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Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary

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My girls and I actually listened to Ramona and Her Father last summer, but I never got around to writing the review. This is the fourth book in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby series.

In this book, Ramona is still struggling to find her place in the world and in her family. Things are somewhat complicated because her father has recently lost his job. They are already on a budget, and now they must become even more frugal.

This book is somewhat dated because a major plot point involves Ramona trying to get her father to quit smoking- both for his health and also because of the money he can save. When I first read this book in the 1980s, I could empathize with Ramona’s plan because my own father smoked cigarettes. But my girls’ experience is vastly different because neither of their parent smoke, nor do we know anyone who smokes cigarettes. They were somewhat surprised at the smoking, but were charmed by Ramona’s attempts to get her father to quit. Continue reading

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I Will Love You Forever by Tatsuya Miyanishi

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I Will Love You Forever is a picture book in Tatsuya Miyanishi’s Tyrannosaurus series. My girls have enjoyed reading the other books in this series, so I was looking forward to sharing it with them.

The story begins with a female Maiasaura finding an egg in the forest. She brings it home to her own egg, and sits on both eggs until they hatch. She is a little alarmed when the egg she found hatches into a Tyrannosaur, but she is determined to raise both babies as her own. She calls the baby Maiasaura “Light” and she calls the baby Tyrannosaur “Heart”. Continue reading

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Unicorn Crossing (Phoebe and Her Unicorn) by Dana Simpson

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Unicorn Crossing is the fifth book in the Phoebe and her Unicorn Adventure series by Dana Simpson. My three girls- especially my oldest- are big fans of this comic, so I was very excited about the opportunity to share this with them.

Phoebe is a fairly average girl, with one notable exception: her pet unicorn Marigold. Phoebe and Marigold navigate a fairly typical American childhood with a good sense of humor. This dynamic duo experiences seasons, holidays, school, friendship, and more. A fairly small ensemble rounds out the cast: Phoebe’s parents, her friend Max, and her frenemy Dakota. There are plenty of pop culture references, with a notable geeky slant. Continue reading

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The Lost History of Stars by Dave Boling

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Lost History of Stars is a novel by Dave Boling. I was looking forward to reading this book because it is set in South Africa, just like one of my all-time favorites- The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. Almost immediately, I realized there was a connection between the books: in The Power of One, the English protagonist is severely bullied by Boer boys at his boarding school as punishment for the abuse their grandparents suffered in concentration camps at the hands of the English. The Lost History of Stars is an account of life in those camps as seen by a teenage girl.

Lettie is sent to a concentration camp along with her brother and mother after their farm is burned to the ground by the English. Her father, older brother, grandfather, and uncles are all conducting guerilla operations against the English. Conditions in the camp are bleak, and disease is rampant. Lettie is rather stoic about her experience, and tries to find pleasure in small moments. One of her most treasured possessions is her English dictionary, which she reads for comfort and to pass the time. Continue reading

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Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have been a big fan of Kevin Kwan since his first book, Crazy Rich Asians, which was published in 2013. Needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to read the third installment of the series- Rich People Problems.

As the story resumes, beloved matriarch Sun Yi falls ill, and her large extended family flies in from around the world, although it remains to be seen whether they arrive out of filial obligation or because they hope to inherit Tyersall Park, the family compound. Let’s be honest with each other: it’s mostly the latter.  Continue reading

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Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

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I’m so happy that my girls enjoy reading as much as I do. We try to read together every night, and we also listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car. We’ve read several of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, so when the girls asked if we could listen to a story, I put on Ramona and Her Mother.

Ramona and Her Mother is the fifth book in the Ramona series, and it takes place immediately after the events of Ramona and Her Father. Some of the other books in the series jump forward to the next school year, but Ramona and Her Father ends with a Christmas pageant and Ramona and Her Mother begins with a New Year’s Day brunch.

In this book, Ramona struggles to find her place within her family. She has some moments of introspection when little Willa Jean acts like a pest, and Ramona is indignant when people compare Willa Jean to her. Ramona has always appreciated being the baby of the family, but now feels left out when she sees her sister Beezus helping their mother with chores. Continue reading

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The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I always appreciate the opportunity to read advanced copies of middle grade novels because I have three girls in elementary school. We read the books together, and their feedback helps me with my book reviews.

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina  is the first book in a new series by Kara LaReau. Jaundice and Kale Bland live by themselves. Their parents left on an errand several years ago, and never returned. This does not bother Jaundice and Kale; they are perfectly content to sit at home, darn socks, and eat cheese sandwiches. If there is a question that they can’t answer, they consult their beloved children’s dictionary. Their lives are simple and predictable. But one day, a mysterious visitor arrives, and Jaundice and Kale are carried off (quite literally) on an unintentional adventure featuring a ferocious crew of female pirates. Along the way, they will make friends, and more importantly, they will learn that they are intelligent and capable.   Continue reading