How to Say Goodbye in Robot

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Beatrice is new in town, but that’s nothing new for her.  She and her parents have lived in city after city, following her father’s career as a professor.   Bea tells herself that she doesn’t care what the other kids in school think of her.  She’s a senior and only has to make it through one final year until she heads to college.  In assembly, she finds herself between Anne who is very perky even early in the morning, and Jonah who everyone calls Ghost Boy because he is so pale and reserved.  It would make sense for her to become friends with Anne, especially because that’s what Anne wants.  But she finds herself drawn to Jonah.  They have one vital thing in common: they are both insomniacs and listen to late-night radio to fall asleep.  And so they become unusual friends, true friends who would do anything for each other. 

Standiford does the near impossible here.  She has a male/female friendship with no kissing, no groping, no sexual tension.  It is a real friendship: taut with tension at times, deep with emotion, glassy with superficiality too.  The relationship between these two teens is so genuine.  It is fragile at times, breakable, but iron strong and vital too.  It is shifting, changing, and true.

Standiford excels at several things in this novel.  Her characterizations are wonderful.  Not only the two main characters are real, but Bea’s parents, the radio callers, and other teens are fully realized and interesting.  Standiford’s pacing is also very well done.  It is so well done that it is unobtrusive and unnoticed while reading, which is just what pacing should be. It makes the book hard to put down and a pleasure to read. 

I should mention the cover, which I really don’t like.  It should not be a pink book, especially not a hot-pink book.  And the phone really doesn’t work for me.  With as special as this book is, it deserved a much better cover.  Let’s hope that it gets released in paperback with a better cover that really shows what it’s about.

This is an unusual book. The characters are unique, interesting and fun to spend time with.  Their friendship is so real that it is almost painful at times to read because it is so accurately and unflinchingly portrayed.  Sadly, the cover will have to be worked against to get it into the hands of teens who will relate to it.  Anyone with a real friend will find themselves on these pages.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from publisher.

Also reviewed by Jen Robinson and The Hiding Spot.

All the World

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee

Scanlon’s evocative but simple poetry draws the world together, creating a universal place for us all to celebrate, live and enjoy.  The poem takes us to the beach, up into the branches of a tree, to dinner, to the silence of evening, and then to the bosom of our families.  Frazee’s illustrations are large spanning views of the ocean, expanses of silent evening, and the grandeur of a large tree on a hill.  But they are also small, detailed, glimpses of real life.  They show drooping swimsuits, spilled buckets, sandcastles, and red tomatoes. 

This play between the minutiae of life and the larger connections of us all makes this book work so well.  Both author and illustrator gracefully create a web of the world this book.  The text reads aloud, dancing on the tongue, with subtle rhymes and gentle rhythm.  The tone is gentle, simple and expansive.  It is nicely echoed in the illustrations which work so well with the words that one cannot imagine it being done with different art.

A wonderful collaboration between author and illustrator, this book is a triumph.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by GregLSBlog, Jama Rattigan, Through the Looking Glass, The Picnic Basket, Reading Rumpus, and Jumping the Candle.