Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake (9780316515467)

Ivy’s family is displaced from their home when it is destroyed by a tornado. Ivy manages to save her pillow and her book of drawings, which have pictures of girls holding hands and looking into one another’s eyes. But at the emergency shelter at the school, she loses her drawings. Her family moves into a room at a Bed and Breakfast, but there are six of them in that single room and there seems to be no room for Ivy with her busy older sister and infant twin brothers. Then at school, someone starts to return her drawings to her one-by-one in her locker. Could it be June, the girl that Ivy has a crush on? Or maybe her best friend’s boyfriend who has talked to Ivy about her art? The drawings come with notes encouraging Ivy to talk to someone about her feelings, but will Ivy have the courage to do that?

Blake has created a middle-grade book that is warm and beautifully supportive. She shows being gay as just a piece of who Ivy is and twists her feelings about her sexuality up with how she fits in her family in general and the struggles of middle school friendships. Using Ivy’s art as a platform for her self expression works very well, and her artistic vision is presented as the way she sees the world as a whole.

Ivy’s complicated relationship with her family is presented with honesty, showing a family struggling to handle the loss of their home, young babies, busy lives and still manage to care for everyone. Ivy is shown as a creative and thoughtful character who struggles with telling people the truth, not just about her sexuality but also about her feelings in general.

A strong middle-grade novel about sexuality, families and friendship. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert


Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert

Geisert leaves behind his signature little pigs and instead tells the story of a storm rolling through the Midwest.  Follow the course of a red truck filled with sacks and bales of hay as they race the storm to get unloaded in a variety of places.  As the sky darkens, readers also get a glimpse of animal life both above and below ground.  The wind stirs and then roars, a funnel cloud forms and threatens destruction until the wind lowers and the sky clears and it is time to start cleaning up. 

Geisert tells his story with the only words being timestamps below some of the images.  His art is filled with details that make one linger and wonder.  He changes lighting and feeling with tightness of line and colors.  What is most fascinating about the book is that all of the illustrations fit together into one long illustration without any breaks.  It makes me wish that the book unfolded so that I could see it as one long line, but it is very interesting to look at the book in a new way, viewing it differently on a second reading. 

This is a celebration of the power of nature and the way that light changes through the course of a storm.  Geisert mixes in plenty of action and the tension of a family at risk.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.