Moving through my summer reading list, I took on a a historical novel, Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata, a fairytale adventure, Robe of Skulls, by Vivian French, an environmental novel, One White Dolphin, by Gill Lewis.
Kira-Kira is a powerful, Newbery Medal-winning, story of the strong bond between two Japanese-American sisters living in Iowa and Georgia in the 1960s. Katie’s sister Lynn best friend, her mentor and the person that taught her that kira-kira means glittering. Kira-Kira takes many forms: stars in the sky, the sea, people’s eyes. Katie’s family struggles. Her family moves to Georgia where her parents find work in chicken hatcheries owned by a very rich man who does not treat his workers well. Katie’s parents work around the clock to make a living and are are devastated when Lynn is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
I was really touched by the beauty and the sadness of this book. I loved the portrayal of Katie’s strong love for her sister, her quirky but sweet Uncle, her hard-working parents, her love for her little brother and how Katie manages her pain of her sister’s illness. I will definitely recommend this to my tween and middle school students.
For those of you in search of a fun, fairy tale fantasy, you may enjoy The Robe of Skulls. I think this book would work best for third and fourth grade readers. Robe of Skulls is the first of a series of four books in the Tales of the Five Kingdom’s series.
Lady Lamorna has ordered a new fabulously creepy robe of skulls from the Ancient Crones. Unfortunately, this wicked sorceress’s trunk of gold is empty. She has no money to pay for her robe. What will she do? Why, devise a nasty scheme to turn all the royal princes and princesses into frogs and ransom them, of course. Little does Lady Lamorna know as she sets out on her evil mission with her troll, that she will meet a very evil stepsister who wants to steal the money Lady Lamorna earns and a young girl named Gracie Gillypot who might just foil her plans.
One White Dolphin is an environmental story based in Cornwall, England. Kara Woods is a girl who lives with her father at her aunt and uncle’s house. Her mother, a marine biologist and environmentalist, disappeared while on a scientific mission. Kara is bullied at school by the sons of powerful fishermen whose parents opposed her mother’s efforts to save the local reef from destruction and dolphins from being caught in fishing nets. When an albino dolphin calf washes ashore, Kara and her new friend Felix team up to help the dolphin survive and to fight to save the reef that fishermen will destroy as they dredge it to find scallops.
I found myself rooting for Kara on her quest to save what her mother had fought so hard for. There are several exciting and suspenseful scenes that I really enjoyed as well. I’d recommend this book to tweens and middle school students.