Thank goodness for Goodreads! When I decide to share what I've been reading I always have to go back to my books read list to find out! I'm always reading something, but I mix children's lit, YA, and adult lit. That means sometimes I have to go back a few weeks to find the books appropriate for this post. Anyway, here are three of my recent reads in no particular order.
Due to my love of The One And Only Ivan I had put Crenshaw on my to be read list as soon as I heard about it -- and then waited forever for it to actually be published! As with Ivan and Home of the Brave, Applegate is dealing with a very serious issue. She handles it without being preachy or getting to dark for children to appreciate the story. In this one, Jackson's family is struggling with their finances and are probably going to be living in their van -- again. His parents are musicians, but his Dad has MS and his mother lost her teaching job. When his Dad was diagnosed several years earlier, part of Jackson's coping was to have an imaginary friend - a very large cat named Crenshaw. In the midst of this new crisis, Crenshaw appears again. Jackson is 10 years old now and is very aware that Crenshaw is not real. This is a sweet story about family and friendship. I recommend it for 3rd and up, though I personally would hesitate to read it to my students. My school has a high population of homeless families and it could be uncomfortable for some. I have had students in the past who lived in a car with their family.
I was interested in this story when I saw a blurb saying that readers who enjoyed The Fourteenth Goldfish should read this one. The theme of the two books is quite different, but Goldfish has some jellyfish information in it, so I understand the connection. Jellyfish is the story of Suzy trying to come to terms with the death the previous summer of her (former) best friend, who drowned at the beach. The fact that Franny was a very strong swimmer has made this death incomprehensible to Suzy. In her grief, she latches on to some information she learns about a particular deadly species of jellyfish, and she wants to prove that this is why Franny died. This is a middle school novel, and Suzy's struggles socially and emotionally may resonate with some of your readers.
I saw The Honest Truth recommended on Goodreads and almost bypassed it as another "kid with cancer" story. I am glad I didn't; it was not an easy read, but I appreciated the perspective of the sick young man, Mark. You may not agree with his choice to run away to climb a mountain with his dog; I certainly didn't! However, I ended up rooting for him and for his friend Jessie who gives her perspective from back home and knowing where he went. The best character in the book is Beau, Mark's dog, who goes on the journey with him and is the true hero of the story. This is a debut novel, and I will be watching for what the author does next.