My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva

 

Scholastic

 

My Fate According to the Butterfly is a wonderful debut, coming-of-age, middle grade fiction story that takes place in the Philippines. This is a beautiful portrayal of family, friendship, and forgiveness which tackles an important, tough subject – drug addiction, its affects on the abuser and their family, and the long recovery process.

The diverse novel follows soon-to-be-11-year-old Sabrina, known as “Sab” to her family and friends. She lives in Quezon City, Philippines and considers herself lucky to live in an atypical blended family. Her mother Ginnette and father Chris have been apart for many years, but are unable to divorce, as it’s not permitted in Filipino culture. Ginnette, an urban planner for the city, has a boyfriend named Ed, who is a policeman. Sab’s father Chris, an artist, lives in Pillia, Rizal where he runs his late mother Lola Cordia’s resort with his boyfriend of five years, Wendell. Sab considers herself lucky to have three fathers who love her.

Sab sees a black butterfly, “The Butterfly,” a week before her birthday, which according to superstition and the stories her father used to tell her, means death is coming for her. She believes she has one week left to live, despite her sister Nadine telling her not to worry about such a silly superstition.  All Sab wants for her birthday is to celebrate with her entire family together at her grandmother’s Garden Resort, including her father and Ate Nadine, even though her sister hasn’t spoken to him in a long time. There’s something she is missing about their relationship and her Dad’s “depression” in the past. Nadine, an 18 year old journalist, serves as a second mother to Sab much of the time when Ginnette is out of town on business. Sab doesn’t understand why Nadine has distanced herself from their father, and she and her best friend Pepper are determined to find out, using some spy tactics that Pepper picked up from episodes of Chuck. Pepper is a white girl whose parents moved from America to serve as missionaries in the Philippines. She is also a loyal best friend to Sab. Sab’s other best friend is her pet Pekin duck, Lawin, whom she allows to live in the house against the wishes of Nadine. As the best friends devise a plan and spy on Nadine, they meet her boyfriend Jepoy, a 21 year old man who becomes a true friend to them both. Once Sab finds out the truth about her father, she begins to understand Nadine’s choice to distance herself from him. The sisters grow even closer together in a shared understanding of painful memories as they both choose a path of forgiveness.

The story is quick-paced with a bit of mystery to keep it moving along. It would be a great read aloud choice for students in 5th through 8th grade. It is also a great resource for teaching readers about Filipino culture. For example, a delicacy in the Philippines is cheese flavored ice cream. I had never heard of that before! The story is peppered with Filipino words and phrases, adding richness and authenticity to the writing. I enjoyed this story very much and would highly recommend it for kids in 4th grade through 8th grade. Adults would love it, as well.

Thank you to Scholastic for providing me with a review copy of this title in exchange for an honest review to promote Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020! I am thankful to once again be participating in Multicultural Children’s Book Day,  which is in it’s 7th year already. I can hardly wait for next year’s titles!

#ReadYourWorld

Multicultural Children’s Book Day2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7thyear! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing,Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom,Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot BooksTalegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing,Kenneth Braswell& Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page,Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS,Nancy Tupper Ling,Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books),Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries,Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids,Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn,Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Hashtag:Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

9780451499578

Here and Gone tells the tale of a mother’s worst nightmare: someone taking her children and no one believing her. They were here with her one minute and gone the next. And now fingers of the townspeople and the law are pointing at her.

She was desperate to leave her abusive husband and set out with her 10 and 6 year old kids across the country to seek refuge with a friend.  On the way to a new beginning, free from her husband’s abuse, Audra is stopped (in what appears to be a routine traffic stop) by a sheriff in a small, old-fashioned town and everything changes in an instant. A large bag of weed which was obviously planted in her trunk, is found during the stop, so now the sheriff can take her in for questioning and press charges for possession with intent to sell. With Audra’s history of alcohol and prescription drug abuse, she doesn’t stand a chance in the eye of her accusers, even when she has been clean for two years. As she watches helplessly locked in the back of the sheriff’s car, another policewoman comes and loads her children up to take them to a “safe place.” Locked in the town jail until she can appear in court the next morning, Audra demands to know where her children are, but the only response she receives is “what children?”.

How can she ever find her children when no one in the town believes that the children were in the car with her when she was stopped by the sheriff? And it certainly doesn’t help when her terror of a husband and evil mother-in-law portray their side of the story to the media, painting a portrait of Audra as an abuser and unfit mother who has likely killed her children. Talk about an impossible situation to be in. I was blown away by the sheer terror of this story, and I could not put it down until I figured out how Audra was going to find Sean and Louise.

The story switches back and forth between the points of view of Audra, her children, and a stranger named Danny Lee. When the reader is introduced to Danny Lee, he or she may wonder what in the world he has to do with the kidnapping of Audra’s children, but Danny Lee becomes very important to the plot. You’ll see!

This book was terrifying, but so good that I read the whole thing in a few hours last night. The characters are uniquely drawn and the plot is well thought out as well. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before, that’s for sure. Major props to Haylen Beck for a fascinating and stimulating roller-coaster novel. It’s sure to be a summer hit and I would highly recommend it for fans of suspense, thrillers, and mysteries.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for the review copy. It was wonderful!! I can’t wait for her next book to release.

Lone Star by Paullina Simons

9780062098153_2230bLone Star will be published on November 24, 2015. I was drawn to this book at first because I absolutely loved The Bronze Horseman series by Paullina Simons. I hoped this story would be as beautiful, and it certainly is.

Lone Star is the story of four teenagers, getting ready to graduate from high school and start “real life.” Chloe and her best friend, Hannah, have always dreamed of visiting Barcelona, and they have been saving money to go before they start college in the Fall. When their boyfriends, brothers Mason and Blake, decide to go with them; the girls have no idea what kind of a trip it’s going to be. It is the story of friendships, and the relationships between each of the four teens, best friends since childhood. Their relationships change drastically once they are in the new & unfamiliar environments of Europe, where they can try to be themselves or continue to keep hold of the secrets and lies which bind them together. Then, Johnny, a traveling musician with a star of Texas tattoo on his chest, joins their group in Latvia. Johnny both confuses and charms Chloe at the same time, never even revealing his real name to her, even during a very passionate few weeks.

Though the book is rather long and the story unfolds over the span of 3 years, the writing is fluid and seamless. Simons writes beautiful, flowing descriptions and vivid scenes, much like in The Bronze Horseman. She blends a bit of historical fiction, regarding the Holocaust, concentration camps, and death camps, in with modern day coming-of-age story. The book includes quite a bit of romance, including some steamy scenes, mystery surrounding Johnny’s true identity, his past, and his future, and much drama between family & friends. The descriptions of Latvia, Riga, Italy, & Poland are wonderful, causing the reader to feel as if they are thrown into the story, regardless of where the characters end up.

I started off reading this a little on the slow side, but once the group of 4 made it to Europe, I couldn’t put the book down. I read the entire second half of the story in one sitting. In a scene at the end, after Chloe takes an extremely long journey (to discover something, she hopes,) I got goosebumps because I could feel her elation and hope, quickly followed by her extreme sense of loss and grief.

I loved reading how Chloe’s character developed, the way she learned by trial and error, by making mistakes, proving that she is human and its ok. Once she opened her eyes to what was in front of her all along, she finally begins to live…and to love.

I would highly recommend this romantic saga, as well as The Bronze Horseman series, which is also excellent!