So Many Books, So Little Space

by | Jul 11, 2018

A Song From Somewhere Else and Summer of Lost and Found

This week I’m reviewing two middle-grade books that, while very different, both have supernatural elements to them.

The first one, A Song from Somewhere Else, by A. F. Harrold, is set in a regular residential neighborhood. The main character, Francesca, is rescued from some bullies by Nicholas. Nothing super natural there, but once Francesca goes to Nicholas’s house, the story really opens up. When I say supernatural I mean in a warm, welcoming kind of way, not a scary suspenseful way. It’s a place the reader might like to live more than in their own world.

The novel was first published in England. I like that the publishers kept a few English-isms, like “Nicholas’s dad made them both squash.” When I first read that I thought, “Whoa, what?!” But with the next sentence, “He offered cookies.” I remember that squash is a non-carbonated, flavored drink. Also unusual: the author has Francesca’s stomach speaking as another character. So instead of something like, “her stomach clenched” to show emotion, the author writes: “her stomach spoke sense and said, ‘back upstairs, quick, before you get us both in trouble.’”

The book is illustrated by Levi Pinfold. It’s not uncommon to have illustrations in middle grade books, and these particular illustrations (in black and white) do a great job of amplifying the moody, almost other worldly, feel of the book.

With summer vacation fast approaching, this second book, The Summer of Lost and Found, by Rebecca Behrens, might hold extra appeal. In this story, Nell Dare is anticipating the worst summer vacation ever. Instead of getting to hang out with her best friend at home in New York City, she has to go with her mother, a botanist, to the island of Roanoke for the summer. Although she dreads this change of plans, Nell quickly becomes intrigued by the mystery of the disappearance of the Roanoke colonists, the first English people to try to settle in North America. Her interest is first sparked by a cute boy who is a reenactor in the tourist attraction on the island, but the plot soon thickens.

I love stories that incorporate elements of actual historical events in the plot and I didn’t know much about the Roanoke settlement, so that was fun. The author does a good job of reminding the reader of the many Native American tribes in the area and how the English inflicted themselves, often violently, on the local tribes.

You’ll notice I don’t describe the supernatural part of this story. Never fear, dear readers, it will reveal itself once you pick up the book! I understand why the author used this device, but I wonder what you will think of it. Let me know!

Book cover for The Song from Somewhere Else

Alexandra the Great book cover

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