Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Mother-Daughter Book Club

by Heather Vogel Frederick
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

When I first started reading this book, it felt pretty contrived and derivative of other stuff I’ve read, like the Beacon Street Girls series by Annie Bryant and the Flower Power series by Lauren Myracle – an unlikely group of four friends thrown together by some circumstance. There’s the fashion-conscious one, the sporty one, the chubby one, and the nerdy one; a redhead; at least one racial minority; at least one single parent, etc. This one had a twist of having the mothers thrown in, and the book connection, which was refreshing and, at times, moving. It was well-written, and takes place nearby to my library (Concord, MA) so it was a pleasure to read. The girls do end up being friends, but not totally. I liked the variety of issues they were dealing with (death of a parent, temporary absence of a parent, poverty, bullying) and ways in which those relationships shifted and were prodded throughout the book. I did think that Emma’s chubbiness was paralleled with the overweight villain of the story being scorned by the mothers and was not handled with sensitivity. The other part that felt contrived was when they all went to New York City and everyone got to do something amazing, some of the kids even got incredible starts to their careers, one caught a fly ball at a Yankees/Red Sox game, that all happened to be the same week that one of the mothers was starting a cooking show managed in New York (but conveniently shot at their home in Concord). It required suspension of disbelief, but was still fun escapist reading.

I Funny

by James Patterson (yep, that James Patterson) and Chris Grabenstein

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Jamie Grimm wants to be a stand up comic. Too bad he’s always sitting–in a wheelchair. (Don’t blame me, that’s one of Jamie’s jokes.) But his beloved Uncle Frankie and his two best friends keep encouraging him and one day he finds himself competing to be the funniest kid on Long Island. What I liked about this book, in addition to Jamie being someone you can really root for, is that Patterson and Grabenstein actually get into Jamie’s backstory. At first I thought they were going to just mention it in passing – that he was in a car accident recently that is the reason he is in a wheelchair and lives with his aunt’s family – but they really get into what happened and how Jamie covers it up sometimes with humor. “Cool Girl” (whose name I hope gets revealed in one of the other books in the series; it bugs me that we don’t find out her name) does a great job with forcing Jamie to be serious at times, though she also appreciates his humor. I was a little surprised to see that nothing much is made of the bullying and harm done to him by his cousin, and I was curious to know why he wasn’t allowed to live with his Uncle Frankie – but I hope those issues might be tackled in the other books. This would be good for a kid who likes Captain Underpants and other silly books but are a little older and starting to be more empathetic (or need a little shove in that direction).

Fortunately, the Milk

by Neil Gaiman

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

This is a quick little adventure/fantasy tale about what happens to Dad when he goes out to buy some milk one morning. Dad spins his tale, which gets more and more unbelievable – do you believe it?

I had the audiobook, which was one hour long and performed by Gaiman himself, which was a treat.