When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to Upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease.
When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia has to contend with what she may have inadvertently brought home with her.
This is a book that fits the category of visionary fiction. Teenager
Marlena Oliveira came into the world as a healer. Unfortunately, her mother
uses her for her own gains and by the time Marlena is eighteen, she has led a
life of prayer and healing but knows nothing of the world. She increasingly
questions her gifts and the direction of her life until she seeks out a scientist
who can help her explore her talents. She meets a boy, rebels against the
imposed prison lifestyle her mother requires, and strikes out to find her own
The scenes of Marlena performing her healings are well done and as believable as mystical states can be described. The teenage longing for maturity and independence ring true. This is a well-written book. The part that didn’t go down so well was the all or nothing kind of approach, the author insisted on. Either Marlena had to choose to remain a healer in the image her mother had chosen for her or leave the healing world for the mundane. Why? I wonder why Marlena couldn’t have found her own way of remaining a hands-on healer. Why the rush for conventionality? Perhaps this choice would require an adult audience? Too risky for YA? I wonder.
On January 28, 2019, The American Library Association announced its 2019 book award winners. Below are some of the winners.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded for the most distinguished American picture book for children. This year’s winner is “Hello Lighthouse,” illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall.
The John Newbery Medal is awarded for outstanding contribution to children’s literature. “Merci Suárez Changes Gears,” written by Meg Medina, has won this award.
The Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults has been awarded to “The Poet X,” written by Elizabeth Acevedo.
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for the most distinguished informational book for children went to “The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science,” written by Joyce Sidman.
The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults went to “The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees,” written and illustrated by Don Brown.
The Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. This year’s winners are “Julián Is a Mermaid,” written by Jessica Love and “Hurricane Child,” written by Kheryn Callender.
The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe:
This is a ghost story with historical elements and the required romantic angle for teens. Wes, an NYU summer session student and aspiring film maker happens to meet Annie at a séance where a friend is shooting a piece. She’s alluring and other-worldly and while the reader knows right away Annie is long dead, Wes is clueless. That’s okay. Wes is confused enough being in the city, trying to survive, and fulfill his own dreams finally away from his father’s prying eyes. Eventually, Wes is drawn into helping Annie figure out why she is so out of place and out of sync in the real world.
The novel alternates between the present and Annie’s 1825 reality. The two different New York cities stand side by side as Wes and Annie try to determine what happened and why Annie is caught in between. The author masterfully manages the timeline and the flow of the mystery. Annie is not presented as the typical ghost since she has physical existence, but like most ghosts not everyone can see her. There are some funny scenes as Wes and Annie move about a modern city. Adding to the enjoyment of the book are several secondary characters who are interesting and well-developed. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the author pulls off a surprise ending. All and all, a good book and if you don’t watch out, you might just learn a little history along the way!
The Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is the most visited cemetery in the world. On a recent trip, I visited this vast, interesting place. Famed for being the first garden cemetery, it opened in 1804 but there isn’t much space devoted to what we would think of as gardens. Instead, the cemetery is chock full of ornate, closely placed tombs. If you’ve visited the cemeteries of New Orleans, you’d feel right at home here. The sixty-nine thousand tombs cover a range of architectural styles, but the Gothic crypt seems to predominate in the older sections.
Although there are over one million interred in the cemetery, and there is a waiting list today, it wasn’t always a popular burial site with Parisians. Located far outside the city when it opened, and not being attached to a church, made it an undesirable final resting place. So a bit…