Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kid Konnection: Heaven is Paved with Oreos

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 my thoughts about an adorable middle grade (or very young YA) book.

Summary: Fourteen-year-old Sarah Zorn intends to spend the Wisconsin summer with her “boyfriend” Curtis, waiting for a dead calf named Boris to decompose in time for the science fair. Her plans upend, however, when her fake-boyfriend strategy goes seriously awry just as her hippie Grandma Z invites her on a last-minute Roman holiday. As Sarah explores Italy’s ancient wonders, she can’t stop “boy-liking” Curtis . . . or puzzling over her grandmother’s odd behavior. Written as Sarah’s journal, this satisfying middle grade novel navigates the murky waters of first love, friendship, and family with heart and good humor. -- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Don't get me wrong. I am glad that my daughter is growing up -- she started high school a few weeks ago, but I'm really sad that she isn't reading as much middle grade fiction as she used to. I tend to tease her because she reads lots of middle grade girly books, but who am I kidding? I loved those books when I was her age too. Heck, I still love those books even though I'm at least 30 years past the targeted age.

Since I do a regular weekly feature on kids' book, I "technically" had a reason to read HEAVEN IS PAVED WITH OREOS by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. I couldn't resist the title or the cover, and when I read the description and saw that the main character visits Italy, it was pretty much a done deal for me!

HEAVEN IS PAVED WITH OREOS is 14-year old Sarah's story about the summer she visited Rome. It is written in the form of Sarah's journal, and the reader gets an inside view into Sarah's life as she discovers important lessons about friends, boys, family, and especially her quirky grandmother.

I thought HEAVEN IS PAVED WITH OREOS was a delightful book! I had read one of Ms. Murdock's earlier novels DAIRY QUEEN and thought it was adorable too. Ms. Murdock writes exactly the type of book that I want my daughter and her friends to read. Her main characters are nice girls who are facing fairly typical challenges. In fact, I have a feeling that young, female readers will have no problems relating to at least some of what Sarah is facing.

There were quite a few things about HEAVEN IS PAVED WITH OREOS (besides the cover and the title) that appealed to me. First, I really liked how Sarah's story was told. Since the novel was written as Sarah's journal, I felt as if I got to really understand her because she shared her innermost thoughts. I loved Sarah's honest and her sense of humor, and it was wonderful seeing how much she matured over just a few months.

I also loved, loved, loved that Sarah got to visit Rome with her grandmother. Even though the trip ended up being different from what Sarah expected, she still got to visit Rome! I am dying to visit Italy one of these days, and at least for a few hours, I could live through Sarah. In addition, Ms. Murdock included a lot of terrific descriptions of the city and its landmarks as well as some interesting historical information.

I don't want to give too much away, but Sarah learned a great deal about not only Rome, but also her friends, her family and herself. As a mother, I truly appreciated the valuable lessons she learned and how some of the obstacles she faced made her a better (and more honest) person. Sarah also learned a thing or two about keeping secrets and how damaging that can be.

I have a feeling that Booking Daughter would still enjoy HEAVEN IS PAVED WITH OREOS. The publisher claims that the book is for readers ages 10 to 14, so she still has some time. Unfortunately, I think our mother/daughter book club is a little too old for this novel. However, book groups with younger girls shouldn't hesitate to consider this book. Some of the themes you will want to discuss include friendship, boys, secrets, lies, forgiveness, parent/child relationships, exploring, freedom, and trust.

I thought HEAVEN IS PAVED WITH OREOS was a super cute book for young girls. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

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 just love middle grade fiction. This one sounds like a winner. Even though my niece started college this year, I still miss reading MG books with her.

bermudaonion said...

That sounds really good to me. I love stories told through diary entries.

Laura Fabiani said...

Now that my daughter started high school she isn't reading as much middle-grade either. But my son is getting more into them.

This one really caught my attention because the character goes to Rome, one of my favorite cities. And my daughter just experienced a summer there so I think she might just like this book!

Suko said...

The title is adorable and the book sounds excellent. Like Laura, I'd enjoy the Rome aspect of the book. Like Kathy, I'd enjoy that the book is written as a journal. Very nice review!

Thank you for hosting this weekly feature Julie! I've added my link to the Mister Linky. :)