Live Through This by Mindi Scott
Coley is living a lie. Her life appears to be perfect on the outside. She is popular, dances on the school dance team, and has started dating a cute guy in her class. But that’s just the surface. After her mother fled an abusive husband in New Zealand, she has since remarried and now has three children with her new husband. Coley and her brother, Bryan, feel like outsiders sometimes, so many years older than the other children in the family. And then there is the secret that Coley can’t even admit to herself. A family member is molesting her at night. All Coley can do is pretend that it doesn’t happen and just continue to try to live her life. But it does happen, and it’s getting more and more difficult for Coley to pretend it away. This is a riveting story about the cost of living a lie and the courage it takes to tell the truth.
Scott’s writing is all the more powerful because of all she leaves out. Readers know from the very first pages that Coley is being sexually assaulted at night, but Scott doesn’t reveal who it is in her family. This builds the tension tremendously, making the book impossible to put down until that mystery is solved. Scott depicts the abuse itself with an unflinching honesty that makes it all the more sinister.
Scott powerfully captures the character of a girl who is working as hard and as fast as she can to stay in denial about what is really happening. Coley is a complex person, a loving and warm girlfriend and daughter on the surface, but there is so much fear and self-loathing underneath. Coley also carries a large amount of guilt with her, because of her reaction to the abuse. Scott does not shy away from the difficult emotions here, while always making sure that readers understand who is truly at fault.
A powerful, wrenching novel for teens that tackles incest and survival. Appropriate for ages 15-18.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.
The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
A little boy sits in bed reading a book with his mother. It’s a book about a bear getting ready to sleep for the winter. The boy and his mother share the story together, talking about the pictures and the bear. The bear eats and eats, getting ready to hibernate until he finally curls up and falls asleep. Then the snow comes, and the little boy can almost feel the cold from the page of the book. He looks closely at the pictures and finds hidden animals in the snowy landscape. The snow continues and the boy snuggles in closer, the bear sleeps on. As spring nears, the boy gets sleepy. Just as the bear is about to wake up, the boy falls asleep for the night. Now it’s his turn to sleep long and deep in a cozy bed.
This book is pure joy. It celebrates both the written word and the art of the picture book. Even more so though, it celebrates the connection built by sharing a book right before bed. Just as the boy could feel the winter emanating from the page, here you can feel the warmth and coziness. With my librarian hat on, I am delighted to see a book that models what reading aloud to a small child should look like. There should be conversations about the pictures, questions and answers about what is happening in the story, looking at the colors on the page, finding hidden animals, and much more activity than simply reading a story aloud.
Hallensleben’s illustrations have a gorgeous rough texture to them. The paint is lovely and thick, resulting in rich colors that add to that feeling of warmth and home. They also bridge the connection between the book and the family reading together, flowing seamlessly back and forth, uniting as an entire story.
Highly recommended, this is a book that will have you curled up and sharing it with your own little one immediately. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Amazon offers several annual best books lists. These are their 20 Best Picture Books of 2012:
The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare by Sam McBratney
Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer and Elizabeth Zunon
The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool, illustrated by Alison Jay
Crafty Chloe by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Heather Ross
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm
I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney
Nightsong by Ari Berk, illustrated by Loren Long
Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton
Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean and Eric Litwin
Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers
Those Darn Squirrels Fly South by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky