Review: Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos

saving lucas biggs

Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

When Margaret’s father is sentenced to death, she can’t believe it since she is certain he is innocent.  But this is what happens when someone tries to stand up to the company that owns the entire town.  It’s also the company that owns Judge Biggs.  The only way that Margaret can see to save her father is to change Judge Biggs’ mind.  According to Grandpa Josh, her best friend’s grandfather, Judge Biggs used to be a good person until his father was accused of murder and hung himself.  The only person who can change the course of time is Margaret who has to use her family’s forbidden power of time travel.  But history resists change and Margaret only has a few days before history rejects her to make the necessary changes to save her father.

De los Santos and Teague have written a book that takes on time travel in a very refreshing way.  The idea that history actively resists change and that there is a physical toll on the time travelers makes for frustrating time travel.  Yet it feels right and also creates tension in the story at just the right moment.  The authors also explore company towns and how workers tried to stand up to unfair business practices.  Here there is plenty of action in that fight, including murder and gunfire as well as quiet desperation. 

Margaret is a winning character, one who travels in time very reluctantly but is given little choice when she is the sole person who has a chance of saving her father.  The story dives into complexity, never making things easy or simple.  One aspect of this is the way that redemption is viewed.  Characters are seen as changeable, able to be rescued from what happened to them even in their elder years.  This book is about getting chances to make the right choice in the end, forgiveness for poor choices earlier, and friendships that stand through time and betrayal. 

A rich and vibrant look at time travel, this fantasy will also appeal to history buffs.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

Review: Swim, Duck, Swim! by Susan Lurie

swim duck swim

Swim, Duck, Swim! by Susan Lurie, illustrated by Murray Head

Told in rhyme, this picture book illustrated with large photographs explores one day in the life of a duckling who just won’t get into the water.  His parents are with him, encouraging him to try and so are all of the other fuzzy ducklings that are already swimming around.  But he is not sure that swimming is for him.  He might sink!  He hates to be wet!  And this might just be the perfect time for a nap. But with his parents encouraging him to keep on trying, there is suddenly a splash and he is swimming around merry and proud. 

Lurie’s rhymes have just the right amount of bounce and energy.  She captures the obstinate toddler who just won’t do what his parents are pushing him to try.  Children and parents alike will relate to this battle of wills where patient and positive parenting wins out in the end.  The text is simple and jaunty, keeping the duckling clearly an animal but giving words and emotions to his actions.

I’m a huge fan of photographs in children’s picture books.  Particularly when they are done as beautifully as Head’s.  The large format of all of the illustrations works beautifully, and I appreciate that they run all the way to the edge of the page rather than being framed in white.  The effect is an expansive one, these are pictures that pull you in until you too are pond-side and cheering on the duckling.

A great pick for kids heading to their first swimming lessons, this book would also make a nice addition to story times on ducks or trying something new.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I think are cool:

"I am a product of endless books" -- C.S. Lewis


10 Questions With…Illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi | ALL THE WRITE NOTES #kidlit

BEA 2014: Diversity in Children’s Publishing #kidlit

BEA Buzz: Five graphic novels to look forward to this year — Good Comics for Kids #kidlit

Cameron McAllister’s top 10 amazing machines in children’s books | Children’s books #kidlit

Harry Potter And The Forbidden Books : NPR #kidlit

Here’s What Would Happen If Your Favorite Childhood Books Were Written Today #kidlit #humor

Judy Blume: Parents worry too much about what children read – Telegraph #kidslit #reading

Librarian Preview: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group (Fall 2014) — @fuseeight A Fuse #8 Production #kidlit

Predictions! 2014 NYT Best Illustrated Children’s Books — @100scopenotes 100 Scope Notes #kidlit

RAISING A READER Organization Offers Tips for Getting Children to Read During Summer Vacation – BWWBooksWorld

Robert Sabuda’s top 10 pop-up books | Children’s books #kidlit

Welcome, Little One | Great Books about Babies | School Library Journal #kidlit

Writing advice from Roald Dahl | Simon Read #writing #authors #kidlit


5 Ways Libraries Cultivate Community Art| Erinn Batykefer | #libraries

Check Out the Internet: Libraries Lending Internet Access #libraries

How your library can get a gig – District Dispatch #libraries

Libraries see light after years of cuts #libraries


TechFiat – Decentralized Economics • Today is the day we Reset the Net #privacy

For every book I read, 10 more are added to my to-read list.


I Say Awkward Things To Authors: BEA 2014 Edition | BOOK RIOT #bea – I thought I was the only one who did this!

The Muscle-Flexing, Mind-Blowing Book Girls Will Inherit The Earth : Monkey See : NPR #yalit