Tag Archives: Elana K. Arnold

2017 National Book Awards for Young People’s Literature

13 Sep

The 2017 National Book Awards Longlist for Young People’s Literature was announced yesterday.  I’ve read four already. I have a few on hold, one ARC, and there are a few that my library doesn’t have yet. And the first three weren’t even on my radar.

MY TBR pile just got longer.

Elana K. Arnold, What Girls Are Made Of

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Robin Benway, Far from the Tree

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Samantha Mabry, All the Wind in the World

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Mitali Perkins, You Bring the Distant Near

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Jason Reynolds, Long Way Down

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Erika L. Sánchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

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Laurel Snyder, Orphan Island

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Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

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Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

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Ibi Zoboi, American Street

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Realistic, with humor and empathy

27 Apr

Some characters just touch your heart. Bixby Alexander Tam, the main character in A Boy Called Bat, is one of those.

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Publisher’s Summary:From acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold and with illustrations by Charles Santoso, A Boy Called Bat is the first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum.

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

Bat is clearly somewhere on the autism spectrum. He has learned some important lessons and is trying to apply them to real life. He is not good with people, but he is great with animals and longs to be a vet like his mom.

Arnold lets us into the anxieties and worries Bat experiences gently and there are moments when I teared up. Some of the writing about eye contact is that touching. Even though the book is about Bat, I really got a sense of how Bat’s mom must be feeling. This is such a lovely book.

The b&w illustrations by Charles Santoso are fabulous. I was reading the book at school during silent reading and disturbed kids sitting near me to show them the illustrations of Thor, the skunk kit.

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They beautifully capture Bat’s isolation, love for Thor and relationship with his mom.

This book is written for readers younger than those in my class but I might just book talk this one, in case they have younger siblings who would enjoy this one. This is the first book in a series and I look forward to reader more about Bat.

No one ever said life was fair

12 Aug

“No one ever said life was fair,” was my mother’s standard response when I commented on the fairness, or more likely, unfairness, of something. In Elana K. Arnold’s Far From Fair, 

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12-year-old Odette Zyskoski feels that her parents are making a lot of unfair decisions. She has to sell most of her possessions in a garage sale because her parents have sold their house and bought an RV. She has to give up her cell phone and the family will share one. Things are not looking very hopeful.

Publisher’s Summary: Odette has a list: Things That Aren’t Fair. At the top of the list is her parents’ decision to take the family on the road in an ugly RV they’ve nicknamed the Coach. There’s nothing fair about leaving California and living in the Coach with her par­ents and exasperating brother. And there’s definitely nothing fair about Grandma Sissy’s failing health, and the painful realities and difficult decisions that come with it. Most days it seems as if everything in Odette’s life is far from fair but does it have to be?

With warmth and sensitivity Elana Arnold makes difficult topics such as terminal illness and the right to die accessible to young readers and apt for discussion.

Odette starts off as a grumpy middle-schooler. Over the course of the book we see her become less self-centered and more mature. In spite of all the bad things happening in Odette’s life, the book is hopeful and ends in a good, realistic way.  Like many people, Odette can objectively see that her  negative attitude is a problem. We see her struggle and learn to manage her feelings. When her  mother drops the family phone into the water, Odette doesn’t think she has any right to be upset because of her grandmother’s situation. Her mother acknowledges that it’s still okay to be upset about small things.

The book tackles big issues of economic hardship and the right to die effectively, without being preachy. Readers don’t have to like or agree with everything, but they will be left with some things to think about.

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