SOPHIE'S SQUASH by Pat Zietlow Miller
Blurb: On a trip to the farmers' market with her parents, Sophie chooses a squash, but instead of letting her mom cook it, she names it Bernice. From then on, Sophie brings Bernice everywhere, despite her parents' gentle warnings that Bernice will begin to rot. As winter nears, Sophie does start to notice changes.... What's a girl to do when the squash she loves is in trouble? With absolutely delightful text by Pat Zietlow Miller and downright hilarious illustrations from Anne Wilsdorf, Sophie's Squash will be a fresh addition to any collection of autumn books.
Here's what Kirkus had to say in a starred review:
Miller's debut, in which a little girl affectionately adopts a butternut squash, is a winner.
After her parents buy that squash for dinner at the farmers' market, Sophie commandeers it, giving it a face with markers. It proves just the right size to hold, bounce on her knee and love. "I call her Bernice," Sophie says. "I'll call for a pizza," says her mother. Throughout the fall, Sophie coddles her veggie, attending library storytimes, visiting other squash at the farmers market and practicing somersaults near the garden. Her parents do their gentle best to suggest alternatives for the moldering squash, from a trip to the toy store to a donation to the food pantry. Sophie will have none of it. "Bernice will last forever." When even Sophie notices changes in Bernice, she asks a farmer what keeps a squash healthy. Her unique interpretation of his advice ("Fresh air. Good, clean dirt. A little love") yields, next spring and summer, delightful twin surprises. Wilsdorf's amusing ink-and-watercolor illustrations alternate between full-bleed spreads and spots. From her bouncy braids to her red shoes, Sophie's vibrant, determined nature shines forth charmingly.
This season-spanning turn with high-spirited Sophie offers endearing lessons about nurture and regeneration. (Picture book. 3-8)
GATED by Amy Christine Parker
Blurb: Do the gates keep the unchosen out or the chosen in?
In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned:
Pioneer is her leader.
Will is her Intended.
The end of the world is near.
Like Noah before him, Pioneer has been told of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must arm themselves to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the compound's underground fortress--the Silo.
Lyla loves her family and friends, but given the choice, she prefers painting to target practice. And lately she'd rather think about a certain boy outside the compound than plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But with the end of days drawing near, she will have to pick up a gun, take a side, and let everyone know where she stands.
Here's what Kirkus had to say about GATED in a starred review:
This absorbing examination of a cult focuses on a teenage girl who begins to doubt their leader.
Lyla’s little sister was kidnapped in New York City 12 years ago, just before 9/11. Her inconsolable parents fell prey to a charismatic man calling himself Pioneer, who promised to keep them safe in the coming apocalypse thanks to knowledge received from aliens. They now live with about 20 other families in a walled-in agricultural community that hides a secret: They have dug a five-story-deep silo into the ground in which they intend to live for five years before the aliens come to rescue them. Pioneer controls his people closely, assigning the adolescents into marriages (Will is Lyla’s Intended) and insisting that everyone in the Community learn to shoot to kill, as he’s sure Outsiders will eventually attack them. Parker convincingly portrays the dynamics of a cult from the inside out, contriving events that will allow Lyla to learn the truth about Pioneer and nicely fitting Lyla’s rebellion against the Community into her natural adolescent rebellion. But if Lyla tries to warn the Community, will anyone believe her, or will she be trapped forever in the silo? Parker doesn’t pull punches, indicating a level of brutality that will appropriately disturb even as it successfully conveys Lyla’s complete entrapment in the Community.
Compelling and not that distant from real-world cults that have ended in tragedy. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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