Yolanda Ridge

Children's Author

Goodreads Giveaway!

My publisher, Kids Can Press, is doing an amazing job of getting Inside Hudson Pickle into the hands of reviewers! It is available as an ebook through NetGalley. On goodreads, they are giving away twenty-five hardcover copies of the book. Enter to win by July 1st.

Good luck and happy reviewing!!

Comments Off on Goodreads Giveaway!

Real Friends

Real Friends

Author: Shannon Hale

Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

Publisher: First Second

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 1626727856

I don’t often review graphic novels but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them! I’m a big fan of letting children read everything and anything and I think graphic novels add to the diversity of choices in a truly great way. In addition, I don’t think graphic novels appeal only to those of lower reading ability of interest level. In fact, it’s possible that even for the most advance readers, picking up a graphic novel can challenge their brain in new and creative ways.

On to Real Friends! It is possible that I’m biased about this book because it’s set in the mid-80s and the main character, Shannon, was born in the same year as me! But really, kids of all ages will be able to relate to the ups and downs Shannon experiences as she tries to fit in with ‘the group’ while staying true to her own beliefs. Although this book focuses on friendships, it also deftly touches on other topics such as bullying, family dynamics, mental and behavioural health issues.

Shannon Hale’s portrayal of her own childhood is brave and unflinching. In an author’s note at the back, she explains where the story has been fictionalized, how the relationship with her sister has evolved since elementary school and why she felt it was important to share her experiences. I love her final message to readers:

“Friendship in younger years can be especially hard because our worlds are small. In high school and beyond, I found many supportive, lifelong friends. If you haven’t found your ‘group’ yet, hang in there. Your world will keep growing larger and wider. You deserve to have real friends, the kind who treat you well and get how amazing you are.”

The pictures compliment the story beautifully, with vibrant colours and emotional detail that drip from the page. As LeUyen Pham says in her acknowledgments, Shannon has penned a story that feels like it was ripped out of my own memories and insecurities as a child and her drawings bring those feelings alive in a compelling and engaging way.

A wonderful collaboration!

 

 

Comments Off on Real Friends

It’s a real book!

My first copy of Inside Hudson Pickle! Photographed with my first (very unbiased) reader! So excited to get this title out of my computer and onto the shelves!

DSC_8405

Comments Off on It’s a real book!

Call Me Sunflower

Call-Me-SunflowerTitle: Call Me Sunflower

Author: Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 9781510711792

Sunny’s heart is in the right place – all she wants to do is to get her parents back together so she can move back to New Jersey with her mom and her sister. As she goes through each step of “Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance”, readers will laugh and then cringe at her attempts to re-ignite their romance.

I love that this novel features a non-conventual family, Odyssey of the Mind and an animal rights subplot. And the secret Sunny uncovers when she finds a photo that makes her question her mom’s relationship with Scott – the only dad she’s ever known – provides just the right amount of tension and intrigue.

Another heart-warming middle grade novel by my my critique partner and writing friend, Miriam Spitzer Franklin. Highly recommended!

Comments Off on Call Me Sunflower

I’ll Give You The Sun

Title: sun_375wI’ll Give You The Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

Publisher: Dial Books

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 978-0803734968

Like We Are All Made of Molecules, I’ll Give You The Sun straddles the line between middle grade and young adult fiction. Unlike We Are All Made of Molecules, I’ll Give You The Sun falls much more solidly into the young adult category.

This book is also told from alternating points of view, twins named Noah and Jude. Interestingly, the chapters from Noah’s point of view are told when he was thirteen-years-old and Jude’s chapters come three years later when she is sixteen. This is not just a gimmick, it is part to the story. In Noah’s chapters, the twins are close and life is pretty good. In Jude’s chapters, the twins have lost their bond, their personalities have switched and it is clear that something has happened to blow their lives apart.

As the story progresses, going back and forth between Noah and Jude’s narratives, readers discover what happened and layers of secrets and deception get revealed. Although Noah (and Jude) are obviously younger in his chapters, the word choice and content may still be uncomfortable for younger middle grade readers.

I’ll Give You The Sun is a powerful, heart wrenching story about art and loss. It has a message for readers of many different ages but will resonate most with those mature enough to relate to the myriad of emotions explored.

Comments Off on I’ll Give You The Sun

We Are All Made of Molecules

Title: We Are All Made of Molecules6-11-14-molecules-2

Author: Susin Neilsen

Publisher: Tundra Books

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 978-1770497795

This book is aimed at a slightly older audience than most of the books I include on this site (in some places it is listed as middle grade, in other places young adult). I’m including it because it’s good – very good – and also because the categorization of books based on age is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

It is told from the alternating view points of thirteen-year-old Stewart and fourteen-year-old Ashley, who are thrown together when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Although Stewart is gifted (or perhaps because of it), he is socially immature and the chapters told from his perspective are clearly middle grade. But Ashley, although only one year older, is in some ways precocious putting both her voice and the content of her chapters into the young adult category.

The book tackles mature content matter, most notably the fact that Ashely almost gets raped, which  may be difficult for some younger readers to process. (It was difficult for me, as well, but likely in a different way and for different reasons.) Still, I would argue that preteen readers should be exposed to some of these issues in the safely and context of the book before they are experiencing it themselves.

This is a topic I will be addressing in future posts. Age of main character, target audience, and content maturity is an issue that’s affecting my own writing a lot lately. In the meantime, I highly recommend We Are All Made of Molecules for middle grade readers (and above) who are ready to tackle more challenging content and love a good book!

Comments Off on We Are All Made of Molecules

Inside Hudson Pickle Description

Here’s the blurb from Books-A-Million, Amazon, Indigo, Barnes&Noble, and Indiebound:

Cut from AAA hockey last season, seventh-grader Hudson Pickle needs to make the basketball team this year. But, after having an asthma attack at the first tryout, his chances aren’t looking good. His former best friend, Trevor, is also trying out. But he won’t even speak to Hudson since Hudson had all but ignored him while concentrating on hockey. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, now his uncle Vic — who’s been staying with him and his mom since a suspicious fire at his house —has been diagnosed with a genetic respiratory illness. Could this mean Hudson has something worse than asthma? And while this DNA mystery is being unraveled, will the truth about what happened to his father finally be revealed as well?

Yolanda Ridge’s compelling coming-of-age novel for middle-graders combines humor, action and mystery — with a dose of genetic science to keep things interesting. It offers a rich reading experience with complex characters and a multilayered story. Thoughtful, authentic and likeable Hudson will inspire readers with the grit and perseverance he relies on to get through his difficulties, and the self-deprecating wit he uses to manage middle-school social dynamics, evolving friendships and a changing family structure. There are also multiple mysteries running throughout the story — involving Hudson’s father, his uncle and his own health — that are sure to keep the pages turning.

It’s already available for pre-order but won’t hit the shelves until September!

Leave a comment »

Cover Reveal!

screenshot-2017-02-06-22-14-06

It’s off to the printers! Hitting the bookstores in September. More information to follow!

Leave a comment »

The Wild Robot

Title: The Wild Robotwildrobot1

Author & Illustrator: Peter Brown

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 0316381993

A middle grade book about nature triumphing over technology? Yes, please!

On the surface, The Wild Robot is a book set in the not-so-distant future where robots (or robot creators) rule everything but the small island where ROZZUM unit 7134 (aka Roz), gets stranded after her cargo ship sinks. Beyond that, it is a story of love, community, and the force of nature with layered themes that will resonate with a wide range of readers. The relationship Roz develops with an orphaned gosling, Brightbill, is so touching and full of humanity that it brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. Not your typical robot story, that’s for sure.

Although character development is paramount, Peter Brown does not sacrifice on  plot. Essentially a survival story, the ending is shocking, sad and oddly satisfying (with more than a hint about the possibility of a sequel).

As another reviewer said, “This book will do for robots what Charlotte’s Web did for pigs”. Read it (or listen to the audiobook) – I promise it will make you re-think the future of Artificial Intelligence.

Leave a comment »

The League of Unexceptional Children

Title: The League of Unexceptional Children

Author: Gitty Daneshvari

Illustrator: James Lancet

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge

ISBN: 0316405701

Not only do I love the concept of this book, the execution is great too! I listened to the audiobook on a summer road trip with my sister, 9-year-old niece, and two 10-year-old sons (yes – twins). It kept the kids engaged the entire time and made my sister and I laugh out loud on several (okay, many) occasions.

The start is a bit slow but once the “unexceptional children”, Jonathan and Shelley, are introduced the reader is drawn immediately into their world. Making the point that not everyone is exceptional – and nor they don’t need to be – does not get in the way of a great adventure story that involves saving the Vice-President of the United States.

I’m not sure if I missed any great visuals by not reading the actual book but the audio narrator is amazing and the voices she does really brings the story to light. Prepare to laugh and cheer for the unexceptional.

Leave a comment »