The Money We’ll Save by Brock Cole
When Ma is forced to send Pa to the store for eggs and flour, she warns him to just buy those two items. But Pa is talked into purchasing a turkey poult at the market because of the money he’ll save. They plan on having the turkey for Christmas dinner after feeding it on scraps and letting it live in a box by the stove. But their nineteenth century apartment was definitely not designed to raise poultry. Alfred, the turkey, grew and grew and soon started to eat much more than table scraps. The family started to get creative with where they could house Alfred but there wasn’t much they could do with the limited space. As Christmas neared, the mess and stink of a turkey was getting to be too much. Though he may be messy, the children started to love Alfred. What happened when Alfred became more of a pet than a meal?
The setting here is brilliantly done. The depiction of the tenement building, the attitudes of the hard-working family, and the frugality of their family life all are vividly depicted. The 19th century time period works well for a Christmas story, one that focuses more on family than on expense and presents. This is an old-fashioned Christmas tale with lots of heart and character.
Cole’s art also captures the day-to-day life of this family. The clothes and home immediately let readers know that they are not reading about today. The illustrations are a jumble of family life, turkey mess, and a small space packed with furniture. The illustrations have a real heart to them, filled with familial love and busyness.
Highly recommended, this book is a great one to add to Christmas traditions. It is sure to have smiles beaming from all ages and will inspire the sharing of your family’s holiday memories. Add this one to Christmas story times too as a break from Santa Claus and presents. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Legend by Marie Lu
This dystopian fantasy is set in what used to be the western United States and now is The Republic. The rising waters have caused issues with power, large slums, and lawlessness. June is the only person to ever get a perfect score in the Trials, marking her as a prodigy. She lives a live of luxury with her older brother, who has raised her after her parents’ accidental deaths. Trained as a soldier, she is about to claim her destiny as the ideal warrior. Day is the most wanted criminal in The Republic. From the slums, he has managed several amazing feats of defiance but worries most about his family and the plague that is in their neighborhood. The two of them would never have met, but then June’s brother is killed and it looks like Day is the culprit.
Lu takes the dystopian genre and weaves a story that both hearkens back to the heart of the genre yet creates something new and amazing. The setting of a decaying United States at war with itself is slowly revealed through the story. The results of that war are shown rather than told in details that bring the entire world to life. From the luxury of June’s life through the squalor and danger of the slums, the setting is a pivotal piece of the tale.
The two compelling main characters add the action, the style and even the romance to this book. June is trained to be a lethal weapon, yet she questions orders and thinks deeply about the ramifications of what she is doing. Day is a dystopian Robin Hood with plenty of moxie and appeal. Both of them wonder at their world, the truth of The Republic. They also both see themselves as people who are able to make a difference.
The writing here is crisp and clean. The story is vibrant, fast moving, and stellar. This is one outstanding dystopian fantasy. It is sure to appeal to fans of The Hunger Games and will leave many fans eager for the next book in the series. Appropriate for ages 14-16.
Reviewed from ARC received from Penguin.
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