Thank you to Partner Netgalley for sharing an e-book copy of this uplifting children's book, Who is My Neighbor? by Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, illustrated by Denise Turu.
This is a touching story about the Blues and the Yellows, two groups who are homogenous and a bit xenophobic and prone to bias against the other group until the unlikely mixing of a Yellow (Lemon) and a Blue (Midnight Blue). Lemon and Midnight Blue discover that despite everything they have been told by their neighbors in their respective color groups, things are not what they appear.
When Midnight Blue gets hurt and gets help from Lemon (after being ignored by two members of his Blue group), he discovers that the Yellow world is one of kindness and compassion that is totally different from the way Yellows had been described to him by his Blue community. Lemon, who takes Midnight Blue to her doctor and shares her snack, discovers that Midnight Blue is also kind and gracious. After their encounter, Lemon and Midnight Blue become and remain friends. Seeing them together teaches the neighborhoods that their biases and stereotypes are all wrong, and the two communities change their ways to come together.
This is a sweet, hopeful story that very clearly parallels real life struggles that people have as they encounter others who are different from them (or avoid those others simply because of ignorance and fear). I read it with my four year old, who loved it because of the way that Lemon helped Midnight Blue and because of the way they all came together in the end. She quickly drew connections to skin color and languages, and she mentioned the prejudice that we've read about in other books and how wrong that is.
This is a great children's book with an important message about acceptance and compassion and not accepting that things have to be the way they have always been.
Thank you to Partner Netgalley for my advance copy of this novel. I loved The Belles and was so excited to read the sequel, The Everlasting Rose. Set in the dystopian world of Orléans , this novel reveals the way that quests for beauty and power can spiral out of control as the quest to become the most beautiful and most powerful gets in the way of compassion, equity, and all forms of understanding.
The Belles opens in a world where most people are born gris, meaning that their natural complexion is gray, with red eyes, straw-like hair, and gray whiskers on their faces. This condition is both unattractive and painful. The only exception to this natural state is the Belles, who are born lovely with all different complexions, shapes, and demeanors, but who are all able to use the power within their blood to help others beautify themselves. The Belles are raised to beautify others, and when they come of age, that becomes their duty. In order to avoid this natural but uncomfortable state of being gray, the citizens of Orléans must have routine beauty procedures done, which can only be performed by the Belles. They pay high prices and suffer extreme pain to endure the beauty procedures. Camille Beauregard and her sisters are coming of age at the beginning of The Belles, and they become the group of Belles able to assist all of the people of Orléans, including the royal family, with these procedures. However, as Camille gets deeper into her journey, she quickly realizes that the world is not as it seems and that her talents can be misused and can cause harm.
The Everlasting Rose picks up where The Belles left off, and it captivates the reader immediately. I loved the main characters in the novel and found myself swept up in their riveting adventure, rooting for them to succeed, even though they were facing staggering odds. Camellia Beauregard leads us through the complex world of the royal family as Princess Sophia makes her way toward the throne. Camille discovers that she has powers she did not realize she possessed, but she also realizes that she can be forced and manipulated into doing things that are horrendous. Her unlikely companion, Rémy, and her sister Edel, are both fascinating supporting characters with their own agendas and desires. Additionally, the teacup dragons who travel with them are so precious and fun!
I love the way Clayton demonstrates the power of suggestion, the pressure to fit in, and the role of gossip and the media in what shapes society. I also love her commentary on the way that subliminal messages and peer pressure can lead us all to feel that there is some kind of artificial beauty ideal that we should achieve-- and that the pursuit of that false ideal can destroy us or cause us to destroy others.
Camille's courage, determination, loyalty, and resolute unwillingness to back down make her the kind of woman I hope to be and hope for my daughters to be. She is ready to bring about change, and she faces the uncertain future with resilience and passion.
In short, I cannot wait for Book Three!
K. Ashley Dickson-Ellison is a former high school English teacher (who is now an instructional technology teacher) interested in exploring the integration of trending young adult literature into the English classroom experience. Ashley is also a member of the podcast Unabridged; check out the podcast site below.
Please note: All ideas and opinions are my own and do not represent my current or past employers.
© K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All thoughts and ideas are the author's and do not represent any employer.