One of my great delights, as both a parent and a teacher, is reading with children. So when I saw that two of my favorite authors – Nikki Grimes and Mitali Perkins – were releasing holiday picture books, I was giddy with anticipation. Grimes’s Lullaby for the King (Beaming Books) and Perkins’s Holy Night and Little Star: A Story for Christmas (Waterbrook) celebrate Christ’s birth with a fanciful look at a few overlooked participants on that first long-ago Christmas.
As the remnants of Hurricane Lee whipped the trees outside my bedroom window into a frenzy of whirling trunks and leaves, I pulled up the covers and opened my laptop to review Toni Buzzeo’s new middle grade novel, Light Comes to Shadow Mountain. Here I was, reviewing a historical novel about young Cora Mae Tipton, who aims to bring electricity to her rural Kentucky community, and my own electricity had just gone out.
My husband’s grandmother loved cats, particularly the kind that slunk up to the bowl outside her kitchen door, where she scraped her dinner scraps. She lived in the same house in a quiet Maine town for seven decades, feeding the neighborhood felines until well past the age of 100, when she died peacefully at home.
This past week my family packed the car and drove two hours up the Maine coast to visit my uncle for the Fourth of July. Just before leaving, my 13-year-old son, Asher, spotted Mitali Perkins’ new middle grade novel, Hope in the Valley, on my desk.
I am old enough to wish that I could forget certain parts of my life. Old enough to grieve certain losses, to mourn the demise of unfulfilled dreams, and to lament life’s inescapable disappointments. But what if the erasure of someone’s life is due not to avoidance but to a failing memory? Such is the case in Linda MacKillop’s thought provoking debut novel, The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon, which releases this week.