Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gossamer by Lois Lowry

I'm always willing to pick up a book by Lois Lowry and give it a try. She is a master storyteller, and one never knows where she may take the reader.

Gossamer is a strange but beautiful story about dreams, memories, and helping others. The lexile of 660L makes this a good choice for middle grades - 3rd grade and up. 

Blurb from Where do dreams come from? What stealthy nighttime messengers are the guardians of our most deeply hidden hopes and our half-forgotten fears? Drawing on her rich imagination, two-time Newbery winner Lois Lowry confronts these questions and explores the conflicts between the gentle bits and pieces of the past that come to life in dream, and the darker horrors that find their form in nightmare. In a haunting story that tiptoes between reality and imagination, two people—a lonely, sensitive woman and a damaged, angry boy—face their own histories and discover what they can be to one another, renewed by the strength that comes from a tiny, caring creature they will never see.

This slim volume is a quick and easy read, yet it will give you pause to think about your life, your dreams, and which things make it into your dreams. The boy in this story will touch your heart, and you will want to banish his father forever. You will cheer on his mother and hope that she can turn her life around. You will be glad for kind dogs and old teachers. 

This is a book that touches the heart. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Summer of Riley by Eve Bunting

In The Summer of Riley by Eve Bunting, she doesn't shy away from tough issues. Published in 2001, this story deals with death, divorce, bullying, and the potential loss of a dog.

Blurb from Goodreads: Eleven-year-old William never needed a friend more than now. After his parents' separation, his father's new engagement, and his grandfather's dying without any warning -- adopting big, beautiful Riley is the first thing in a long time that has made him feel better. That is, until Riley innocently chases a horse. Local law states that any animal that chases livestock must be put to sleep. Suddenly William stands to lose another thing close to him. Together with his "totally unsurpassed" friend Grace, William begins a campaign to reverse the county commissioners' decision. But with a community divided on the issue, and the bully Ellis Porter trying to stop them at every turn, will they be able to save Riley's life?

I loved seeing William and Grace work hard to fight to save Riley. They show how children can have a voice in the processes of government. William's anger was portrayed realistically, as well as they way he processed his anger and learned that things are never as black and white as we think they are. If you are an animal lover, you will enjoy this story.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is the second graphic novel I've read recently. Graphic novels are a great way to entice students into reading - they are comic books all grown up. While they are not my favorite way to read a story, my students and Matthew always love them. Published in 2015, Roller Girl won a Newbery Honor.

Blurb from Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. So when Astrid signs up for roller derby camp, she assumes Nicole will too. But Nicole signs up for dance camp with a new friend instead, and so begins the toughest summer of Astrid's life. There are bumps and bruises as Astrid learns who she is without Nicole...and what it takes to be a strong, tough roller girl.

Jamieson tackles issues that twelve-year-old girls will be able to relate to: friendship, enemies, boys, growth, how to be a friend, determination, wanting to give up, getting into trouble, figuring out who you are, etc.

This is an interesting story with great illustrations.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Flora & Ulysses by the Great Kate DiCamillo was published in 2013 was the 2014 Newbery Medal Winner. This is her second Newbery Medal. Yes, she writes that well.

The lexile measure on this book is 520, which is a bit low for it's intended audience, but this book could be used as a book for struggling readers because the content works for middle grade students, This book contains pictures and several pages are in comic book format, so the mix up of pictures, comics, and pages with words allows brain breaks for kids who need that. There is plenty of white space on the pages and the lines are wider spaced. I love all these features in a book because it helps those with reading disabilities, brain injuries, or seizure disorders.

This would be a wonderful book to read with a class as it uses humor to explain why we should seldom use exclamation points and all caps, the correct use of apostrophes, and the use of euphemisms.

Flora, the main character, is smart, brave, and kind, but she is a cynic. She is a strong girl - the kind of female character I like. Ulysses, the squirrel, is wonderful. His last poem could be a love letter to everyone who ever mattered to a person, so I won't share it here because I don't want to spoil the story, but it was the perfect way to end the book.

This story is a charming quick read.

From Kate's website:

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences.

The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by artist K. G. Campbell.

Read to a child today even if that child is you.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo by CeCe Bell is an autobiographical graphic novel of the author's experience with severe to profound deafness that was brought on by a serious illness when she was a young child. Published in 2014, this book won a Newbery Honor award. The pictures are fun, and the story will help build compassion and understanding. This book also shows how badly children want to fit in and be accepted.

I loved that the font used in this graphic novel was one my old eyes could easily read. That isn't always the case with graphic novels.

After CeCe becomes deaf, she is able to go to a school for deaf children. She has a lot of friends who are all dealing with the same issues that she deals with. She feels acceptance, and the teachers know how to accommodate children with hearing loss.

Her family moves to a small town the following year, and because this story takes place in the 1970s when accommodating children with disabilities was a new thing, school becomes more challenging.

Using cute illustrations, CeCe shows the reader the different issues she had to face. She also shows the reader how to treat someone with hearing loss.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

NICU Delivery: We have books!

Tomorrow, 120 books will be delivered to the NICU in Ogden. Thank you to those who have contributed books to this cause. Parents are reading to their babies while they are in the hospital. I love, love, love that babies are being read to while they are so little. Hopefully, this habit will continue when they go home.

This is what 120 packets look like - 22 English, 2 Spanish - each with five books because we are trying to build lifelong readers. These books give parents a way to talk to their babies and help the hours go by a little faster.

Included in this delivery are 27 more books from my neighbor Michelle:

And 16 board books from Dr. Carolyn Rich-Denson:
I love being able to put at least one board book in every packet.

The donations are appreciated greatly. When a child has a love of reading, the world opens to them in so many ways. Thanks for helping us reach more babies than we could if we were doing this alone. People are good. :)

If you'd like to contribute to our book drive for NICU babies, here is how you can help:

1. You can order books for your own children from our online Usborne book party and the proceeds will go to purchase books for the NICU. I've received over $350.00 in free books for the NICU from people buying books for their own families through this web link. Usborne is really good to their hostesses, and they have great board books for babies. Click on the link: Usborne book sale to benefit NICU The books you order will be shipped directly to your home. You can then give them to your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. The free books from the hostess benefits go to the NICU. Books make a great addition to your child's Easter basket. 

2. We have set up a baby registry at with many books listed for the NICU babies. Some of these books only cost 2.50. Many of these are classics that all children should have. Click on this link if you'd like to help provide books for the NICU: Catherine Crosby Building Lifelong Readers Book Registry. If you order books for us, they will be shipped to me, and I will package and send them to the NICU. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

Jordan Sonnenblick, the author of Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, wrote a companion novel that includes Steven and Annette from that story. Notes from the Midnight Driver is the story of Alex Peter Gregory. His parents are going through a horrendous divorce battle, and at the beginning of the story, Alex decides to drive over to his dad's house and chew him out, but he chooses to get raging drunk first and never makes it off his street - well, except to plow into the neighbor's yard and hit her garden gnome.

Alex is sentenced to community service. He is sentenced to be a companion to a grouchy old man who is dying from emphysema. He struggles at first to get along with this man, but the judge tells him he can't change patients. There is a twist that made me go back re-read the letters between Alex and judge.

This is a book about second chances, forgiveness, and change. While I think the message it contains is a good one, I also think that sometimes, it is best to walk away from people who would continue to abuse you - and only you can be the judge of that.

I enjoyed seeing Steven and Annette in another book. I liked this book and gave it 3/5 stars.

Read to a child today even if that child is you.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Not Just Anybody Family by Betsy Byars

Besty Byars sucked me right in with her strong characters in The Not-Just-Anybody Family. Published in 1986 with a lexile measure of 690L, this story is just right for middle grade students. Young readers will like the ingenuity of the characters and relate to the fears they face.

Blurb from Goodreads:When Junior Blossom wakes up in the hospital, his last memory is of crouching on the barn roof with cloth wings tied to his arms, and of Maggie and Vern in the yard below, urging him to fly. That had been just before Junior spotted a police car approaching the farm in a cloud of dust. Meanwhile Pap, the children's grandfather, sits in disgrace in the city jail. He was arrested for disturbing the peace after his pickup truck accidentally dumped 2,147 beer and soda cans (worth $107.35) on Spring Street. With their mother away on the rodeo circuit, it's up to Maggie and Vern to find a way to rescue Pap and Junior. How will they solve their family problems?

I loved the characters in this book. Junior's hospital roommate is such a tease that he is a menace. Byars' descriptions made me feel like the kids were real and that I knew them. Many of the scenes are quite funny.  You may need to make sure your reader knows about pay phones, gathering pop bottles, and that Pap probably would have been shot in today's world when he discharged his gun in the town.

Mud the dog is wonderful, and every family should have a dog just like him.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot by Trudi Alexy

The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot: Marranos and Other Secret Jews--A Woman Discovers Her Spiritual Heritage by Trudi Alexy has one of the most complex titles I've ever seen on a book, but don't let that stop you from reading it.

Published in 1993, Alexy tells the stories of herself and several other Jews who escaped Hitler's final solution by getting to Spain during WWII. In Alexy's case, her family was baptized Catholic before they got to Spain and hid the fact that they were Jews. She goes on to tell about several other Jews who made it to Spain illegally and how they were allowed to remain there until they could get visas to somewhere else.

Reading about how Spain helped protect Jews during WWII makes me wish that other countries had done more to save them. We had the knowledge to act, but we didn't act. A full ship of Jews was sent back from American waters, and all of the people on that ship died.

This book shows that we must work together to help our brothers and sisters where ever they may be in the world. We can't sit back and do nothing just because we feel they are different from us.

"We must keep remembering how important it is to take care of one another. Those of us who lived through it could not have survived that horror without looking out for each other" (159).

One Jewish woman told how helping others cross into Spain was illegal, but she said, "We were in danger because everything we did was illegal, from the French point of view. But you have to consider this danger in the context of the times. Just walking around in Marseilles was dangerous for us, because we were illegal" (185).

I think of her words, and I wonder if I would become illegal if my loved one's lives were in danger. What would I do to protect them? This is why I can't bring myself to judge anyone who crosses a border illegally. I haven't walked in their shoes, so I don't know. I think of the Syrian refugees fleeing ISIS and how scared they must be. I see photographs of their children - their faces twisted in fear and tears, and I want to help them just as the Spanish people helped the Jews.

"We must all remember that if we allow even one among us to lose his or her freedom, each of us is in danger" (191).

"To save one life is to save the world" (204).

The last section of the book tells about how the Jewish faith became secret in Spain during the 1300s Inquisition, and how each family worked to keep faithful to their Jewish heritage. I found this section interesting because it shows how deeply set our fears become - that even when we can safely tell, we still struggle to tell something that had been so protected.

This book is well written and the first I've read about Spain's role in protecting those who needed help.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Home of the Brave is my new favorite book. Written in verse, this story of an African refugee is told by Katherine Applegate using simple and beautiful language. I read it in a day. The only thing I didn't like about this book is that it wasn't longer. As I got to the end, I dreaded that last page knowing that I wouldn't read it again until Matt is finished with another book and a half of the series he is in. He also loves Katherine Applegate's work, so it will be a breakfast book soon.

In Africa, Kek lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived, and now she's missing. (from inside the front cover)

Kek lives with his aunt and his cousin who lost a hand in the fighting in Africa. He makes a friend, Hannah, and finds a job on a small farm.

"My aunt holds my face in her hands
and I see that she's crying.
I know her to be a woman of many sorrows,
carved down to a sharp stone
by her luckless life.
She isn't like my mother,
whose laughter is
like bubbling water from a deep spring

I look into her eyes
and then tears come hard and fast,
not for her, not for my cousin,
not even for myself,
but because when I look there,
I see my mother eyes
looking back at me" (21 -22).

This book takes me back to a time when I worked with a student from Africa. He was confused by idioms as Kek is. When learning to speak English, he once asked, "What is this thing - thermostat?" This was a word in a story we were reading. He didn't have a furnace in Africa or a thermostat, but he wanted to learn and know everything right now. He had a drive for knowledge that I didn't see duplicated until another ESL student from Mexico came my way.

This book shows how hard it is for a person to start life anew in a place that is so very different from their home. I love Kek's attitude. I loved how he got his job and how he finds a home for a friend. His answer is to just do it.

"Maybe I should call ahead
and explain things? Lou asks.

Sometimes it's better
just to walk up to the door
and ask, I say" (228).

If you've never tried a story told in verse, this is a great one to start with. You will love the beautiful language of this story and the wise innocence of a young boy who has lost nearly everything in his war torn land.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes' books are completely delightful, which is why you will see several of them on my blog. Old Bear published in 2008 is a simple story about a bear hibernating and dreaming of all the seasons.

His dreams are like my dreams with impossible things happening, but all the impossibilities are things that go right along with the season.

For spring, there are flowers as big as trees, and he can nap in a giant pink crocus.

In summer, the sun is a daisy, the leaves are butterflies, and the clouds rain blueberries.

Autumn brings a landscape of everything yellow, orange, and brown.

Winter is covered in ice with stars of all colors.

This sweet and simple book is a quick read and makes a good bed time story especially if your child wants more than one story.

The hardcover edition is beautifully bound with heavy pages, and it also comes as board book for about half the cost.

Read to a child today even if that child is you!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The House Without a Christmas Tree

I remember watching the television movie based on this book when I was a young girl. I had no idea there was a book. The House Without a Christmas Tree, by Gail Rock, was published in 1974. Charles C. Gehm is the illustrator, and his beautiful illustrations convey so much emotion.

This little 88 page book has a Lexile measure of 940L. My copy has a lot of white space on the pages, which is great for kids with brain injuries.

This little book contains two very strong female characters, Addie and her Grandmother. Set in 1946 when women didn't have much of a voice, ten-year-old Addie Mills is not afraid to ask for what she wants. She will fight anyone who says anything mean about her grandma. She also has a very kind heart.

Addie's grandma is called a character by one of Addie's classmates, which makes Addie fighting mad, but her teacher explains that it is a good thing to be a character. It got me thinking that in about fifteen years or so, I can be a character and no one will dare say a word to me about it. There is power in being older.

Addie's dad will not let her have a Christmas tree. She begs each year, and he forbids it. Grandma tries to get him to change his mind, but he is firm in his decision and threatens to take Addie and live somewhere else if Grandma interferes.

When Addie wins a Christmas tree, her father is angry, so much so that Addie is heartbroken. Will she get her Christmas tree? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Read to a child today even if that child is you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Friends of the NICU book project

Today I want to recognize two people who love our NICU book project idea as much as I do. They consistently have their eyes open for low cost books for the babies.

The first is my neighbor, Michelle. She is a former early childhood educator and my partner in crime when it comes to book shopping. We are bad influences on each other necessitating the purchase of more bookshelves for both of us. I've told her I can't go on a book spree until I buy more bookcases.

She understands how important it is for children to be surrounded by books. She loves the idea that parents are using these books to read to the their babies while they are still in the NICU, allowing them to hear literary language, poetry, and their parents' voices.

Here are her latest contributions:

Angela Jensen, one of Angie's coworkers, gave us 19 more board books for the NICU. She sees first hand the value of having parents read to the littlest of babies. I haven't met her, but she has donated many books to our cause, and Angie says she is wonderful. Board books are great for this age group, and I like to put at least one in every packet.

The picture on the Animal Babies book sucks me right in.

Because of their generous donations combined with books I purchase, I have ten more packets to deliver to the NICU the next time I see Angie - that means fifty more books reach our most vulnerable little ones. I also have board books for future packets. 

If you'd like to contribute to our book drive for NICU babies, here is how you can help:

1. You can order books for your own children from our online Usborne book party and the proceeds will go to purchase books for the NICU. I've received over $350.00 in free books for the NICU from people buying books for their own families through this web link. Usborne is really good to their hostesses, and they have great board books for babies. Click on the link: Usborne book sale to benefit NICU The books you order will be shipped directly to your home. You can then give them to your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. The free books from the hostess benefits go to the NICU. Books make a great addition to your child's Easter basket. 

2. We have set up a baby registry at with many books listed for the NICU babies. Some of these books only cost 2.50. Many of these are classics that all children should have. Click on this link if you'd like to help provide books for the NICU: Catherine Crosby Building Lifelong Readers Book Registry. If you order books for us, they will be shipped to me, and I will package and send them to the NICU. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Teen Tuesday: Following My Own Footsteps

I ordered Following My Own Footsteps from so that I could read book two of Stepping on the Cracks. I'd read book three not knowing this was a series.

Published in 1996, Following My Own Footsteps by Mary Downing Hahn tells about Gordy, his mother, and his three younger siblings going to stay with their grandmother in the South. The Lexile measure is 740L which makes this book easily readable for the intended age group of middle school. There is a little swearing, smoking, drinking,  physical abuse by the father, and a scene where the older brother tells about the horrors of war.

In this installment, bully Gordy comes to a new place where he is called a "Damn Yankee." He fights and refuses to do his school work. He is deeply entrenched in failure mode, but his grandmother works with him on his school work. He meets and becomes friends with the boy next door who is in a wheelchair because of polio.

He makes good progress, but when his father gets out of jail and comes to take his family to California, things go haywire for Gordy.

Hahn captures perfectly the mindset of a child who badly wants to fit in (Gordy's sister June) even though she is dirty, unkempt, and hungry.

"June nodded and smoothed her dress. 'Do I look pretty?'

'Sure you do,' I lied. The truth was, her hair was ratty with tangles, her dress was stained with the apple juiced she'd spilled at breakfast, and she had that pale sickly look she gets when she's tired.

'That's good,' she said. 'I want Grandma to think I'm a pretty little girl. I want her to love me'" (11).

"I glanced at June. She was standing up straight and tall, waiting for Grandma to notice her and smiling so hard it hurt to look at her. If you ever saw a puppy at the pound, that's what June reminded me of. Pale and dirty and skinny but hopeful. If she'd had a tail, she'd have been wagging it to beat the band" (14).

I cried when I read these passages because I know how just how June felt.

The title of this book is the overall message of the book. It doesn't matter who your parents are; you don't have to end up like them. You don't have to follow in their footsteps because you can choose a better path and follow your own footsteps.

This is a great series for students (or adults) who like historical fiction and kids who have to be tough.

Read to a child today even if that child is you.

Monday, March 7, 2016

One Boy by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I found this book about numbers in my travels last week, and I love it. The book is well made, is about counting, and makes a great read aloud.

Laura Vaccoro's One Boy is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. Published in 2008, this book has cut outs on each page so that when you turn the page, some of the words and pictures are shown and they change what is said or shown the next page. The book counts from one to ten. I included a video of me reading this book to my grandkids because it is hard to describe how valuable this book is for a young child's library.

Each page has from two to five words on the page, so a very young child can feel like they are reading. The font is huge and the story fun. Jace loves this book. When I visited him this week, he had me read it to him over, and over, and over again. He was so cute; at the beginning of the story there is one boy all alone. Jaced pointed to the empty chairs in the picture and said, "I will sit right there." He didn't want the boy to be alone.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Wait! No Paint! by Bruce Whatley

Re-imagined fairy and folk tales are so much fun. Bruce Whatley retells The Three Little Pigs in Wait! No Paint! He adds the illustrator as a character resulting in a fun and hilarious adventure.

Published in 2001 with a lexile meausre of AD350L, this is a story you will want to read to your child. AD means adult directed, so your child may need help understanding the role of the illustrator. This book is great for questioning and predicting. Read Goldilocks and the Three Bears before reading this book as it comes up in the story.

The three pigs in this story go out on their own because they live with seventy-three other pigs. The illustrator spills a glass of orange juice on the first little pigs house causing it to fall down in a sloppy mess.

The illustrator also runs out of red paint. Have you ever tried to make a hot fire without red paint? It can't be done, and the pigs are going to be dinner for the wolf unless the illustrator can think of a way to save them.

You could read the original story and then read this one and have your child (or class) find the similarities and differences. Instead of reading the original story, you could have the kids retell it aloud, and see what they know.  You could have your child write their own version of the story. This book has many possible applications in a classroom and at home.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Brothers of the Heart by Joan W. Blos

When I picked this up, I didn't know it was the second book of  A Gathering of Days. . ." but that is okay because they are more of companion books - each one stands on its own.

Published in 1985, Brothers of the Heart has a Lexile measure of 830L. This tells the story of Shem Perkins, a boy born with a crippled leg. He wants to work and feel like he is contributing, but some people won't give him the chance to prove himself.

I enjoyed Brothers of the Heart.  Shem had a drive to succeed even though he had a bad leg. Because Blos started the story at Shem's 50 year anniversary to Margaret, I knew he wouldn't die and that he would marry Margaret. This spoiled the suspense for me, but also makes it a safe read for those who get anxiety when characters are in jeopardy.

The format of this story is a bit unusual because parts of the story are told using letters, but it works.

The story takes place from 1837 to 1838. When Shem runs away, I felt so badly for his mom. His adventure helps him grow, learn, and become stronger than he would have if he'd stayed home, but as a mom, I couldn't stand how sick she was with worry. He earned  respect from many for what he did while he was gone. I loved Mary Goodhue. She was brave, strong, smart, and faithful. Shem appreciated her and they became good friends.

If you like pioneer stories, you will like this book.

Read to a child today even if that child is you!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Sector 7 by David Wiesner

I love the artistic genius of David Wiesner. He has outdone himself again with his Caldecott Honor winner, Sector 7 published in 1999. This beautiful book details a group of children on a field trip to the Empire State Building. The only words are those on store fronts, signs,  and the cloud board at Sector 7.

In Sector 7, one of the boys on the field trip meets a friendly cloud that steals his mittens, scarf, and hat. They become friends and the cloud takes the boy up into the sky to Sector 7 where clouds are formed and delivered.

The boy makes new pictures for the clouds to form, but he gets into trouble and is forced to leave. His new clouds thrill everyone in the city, and his cloud friend goes home with him.

This delightful story would be great in a classroom. You could use it to teach about the different types of clouds and weather patterns, and then take your students outside to observe clouds and see what you can see in the clouds that don't fit with cloud types.

You could read this with a child and then go out and look at the shapes the clouds make. I still remember laying in the grass with my mom and discovering art in the clouds.

Read to a child today even if that child is you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Teen Tuesday: Hollow City by Ranson Riggs

The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children is called Hollow City. Published in 2014, author Ranson Riggs continues the story right where the first one left off.

The 850L lexile measure makes this book easily accessible for ages older than twelve.

In this installment, the peculiar children are trying to find another ymbryne who can help turn their own ymbryne back into a person. If they can't find someone right away, Miss Peregrine will spend the rest of her life as a bird.

The majority of the story takes place in Great Britain, mainly getting to London, during WWII. This book is as dark as the first one which is why I wouldn't recommend it for grade school students. There are deaths, murders, and torture in the story. The title is fitting as most of the children have been sent out of the London to try to protect them during the war, and of course the Hollowgasts are still chasing the Peculiar children.

Jacob Portman, the only child from our time, learns more about his own power. He has important choices to make as he is the only one who still has living family. His parents are worried about him and long for him to come home.

This book also contains historic pictures, many of which are quite creepy. Ransom Riggs includes a cast of characters along with pictures at the first of the novel which helped me keep all the characters and their powers straight. I especially like Bronwyn, the strong girl because she takes care of others and has a kind and tender heart.

I will definitely be buying the third book next month when I go to Barnes and Noble for writers group.