Saturday, August 13, 2016


     August (Auggie) Pullman has a facial birth defect.  He has been home schooled while going through multiple surgeries for his cleft palate.  Now that he is 10, he heads to school for the first time.  Auggie learns to deal with teasing, bullying, and kids who want to be his friend but give in to peer pressure and make fun of him.  
     His sister Via is also having a hard time starting high school.  Her friends have changed and she no longer knows where she fits in.  She loves her brother, but struggles with jealousy over the attention Auggie gets from their parents.  
     Luckily, they both have loving parents who adore them, friends who stand by them through thick and thin, and each other.  This year is guaranteed to change all of their lives.  
     I really enjoyed this book.  Although it dealt with a difficult subject, it did so in a compassionate and realistic way.  Auggie was a strong character.  He is funny, smart, charming, and kind, but also dealt with the real feelings of embarrassment, anger, and feeling sorry for himself.  Via loves her brother, but also deals with feelings of embarrassment, resentment, and guilt.
      This is a great book for 10 +.  It is a great jumping off point to think about peer pressure, how we treat others, and learning to feel comfortable in our own skin.  

The Willoughbys

     Lois Lowry is a gifted writer because everything she writes is so unique and different.  You never feel like you are reading the same book repeatedly.  The Willoughbys is no exception.  Unlike her Dystopian novel The Giver or historical fiction Number the Stars or her realistic novel Gossamer, The Willoughbys is a parody of old fashioned stories like Mary Poppins and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
     Like all good old fashioned stories, a baby arrives in a basket with a note asking the Willoughbys to take good care of her.  The Willoughby parents can't stand the children they have, so are more than happy to have the children dump the baby on a rich, reclusive neighbor who is living in despair.
     In the meantime, back at the Willoughbys' home, the neglected children have hatched a plan to become orphans at the same time their devious parents have decided to find a legal way to rid themselves of their children.  The nanny arrives, and in true Mary Poppins' style, saves the day.
      This is a quick read.  I read it in one sitting, although kids may take a bit more time.  It is laugh out loud funny but much of the humor comes from understanding the stories being parodied.  With that and the difficult vocabulary, it is a good book for kids who love to read or adults who want to enjoy the twisted version of their favorite books they read as children.