Rummanah Aasi
  I realized that I haven't posted any children/middle grade book reviews in a while. I also have a back log of reviews to write, which tends to happen when I realize I only have this month to wrap up all of my reading challenges. Yikes! Below are my reviews of Heart of a Shepherd by Roseanne Parry, Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris, and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Description: Ignatius "Brother" Alderman, nearly twelve, promises to help his grandparents keep the family's Oregon ranch the same while his brothers are away and his father is deployed to Iraq, but as he comes to accept the inevitability of change, he also sees the man he is meant to be.

Review: Parry's first novel, is a boy's emotional and spiritual coming-of-age. It's heartfelt and often heartwarming, but her characters come out too perfect. The spiritual tone comes out a bit too preachy at times and heavy handed. The first person narrative falters a bit when Brother muses internally. She does a great job, however, of acquainting readers with the realities of modern ranching life and the impact a distant war has on the families who are left at home to cope.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is a mild swear word in the book and some disturbing images. Recommended for mature Grade 4 readers and up.


If you like this book try: Almost Forever by Maria Testa and The Quilt by Gary Paulsen


Description: A young man with a mysterious past and a penchant for inventing things leaves the troll who raised him, meets an unhappy princess he has loved from afar, and discovers a plot against her and her father.

Review: Once Upon a Marigold is a really fun read, which I think both girls and boys will both like. Girls will be drawn to the romance, which isn't too gooey and gushy. Boys will enjoy the comedy and action. The characters are compelling, well developed, and sympathetic. The usual tropes in fairy tales will be found here and while you may already know how it ends, but the quirky personalities and comic subplots give the story additional texture and make it an entertaining read. Though the book wraps up nicely there is a companion novel available, but I don't plan on reading it at the moment.
Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 5 to 8. I think it would be a good read aloud for younger grades 2 to 4.

If you like this book try: Twice Upon the Marigold by Jean Ferris, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, for older readers The Princess Bride by William Golding


Description: Ten-year-old Bud, lost his mother at a very young age. He goes from foster home to foster home in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression. After escaping a bad foster home, sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father: the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.

Review: I don't have much luck in enjoying titles set in the Great Depression because, well, it's depressing but I was so surprised how much Bud not Buddy was so different from the other titles I've read about this period mainly because Bud is such a delightful character. I didn't expect him to be hilarious, smart, feisty, and determined young man. While the grim conditions of the times and the harshness of Bud's circumstances are authentically depicted, Bud's hope and optimism is contagious and balances the book. We can't help but root for him and join him on his journey. Bud's tale does have Dickensian twists in plot and is filled with a host of memorable and distinct personalities. Teachers looking for a book to enhance their Great Depression curriculum for elementary and middle school grades should definitely consider adding this book to their list. 

Rating: 4 stars

Curriculum Connection: Social Studies
Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
7 Responses
  1. I've heard great things about Bud not Buddy and have always meant to read it. Glad that it's different from a lot of other Depression books.


  2. Missie Says:

    Ha! I recently did the same with my backlog. At least you did yours in the same genre. Mine were scattered. LOL

    I've never been a fan of internal musings. They are so hard to convey.


  3. Alison: The book is great and I've also heard good things about the audiobook.

    Missie: Guess where I nabbed the idea from? It was easier to do them in the same genre. ;)


  4. Love the mini reviews! These sound like good MG books, but I do cringe when I saw Once Upon a Marigold. I'm allergic. *scratches* ;D


  5. Jenny Says:

    "I don't have much luck in enjoying titles set in the Great Depression because, well, it's depressing"

    You are so cute Rummanah! That made me laugh, but I definitely get what you mean. I tend to stay away from historical fiction that deals with things like the Depression or the Holocaust because I just feel really heavy after reading them and it takes me a while to shake that off. Glad Bud was such a fun and feisty character though!


  6. The last 2 look like something I would enjoy. I like historical fiction and while the depression is indeed...depressing...I find the era fascinating. I suppose it's due to what those who lived then, had to do, to survive. I think I'd like to give Bud, Not Buddy a chance!


  7. Once Upon sounds really adorable. Great minis.


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