Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kid Konnection: Home for the Holidays

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you another cute middle grade book from one of Booking Daughter's and my favorite series.

Summary: This Christmas season, join the girls of the mother-daughter book club for a variety of holiday-themed adventures! Becca, Megan, Emma, Cassidy and Jess have plenty of reading material to bring on their trips, too, because the book club is tackling the Betsy-Tacy series before their next meeting on New Year's Eve.

But unfortunately, nothing goes quite as planned for any of the girls. On a Christmas cruise with their families, Megan and Becca fight over the dashing son of the ship's captain. Cassidy and her family fly back to California to visit Cassidy's sister Courtney... but when the West Coast causes homesickness for their former life in Laguna Beach, the family begins to question what state they should call home. And a disastrous sledding accident causes both Emma and Jess to completely change their holiday plans.

Between squabbles, injuries, and blizzards, everything seems to be going wrong. Will the girls be able to find their holiday spirit in time for Christmas? -- Simon and Schuster

A few years ago, our mother-daughter book club was fortunate enough to receive a call from Heather Vogel Frederick as part of our discussion of  THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB. You can read more about our terrific meeting here. Ms. Frederick was amazing with the girls and she definitely gained some huge fans in our group. Booking Daughter and I already considered ourselves major groupies of The Mother Daughter Book Club series, and we have read each and every book as soon as we could get our hands on it.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this series, you are sure missing out. Just kidding -- kind of! The Mother Daughter Book Club series follows the lives of five very different girls and their mother daughter book club. The first book begins with the girls entering middle school, and the following books pretty much track a calendar year. So after the fifth book, the girls are part-way through high school and beginning to turn into amazing young women. The reader follows the girls through their typical (and not-so-typical) lives, and I can't help but think that every tween who reads these books will relate to one of the girls... or at least know someone who is like one of the characters.

These books are wonderfully clean and sweet (and maybe a little bit innocent) and they are exactly what I love for Booking Daughter to read. They deal with many problems, including friendship and frenemy ones; and the last books even start dealing with boy issues. They are kind of like tween chick-lit, but with some awesome messages.

And as much as I love these books for all of the reasons I mentioned above, what really makes them extra-special to me is the book club angle. In each of the novels, the girls are reading books for their book club. These books always seem to relate to what going on in the girls' live, and there are interesting tidbits about the books and the authors. For example, in the first book, the girls and their moms read LITTLE WOMEN since they live in the same town that Louisa May Alcott was from. Of course, there are lots of "natural" tie-ins for each character and their mothers. Other books featured such classics as ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

One of the highlights of our discussion with Ms. Frederick was that she gave us the scoop on the fifth (and I think final) book  in the series HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. While I was trying to process that I would only be able to read one more of these wonderful books, something quickly brought me out of my funk. She mentioned to our group that HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS was going to be based on the Betsy-Tacy books. My friends tell me I started to do a little happy dance and I might have even squealed! I so love the Betsy-Tacy books!

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS was very similar to the other four books in this series. Of course, I loved it, but Booking Daughter didn't think it was her favorite. She said it was just different to her, and when I asked to explain, she said that the book didn't cover the entire year of school like the other ones. She was right, but that didn't affect my appreciation of the novel. It was still sweet and I enjoyed seeing how the characters grew; and if I'm being entirely honest, I couldn't see much past how much I loved all of the Betsy-Tacy references. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS really focused on how timely and relevant these books still are. I also think I was especially affected by the characters because I was afraid it was the last time I'd get to see inside their lives.

In HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, the girls all seemed to be having some issues. Call it hormones, jealousy, or the stress of the holidays, but none of the girls seemed to be exactly on their game. There were lots of tension between the girls -- even the ones who were best friends; and I felt as if the pettiness was all very real (although I do live with a 12 year old girl!) Of course, there were lots of ups and downs, but the girls eventually came around and realized what was important in their lives -- their families and friendships. Now you see why I love these books so much and I love that Booking Daughter devours them too!

If you have a tween girl in your life (or you are still one in your heart!), then I highly recommend HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS and the entire Mother Daughter Book Club series.

I received an electronic copy of this book through Simon and Schuster's Galley Grab.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Beth F said...

I remember when you talked about these books before. It's always sad when a series end, and this sounds wonderful. Our great-nieces are a little too young for these, but in a few years I'll recommend them our niece and nephew.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Sounds like all the Betsy-Tacy fans are going to be ecstatic! :--)

My Kid Konnection book this week is also appropriate for tweens, in spite of some daunting subject matters!

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a delightful series!!

ilieruby said...

This sounds like a great series for my tween girl. Thanks for putting this on my radar!

Jaymie said...

This sounds like a fun series. I'll have to check them out. They sound like something we could add to our school library. Thanks!

educationdiva said...

My tween daughter and I have our own private little book club. I love bonding with her over books! We read To Kill a Mockingbird Together. She's 11 and I wasn't sure if she was ready, but I was surprised at how she picked up on the themes and literary devices. (You can read all about our experience on my blog!) I think our next book will be THE HELP. We will also check out the series you're recommending. Looks great!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

My 9 yr old is just starting to read these MDBC books - she'll be happy to know there's another installment!