The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson, a review

I really enjoy time-slip novels–where two stories are told, one in the past, one in the present, alternating chapters. So I was glad to find this middle-grade mystery novel with time-slip, published in 2018. Also, it focuses on race issues, a topic dear to my heart. In fact, it’s written by an African-American about African-Americans.

Twelve-year-old Candice, new in the small town of Lambert, SC, is happy to discover a letter left her by her eccentric grandma. The letter gives her a puzzle to solve, a puzzle that had stumped Grandma. The letter promises riches for the puzzle solver and for the town of Lambert, so naturally she recruits a new friend, Brandon, and tries to figure it out.

It has to do with a racial incident in 1957 and how various townspeople respond to the new circumstances they eventually find themselves in. Bad things are done and said, and regrets abound. Eventually a rich man wants to make amends, and he devises the puzzle. But who is he?

Grandma thought the puzzle involved something buried under a tennis court, and her excavation yielded nothing but ridicule. If an adult couldn’t solve it, will Candice and Brandon be able to figure it out?

And, in the parallel historical story, what happens when two teenage boys both love a teenage girl ? Especially in a Southern town, when race intrudes: one of the boys is white? This story is gripping, especially for an adult reader. I am not sure what a middle-grader might think of it.

I really enjoyed this sprawling book. It has plenty of food for thought. I’ll give it four stars * * * *.

Big Foot and Little Foot: The Squatchicorns, by Ellen Potter, a review

This chapter book, The Squatchicorns by Ellen Potter, tells a yarn just for that young reader who likes gentle, fantastic stories. Engaging illustrations by Felicita Sala bring it to life. It's the third book in a series about a friendship between … [Continue reading]

How I Became a Spy by Deborah Hopkinson, a review

I couldn't put this book down, and it's been a while since that happened! How I Became a Spy by Deborah Hopkinson, published in 2019, gives us a gripping middle-grade mystery about World War II. Thirteen-year-old Bertie starts volunteering as a … [Continue reading]

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo, a review

Louisiana’s Way Home, a middle-grade historical  novel by Kate DiCamillo, took ahold of my heart somehow. I read it a couple of days ago, and it’s still hanging around in my mind. I think it’s the amazing combination of the quirky characters, … [Continue reading]

Flight of the Bluebird by Kara LaReau, a review

(Book giveaway! scroll down for details.) Flight of the Bluebird is the third and final book of the Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters. It's a middle-grade adventure featuring the twins from Dullsville who are learning to like a bit … [Continue reading]

The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix, a review

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler, by John Hendrix, is a hybrid graphic novel for teens and adults,  telling an unforgettable story in an unforgettable way. It was published in 2018 by Amulet. The book alternates … [Continue reading]

The Hotel Between by Sean Easley, a review

The Hotel Between by Sean Easley, a middle grade fantasy published 2018 by Simon and Schuster, 341 pages: a review. Cameron, age 12, lives in Texas with his grandma and twin sister Cass, who is confined to a wheelchair. A vacant strip mall he … [Continue reading]

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, a review

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, a review Published 2015 by MacMillan, 245 pages Genre: Middle grade, realistic with a touch of fantasy Crenshaw, a huge cat, used to be Jackson's invisible friend -- when Jackson was three years younger. So now … [Continue reading]

The Hate U Give movie, a review

In the movie "The Hate U Give," 16-year-old Starr is an African-American living in what she calls "the 'hood," a place called Garden Heights, while attending a nearly all-white high school. She lives in both worlds, trying to fit in both … [Continue reading]

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, a review

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, a review Published in 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Genre: Middle grade historical Not till I got to the end of this book did I realize how autobiographical it was.  It features a 12-year-old boy, Jack, in … [Continue reading]