Sugary Connections!

February 7, 2010 at 9:43 pm Leave a comment

The House On Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
Helene grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in Liberia, Africa.  This country was the place that many freed slaves from America came to to start a new life.  Helene’s family could be traced back to these families and she led a very élite lifestyle as a result.  In her teens, a coup overthrew the government and her family fled to the United States.  Helene became fascinated with journalism and eventually got a job with the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post.  She traveled the world and also became a US citizen.  But she needed to go back to Liberia and see what happened to her foster-sister and the world she knew as a child.  She connects with her past as a result of this trip.  This memoir of Helene’s childhood is interwoven with the history of Liberia.  It is at times complicated and horrific.  It is a fascinating story and helped me to understand the nature of civil war and coups in African countries.  Recommended Reading! 

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler
This is a good young adult novel for the 5th grade and up set. Although set in the high school, it is quite innocent and tame especially when discussing boys and dating.  I think lots of 5th grade girls are looking for this kind of story, yet often not quite ready for a mature romance. Or perhaps they think they are but their parents aren’t!   Penny and her  mother move from the city to a small town where her mother grew up and now opens up a cupcake bakery.  Penny has trouble fitting in at school and finds herself the target of a group of mean girls who pull endless pranks on her.  Meanwhile, Penny is using her creative side to create cupcakes for her mother’s store while she hides out from the social scene.  She finds a friendship in a wonderfully quirky character named Tally and they begin to figure out life together.  An impending divorce is also part of the drama as well as a mysterious cute boy who just may find Penny interesting.  This book may not win awards but it is a sweet read.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
I recently bought a brand new copy of this 1957 Newbery Award winning classic for the Washington library and it looked so inviting that I had to read it .  I have to admit that I usually read the new books and have not read a lot of the older books.  This book was a delight and so this is a lesson that I  have to keep reading the older copyrights too. 

 Marley who is 10 years old and her older brother and parents are arriving at Maple Hill in the early spring in Pennsylvania to live in their grandparents farm. The house had been empty for the past 20 years but Lee, the mother, has fond memories of spending time here. As they arrive,  they get stuck and have to be pulled up the hill. It is sugar maple season and their nearest neighbors are working in the nearby maple woods.  The father in the family, Dale, has come home from the war (Korean?) where he had been a prisoner and endured some difficult days.  Since being home he has been depressed, angry, and tired. They are hoping time in the country will be a healer.  The book completes an entire year as the family learns that friendship of neighbors, the beauty of nature, and a time of slowing down is a miraculous healer. The process of harvesting maple sugar is interesting and central to much of the story. The kids also learn a lot about the signs of the seasons as they learn from their neighbor and naturalist Mr. Chris. This book would be historical fiction at this point but when it was written it was contemporary.  The words queer and gay are often descriptions used in the writing yet seem so strange to our modern eyes.  This book captures life in a different time yet invites us to step back and find it for ourselves. Highly Recommend!

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