May 20, 2015

Summer island adventure

Shack Island Summer
by Penny Chamberlain

Twelve-year-old Pepper and her older brother Everett are spending the summer with their grandmother, who lives on tiny Shack Island. Feeling neglected by Everett, her parents and the knowledge of being adopted, Pepper starts dreaming about her real family and of being special, especially since she seems to have psychic ability. She sometimes has slightly scary dreams that tend to come true. These dreams lead her to Ray, a draft dodger who's hiding out in one of the shacks. Pepper quickly decides that Ray is her real brother and is determined to help him. Her poor judgment leads her into danger, but it somehow works out in the end. Along the way, Pepper gains a new appreciation for her life and her family.

Set in 1969, this is an innocent, almost idyllic novel with a nostalgic feel and a happy ending.

May 13, 2015


The Farmerettes
by Gisela Tobien Sherman

The Farmerettes are a group of girls who, during the summer of 1943, live and work together on an Ontario farm as part of the Farm Service Forces. Most abled-bodied men have enlisted to fight in the second World War and there's not enough of them left to tend to the crops. It's up to the Farmerettes to pick fruit and hoe vegetables. 

The novel follows the stories of six girls from different backgrounds - Helene, whose wages support her single mother; flirtatious Peggy, who tries to keep her German background a secret; Isabel, pining for her soldier fiancé; rebellious Binxie, trying to escape the constraints of her rich family; Jean, whose family owns the farm; and X, the mystery girl. 

The work is hard and the hours long, but they still have time to laugh and sing and dance with boys. Moments of heartbreak and romance shape their lives, changing them from girls to women. The action ebbs and flows like real life and readers have their choice of characters to root for, whether it's watching Helene gain confidence, Isabel strength, or Binxie a new path. Of all the girls, X is the least mentioned, but her story is the saddest. She gives readers a lot to worry about; thankfully Binxie helps her a lot. Binxie supports all the girls, which is why she'll be a favorite.

Full of caring, heartfelt moments, this is a tender novel that will appeal to girls who like quiet romances and sensitive secrets.