I recently went to the library with my children and, while there, did something I almost never do anymore: I grabbed a bunch of books off the shelf without knowing anything about them, merely because I liked the covers and thought they looked interesting. I still have a good, if rusty, nose for books and I found some winners. I provide the links to amazon in case you want to read more about the books, not because I receive a kickback.
Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles is a historical fiction novel about a girl with TB who goes to a sanatorium to be treated. The story is poignant and well told. I especially liked this book because the topic isn't addressed much, especially for the upper elementary crowd. Miriam (age 10) also really enjoyed it. We'll be adding this one to our personal shelves.
Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge I'm including because Miriam loved it so much. The premise is awesome--a 13 year girl who writes thrilling mystery stories under a different name who is called upon to solve a terribly strange mystery in an insane asylum. It is supposed to read like something published in a penny dreadful of yesteryears and I liked the first half and then got tired of it. Please keep in mind, however, that I almost never like mysteries that much (Victoria Holt's The Night of the Seventh Moon excepted). Miriam, on the other hand, loved it. Mystery is her favorite genre. If you have an upper elementary aged child who loves mysteries or paranormal thrillers--this might be for you.
Moonkind by Sarah Prineas I didn't read. Miriam did and loved it (I didn't realize it was the third in a series so I'll be checking out the other ones) and it is highly rated by amazon reviewers, so I thought I'd give a heads up that this author/series might be worth reading.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is a GOLD STAR BOOK and the best find at the library that day. The story is about a young girl at the turn of the century who wants to be a naturalist/scientist. At least, that is the basic premise. Really this book is about the evolving relationship between Calpurnia and her grandfather, and also how her family is evolving as her oldest and favorite brother starts dating seriously. Her family is changing and Calpurnia has to learn to adapt.
Amazon reviewers revile the book for two main reasons: one, the reviewer doesn't believe in evolution and doesn't think children should read about Darwin or grandfathers who give their granddaughters whiskey; or, he or she thought the book was too slow with no real plot.
I just plain disagree with the first complaint. The validity of the second complaint is debatable. This is not a plot-driven book, it is a character/relationship/coming-of-age focused book and it does read a little slow. In fact, Miriam didn't even finish it she was so bored. (I don't think she read far enough in to get hooked.)
I am freely admitting that this book is not for everyone. I, however, loved it. I disagree with all the reviewers that claimed the book was too feminist or not enough feminist. I don't think it was feminist at all. I think it was an accurate representation of the time period, and her mother and the cook were both relatable, charming, well fleshed out female characters. I also thought Calpurnia's six brothers were delightful. I would have liked to know more about her dad, but by the end of the book I wanted to move in with the whole family and get to know all of them better. Definitely my kind of novel.