Monday, February 15, 2010

Becky Mushko reviews "What A Christmas!"...thanks, Becky.

From Becky Mushko's Peevish Pen blog.

Two Books by Regional Authors
Since the last couple of months have kept me snowbound, I've been reading a lot. I haven't posted any reviews for a good while, so it's about time I did.

Just before Christmas, I read a couple of novels that would appeal to young people. Both were written by people who live in my region: B.R. Roberts of Lynchburg and Charles Shea Lemone of Ferrum. I've had the pleasure of meeting both authors.

B.R. Roberts' What a Christmas!, which Roberts self-published in 2007 through Xulon Publishing, is the story of Clementine Rose Miles, a plucky ten-year-old who encounters many adventures during December 1944. Some of the adventures of Clementine Rose's extended family—who all live within a stone's throw of each other—are humorous, but the death of a family member threatens to cancel Christmas. Told in the first person, the story unfolds through Clementine Rose's eyes, and she doesn't miss a thing.

My favorite scene was the Christmas pageant where anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I laughed out loud while reading it.

Because of the main character's age during all but the first and last chapters, What a Christmas! would be classified as a middle grade novel. However, this book will also appeal to older readers—it certainly appealed to me.

Roberts' novel, rich in family values, would be an excellent source to introduce today's youngsters to a period of history when life was both simpler and yet more complicated than life today.


Another book that would appeal to older readers is Charles Shea Lemone's Corner Pride, an edgy young adult novel. Published by MultiCultural Educational Publishing Company, Corner Pride is set in 1957 in "the most gang-infested neighborhood in North Philadelphia." Most of the action takes place in summer.

Corner Pride focuses on 12-year-old James ("Curly") Wylie and 18-year-old Barry ("Bear") Brown. eBoth hope to avoid gang activity and to escape their neighborhood and its bad influences. Bear has a shot at becoming a successful prizefighter; James wants to become a writer. Despite their attempts to avoid association with the local gang, both become involved in gang activity—and only one escapes.

Corner Pride isn't suitable for middle-graders, but young adults would enjoy it—especially inner-city teens, who might identify with one or both protagonists. Even though the subject matter of the book is way outside my experience, I found Corner Pride interesting and enlightening.

Like What a Christmas!, Corner Pride demonstrates the importance of family. Clementine Rose is surrounded by an extended family; James' parents are supportive and caring.

The two books provide vastly different reading experiences, but they each convey a worthwhile message.

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