Book Review: The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

swallowsI was sold on this book by the second sentence. “We lived in a perfect stucco house, just off the sparkly Pacific, with a lime tree in the backyard and pink and yellow roses gone wild around a picket fence. But that wasn’t enough to keep my daddy from going to jail when I turned eleven.” A prickly beginning to a book that will stick with you long after you finish the last page.

One of the joys of reading for me is sometimes stumbling upon a book that just moves me in a way I never expected. The Year the Swallows Came Early is that kind of book. “Groovy” Robinson wants to go to culinary school when she grows up, but unfortunately learns some harsh life lessons when she turns eleven.  She also learns that life is complex and the power of forgiveness is tremendously powerful.

I imagine more girls will pick up this book than boys, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The author fully develops Groovy’s friend Frankie into a believable but  flawed character, and just as noteworthy as Groovy. Try it out, I hope you will like it as much as I did. (Review by Mrs. Hembree)

Book Review: Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davis

lemonade warThe Lemonade War is another one of the 2011 Battle of the Book selections. When sister and brother, Jessie and Evan both decide to raise money by having lemonade stands, the family war begins. Check out the book trailer at: or view some of the funny student reviews on YouTube. (review by Mrs. Hembree)

Book Review: Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff

wild girlIf you love everything horses, then Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff is a good choice for you. After her mother dies, Lidie who lives in Brazil, finds that she has to move to New York to live with her father and older brother. She hasn’t seen them in years and they have some awkward moments in the weeks after their reunion. Add going to a new school where you don’t speak English, and nobody speaks Portuguese, and you have some tough times. Luckily for Lidie, her father is a trainer at a famous racetrack and she can live around the horses she adores.

Every other chapter tells the story about a new born foal and its start in life. Like Lidie, the foal faces many difficulties as it is removed from its mother and has to start life anew.

The story comes alive when Lidie and the foal come together at her father’s stable. A satisfying read for girls who love horse books. (Reviewed by Mrs. Hembree)