Anything But TypicalAnything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Although I enjoyed this while reading it, it hasn’t really stuck with me. Details of plot and character are already hazy, and the only issues I really remember are that Jason, an autistic boy, tells the story from his point of view, and that he loves writing stories. He tries to tell his own story like a “normal” person would, and we get a glimpse into the ways that navigating school and everyday life are an added challenge for him. The characters of his parents were nicely fleshed out, and the story believable (although I can’t speak to the accuracy of Baskin’s portrayal of autism, it did win the Schneider Family Book Award for it’s portrayal of a disability experience). I’d recommend this to anyone interested in reading about autistic characters.

Source: my library system

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A Little PrincessA Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I can’t think of the last time I read A Little Princess, but what motivated me to reread it was the publication of a sequel by Hilary McKay, Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess. I don’t usually go for sequels to classics, but I love Hilary McKay’s other books, and I wanted to read the sequel with the original fresh in my mind. The Secret Garden is my favorite Burnett, but I couldn’t remember exactly why I preferred it. The reason turns out to be no fault of A Little Princess, simply the fact that The Secret Garden features…a secret garden. More thrilling than the changing fortunes of a winsome girl, plus I think there’s something more interesting about a character that you have to learn to love, like Mary Lennox.

All that said, I loved rereading A Little Princess. As an adult, I paid more attention to the behavior of the adults in the story – the flaws of the women who run the school, her father’s behavior, the woman who runs the bakery. Mary is certainly impressively resilient and cheerful in the face of adversity, but she has her moments of weakness and despair. What I loved most was that she demonstrates the power of the imagination, whether you’re a rich girl or a poor girl. This one’s a classic for a reason.

Source: my library, probably the exact same copy I read as a kid, with Tasha Tudor illustrations (of course)

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Marching For Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow WearyMarching For Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge

What sets this book apart from others about the Civil Rights movement? The first thing, which I didn’t realize until starting the book, is that it focuses on the youth who were involved in the march from Selma to Montgomery. It shows how they were able to get involved in way that their parents couldn’t risk, using a wide variety of first-person accounts woven into the story. The second thing – the pictures. Partridge has an eye for choosing the right image (just look at the cover) and for making it an essential element of the book. A vivid, engrossing read, probably good for middle school on up to adults.

Source: my library system

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Tom's Midnight GardenTom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

I picked this one up after seeing it mentioned on Fuse #8’s Top 100 Children’s Novels Poll (although it didn’t actually make the top 100). The plot sounded eerily familiar, and I thought there might be a chance that it would turn out to be the time travel book I read as a child and haven’t been able to find since. Sadly, I don’t think this was the book, but the similarities in plot meant that it was still satisfying in some of the same ways.

For starters, it feels old-fashioned even before you hit the time travel element, with an original publication date in the 1950s. Tom is having a dull, isolated summer in quarantine with his aunt and uncle when he discovers a door that takes him into the past. This was the kind of thing that I dreamed would happen to me as a child – that doorway into the past, or into Narnia, or into somewhere thrilling. The story perfectly captures the ways kids feel bored and the way they approach adventure – for example, Tom tells everything in letters home to his younger brother, who never for a moment doubts the truth of Tom’s adventures.

I’d definitely recommend this to kids who like time travel and/or old-fashioned stories.

Source: my library system

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