SNOW…..and Two Historical Fiction Reviews


I’ve never seen so much snow!  It comes half-way up our front door, our mailbox has almost disappeared, and the plow truck lost a wheel in our driveway!  Here are pictures of all the fun–

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The good news: time to work on Inly’s summer reading list (it gives me hope) and time to read.


A few weeks ago I read Randall Platt’s new middle grade novel –Incommunicado. My review is in the February issue of School Library Journal:

“Twelve-year-old RubyOpalPearl, known as Jewels, lives in Sea Park, Oregon (population 542), and is entering seventh grade and “poooooberty” just as the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Sea Park is a quiet tourist town, but its most prominent citizen, and one of the most  important people in Jewels’ life is Tommy Kaye, a man with Japanese ancestry. Mr. Kaye owns many businesses in town, including the Stay and Play, the tourist cabins where Jewels lives with her unconventional mother, “Malice Alice,” and her studious brother Rex. Outraged by Sea Park’s overnight suspicions of Mr. Kaye, who is a respected pillar of their community, and the arrival of an FBI agent looking for information about Mr. Kaye, Jewels decides to take matters into her own hands. After hiding Mr. Kaye, keeping him “incommunicado,” Jewels begins to unravel other mysteries about her town and her family. Although her efforts are misguided, readers will respond to Jewels’ determination and courage. The novel is enriched by a vivid and memorable cast of supporting characters including Jewels’ mother who becomes more complex as the novel unfolds; Rex, a teenager who would prefer to focus exclusively on his academic pursuits, but finds himself caught up in more immediate events; and a family friend, Father Donlevy, who offers guidance and support to Jewels. With a high-spirited protagonist and a tense and eventful backdrop, Incommunicado will appeal to fans of historical fiction who enjoy stories that realistically portray ethical dilemmas.


And yesterday, in between watching reports of Julian Edelman’s and Malcolm Butler’s parade at Disneyland and the weather forecast, I read Eugene Yelchin’s novel, Arcady’s Goal. 

Breaking Stalin’s Nose, Yelchin’s 2012 Newbery Honor book, is excellent so I had high hopes for this one and it did not disappoint. Arcady’s Goal was inspired by the life of Yelchin’s own father who played soccer for the Red Army Soccer Club. In fact, there is a picture of that team in the front of the book. Set in Stalinist Russia, Arcady is a twelve-year-old orphan whose parents have been identified as “enemies of the state.” His soccer skills bring him to the attention of a kind widower, Ivan Ivanych, who has faced political problems of his own.  When Ivan adopts Arcady, Arcady is under the mistaken belief that Ivan is a recruiter for the Red Army Soccer Club and so he energetically tries to showcase his abilities.  As the story unfolds, Arcady understands that Ivan’s story is more complex and that they have both suffered from the cruelties of Stalin’s regime. Yelchin’s beautiful drawings complement the action and set the mood for this thoughtful and moving novel.



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