Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco

beholding bee“The way I got the diamond on my face happened like this.

I was sleeping in the back of our hauling truck one night after Pauline shut down our hot dog cart and Ellis closed the merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel, and then, after every one of the stars had blinked out for the night so no one could see, that is when an angel came and kissed me on the cheek.

That is the way Pauline sees it.

Other folks say different things, like ‘What a shame, what a shame.'”

Bee tries to hide the birthmark on her face from the customers that come to her hot dog cart at the carnival.  But sometimes, they say cruel things or tease her, and it hurts her feelings.  It’s not all bad: she has her little dog, and Cordelia, the pig; and there’s Pauline, the young woman who found her-the closest thing she has to a mother.

Bee spends her time looking for the home she dreams of, a nice place for her and Pauline.  And she’s learning to run, too, which helps when she is feeling sad.  No matter how difficult her circumstances are, Bee tries to remain hopeful. She knows it will be better someday.

When Pauline unexpectedly leaves, Bee takes refuge with her mysterious “aunts”, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter.  There’s something a bit strange about them, though: no one else seems to be able to see them.  They make a cozy, if unusual, family, and Bee settles down.  She even is able to begin school for the first time! However, it’s not as easy as she was hoping.

 This gentle novel explores friendship, beauty, and bullying, against the interesting backdrop of World War II.   The character development is natural and thorough, and the historical details are fascinating.  This book would be great in a classroom, and presents an interesting perspective on wartime combined with a story laced with meaning.  It’s also a good way to open a dialogue on differences and bullying.  I loved it, even though it made me cry about every other page!  I think you’ll love it, too.

Happy Reading!

Author’s website

Fusco, Kimberly Newton. Beholding Bee.  Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2013. 327 pp.  Ages 11-14.

If you liked this book (and I think you will!) try these:

Sorta Like a Rockstar

The One and Only Ivan

The Magician’s Elephant

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Ruined by Paula Morris

“Rebecca nodded, watching Lisette amble away.  Now she understood why Lisette haunted the Bowman house.  She understood why for the past one hundred fifty years she’d drifted around in the long shadow of its quiet, oak-shaded galleries.  It was the place she’d died, murdered at the age of sixteen–and it was her father’s house.”

When Rebecca is uprooted from her New York home, and sent to live with an aunt in New Orleans, she has a hard time adjusting.   Her father has to go to China on business, and she misses him terribly.  It’s simply difficult to fit into the “close” atmosphere of New Orleans, where old money and newcomers never mix, and each family has a skeleton in the closet.

Rebecca’s aunt is a fortune-teller, and lives in a musty shotgun house crammed with artifacts.  It’s located directly across from the cemetery.  Rebecca has been warned never to enter it, but one night, she slips in…and makes a friend.  Lisette is kind, helpful, and eager to talk.  However, soon Rebecca realizes that no one else can see Lisette but her. Lisette is a ghost.

The fact that Rebecca can see Lisette is significant.  A century-old curse, New Orleans’ most prestigious family, and a dark secret create a dangerous environment for Rebecca, and it isn’t long before the truth comes out.

So, here’s the thing: I am a sucker for ghost stories.  When combined with curses, crumbling old houses, and cemeteries, I absolutely can’t resist.  Whatever! It’s a preference.  I can’t help myself. Furthermore, I whiled away thousands of hours, time when I could have been playing soccer or learning chemistry, reading my way through countless Scholastic books.  You know, the ones that are sold in paper flyers that your teacher sends home from school.  My mom used to buy tons for us, and I grew up with them.  This Scholastic story was like so many of the others, and certainly didn’t disappoint.  They are mass-marketed to students across the country: often light, engaging reads, sold in inexpensive paperback formats.  A lovely friend gave this copy to me, and I’m grateful for it.  It’s been rainy and gloomy all week long: the perfect setting for a ghost story. This one didn’t disappoint me, either.  The only thing I could ask for would be a little more creepy-haunting business, and a little less high school drama.  Other than that, this was exactly what I was hoping for: a ghost story in an interesting setting.

Happy Reading!

Author’s website: http://www.trendybutcasual.typepad.com/

Morris, Paula. Ruined. New York: Scholastic Books, 2009. 309 pp. Grades 7-10.