Tag Archives: illness

Secondhand Wishes by Anna Staniszewski

9781338280173by Anna Staniszewski
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

Seventh-grader Lexi just wants to maintain order and balance in her world, which is usually frighteningly out of whack. Her 4-year-old brother is in and out of hospitals a lot and her parents are stressed, her mother even losing her job because of the time she has to devote to his care. Lexi buys four-leaf clovers from her classmate to help with her luck and is constantly making deals with the universe for added protection. She’s also struggling with her best friend abandoning her for a new friend, when all Lexi wants is for things to continue just as they were. So when she comes across a bag of wishing stones, she has a lot of wishes to make – if they even work. She tries one and it does seem to work – except not exactly how she imagined. By the time she gets to her fourth wish, things are really out of hand and she seems to be in a bit of a pickle. But her aunt saves the day in surprising ways and Lexi learns a lot. In the end, though things go back to how they were before, Lexi is changed.

This book is delightful. I can see kids with anxiety and a need for control really identifying with Lexi. I loved that Lexi breaks out of her comfort zone and tries out for the dance team, even after a really embarrassing first attempt. Her best friend, Cassa, reveals that she is moving to England, and by the end of the book, Lexi is okay with that (and even starts to make friends with the once-hated interloper, Marina). I especially like that Lexi’s aunt also comes out of her shell a bit and reconnects with her childhood best friend. There are lots of little details and hints planted masterfully here and there and it’s just a very sweet story.



by Raina Telgemeier
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

I love me some Raina Telgemeier, though there have been some pretty scathing reviews about the cultural appropriation in this one. If Telgemeier had gone in a slightly different direction and left out that part, this would be a tidy 5-out-of-5-stars book.

Telgemeier has a knack for the sisterly relationship, tender and frustrating at turns, and this one was no exception. Catrina and her family have just moved from sunny southern California up to foggy, damp Bahia de la Luna (based on Telgemeier’s recollection of Half-Moon Bay). The cooler weather is supposed to help Cat’s little sister Maya, who has cystic fibrosis. It seems that being in a town with more of a Hispanic presence helps Cat’s mother get in touch with her Hispanic heritage. When they first move there, Cat and Maya go out exploring and meet Carlos, who turns out to be their neighbor. He tells them about the ghosts that live there and come out mostly on El Dia de los Muertos. Shortly before the holiday, Cat lets Carlos take them to see the ghosts who live at the mission, but Maya gets too excited (or the ghosts take her breath) and she gets very, very sick. By the time Halloween and Day of the Dead come around, she is better, but still can’t go out trick-or-treating, and Cat refuses to speak to Carlos. But all ends well (and even with a little romance). The drawings are definitely indispensable and graphic novel is the only appropriate medium for this story, to actually show the ghosts.