Six extra stories on kindness

Hi everyone, this extra post includes six titles that I really enjoyed reading. A few have even awards for their story and writing. For me, the young protagonists here embody all that falls under the umbrella of kindness and compassion. Without sounding too preachy…I would encourage you and your tween to check out the post below and start talking about what kindness means to you…

blue cover with large white beaker with vertical spout. inside orange goldfish blowing blue bubbles with writing cramped under it, The Fourteenth Goldfish. right top corner image of half of jellyfish like animal.
An engaging read

Title: The Fourteenth Goldfish

Author: Jennifer L. Holm

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Random House; NY, 2014

What this book is about: Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade and her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy, cranky, and looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this gawky teenager really be Grandpa Melvin? With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humour, New York Times best-selling, three-time Newbery Honor-winning author Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions where life and death, family and friendship, immortality… and possibility. 

My review: A good read!! I thought this was a funny and quirky read with some memorable characters. The concept of ‘fountain of youth’ and ‘chase for immortality’ is very defined and I thought Melvin’s character was quite well described. Although it would appeal to those who enjoy science and adventure, the main element for me was the accepting nature young Ellie has of her situation and the people around her. I loved the relationship she has with her ‘grandfather’!! 

My rating: 4 ⭐

Additional notes: This title has won the California Book Award for Juvenile Literature (Gold) in 2014, the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award for Grades 6 to 8 in 2016, and nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award in 2016 and the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award in 2017 among others. 

Stella by Starlight in white letters across top. backgorund image of starlit night on dark blue sky. small house in middle with burning cross on beach. river in middle of sand banks. girl and boy in right side of cover looking at cross. dark spindly trees beside them.
An engaging read

Title: Stella by starlight

Author: Sharon M. Draper

Genre: Fiction – historical

Publication details: Antheum Books for Young Readers; NY, 2015

What this book is about: Stella lives in Bumblebee, North Carolina, the segregated south. She can go to some stores but not others. Some  folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should even be up, much less wandering outside, Stella and her little brother see something that they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, change not welcome by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s world is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire, and learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.

My review: What a beautiful story!! There are some powerful themes addressed here: discrimination, loyalty, friendship, courage and fear. I love the way they sing through all the obstacles they face. I think this is why the African Americans are such strong and fierce people. They find strength together through prayer and song. I loved every aspect of this story!! The classroom scenes, the KKK, and the fight for the right to vote, something that we all now take for granted. Sharon M. Draper is a truly amazing storyteller!! 

My rating: 5 ⭐

light blue cover with white cloud shapes above and below writing. mockingbird in brackets underneath pronounciation written. Kathryn Erskine at bottom.
An engaging read

Title: Mockingbird

Author: Kathryn Erskine

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Usborne Publishing Ltd: UK, 2018 

What this book is about: Caitlin misses her brother every day. Since his death in a school shooting, she has no one to explain the world to her. And for Caitlin, the world is a confusing place. She hates it when colours get mixed up, prefers everything to be black-and-white, and needs to check her Facial Expressions Chart to understand emotions. So when Caitlin sees the definition of “closure”, she decides that’s what she needs. And as she struggles to find it, a world of color begins to enter her black-and-white life…

My review: Such a poignant story!! The grief is quite intense in this story. To live after a loved one dies from a shooting must be so horrendously painful as described in this read with Caitlin’s father’s emotions. I felt myself welling up after most chapters and my heart went out to Caitlin as she struggled with her Aspergers to understand death, loss, grief and find closure. The school scenes described are vivid and almost poetic to me. The narrative flowed quite well and the story had an ending that even brought closure to us the readers. What I really liked was the description of how Caitlin copes everyday with her Aspergers and learns emotions all by herself!

My rating: 4½⭐

Additional notes: This title has won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2010 and nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award in 2012 and the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award in 2014 among others. 

image in two halves. top half has three kids and dog walking through woods. second half has dark space with boy seated on ground with bag beside him. Hello, universe in red letters above boy seated. yellow Newbery medal seal in left corner. Erin Entrada Kelly at bottom.
A quirky read

Title: Hello, universe

Author: Erin Entrada Kelly

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Greenwillow Books; NY, 2017

What this book is about: Virgil Salinas is shy and misunderstood. Valencia Somerset is clever and stubborn. Kaori Tanaka tells fortunes and reads the stars. Chet “the Bull” Bullens is the biggest bully in the neighbourhood. These four middle schoolers aren’t friends or go to the same school. But when Chet pulls a prank on Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, the lives of these four middle schoolers collide in surprising and unexpected ways. Just a coincidence? Or are some things meant to be?

My review: A good book with a good story. This is one that had each of the characters telling the story so it was a bit confusing to begin with but we tend to see the story as a whole this way. I enjoyed the diverse characters here in this read. Virgil’s Philipino legends bring an extra element to his story. Kaori is a third generation Japanese American and Valencia is deaf. Somehow, the beginnings of this friendship is interesting to read about. Despite the initial bullying, the kindness and acceptance shown from the other kids make this an engaging read!

My rating: 4 ⭐

Additional notes: This book won the Newbery Medal in 2018.

light blue-green sky with girl walking on rail tracks with arms outstretched wearing denim dungarees. bushes beside tracks. Moon over Manifest in arch over top in white letters and Clare Vanderpool in blue letters underneath. yellow seal of Newbery medal in bottom right corner.
An engaging read

Title: Moon over Manifest

Author: Clare Vanderpool

Genre: Fiction – historical

Publication details: Delacorte Press; NY, 2010

What this book is about: Abilene Tucker feels abandoned since her father sent her to live with an old friend for the summer. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was. Manifest seems disappointing at first until Abilene discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lottie and Ruthanne, on a spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone”. Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption. 

My review: Wow!! What an amazing story!! Filled with mysteries, secrets, murder, war; you name it, it’s all there. Set alternately during both World Wars in a sleepy Kansas town, we meet a cast of unforgettable characters. The whole story weaves a bit like a scarf made from different strands of wool and joins to make a delightful read!! Reminiscent of Scout and Jem’s adventures in To Kill a Mockingbird, Clare Vanderpool gives us a story that grips us and keeps us glued till the end. No wonder she won the Newbery medal. An awesome read!!

My rating: 5 ⭐

Additional notes: This title won the Newbery Medal and the Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Fiction in 2011. 

image of house fills up most of cover. top right corner along blue sky words in white, Because of You. light pole and window with light on large wall. along bottom edge of house Pip Harry in blue.
A fascinating teen read

Title: Because of you

Author: Pip Harry

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: University of Queensland Press; Queensland, 2017

What this book is about: Tiny is an eighteen-year-old girl living on the streets in Sydney, running from her small-town past. She finds short-term accommodation at Hope Lane – a shelter for the homeless – where she meets Nola, a high school student on volunteer placement. Both girls share their love of words through the Hope Lane Writing group. Can they share their secrets too? 

My review: Told in two distinct voices, our protagonists bring this unique story to life. At first I found it hard to get into as the language was a bit too raw for me, but I waded my way in and immediately felt myself drawn to the two girls. Both are the same age, 18 or so, living their respective lives in Sydney. One on the streets, another in somewhat middle-class normalcy. The scenes of homelessness and despair were quite uncomfortable for me but it opened up my eyes to their plight. The fact that programs for these people like writing groups can show us how they are no different to anyone else, and sometimes even more intelligent. I enjoyed reading of the girls’ blossoming friendship and subsequent romances. It is teen fiction, it’s to be expected!! Some honest and raw writing here so I would recommend this for older teens, at least older than 16 please. 

My rating: 4 ⭐

I hope these reads can give you and your tween/teen a starting point to have an honest talk about what kindness, compassion, respect, acceptance and tolerance means to them. If anyone has any other suggestions for me I would love to hear from you. I’m always on the lookout for titles under this theme!! 

quote in black letters on white background. In A World Where You can be anything, Be Kind.
Inspirational kindness quote

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