Tag Archives: Children’s Fiction

Kelly Yang’s Front Desk and Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult

Part of what I love about reading children’s books as an adult is the ending. In most adult fiction, there is no guaranteed happy ending- unless of course the genre is romance, which always includes a happily ever after (if it doesn’t it isn’t a romance!) – and this is generally more realistic. But children’s literature usually, at the very least, leaves some hope at the end.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Scholastic Inc. (2018)
286 pages
Link to Front Desk in LFPL’s collection
Link to titles by Kelly Yang in LFPL’s collection

Front Desk in particular deals with some very heady issues, and what I appreciate most is how it does so in a realistic way that still leaves room for hope. It is not a rags to riches story of the American dream, but instead the all-too-common story of barely getting by. Mia Tang and her parents have been in the United States for several years and are still very much struggling. A glimmer of hope arrives in the form of the opportunity to manage motel in California. Unfortunately, the miserly owner barely allows the family enough profit to survive and is unnecessarily strict. As a student whose first language is not English, Mia has an especially hard time adjusting to middle school, where her thrift store clothes stand out compared to her peers’ new name brand ones. The motel owner’s son gives her a particularly hard time; this tension illustrates the range of immigrant experiences, even from one country: his family is also Chinese, but culturally and economically their circumstances are quite different.

Mia and her parents support a longtime resident of the motel, Hank, when he is racially profiled by the police because he is Black. This is what separates Front Desk from many of the other immigrant stories I’ve read: the author offers the experiences of other marginalized populations in America, not just immigrants, which she easily could have kept to. The Chinese Tangs didn’t have to go out of their way to help Hank, but they did, because their struggles are similar and they have the opportunity to lift each other up. It’s a good entry point to the concepts of intersectionality and solidarity, not only because it’s from a child’s perspective but because it offers some (nuanced!) hope at the end.

Front Desk is the first in a series of books. So far there are three out and another volume scheduled to drop this fall.

– Review by Erin, Middletown

Revisiting a Childhood Disappointment – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

          When I was a child, I recall stories and anecdotes, related to me by adults, of the power and wonder of the children’s book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  Subsequently, the book assumed a somewhat mythic aura that intimidated me to a sufficient degree that I delayed its reading.  Then one day, I came across a copy and made the decision to open myself to its power and, thus, move to a higher plane of understanding and awareness.  However, I was sorely disappointed and found the story ridiculous and pointless.

          Move forward in time by many years to the present, and I, now an adult, found myself once again gazing at the cover of The Little Prince with its seemingly prosaic sketch, this copy having been returned to the library in which I work.  It is then that I decided to reread this book from my past and gauge the tale from the viewpoint of an older person with far more life experience, and my reaction could not have been more different.  I no longer viewed the simplicity of the story as ridiculous; rather, this only added to the clarity of its messages.  And the plot that I previously saw devoid of any real action and, therefore, pointless, now conveyed to me a story of sublime profundity.

          When I think of how other authors investigate the same themes of this book – the journey from childhood to adulthood, love and friendship, avarice and pride – my awe of what Mr. Saint-Exupery accomplishes in less than one hundred pages only grows. It is no wonder that The Little Prince has sold more than four million copies and been translated in to over two hundred fifty languages and dialects since its publication in 1943.

          This past Saturday, my book discussion group met and discussed The Little Prince, based on my recommendation, and in my fourteen years with this group, this was one of the best discussions, in my mind at least, we have ever had.  And I found it interesting that several who remember reading it when younger were also unimpressed at their first readings (one even threw the book in the trash after its finish), and upon this second attempt, everyone seemed quite moved.  For this reason, I encourage a revisit or even a first reading of what is now a favorite book.

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy

If you are looking for an awesome book series to read with your children (ages 6-10), I suggest the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy.

Starting with the first letter of the alphabet, best friends Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose put their minds together to solve mysteries in their home town of Green Lawn, Connecticut.  There are lots of twists and turns in these books and plenty of excitement for all. Each mystery is separate from the others so that you can read them in order or out of sequence as you choose.

Don’t miss out on the fun!

absentauthor

Ron Roy also has a website dedicated to the series.  You check it out by clicking here.

Formats Available:  Book, Audiobook

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

Road Trip Essentials: Audiobooks

Summer is the season of family vacations and this means often long road trips accompanied by restless travelers of all ages. Regardless of your reading preference or road trip companions, the absolute best way to pass the time on a long road trip is by listening to an audiobook. Sharing an engaging story with your vacation companions can stave off the repetition of, “are we there yet?” and turn even the most reluctant reader into backseat book critic.

Below you’ll find a few of my favorites from a variety of genres and talented narrators. In most cases I have a personal preference for authors as narrators, but some very talented voice actors are noted below. Most genres listed feature children’s (C), teen (T), and adult (A) titles. Although the adult titles may not be appropriate for children/teens, adults should not restrict themselves to only adult titles. A well-executed audiobook, although geared toward a younger audience, can easily be enjoyed by all ages. No matter the variety of personal tastes filling your vehicle there is an audiobook (or two, or three) that will meet your needs.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

The graveyard book

Realistic/Historical Fiction

Code name Verity

Mystery

The Secret of the Old Clock

Memoir/Biography/Non-Fiction

The ultimate David Sedaris box set

Format: Audiobook

Reviewed by Magen, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch