Tag Archives: juvenile fiction

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.

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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.

GOTY2017 Book

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?