For kids facing challenges

REVIEW: Ridge Writers on Books

By DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL

These selections deal with young people coping with life’s challenges.

In “Angel Birthdays” (Erin Garay, illus. by Kirstin Abbott, ages 4-8, 32 pages, hardcover, pub. FamiliUS, 2013, $16.95), Gracie and Jake’s grandmother has died. It hurts. Their mother suggests that they have a special party to honor the day Grandma became an angel. They make presents, boxes filled with memories that will stir joy when they open them later and want to feel close to Grandma. This inspiring rhyming story provides ideas to help families heal together.

In Newbery Honor winner Julius Lester’s “The Girl Who Saved Yesterday” (illus. Carl Angel, ages 7-11, 32 pages, hardcover, Creston Books, 2016, $16.99), the trees which have raised the girl named Silence return her to the village that cast her out long ago. The most ancient of the ancient trees says she must go back to save Yesterdays. Soon she discovers a secret that the villagers don’t even know about themselves. They have neglected their ancestors, and “You cannot have Today without Yesterday. You may forget Yesterday, but it remembers you.” The people respond with music, dancing and a new bond with their lost loved ones.

In a closing note, author Lester writes, “It was my fate as a child to be exposed to death on many occasions. I grew up in a slum neighborhood where children, teenagers and adults I knew died in fires, automobile accidents, from stabbings, gunshots and disease.” From this, he developed a respect for his ancestors, a sense of connection that his lyrical fable beautifully imparts.

“Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers” (David Stable, illus. Doogie Horner, ages 9-12, 200 pages, hardcover, Quirk Books, 2017, $13.95) adds to Quirk’s beguiling Kid Legends series. We see a young Edgar Allan Poe saving a boy from drowning (after throwing him into the water first), a bullied J.K. Rowling punched out by a classmate and emerging as a feisty, resourceful student on whom she would model Hermione Grainger. We meet over a dozen more storytellers-in-training including Stan Lee and Jeff Kinney, who wrote “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and learn how their early years shaped future success.

Young readers will find considerable enjoyment and encouragement in all three books.

This monthly column is written by members of Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church and free programs are offered throughout the year.

Story First Published: 2019-06-21