Vango: Between Sky and Earth by Timothee de Fombelle

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The July issue of School Library Journal includes my first starred review!  The book is Vango: Between Sky and Earth by Timothee de Fombelle, a French writer.

de Fombelle’s thrilling and demanding book for young adults will be published in October. Until then, here’s my review:

“A thrilling historical adventure set in the mid-1930s, this novel opens with a dramatic scene in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris where 19-year-old Vango is about to become a priest. Just before he is ordained, his is falsely accused of murder. After scaling the Cathedreal, the teen’s exploits unfold across rooftops, on land and sea, and even by the Graf Zeppelin airship. Vango’s journey takes him from the Sicilian Islands, where he was raised by a nanny under mysterious circumstances, to Germany where Nazi power is on the rise. He remains just one step ahead of a determined – and somewhat comedic – police superintendent and several other characters whose obsession with catching Vango leads to more questions than answers. Among the historical figures who make appearances are Hugo Eckener, commander of the Graf Zeppelin, Stalin and the composer Sergei Prokofiev. Just as memorable are minor characters such as Giuseppina Trossi, a woman who lives on the isolated island where Vango was born and supplies important information about his past; a beautiful Scottish heiress, a priest who lives in an ‘invisible monastery,’ and a girl called ‘The Cat’ who, like Vango, is comfortable spending the nights on Paris rooftops. With numerous characters and a winding and often complicated story, this breathtaking tale is guaranteed to keep teens on the edge of their seats, and will appeal to confident readers who enjoy intricately plotted tales.”

In other news….


– I was sorry to hear of the death of award-winning author Walter Dean Myers last week. He had a huge impact on countless readers and educators. Only this spring I heard him speak at a conference at the Kennedy Library where the respect teachers have for his work was obvious. As he walked into the conference room with a group of other speakers, I heard people say: “there he is,”  a tribute to the power of his work. In March of this year, Myers and his son, author and illustrator Christopher Myers, wrote op-ed pieces for The New York Times, asking “Where are the People of Color in Children’s Books?” about the importance of multicultural books for children. Click here to read The New York Times obituary:


– The July issue of Oprah magazine which features “The Best Books of Summer” would be good to bring along to your next book club meeting. Lots of ideas – and a good essay by Zadie Smith called “Confessions of a Pathological Reader.” I wrote this line down: “Books are my version of experiences. I’m made of them.”

In the Oprah crew’s opinion, The Vacationers by Emma Straub is one of the “15 Titles to Pick Up Now.”  I did buy it the other day so all set there.  There’s also a “Beach Reading Canon” which includes one of my favorite books of all time, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. I did not read it anywhere near a beach, but it entered my personal “Land Lovers Canon.”

Happy Summer Reading!




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