I received ARC’s for these two books from the publishers at ALA’s Midwinter Conference.
Sweeping Up the Heart by Kevin Henkes
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Summary from Goodreads:
A novel about loss, loneliness, and friendship that tells the story of the spring break that changes seventh-grader Amelia Albright’s life forever.
Amelia Albright dreams about going to Florida for spring break like everyone else in her class, but her father–a cranky and stubborn English professor–has decided Florida is too much adventure.
Now Amelia is stuck at home with him and her babysitter, the beloved Mrs. O’Brien. The week ahead promises to be boring, until Amelia meets Casey at her neighborhood art studio. Amelia has never been friends with a boy before, and the experience is both fraught and thrilling. When Casey claims to see the spirit of Amelia’s mother (who died ten years before), the pair embarks on an altogether different journey in their attempt to find her.
This is a very quiet story about one week in a young girl’s life. Amelia is a sweet and likable 12 year old, who is feeling adrift in the world. Her best friend is away, her father has always been distant, and Amelia just really wanted to go to Florida for Spring break. She has her art though, and that is what brings her joy and solace when she needs it.
Although her relationship with her father is strained, by the end of the story you can tell how much he loves her even though he has a hard time showing her. Her relationship with Mrs. O’Brien is wonderful and makes up for the issues she has with her father. It was wonderful to see a relationship with an older caregiver that is so loving and warm.
I also enjoyed watching the budding friendship with Casey. Amelia admits that she has never been friends with a boy before and their quiet awkwardness with each other was very well done. Casey is also having a difficult time, his parents are getting divorced, but I can tell that he will be a good friend for Amelia.
The plot was very quiet, but oh so sweet and charming! It was hard to believe that it was only a few days worth, because so much happens. The story is very much Amelia’s journey and growth, but it is done with care and support from those around her.
This will definitely will not be a book every kid will enjoy, but for those who do find it, it will be one that they will cherish.
Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Summary from Goodreads:
On the last night of summer, Emma tags along with her game warden father on a routine call. They’re supposed to rescue a wild rabbit from a picket fence, but instead they find a little bunny. Emma convinces her father to bring him home for the night.
The next day, Emma starts public school for the very first time after years of being homeschooled. More than anything, Emma wants to make a best friend in school.
But things don’t go as planned. On the first day of school, she’s paired with a boy named Jack for a project. He can’t stay on topic, he speaks out of turn, and he’s obsessed with animals. Jack doesn’t fit in, and Emma’s worried he’ll make her stand out.
Emma and Jack bond over her rescue rabbit. But will their new friendship keep Emma from finding the new best friend she’s meant to have?
A quiet and short book about loneliness, making friends and doing what is right.
Emma is another young lady at the beginning of starting something new. She has great relationships with every member of her family, who are very supportive of her. Owen, her much older brother, is especially supportive and understanding of what she is going through. Their relationship was very sweet and endearing.
Emma is very nervous about attending public school and her trials and tribulations about navigating this new world the first few days was well done. I think every kid who has been the new kid at a school, no matter the circumstances, will be able to relate to Emma and her struggles. I also liked that even though she felt like quitting, she didn’t, she kept trying.
Jack is a character that kids will understand as well. Although it isn’t stated, Emma picks up on the fact that he has special needs, and that the kids, while kind tend to avoid him. Their relationship also develops into something sweet, even though there are times that Emma feels exacerbated by his behavior, she gets that that is the way he is. The scene when he meets her rabbit was the sweetest thing ever.
This is a very sweet story about friendships and rabbits. Many kids will see themselves in Emma and will enjoy seeing her conquer her fears and persevere in making friends.