Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

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Be Prepared is a middle grade graphic novel by Vera Brosgol. We found this book at the town library, and my girls were very excited because they’ve enjoyed some of her other books.

This is a semi-autobiographical story about Vera’s childhood, although she explains at the end how some details were exaggerated, etc. As the story begins, Vera wants nothing more than to fit in with her American classmates. They have American Girl dolls, Carvel ice cream cake, and stuffed crust pizza, and Vera’s single mother simply cannot provide such luxuries. There is only one “fancy” thing that Vera can do to emulate her wealthier classmates, and that is go to sleepaway camp.

Vera’s Russian cultural camp is nothing like the posh camps that her friends attend, and it takes awhile for her to get used to new people, new routines, and of course, the stinky outhouse. It’s not as easy as Vera thought it would be to make friends, and she wonders if she’ll ever find her place. Read more

Buckingham Babylon by Peter Fearon

71qgt050qzlI found Buckingham Babylon by Peter Fearon at my town library. I was looking for some British history books, and this book was in the same section. I love books/movies about the Royal Family, so I was pleased to have discovered it.

Buckingham Babylon is subtitled “The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor”, and it was published in 1993. There are some major Royal Family life events that have happened since the early 1990s, so in some respects, this book is woefully out of date. Read more

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley

As soon as I read the synopsis for The Carnival at Bray (written by first time author Jessie Ann Foley), I immediately added it to my checkout pile at the library. This novel is set in 1993; I turned 14 that year, so I felt an immediate connection with the story.

Maggie is 16 years old when she moves to Ireland with her sister, mother, and new stepfather. She leaves her grandmother and beloved uncle Kevin behind in Chicago, trading the big city for a small town on the Irish coast. Life is very different in Bray, and while Maggie’s sister acclimates quickly, she finds it a little more difficult to adjust. When Uncle Kevin gives her two tickets to Nirvana’s concert in Rome, it seems like a ludicrous gift. The concert is several months away, but how is she supposed to get from Ireland to Rome? Read more