Looking For JJ

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2016 – The Round Up

Published January 1, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Image from http://www.parentspartner.com/childrens-literature/

Hello everyone and welcome to Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2016 The Round Up where we’ll be talking about our highlights (and lowlights) of our Kid Lit year. As always, we’ve read some fantastic books and series, some of which we will be continuing into 2017. Please find below all the books we read and the links to my reviews. For Chrissi’s reviews the link will be at the bottom of each original post.

JANUARY- The Demon Headmaster- Gillian Cross

FEBRUARY- Carrie’s War- Nina Bawden

MARCH- The Boy In The Dress- David Walliams

APRIL- Noble Conflict- Malorie Blackman

MAY- The Horse and His Boy- C.S Lewis

JUNE- The Borrowers- Mary Norton

JULY- Maggot Moon- Sally Gardner

AUGUST- Looking For JJ- Anne Cassidy

SEPTEMBER – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase-Joan Aiken

OCTOBER- Ballet Shoes- Noel Streatfeild

NOVEMBER- A Series of Unfortunate Events- Lemony Snicket 

DECEMBER- The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair- Lara Williamson

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our fourth (!!) year of Kid-Lit blogging.

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2016 and why?
BETH: Tough choice this year as there were a few books I really, really loved. If I had to choose one though it would be The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase. Totally surprised me with how much I enjoyed it and it had such a classic, old-time feel to it which was fantastic.
CHRISSI: Mine would be The Wolves of Willoughby Chase or The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair. I can’t pick… sorry! Both had such charm.
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2016 and why?
BETH: Hmmm…..Ballet Shoes. Definitely the most disappointing. I struggled to get through it if I’m honest and got a bit bored about halfway through.
CHRISSI: I would say Ballet Shoes as well. I really thought it would be a book that I loved because I’m a massive fan of books that involve dance and love that era, but no, it wasn’t for me.
3) What was the Kid-Lit book of 2016 that surprised you the most?
BETH: The Horse And His Boy for sure. I didn’t have fond memories of it as a child. In fact, it was my least favourite of all the Narnia books. I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered and I actually really enjoyed it!
CHRISSI: It would be Looking for JJ for me as I didn’t expect to be as gripped as I was by the story. I devoured it!
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2016?
BETH: I fell completely under the spell of Lara Williamson after reading The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair and would really love to read her debut novel A Boy Called Hope.
CHRISSI: I will definitely continue with the Percy Jackson series. I don’t know if I can wait each kid-lit year to read the series though!

For anyone who reads these posts, thank you so much for your continued support, we love doing this challenge and hope to continue it indefinitely. Coming tomorrow – the big reveal for Kid-Lit 2017! Which titles made it this year? And which titles are we going to have to do er…. another year?!

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2016 – Looking For JJ (Jennifer Jones #1) by Anne Cassidy

Published August 31, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of town toward Berwick Waters. Later that day, only two of them came back. . . .

Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago, though it’s still hard for her to believe it. She’ll never be able to forget, even though she’s trying to lead a normal life–she has a job, friends, and a boyfriend whom she adores. But Alice’s past is dangerous, and violent, and sad . . . and it’s about to rip her new life apart.

A gripping and emotionally searing novel by accomplished British author Anne Cassidy, Looking for JJ infuses a terrifying subject with humanity and hope.

What did I think?:

It’s always difficult to decide what twelve books Chrissi and I should put on our kid lit list at the start of every year as there is such a wealth of brilliant children’s literature out there yet I don’t think we are ever going to struggle over what to choose! Anne Cassidy is an author I’ve heard of but I’ve never read any of her work before and Looking For JJ was suggested as one of the top books for younger readers, although it does probably sit firmly in the young adult category rather than “kid lit,” due to some of the more adult content.

JJ is the nickname of Jennifer Jones who when she is ten years old does something absolutely terrible in a moment of madness, something that she regrets deeply and something that she will have to live with for the rest of her life. Due to the enormity and severity of what she does, after spending some time in a young offender’s institution she is released and given a brand new identity – that of Alice Tully and a new home with a wonderful social worker called Rosie who keeps an eye on Alice and helps her to adjust to her new life whilst she prepares to go to university and study history.

We learn about Alice’s life in the present time as she begins to integrate herself back into society, working part-time at a local coffee shop and even forging a tentative relationship with her boyfriend, Frankie. Of course, Alice can’t forget the dreadful things that happened in her past and we also get an insight into her life as a child when she was Jennifer, especially the toxic relationship she had with her mother and her struggles to adapt to foster care or short stays with a rather indifferent grandmother when her mother decides that she can’t deal with looking after her at certain points in her life. Piece by piece, the trauma and deep sadness of Alice/Jennifer’s childhood becomes apparent and we begin to see what happened to precipitate the events of that awful day that changed her life forever.

Very few people know that Alice Tully is Jennifer Jones, including her boyfriend, Frankie mainly for her own safety so you can imagine the horror that ensues when a private detective comes sniffing around, certain that Jennifer Jones has been released and is living under a new identity. She has absolutely no contact with her mother for reasons that will become apparent as the story continues, but memories of her and the way she was treated as a child still get deep underneath her skin. Alice is forced to confront the ghosts of her past on a daily basis but none more so when her new identity is compromised and the whole life that she is has built as this new person may now be in jeopardy.

As I mentioned earlier, this book was a bit of a surprise and I definitely didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Both the plot and characters were truly spell-binding and the book was pretty much impossible to put down – I easily finished it on the same day I began reading it! It may not be entirely suitable for younger readers as, at times, there is quite a bit of adult content but I don’t want to give too much away by saying exactly what this is. As part of the young adult genre however, it is a brilliant, thrilling ride that is sure to captivate and surprise readers until the very end. Chrissi recently informed me that there is a follow up to this novel – Finding Jennifer Jones and I’m certain that this will be going on my TBR list for the near future!

For Chrissi’s fab review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit – The Titles For 2016 Revealed!

Published January 1, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Image from http://uweb.cas.usf.edu/~dslone/Pathfinders/weber.htm

Welcome 2016! Welcome to a new year of Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit. Without further ado, here are the titles we have chosen for the year ahead:

JANUARY- The Demon Headmaster- Gillian Cross

FEBRUARY- Carrie’s War- Nina Bawden

MARCH- The Boy In The Dress- David Walliams

APRIL- Noble Conflict- Malorie Blackman

MAY- The Horse and His Boy- C.S Lewis

JUNE- The Borrowers- Mary Norton

JULY- Maggot Moon- Sally Gardner

AUGUST- Looking For JJ- Anne Cassidy

SEPTEMBER – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase-Joan Aiken

OCTOBER- Ballet Shoes- Noel Streatfeild

NOVEMBER- A Series of Unfortunate Events- Lemony Snicket 

DECEMBER- The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair- Lara Williamson

Like last year, we’ve picked a mixture of “classic,” children’s literature and some newer titles. I’m really looking forward to re-visiting one of my old favourites, The Demon Headmaster and continuing the Narnia series with The Horse And His Boy. I also can’t wait to read titles such as Carrie’s War which I’ve been meaning to read for so long and Ballet Shoes which I’ve heard a lot of good things about. What do you think of our titles? Have you read any of these? Which do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!