Stealing Our Way Home by Cecilia Galante

Stealing Our Way Home by Cecilia Galante

Stealing Our Way Home by Cecilia Galante (9781338042962, Amazon)

When Pippa and Jack’s mother died six months ago, everything changed. Their father who had been holding everything together during the last months of her illness, suddenly disappeared into his work. Pippa hasn’t spoken since her mother died. Jack has taken on the responsibility that his father has dropped. Meanwhile, their electricity is being cut off and the children discover that their father has lost his car sales business. Their lives become more complicated as Jack is drawn into his father’s desperation for money and a dangerous scheme. Pippa suspects what is happening and is also struggling at school with her silence. It’s going to take fresh strength as a family for them to come out of this dark time.

Galante has created a multilayered novel that is complex and yet not overly long. She wisely layers in other characters who struggled with loss in their lives too, showing the various ways that people can react to grief. This allows readers to see the response of the father in the book as strange and confusing, much as it seems to Pippa and Jack. The book celebrates the power of family even as it is about one that is entirely falling apart. It is also about the love that makes people do stupid things to keep a family together just as those same decisions tear it further.

Galante tells the story from the points of view of both Pippa and Jack in alternating chapters. This is also a clever choice, showing the internal struggles of both children and allowing readers to see the pain that both of them are experiencing and yet displaying it outwardly in different ways. Throughout the book, the setting is vital and important, the lake itself becoming a reflection of emotions and a way to connect to life.

Beautifully written and intelligently crafted, this novel is a remarkable look at grief and families. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (9780803737006, Amazon)

Very simple patriotic text allows the illustrations by Nelson to shine on the page. The text moves from describing the nation and its flag to the various natural beauties of its land. The people of the nation come next. A well-worn face of Lincoln next to the well-worn flag that is tattered. People march on the streets, other attend a baseball game and still others are the face of America on its porches. Faces of all colors and creeds fill the pages until they return to the flag, our shared purpose and freedom itself.

This is one of the most patriotic picture books I have ever seen. The words are so simple and yet speak so profoundly of all that the United States holds dear. The illustrations for these words are truly exceptional. Each page is a wonder, and turning the pages is like visiting a gallery of Nelson’s work. They are filled with the faces of America, symbols of our nation, and the beauty of the land.

Awe inspiring, patriotic and grand, this picture book is superb. Appropriate for ages 3-7.

Reviewed from library copy.