Hello, gentle readers!
Did you think I had forgotten all about this Summer Slide series? It has been about three weeks since my last installment but all those birthday posts in late July kind of got me off track. I have had so many sweet friends offer to write reviews for one of their favorite books that I might run out of summer before I can share them here. But we can just keep on summer slidin’ right into fall.
Today’s review comes from a dear librarian friend here in El Paso. I first met Martha about twenty years ago at Schuster Elementary where I was the librarian and she was a PK teacher. She transferred to another elementary school several years later and now days she is the librarian there. We don’t see each other a whole lot but have always kind of stayed in touch. It was with Martha that I have scrapbooked a couple of times lately. You can meet her here.
Several years ago, I was chosen to be on the Texas Bluebonnet Award (TBA) selection committee.
The Bluebonnet Award is considered quite prestigious among authors and publishers of children’s books. It is the responsibility of the committee to choose the twenty titles that make up the TBA Master List of books to be considered for the annual Texas Bluebonnet Award. A committee member serves a three-year term and reads hundreds of books during that time.
You can read more about the award and the books on this and previous years’ lists at the Texas Library Association’s website, here.
Into my second year on the committee, my life got kind of crazy…ok, crazier. Martha was so sweet to step in and finish the term for me to help uncomplicate my life. It was a huge help and she did such a wonderful job through her work on the committee. We both still support and promote the Bluebonnet Reading Program now. And if you are ever in search of good books for elementary aged children, check out the titles on the TBA Master Lists for each year since 1981. You’ll find something sure to excite your child about reading.
Now, let’s get on to our review. Take it away, Martha!
When Leslie asked me to write a review for her blog, I was overwhelmed at the thought of which book to review. I had a few old favorites in mind like Up a Road Slowly (Irene Hunt) and Kindred Souls (Patricia MacLachlan), but I chose Always Abigail by Nancy B. Cavanaugh because it is on this year’s Bluebonnet Master List and I knew I wanted to read it anyway. So here goes!
Abigail is looking forward to sixth grade; she has wanted to be on the pom squad since seeing them in action in third grade. Now it is her chance, along with her best buds Alli and Cami, to be a pom-pom girl, too. If only it were that easy! Alli and Cami are fortunate to be in the same homeroom, while Abigail is assigned elsewhere. Ready for drama?
Abigail does make the Pom Squad, but because Abigail is an alternate, she only goes to practice once a week. This doesn’t really make her part of the team. Abigail begins to hang out with Gabby. They have a mutual affection for reading to kindergartener’s once a week. It started out as an easy way to get out of homeroom, but turned into an activity the girls really enjoy. The problem is Gabby is a social misfit. She lives with her older brother and is consider “a weird kid” by the rest of the sixth grade. The more Abigail gets to know her, the more she likes her, but the harder it is to be her friend. Abigail must decide if being Gabby’s friend is more fulfilling than being popular alongside Alli and Cami and the rest of the Pom Squad.
At first, I was annoyed at the way Abigail’s character is always writing lists. This made me want to rush through the book and skip over parts just to find out what was really going to happen in the story. After several chapters, I accepted the author’s style and settled into the story. Abigail is a likeable character who matures and makes good choices, though like most middle school students, it takes a few tries to make the best ones. I think many young readers will relate to the situations she finds herself in. The author includes discussion questions that can be used in book clubs.
One last thing: I’m not sure why the title is Always, Abigail. Although the story includes a series of friendly letters and lists, not once does Abigail sign her entries with “Always, Abigail.”
As you might know if you have been hanging around with me for any length of time, I love a good list as much as the next guy. I love to set goals, make lists, highlight ideas in books I am reading. I am a bit of a social misfit and was definitely the weird, NEW kid in sixth grade. So I think Abigail and I would probably hit it off in a big way. I will be checking out Always Abigail myself this fall in hopes of encouraging the children at schools where I will be subbing to read it and other books on this year’s Bluebonnet Master List.
I consulted AR BookFinder and learned that Always, Abigail is written on a 5.0 reading level, fifth grade. It is one of the titles for which there is an Accelerated Reader test which is worth 5.0 points. This picture book as 320 pages and has a middle grade interest level, which generally means it would be best suited for upper elementary and middle school-aged children.
If Always, Abigail sounds like something you might like to share with a child you know, check out this book trailer to sample the book.
You can learn more about author Nancy Cavanaugh on her website, here. If you are an educator or librarian, please take a minute to stop by Nancy’s blog as there are lots of ideas for using her books in the classroom or library. You can find her blog here. I am going to email Ms. Cavanaugh to invite her to stop by the blog. Keep your fingers crossed that maybe she will and leave a comment to let us know she did.
My dear, darling friend Katie at Mishaps and Mayhem of a Solitary Life invited me to play along in Quote Challenge Mondays after she was invited to the challenge by our mutual blogging friend Lana. I have accepted the challenge and will, for the next three Mondays, be sharing some of my favorite quotes. In the meantime, I want to close today’s post with a quote that speaks to me and where I am in life.
As you may know, late last winter, I participated in the Rediscover Me Challenge with Alison Lumbatis at Get Your Pretty On. It has been my all-time favorite challenge because it concentrated on strengthening and improving the inside of me, the real me, rather than the outside, superficial me. I started the goal setting through this challenge that I am still doing more than six months later. I have gotten into better shape physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
The Rediscover Me Challenge is going to be starting again in September with registration beginning a week from this Monday, on August 17. I will be doing the challenge again and would love for any of you to join me in this adventure. You can read more by clicking on the banner below.
If you register for the challenge, please let me know. Maybe we can cheer each other on and even share our experiences and our growth on the blog.
Still have a number of reviews to share before summer is over. Please check back in the near future.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Hugs and kisses,