by Lynne Dorfman
Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch is a delightful, easy read for high-schoolers, full of twists and turns. A romance novel that will largely appeal to teenage girls, readers will fall in love with Lina, the main character in this story. Lina’s mother has recently passed away, and at her mother’s last request, Lina goes to live in Italy with the father she has never known. Lina is determined not to stay in Tuscany, but the scenery, history, gelato, and a boy make Italy quite irresistible! Then, Lina is given a journal that her mother kept while she lived in Italy. As Lina retraces her mother’s footsteps, she discovers her real biological father! Seasoned with rich descriptions of Renaissance architecture and Italian food, this novel is the perfect book for readers of romance fiction and armchair travel.
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks & Gina Varadarajan is told in Ravi’s and Joe’s alternating first-person narrations. It celebrates the small victories that make school palatable for many elementary students. The story takes place in a week’s span, and the main characters are all fifth graders. Ravi has just moved here from India. He has always been at the top of his class and was well-liked by his classmates. But things are very different in America. Surprisingly, the class bully is American born Dillon, whose parents or grandparents are of East Indian descent. Ravi incorrectly assumes that Dillon will become his best buddy, but just the opposite occurs. Joe is a large, rather awkward student in Ravi’s class who was doing fine until his best friend moved away. Without a companion except for his dog, Joe has his own set of problems. He tries to avoid Dillon at all costs. Joe even believes that his own father doesn’t like him. When Joe and Ravi become friends, everything changes. This book addresses many issues including bullying, accepting others, understanding cultural differences, and problems that arise for English learners in our classrooms. The story also helps the reader gain insights into different parenting styles as well. The book includes two recipes and glossaries of Hindi and American terms. I give this book a thumbs up! Brilliant! Save Me a Seat is must read!
Lynne Dorfman is a co-director of the PA Writing & Literature Project. She is co-author of A Closer Look: Learning More About Our Students with Formative Assessment, K-6, available this September at Stenhouse Publishers. Lynne serves KSRA as an editor for PAReads and is an adjunct professor at Arcadia University. She attributes all her successes as a presenter and as a writer of professional books to her participation in PAWLP’s invitational summer writing institute and all her coursework at West Chester University through the PA Writing & Literature Project. It changed her teaching life and enriched her personal life with wonderful friends.