Okay, so the finish line was last night, and I was exhausted and trying to squeeze in the last bit of reading I could and put off reporting on it until today. I read about 3 hours on Saturday and 6 or 7 hours on Sunday (I was keeping track as carefully then.) Here’s what I finished:
It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit
by Justin A. Reynolds
Read from library copy.
Eddie Holloway, age 12, has promised his mom he’ll be a responsible kid this summer, including taking care of his laundry. He thinks that strategically wearing all his clothes so that he only has to do laundry once is a genius idea, even if he’ll end up doing laundry in his swim trunks. . His mom disagrees. That’s how he ends up home alone in the dark, creepy basement while the rest of his family – and most of the neighborhood – is at the Beach Bash on Lake Erie.
Fortunately, when power and cell phone reception cut out across the neighborhood, there are a few other kids left at home – his best friends Xavier and Sonia, as well as middle school basketball star Trey and his little sister Sage. Together, the kids entertain themselves, scrounge for snack food, learn more about themselves, and try to figure out when might be the right time to start worrying about their grown-ups.
It might sound ironic to say that this is a fast-moving book where very little happens, but that’s just the way it is. Eddie is a fast-talking kid with ADHD whose brain races all over the place, sometimes hilariously listing the reasons why laundry should be considered criminal, other times explaining why his stepdad can never replace his deceased father, and others imagining completely over-the-top dialogues between the Universe and the Universe Itself about how fun it is to find ways to torment Eddie.
We’re over 100 pages in before the power outage that the kids are considering the end of the world takes place, yet I was too busy laughing at Eddie to be bored. And underneath all the humor is real feeling, acceptance of difference, and character exploration. I will definitely need to read the next book to find out what happens next! This would be a great one to hand to fans of The Last Last Day of Summer by Lamar Giles.
Valentina Salazar is NOT a Monster Hunter
by Zoraida Cordova.
Read by Ana Osario
Scholastic Audio, 2022
Listened to audiobook on Hoopla
I just realized that both of these books have a kids processing the death of their father as a major theme…
In this book, the titular Valentina, age 11, has grown up traveling with her family in a wonderful souped-up camper van named the Scourge, homeschooling and looking for magical creatures to send back to the magical realm of Finisterra where they belong. That all ended when her father was eaten by an oropuma they were trying to rescue. Now they’ve moved into his deceased Aunt Ersilia’s house in Missing Mountain, New York, where Valentina is just not able to give up looking for new cases, as her family has made her promise to do. She’s not fitting in at school, trying to hide the orphaned and talking magical creature she’s kept as a companion, and frustrated that her once-close family has split off into individual bubbles.
But when she sees a video livestream of an oropuma egg waiting to hatch – attracting more and more viewers by the hour – she’s determined to find a way to rescue it before its secret is spread to the world. She’ll have to escape her uncle’s side of the family – the side that hunts magical creatures down rather than protecting and rescuing them. But she’ll also grow closer to her family, and meet both lots of magical creatures and many of her on-line friends from her kids’ magical creature group. This is a fantastically fun adventure, with thoughts about finding your circle of care and standing up for your beliefs, even against those more powerful than yourself. It’s a great one for fans of other magical animal books, like the Unicorn Rescue Society series.
I also got halfway through Those Kids from Fawn Creek by Erin Entrada Kelly, and started The Last Fallen Moon by Graci Kim on audio. I didn’t break any records, but I had fun reading and seeing what everyone else was reading. Let’s do another one next year!