Somebody Else's Summer By Jean Little
Jean Little is an exceptional writer - and an exceptional Canadian. I first met Jean over twenty years ago when she was a very active writer participating in many events promoting Canadian children's books. Jean was born almost blind and was raised to live her life as normally as possible in spite of her handicap - she is an inspiration. Eventually Jean became completely blind - and was one of the first to use a "speaking" computer for her work. She has written dozens of picture books and junior novels - all of them wonderful - you can't do better than a Jean Little. Some of her most recent novels have dealt with difficult issues - Jean and her niece are raising the children of another family member - children whose mother was one of the prostitutes murdered in British Columbia - children born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
In spite of all of this, Jean, surrounded by her family and her pets is an optimistic and exuberant woman.
This new novel Somebody Else's Summer is vintage Jean Little - the wonderful novels of many years ago - this is a happy novel.
There are some issues - families with parents who are separated - but they are families who have members who look after each other with love and compassion - and it is a very fun novel.
Two girls meet on a flight from Vancouver to Toronto - they are each to spend the summer with a family friend or relative.
They discover that neither is happy with her potential home - so they switch.
The bookish girl pretends she is the other so that she can live with the family of readers, and the athletic, horsey, girl goes to the family with the riding stables.
It works surprising well for a surprisingly long time. When the circumstances force the girls to admit what they have done, their prank is received with understanding and amusement.
Both girls have grown up over the summer - they can now see their own family situation with some new maturity - and they have become best friends. A perfect summer read from a very wonderful writer.
The Wonder Spot
by Melissa Bank
If you can't really get in the car or on a plane, right now, today, and be in New York City, the next best thing is to read The Wonder Spot. Melissa Bank will take you there - to Union Square and the East Village, with excursions to Nantucket. This is a book to savour and enjoy.
Remember getting dressed up as a child for an important family occasion, having to look and behave just so?
You will feel that way again, as Sophie is introduced to us on a hot summer day. Jackie O is defining the way all the mothers are dressing - Sophie and her brothers are bundled into the station wagon, and I felt ten years old again. These are the years of get-togethers with friends of the family, a more innocent time and place.
We go along with Sophie to high school and university, the years of best friends and boyfriends - of breaking up and making up.
Now you feel like you're 16, then 21. Remember your first job - remember Selectric Typewriters!! Melissa Bank wrote the delightful Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, and her new novel is just as good, maybe better.
Take a day off and spend it in New York City with Sophie.