Monday, February 14, 2011

Mother-Daughter Book Club Series by Heather Vogel Frederick

I can not say enough great things about this series.

A devoured these books.  I had wanted to read them with her so that we could discuss them, but I could not keep up with her!  I was finally able to finish one of them and skim through two of the others.

If the maximum amount of stars you can give something is 5, these get 10!

They are considered "tween books" they are for readers in 4th through 6th grade.

 My girls' top complaint when reading is that the characters "don't seem real".  I am excited about this new category in juvenile literature considered "tween" because the characters do seem real.  They have issues and problems that many girls can relate to and many girls will feel validated by reading books in this category.  Adolescence can be a difficult time and it helps to know that you are not the only one feeling a certain way or experiencing certain things.  The other nice thing about this category is that, unlike a lot of the books in the YA category, sexuality is not a focal point, so it is perfect for girls who are between the "cartoony" characters in juvenile fiction, but not yet ready for YA, but who want to read about layered, flawed characters with relatable problems.

They are a fantastic introduction to classical literature in a novel format with characters that girls can really relate to and grow to care about and love.  There is Megan who is really into fashion.  There is Cassidy who is a jock, her parents are divorced and she has a stepfather.  Jess goes to private school for girls and is really smart and interested in science.  Emma, whose father is a writer (Emma also starts out a little chunky and gets into figure skating and loses weight; but what A remembered and focused on was that Emma's dad was a writer).  They all know each other through their moms, who take the time to introduce them to classical literature like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women and Pride and Prejudice.  The girls read the novels, relate them to their lives and learn about the authors and the history of the novels.  The girls and the moms relate the novels to the girls' lives, helping young readers to understand the timelessness of classical literature.

A devoured these books.  This has lead to listening to Little Women and Anne of Green Gables on audiobook.  We tried reading both, but found we preferred listening to and discussing them as we listened to them.   We also watched "Pride and Prejudice", as well as the movie "Little Women" with Winona Ryder and the mini-series of "Anne of Green Gables".

 These books are well written with a perfect mix of interesting historical research and modern day drama presented in a way that appeals to young readers and makes them curious about the timelessness of Jane Austen, the intrigue of Louisa May Alcott, the sadness of Anne of Green Gables.  Frederick presents the information in such a way that girls can relate to both the modern day tween angst drama and the classical heroines of these timeless masterpieces and the issues those heroines faced.

We have learned so much about Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott from these books.  We are planning a long weekend in Concord, Massachusetts because of these books.  We read biographies of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson because of these books.  My girls were introduced to transcendentalism because of these books.  These books set my girl on fire to learn about and read classic literature, and that is why I give them ten stars.

If you have a daughter, age 10 to 12 who likes realistic, multi-dimensional characters and you don't mind her being exposed to some of the "tween angst issues" (bullying, divorce) head to your library and if they don't have these books, ask them to order them.  I work at a public library and most times, when a patron requests a book, we will buy it.  This particular series, because of its introduction to classical literature, is the kind of thing that children's librarians get tears in their eyes over.