Review: Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

love and other foreign words

Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

Josie attends both college and high school, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  So she has to be able to speak fluent High School and College.  There are people in her life who speak her own language, her best friend Stu, her parents, and her older sister Kate.  Josie also has to learn the way to talk to Kate about her dismal new boyfriend who doesn’t seem to be going away as quickly as Josie would like.  Even worse, it looks like they might be getting married, but not if Josie can stop it.  As Josie starts to date, she learns that there are Boyfriend languages that she has to learn as well.  But will anyone bother to learn to speak Josie?  And how in the world do you stop a crazy bride-to-be from ruining your life along with her own?

McCahan has written a smart female protagonist who is not afraid of being seen as intelligent and often shows off her knowledge in very humorous ways.  It’s great to have a super-smart girl in a book who relishes her own brains and also manages to have close friends.  Just as lovely is a book with a teen protagonist who enjoys her parents and gets along with her siblings too, most of the time.  Josie is entirely herself with her own sense of identity that often does not match the ones that people want to inflict upon her.  And that is celebrated in this wonderfully clever read.

McCahan has a knack for comedic timing and witty comments.  She doesn’t take it too far or make Josie too very clever.  Instead the humor reads naturally and seems like the sort of things that a smart teen would say.  The use of foreign languages to look at how people communicate in different ways is a very clever take on it.  As Josie stumbles through relationships on different levels, she is acutely aware of when things go awry but also just as confused about how to fix them.

This is an outstanding novel with an unusual protagonist that will have you laughing along with Josie as she navigates the many languages of her world.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett

matildas cat

Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett

Matilda thinks her cat loves to do a lot of things.  But really, it’s Matilda who loves playing with wool, climbing in boxes, and riding bikes.  All of those things scare her cat.  It’s Matilda who loves tea parties, hats, and swords.  She loves drawing pictures, climbing trees and reading bedtime stories.  And she does it all dressed in her cat costume.  At the end of the book, Matilda has crossed off all of the things she likes because her cat doesn’t like them and made a huge list of everything her cat does NOT like.  But there is one thing her cat does like after all, Matilda!

Gravett excels at creating quirky and marvelous picture books for children.  Here she captures the reaction of a cat perfectly on the page, his ears back and his eyes wide with worry.  The text is at first a list of everything that the cat should like, but then the lists clearly turn to what the little girl enjoys instead.  Through it all, the cat’s concern is the same but it is still inquisitive enough to stay around Matilda and all of her activity. 

The simple text lets the illustrations tell the real story and the real reaction of the cat.  It was a great choice to have Matilda look very much like her cat, so the two show different reactions to the activities.  The illustrations pop against the large amount of white space, making this a book that could happily be shared with a group, since it read aloud well.

A great pick for reading at story time or units about pets or cats, this picture book is another winner from Gravett.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon and Schuster.