Larrabee told me three things about All the Impossible Things by Linsday Lackey:
- It has lots of awesome animals, including a giant tortoise named Tuck (after Tuck Everlasting).
- It would make me cry.
- I would find it impossible to put down.
All were true.
All the Impossible Things is the story of 11-year-old Red. She’s been in foster care since the death of her grandmother and the arrest of her mother on drug charges three years ago.
Like her mother, Red has power over the wind. Whenever she is upset or angry, she struggles to keep her feelings inside for fear of causing a dangerous windstorm.
Red’s latest foster family is an older couple who run the Groovy Petting Zoo. They love animals and books, and they seem like they could be a good fit. But when Red’s mother is released from prison early, she’s no longer sure where she belongs.
All the Impossible Things addresses difficult issues, but it is a hopeful book. I highly recommend it.
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo is the story of Flora, a comic book reader and natural-born cynic, and Ulysses, a squirrel with superpowers as a result of a close encounter with a vacuum cleaner.
If that sounds wacky, it is. Delightfully wacky. It’s a quick and funny read told from the point of view of both girl and squirrel, and it includes comic-style illustrations by K. G. Campbell. It’s also a touching meditation on loneliness, hope, and love. Larrabee and I both liked it a lot.
This book won the Newbery Medal in 2014. As Flora would say, “Holy bagumba! Holy unanticipated occurrences!”
It’s back-to-school week for our family, and we’ve been getting our school supplies organized. We don’t have a magic pencil, but at least we have a terrific book about a magic pencil: All the Answers by Kate Messner.
Middle schooler Ava Anderson grabs an ordinary-looking blue pencil out of her family’s junk drawer one day so she’ll be prepared for her math class. When she doodles a question in the margin of her quiz (“What is the formula to find the circumference of a circle?”), a voice answers in her head (“Two pi R”).
With the help of her best friend Sophie, she starts to explore what you can do with a pencil that seems to have all the answers: get homework help, amaze their friends, and figure out when shoes will go on sale. They learn that the pencil can’t predict the future, though. For example, it can’t them which boy Sophie will kiss first. But it can tell them which boys have a crush on Sophie.
Ava is a worrier, and at first, she likes being able to ask questions all the time. She likes knowing what her teacher thinks or what her grandfather wants. But then she starts to worry about what will happen when the pencil can’t be sharpened anymore. And worse yet, what will she do if she finds out something she doesn’t want to know?
All the Answers is a satisfying story with both funny and sad parts. It’s about having the courage to act even when you’ve thought about everything that can go wrong. I’d recommend it for any kid, especially kids who (like Ava) get anxious about everything from tests to tryouts to field trips.