhere, you may be able to save money my pairing them with an in-store Barnes and Noble coupon!

DK will also be releasing “American Girl: The Story of America” in February 2017.  I am speculating this will replace the history section at the back of the historical books that has been sorely missing since Beforever.

 

 

GOTY 2017 Books

Have you been talking about the American Girl of the Year-2017 while I was busy painting Brianna’s room and reading books for the coming school year?  The GOTY books for 2017 are posted on Amazon (no links below) with an accompanying author named Teresa Harris.  Book #1 is released on Dec 27, 2016.

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I have never read any of Ms. Harris’ other books, but she seems to write about African American female characters, so here’s hoping we might see a 2017 doll of color yet!  If you would like to learn more about the author, head on over to the blog The Brown Bookshelf.

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Other books by the author

What are your thoughts on GOTY2017?

Meeting Melody

Our Melody American Girl book “No Ordinary Sound” arrived today… She beat Lea’s books here which Amazon hasn’t shipped yet.  Brianna and I started reading it in tandem.  We won’t spoil the book for you, but one shareable detail is that Melody’s family calls her Dee-Dee!

If your library won’t stock the book for a while and you want to get in the mood of the early 60s, I can recommend the young adult book, “The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963” by Christopher Paul Curtis.  He worked in an auto factory in Michigan prior to becoming a writer.  Most of his books are award-winning.

Have any readers started Melody or Lea’s books yet?  Maryellen’s?

Over The Hills And Through The Woods To Grandma’s House We Go Part 1

By Saige Copeland

“Guys, get all your stuff together we’re leaving in a few minutes,” called my sister Isabelle from the living room. I got my suitcase and pulled it outside in the cold snowy air. My sisters and I were going to visit our grandma in Washington D.C over the weekend.

noexif_IMG_6512_privateI was so excited to leave Marlow’s cold snowy atmosphere and head down south to 70 degree weather for a weekend. I put all of my stuff in the trunk and hopped in the car. Since there were 8 of us, we had a big van.

noexif_IMG_6516_privateIsabelle was the driver and Caroline was her guide, so they sat in the front. Behind them, Grace and I sat, behind us was Josefina and Kit, and at the rear end was Addy and Julie.

I hopped in the car. I got out my book and started to read. It took awhile since Caroline had to find away to put her “too big” suitcase in the trunk. As Caroline got in the car, I noticed she was wearing a mid-summer dress that was meant for 80 degree weather not below 32 degree weather.

noexif_IMG_6514_private I was about to say something about it but before I could, Grace elbowed me in the ribs. I sat back and sighed… it was impossible to state your opinion when “Miss No Fighting” was around. Finally, we were off and on our way to D.C.

Kit and Josefina were probably the only very enthusiastic ones about this vacation, since it gave them time to play with their dolls.

noexif_IMG_6518_privateGrace and I used our phones but we forgot to charge them before we left and they died pretty quickly. Julie and Addy get car sick very easily, and Isabelle and Caroline just drove and navigated.

noexif_IMG_6519_private It was pretty silent in the car except for the slight squeaking of the driving wheel and the murmur of Josefina and Kit’s voices as they played with their dolls.

Isabelle broke the silence by saying, “WE will be in Boston soon and we can get dinner there.” “Yay!” shouted everybody. “Caroline, can you look up The Top 10 Restaurants In Boston on Trip Advisor?” asked Isabelle. “Sure” responded Caroline. “How about Italian Express Pizzeria . . . it’s Number #2 and has great reviews.” “Sounds good to me” approved Isabelle.

“Pizza saves lives,” I said to Grace. Grace nodded in response. We pulled into the Italian Express Pizzeria parking lot. We entered the Pizzeria, it was pretty busy, so we decided to get takeout. “Oh the Eggplant Parmesan Pizza sounds good, ” commented Isabelle. “Ya, that sounds delicious,” added Caroline. The rest of us stared in awe, that sounded disgusting! Caroline and Isabelle loved eggplant but they knew the rest of us hated it. “Can we please just cheese?” asked Kit sweetly. “How about we order 4 pizzas. . . ” answered Isabelle. “Ok” responded Kit. We all murmured among ourselves. Kit and Josefina got a Small Cheese Pizza, Addy and Julie got a Small BBQ Chicken, Grace and I got a Small Hawaiian, and Isabelle and Caroline got a Small Eggplant Parmesan Pizza. We ate in the car, which all of us loved to do.

noexif_IMG_6522_privateWe finished and got back on the road. Soon we all got on our PJ’s. We all fell asleep except for Isabelle who stayed awake driving the van until midnight when she pulled us over and fell asleep herself.

noexif_IMG_6523_privateIn the morning when we woke up, we were surprised to learn that we were already in Connecticut. We got some breakfast at First & Last Bakery Cafe, then we got back on the road. As we drove along, I  got out my Doodle backpack and opened my binder which contained all of my folders and papers inside. Eighth Grade had been assigned a crazy amount of homework over the weekend. Grace decided to do her homework too.

As we drove along Caroline asked if we would like any music on. I knew instantly that was a mistake on her part because whenever we played music in the car Grace and Julie always ended up getting in a big fight because they never liked the same music. Grace liked modern and Julie liked 70’s. Back when Grace and I were in 6th Grade, we took a family road trip all the way to Arkansas. Grace and Julie started fighting over music then all of a sudden we joined sides. Grace, Kit, and I were the Modern Side and Julie, Josefina, and Addy were the 70’s side. The fight lasted the whole way there and back again. That was a quite a car trip. So, when Caroline asked we wanted music, she realized suddenly what would happen, so she stopped the fight before either Grace or Julie could say a word. Her solution was: Play music from the 19th century. Josefina and Addy liked that.. but the rest of us couldn’t stand the sound of squeaky 19th century violins.

We got lunch in Trenton, New Jersey and by then we could say we were half way through our trip. We only had 2 more states to go through Delaware and Maryland. Josefina and Kit were very excited to go through Delaware because in their 5th Grade Social Studies class they were learning about Lord De La Warr. If you look at the spelling you can see it looks pretty much like Delaware. That’s how Delaware got it’s name, after Lord De La Warr.

As we drove through Maryland I made a list of  things I wanted to do in Washington D.C:

1. National Air and Space Museum 

2. National Zoo

3. Museum of National History

4. Washington Monument 

5. National Archives

6. The Capitol

7. The Library of National Congress

8. Lincoln Memorial

9. Arlington National Cemetery

10. Vietnam Veterans Memorial

We arrived in Washington D.C at 6:30 PM. We passed the Washington Monument and The Capitol. I was so excited to go exploring in Washington D.C, tomorrow morning. We pulled up in front of my Grandma’s apartment building. We entered the lobby with our luggage. It was very fancy. We got in the huge elevator and rode up to the 5th floor. “Room 511,” said Isabelle. We stopped in front of a wood door, and rang the doorbell.

The door creaked open slowly and…..and you will have to wait for our next post to find out what happens.

Bye for now everyone! – Brianna