Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina

This is a really delightful book about a girl in Bogota, Columbia who loves Brussels sprouts, likes to draw and has a dog named Juana and LucasLucas. She loves to play futbol, to read late into the night and to be with her best friend. On this first day of school she has some problems. The best futbol player switches from her team because he doesn’t like to lose. Worst of all she has to learn “the English,” which is hard to learn and to pronounce and “nada de fun” or no fun at all. But since her grandfather has promised to bring the family to visit Spaceland in the U.S., she must learn English in order to speak to Astroman, her hero.  Juana goes to all the grown ups she knows to ask their opinions on the matter.

The illustrations are exuberant and sometimes seem to fly across the page. I loved reading the book and look forward to more books about Juana.  The author incorporates Spanish words and phrases in the text in a wonderful manner.

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Girl who drank the moonThis is the sort of book that makes you believe in magic and love, in fact it make you believe that love is magic. You get this sense particularly at the ending.

Love and magic have had a hard time in the Protectorate where each year there is a sacrifice.  The youngest baby is left out in a clearing in the woods presumably to satisfy the witch and keep her away. However, the only witch has been taking the babies each year to prevent them from being eaten by animals. She is a good witch who has been placing these babies in good homes, not knowing why they’ve been left.

When Luna is left out Xan keeps her as her granddaughter.  She shares her house with a Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian.  Xan recognizes at once that Luna has become filled with extraordinary magic from being accidentally fed by moonlight.  As Luna becomes thirteen, her magic begins to reveal itself just as danger approaches.  This book won the 2017 Newbery Award.

Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by and coauthored with David Wiesner

fish girlLovely graphic novel about a mermaid, Mira, who’s being kept in a building sized, boardwalk aquarium by a controlling man, who calls himself King Neptune. Her only friend is an octopus.  He charges for visits and claims that he rescued her.

Fish Girl is told to only give glimpses of herself in order to encourage people to throw in coins  He also threatens her by telling her that if she is seen scientists will take her away and kill her. A young girl spots her, keeps returning and persists in finding  Fish Girl. They become friends and gradually Fish Girl realizes that she is a prisoner and that the man is not Neptune, that it’s all a show. Though ending though is somewhat abrupt, it’s a wonderful story about a lonely but brave, not quite girl.