Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Please No Spoilers! Picture Book Review: Let Me Finish! by Minh Le

Title: Let Me Finish!
Author: Minh Le
Illustrator: Isabel Roxas

When our young hero settles in to read, the last thing he wants is for some noisy animals to ruin the ending of the story.

But ruin it they do. 

And as it turns out, the boy is quickly approaching a surprise ending of his own! Maybe he should have listened to the animals after all. . . . 




Oh my goodness was a fun book!! And a fantastic book for any reader - especially if you've had a book spoiled for you!  As readers we've all been there.  We settle in to read and book and BAM someone spoils it for you! Frustration rings!! This book illustrates that frustration perfectly.  Actually I felt the frustration for the main character.  I wanted to stop all the animals as well!  You gotta love a book that makes you feel what the main character feels that strongly.

The illustrations are wonderful.  I love how the little boy was drawn! The oversized glass are super cute.  And seeing his expressions throughout the story just add to the reader feeling for him.  Very well done.

Do I think kids will like it?  Yes.  They may not understand spoilers but they'll totally giggle at how it happens again and again.  And they'll like the ending as well.  

Finally - perfect book to make kids giggle and grown ups groan with understanding.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: The Curse of the Were-Hyena by Bruce Hale

Title: Curse of the Were-Hyena (A Monstertown Mystery)
Author: Bruce Hale

What do you do when your favorite teacher starts turning into a were-hyena? 

a) Flee in terror? 
b) Try to cure him? 
c) Bring him carrion snacks? 

Mr. Chu, the coolest teacher ever, has developed some very unusual habits, like laughing hysterically for no reason, sniffing people's homework, and chasing chickens. When best friends Carlos and Benny decide to find out what's happening to him, they get caught up in some moonlight madness. And it looks like just the beginning of the weirdness that has arrived in the town of Monterrosa. . . . This first entry in a silly, sassy, and suspenseful new series will leave readers howling with laughter.




This is a fast paced, silly, fun book that will make readers giggle as they watch Carlos and Benny try and save their teacher.  I know I found myself giggling a few times - especially when they brought a chicken into the classroom!  As a teacher I can only imagine the craziness that would cause!  Fun!

I really liked Carlos and Benny.  They way they talked and went about their planning seemed very realistic (well as realistic as it could be with a were-hyena).  I could completely imagine them as 4th graders in any school.  At times they were really serious, but then they'd get side-tracked my something else.  Very typical! And the plans they came up with would, of course, seem good to a 4th grade, but would leave any grown-up shaking their head.  I liked that! I think kids would too because it would be something they could buy in to. 

There were a couple of things I wondered if they needed to be in the book.  One was the talk of dead bodies being chewed on.  I just didn't know if it was needed and for some younger kids it might be a bit much for them.  It was nothing that would make me shy away from the book, but something to be aware of when suggesting it.  

Finally - A fun start to what looks like the start of a fun new mystery series.  




Friday, June 24, 2016

What Would Your Talent Be? BOOK REVIEW: A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff

Title: A Clatter of Jars
Author: Lisa Graff

In this companion to A Tangle of Knots, it's summertime and everyone is heading off to camp. For Talented kids, the place to be is Camp Atropos, where they can sing songs by the campfire, practice for the Talent show, and take some nice long dips in the lake. But what the kids don't know is that they've been gathered for a reason--one that the camp's director wants to keep hidden at all costs.

Meanwhile, a Talent jar that has been dropped to the bottom of the lake has sprung a leak, and strange things have begun to happen. Dozens of seemingly empty jars have been washing up on the shoreline, Talents have been swapped, and memories have been ripped from one camper's head and placed into another. And no one knows why.
 



This is the first I've read by Lisa Graff even though I've seen her books around a lot.  A Clatter of Jars was a great introduction to her books! I loved the idea of everyone having some sort of talent - and that the talents were in all shapes and sizes.  Wouldn't that be fun?! I'd want a talent that allowed me to always get the exact amount of sleep I needed!

This book is written from the point of view of several different characters.  I have to admit it took me a few chapters to get use to that.  But once I just paid attention to the name at the start of the chapter I was good to go.  I actually liked that it was written this way because it allowed me to understand what was going on with many different characters.  I made the story feel more well rounded for me.  

The main character really does seem to be Lily because it comes back to her a lot.  Also her brother and step-sister are also at camp.  I don't want to give things away, but truly her whole family is part of the story.  I liked Lily because she such a typical kid.  She kept doing things thinking they would help, but of course they didn't because she didn't think them through.  I felt for her so many times!

Although Lily seemed to me more of the main character, my favorite story-line involved Renny and Miles.  They are brothers at the camp.  At first Renny is very frustrated with everything, but at the story goes along he really grows.  I enjoyed watching the change that happened with him and with his relationship with him brother.  Truly my favorite part of the book.

I will admit I had to work a bit to keep everyone straight in the story - well mostly the parts of the story with the grown-ups.  There was a lot going on there and I struggled a bit to keep it straight.  I do think it would've helped if I had read the companion book - A Tangle of Knots - first because it covered that more.  I'll need to go read it now I guess :)

Finally:  Nice story about not jumping to conclusions, letting things work themselves out and trusting who you are.

I'm having a giveaway for 4 Lisa Graff books just scroll down to the next post and you'll see it.




Thursday, June 23, 2016

Celebrating Lisa Graff +GIVEAWAY


Hello everyone! I was approached by Penguin Young Readers to host a celebration of Lisa Graff with a giveaway and immediately said yes!


Tomorrow I'll have a review of her newest book - Clatter of Jars.  But today I just want to share some of her books.  

The four books in the giveaway are:


A Tangle of Knots

Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's past and how she became an orphan. If she's lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent. 

Absolutely Almost

Albie has never been the smartest kid in his class. He has never been the tallest. Or the best at gym. Or the greatest artist. Or the most musical. In fact, Albie has a long list of the things he's not very good at. But then Albie gets a new babysitter, Calista, who helps him figure out all of the things he is good at and how he can take pride in himself.

Lost in the Sun

Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can't get rid of. Trent’s pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he's not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is. 
If only Trent could make that fresh start happen.
It isn’t until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Little—the girl with the mysterious scar across her face—that things begin to change. Because fresh starts aren’t always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it

Double Dog Dare

What would you do to win a dare war?
In a humorous and insightful novel about dares, divorce and friendship, Lisa Graff tells the story of fourth-graders Kansas Bloom and Francine Halata, who start out as archenemies, until--in a battle of wits and willpower--they discover that they have a lot more in common than either would have guessed.


Don't they all sound fantastic?????

Would you like to own them? 

Enter below! (US Only)

And watch tomorrow for my review of A Clatter of Jars

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Just Want to be Me. Review of Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

Title: Thunder Boy Jr
Author: Sherman Alexie
Illustrator: Yuyi Morales

Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.

But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name...a name that is sure to light up the sky.


National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie's lyrical text and Caldecott Honor-winner Yuyi Morales's striking and beautiful illustrations celebrate the special relationship between father and son. 


This is a very cute book about wanting to be yourself and now what everyone else decides you are.  It's something people of all ages struggle with not just  young children! But the struggle of Thunder Boy Jr. is one kids will be able to relate to.  And when he announces to the reader "I hate my name!".  I bet many kids will nod and agree.  As much as we love the names we give our kids - they don't always agree with us.  I have a nickname for my youngest son, and there are times he hates when I use it mainly because it's something I came up with that he doesn't understand. 

The illustrations in the book are fantastic! I like how the colors are full and rich but yet muted and soft.  They help convey the story by matching the fullness of Thunder Boy Jr's father and the soft simple way his frustration with his name is handled.  In the end it was fun to see Thunder Boy Jr excited and happy about the name he now has.  The reader is right there with him.

Finally - a wonderful book about the names we are given and the names we want.  




Monday, June 20, 2016

Blog Tour: On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen +GIVEAWAY

Welcome to Day #1 of the On Bird Hill Blog Tour!


To celebrate the release of On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall (5/10/16), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Jane, Bob, and Brian Sockin (CEO and Publisher of Cornell Lab Publishing Group), plus 10 chances to win a copy of On Bird Hill and a window bird feeder!

Q&A with Jane Yolen
1. Many of your books feature bird themes. What inspired your interest in this topic?
I didn't start writing bird-themed books. I was born and grew up in New York City where it seemed the only birds on offer were pigeons, or as we kids of the time called them, "flying rats." Of course I now know differently and there are many kinds of birds (and bird stories) in the city. I am thinking Pale Male, a brilliant book about a hawk that lived and had a series of mates and lots of children in nesting sites on NYC buildings and in the Manhattan parks.

But then I met a handsome, dashing, brilliant young man named David Stemple who would become my handsome, dashing brilliant husband.

He had grown up in the mountains of West Virginia, and boy! did he know the woods, and, birds. He taught me, and eventually our three children how to identify birds, how to call birds, how to record them. (I am the least able in the family, but I try!!!)  David had a long relationship with Cornell's Library of Natural Sounds. And when he was dying, as a gift to him, they wired the room where he lay in a hospital bed to an outdoor microphone under our deck so he could be surrounded by bird song the last three months of his life! He had become a bird recordist and expert in bird dialects the last fifteen years, and he was also the prototype for Pa in my Caldecott-winning book, Owl Moon. There is now a family-funded scholarship in his name at Cornell to help young indigenous scholars. 

So when I was contacted by Cornell to do a book for their new line of children's books about birds, of course I jumped at the chance. On Bird Hill, illustrated by by the marvelous Bob Marstall, an illustrator friend of mine for 35 years, is the first of (at least) three books I am doing for them. The second will be out next year -- On Duck Pond, also being illustrated by Bob. And the third of our collaborations, On Gull Beach has already been written.

2. Why do you think experiencing nature is important for children?
We are, by being human, part of the world of nature. NOT to know it, not to learn how to walk softly through it, smell it, feel the feathers and fur of it, the wash of its oceans, the morning and night of it --is to become less than human. The best time to start is when you are small. It's not rocket science, folks. Unless you consider us on spaceship earth, and then it is!

3. What are the unique challenges of writing a picture book?
Getting down a story that is essentially a tone poem in as few words as possible. But, of course, not just any words -- the best words. That's one of the greatest challenges for a writer. Add to that, you know that what you write can and will change a child's life. Quite a burden and a mitzvah, Yiddish for a truly good deed.

4. What is your favorite bird?
Hands down -- the owl. All owls. But perhaps (in no special order) Great Horned, Snowy Owl, and Great Grey Owl -- all of which I have seen up close and personal in the wild. But there are lots others I love: quail, cardinal, the cuckoo for its song, all the raptors, the Northeast feeder birds. I could go on....


*****
Stop by The Book Monsters tomorrow for Day #2 of the tour!


Blog Tour Schedule:
June 20th – The O.W.L.
June 21st — The Book Monsters
June 23rd  — MamaPapaBarn
June 24th — Rockin' Book Reviews 
June 27th — Kristi's Book Nook
June 28th — Books My Kids Read
June 29th — Word Spelunking
June 30th — Cracking the Cover
July 1st — Can You Read Me a Story?




Loosely based on the old cumulative nursery rhyme/song “The Green Grass Grew All Around,” a nursery rhyme first published as a song in 1912. But in this version, it’s a boy and his dog who find the bird in a nest on a hill in a strange valley. Following in the footsteps of Jane’s highly acclaimed Owl Moon, winner of the prestigious Caldecott Award, On Bird Hill is a beautiful picture book with an enchanting story, fancifully illustrated by renowned artist Bob Marstall. On Bird Hill is sure to attract interest from millions of readers and fans of Jane’s popular classics.
About the Author: 
Jane Yolen has authored more than 350 books, including the Caldecott-winning Owl Moon, which every budding young ornithologist owns, You Nest Here With Me, which is a popular new favorite, and the New York Times bestselling series How Do Dinosaurs. Jane Yolen’s books have been translated into over 20 languages and are popular around the world. Janes husband, David Stemple, was both a well known bird recordist and a professor of computer science and he taught the entire family how to identify birds. Many of Jane’s books are about wildlife subjects, especially the winged kind. Jane lives in Easthampton, MA. Visit her online at janeyolen.com.



About the Illustrator: 
Bob Marstall is the illustrator of nine nonfiction children’s books, including the The Lady and the Spider, which sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies and was a Reading Rainbow selection. Bob has also been honored with an ALA Notable; an IRA Teachers’ Choice; a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children; and three John Burroughs selections.

In addition, two of Bob’s books are included in the New York Times Parent’s Guide’s “1001 Best Books of the Twentieth Century.” Bob Lives in Easthamton, MA. Visit him online at bobmarstall.com.


About the Cornell Lab: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Our hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning about birds and protecting the planet. birds.cornell.edu


GIVEAWAY

  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of On Bird Hill and a Window Bird Feeder ($28.99) to get up close and personal with the birds in your backyard! Great for blends, peanuts and safflower, this durable feeder attaches right to your window pane with suction cups, allowing you to see every bird detail. It's easy to fill and easy to clean.
  • US only
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Post originally posted on The O.W.L.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Title:  Gregor the Overlander
Author: Suzanne Collins

When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor's arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland's uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it -- until he realizes it's the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.


So yes this book has been our for awhile.  And yes I should've read it a long while ago.  And yes my daughter has told me for years I should read it.  And yes I'm glad I finally did!

I picked up this book, finally, a bit over a week ago and started reading.  My son is in soccer and swimming lessons, so I've had a lot of sitting time to read (yes I'm the bad mom that reads instead of watches intently every second). I couldn't believe how quickly I was moving through the story.  It was such a fast read!

Here's what I liked:
  • I loved Gregor.  He's sweet and brave and smart and he treats his little sister so well!
  • It made me care about a cockroach! I mean how great must the book and writing be if I actually care about a cockroach!
  • It's fast paced - no dragging things out
  • I loved the Underworld.  It was well created and described but I want to know more about it!
  • It has heart.  From Gregor's little sister Boots to the whole story about his father - it had heart and caring. 
  • It ended in a NON-cliffhanger! Yes there are more books in the series but I could stop here and not feel like I was left with a ton of unknowns.
Ok I think that about sums it up.  If you like something with action and nice well-rounded characters I suggest you pick it up.



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Review: Sunny Side Up

Title: Sunny Side Up 
Author: Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer. At first she thought Florida might be fun -- it is the home of Disney World, after all. But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park. It’s full of . . . old people. Really old people.

Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around. She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own: facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors. But the question remains -- why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place? The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer. . .



I found this to be a very cute yet touching book.  At first it comes across as just a cute simple story about a young girl spending the summer with her grandfather in 55+ senior housing.  You can feel her pain when she realizes she'll be spending the summer with people much older than her! I think back to myself at her age and I would've hated it too! As the story progresses slowly it's revealed that things at Sunny's home were not so good - that something happened with her older brother.  At the same time you see she doesn't want to share with anyone what has happened.  That made me really feel for her because you know she must be hurting if she doesn't want to talk about it.  As she makes friends with Buzz, she settles in more, but you can still tell she's on edge or bothered by what happened at home.  And slowly you get the whole story about her brother.  What Sunny learns is that if you try to stuff down your feelings they have a way of coming out!

In the end it turned out being a cute story that reminds us and tells kids that you need to talk about things that are bothering you.  Otherwise they'll fester. And that does no one any good.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Maybe a Fox - Guest Post Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee and Review!

Today I'm very excited to welcome Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee!!


They are here today to talk their new book Maybe a Fox.




About the book
A tale about two sisters, a fox cub, and what happens when one of the sisters disappears forever.

Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Better than just sisters, better than best friends, they’d be identical twins if only they’d been born in the same year. And if only Sylvie wasn’t such a fast—faster than fast—runner. But Sylvie is too fast, and when she runs to the river they’re not supposed to go anywhere near to throw a wish rock just before the school bus comes on a snowy morning, she runs so fast that no one sees what happens…and no one ever sees her again. Jules is devastated, but she refuses to believe what all the others believe, that—like their mother—her sister is gone forever.

At the very same time, in the shadow world, a shadow fox is born—half of the spirit world, half of the animal world. She too is fast—faster than fast—and she senses danger. She’s too young to know exactly what she senses, but she knows something is very wrong. And when Jules believes one last wish rock for Sylvie needs to be thrown into the river, the human and shadow worlds collide.

Writing in alternate voices—one Jules’s, the other the fox’s—Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee tell the tale of one small family’s moment of heartbreak.
 


About the Authors
Kathi Appelt is the New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books for children and young adults. Her picture books include Oh My Baby, Little One, illustrated by Jane Dyer, and the Bubba and Beau series, illustrated by Arthur Howard. Her novels for older readers include two National Book Award finalists: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp and The Underneath, which was also a Newbery Honor Book. In addition to writing, Ms. Appelt is on the faculty in the Masters of Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in College Station, Texas. To learn  more, visit Kathi’s website at kathiappelt.com.




Alison McGhee is the New York Times bestselling author of Someday, as well as Firefly HollowLittle BoySo Many DaysBye-Bye CribAlwaysA Very Brave Witch, and the Bink and Gollie books. Her other children’s books include All Rivers Flow to the Sea,Countdown to Kindergarten, and Snap. Alison is also the author of the Pulitzer Prize–nominated adult novel Shadowbaby, which was also a Today show book club selection. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and you can visit her at AlisonMcGhee.com.



Today they each have a guest post about themselves at the age of 11 because the main characters in Maybe a Fox are about this age.  I wanted to know how they felt they compared. 


First we'll hear from Kathi:



I definitely see my eleven year-old self in Sylvie and Jules. When I was their age, my parents divorced, and so I was never with both of them at the same time again. When I was with my father, I missed my mother. When I was with my mother, I missed my father. So, while my loss of a parent wasn’t as extreme as the death of Sylvie and Jules’s mother, it was nevertheless a loss.

There were three of us, with me being the oldest. Like Sylvie and Jules, my sisters and I had a lot of similarities. We were close in age, separated by months rather than years. We could wear each other’s clothes. We shared friends, and we had a cousin named Mike, who could easily have played the role of Sam for us. We adored him. Still do actually. But mostly, we leaned on each other heavily during those back-and-forth years of shared custody and constant moving between parents. At the time, the only ones experiencing our life was us. Even Mike couldn’t share our experience of loss.

When any group, regardless of familial connections, is thrown together in a shared situation, our vocabularies actually change to reflect that. My sisters and I still have our “language of sisters.” Likewise, Sylvie and Jules created their own language that shaped and enriched their world as they knew it.

As we wrote this book, one of the first things that Alison and I recognized was that tight bond between Sylvie and Jules and the way that their mother’s death sealed them together in such a complete and utterly profound way. So when Sylvie was lost, it felt like Jules lost a part of herself, a part that she had to find before she could move on.

I adore Jules and her true dedication to Sylvie; but if I had to say which sister I find myself in more fully, it would be Sylvie. She was the oldest, like me, and I immediately understood her keen desire to keep Jules and their father safe. Of course, from the vantage point of an adult, I know that that was beyond her powers as a twelve year-old, but I also know the way that love compels us to do whatever it takes to prevent loss, even it means losing ourselves. Sylvie made a mistake; but she made it in the name of love. There’s no greater language than that.

Kathi



And now from Alison:



Me at Eleven

Kathi and I are both the eldest of three girls (I also have a younger brother) born very close in age. Like her, I was born wanting to take care of my sisters, my family, everyone I loved. I remember lying awake at night worrying about their safety and how to make them happy. So, in that way, we are fundamentally alike both to each other and to Sylvie.

Unlike Kathi, I grew up in the rural foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. It’s a region of tremendous natural beauty, brutal winters and hardscrabble working lives. My family and I lived on 130 acres of woods and creeks and fields, and I spent a lot of time roaming around our land. Inside me, from birth, there has always been a sense of how fleeting time and life is, and how much I want to hold onto the people and moments I love. I used to walk down the road to watch the sun rise over a field near our house. There was a tree in the middle of that field, a huge and ancient oak, and one day I decided to memorize it, the exact way it stood there, sentry to the cows and the grass and the hills that rose behind it.

I still have that image in my head, and for the rest of my eleventh and twelfth years I created other memory-photos of places I loved. My treehouse, which I built in an enormous maple by the side of the road. My “pine tree house,” which is what I called a tiny clearing among evergreens. The hay forts that my sisters and I would make in the barn. All these places were sanctuaries to me, places where I could be alone and think and read and draw and wonder where was my true place in this world.

In terms of inner emotional life, I am much more like Sylvie than Jules. In terms of external life, I am a woodland creature like Jules. Kathi and I are both alike, I think, in that we turn to the natural world to make sense of the human one—or, if not make sense, put it in some kind of perspective.



So very interesting to hear from the two of them how their lives influenced, reflected or mirrored the story! 

Thank you for sharing.




My Thoughts on the Book:


This book has really stuck with me.  I finished it a few days ago, and I'm still thinking about it.  That surprises me because it's really a small book.  But trust me, it packed a punch.  In those pages Jules and Senna (the fox) wiggled their way into my heart.  Yes I said the fox wiggled her way into my heart! Don't judge me! I really really loved her character.  There was so much heart written into her story that my heart took her in.  And right there with her was Jules.  I felt so much for her.  Just was going through so much at such a young age.  I just wanted to hug her.  What I also liked about her, though, was that if I did hug her she'd get riled up.  I loved that she was strong and determined.  

You should know before your read the story that it has magical realism in it.  I wasn't sure how that would play out, but it was so perfectly stitched into the story that it seem natural and real and believable.  (ok sorry I feel like I'm gushing a bit) And the reason for it being in the story just made it even more perfect.  I don't want to say anything more in fear of giving it away.

Lastly the secondary characters. This book has a lot of sadness.  Jules's has a friend Sam.  His brother is home from the war after losing a good friend while there.  He's struggling a lot with dealing with the loss of his friend and just the aftermath of being in battle.  I'm sure it's PTSD, but it's never called that.  He was doing what he could to cope, but you knew it would take a long while for him to recover.  His story meshes nicely with the story of Jules.  


In the end:  A story with sadness, loss and how it affects each of us differently - yet within it is hope and love.  


Originally ran on The O.W.L.