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Barrett Booknotes by Maggie, June 11, 2012


When I’m reading a really good book, nothing seems to bother me much:

The flights been delayed for three hours?
“No problem,” I say with a wave of my hand.
The doctor has triple booked my appointment time?
“Take your time!” I say with a grin.

Well, I’ve recently devoured a book that had just that effect on me. The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker had me glued to a lounge chair in my backyard all weekend long.

It’s a gripping story told from the perspective of a young woman remembering her middle school years in California, when everybody first got the news that the Earth was slowing down on its axis. At first, the changes seem subtle and everyone tries to adapt. But as the days stretch out and are followed by never-ending nights, it triggers drastic changes in the environment and in people, too.

As Julia struggles to adapt to an ever-changing world, she must also cope with personal challenges in her own life: the particular loneliness of early adolescence, the fissures in her parents’ marriage and the alternating pain and joy of a first love.

This book is a must for anyone wanting to lose themselves in a great summer read!

Barrett Booknotes  by Maggie, June 18, 2012


If you want a great book on your kid’s shelf that is totally engrossing, teaches empathy and appeals to all ages, look no further than a debut novel called Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  The story is told from multiple perspectives, but centers around an incredibly courageous fifth-grade boy named Auggie Pullman whose deformed facial features are shocking to most people at first. But as Auggie’s classmates start getting to know him, they find a warm, funny and engaging young man who wants what everybody wants – acceptance and friendship.

At the Book Expo in NYC a few weeks ago week, I got the chance to see Palacio during a panel discussion on books for middle grade readers. Palacio said one thing that surprised her was the book’s appeal across generations. A librarian from Bank Street School said teachers are literally arguing over which grade gets to choose the book for class reading.

That’s been my experience, too. I lent my copy to my mother-in-law a couple weeks ago and she was so moved by the book she had to write me a letter. “I keep thinking,” she wrote, “what will happen to Auggie when he gets to high school?”  We can only hope Palacio writes a sequel to this moving novel.

Barrett Booknotes by Maggie - July 20


Here at Barrett Bookstore, Hannah Vogel is one of our teen readers extraordinaire. She is a local 14-year-old girl who inhales books the way other people take in air. Hannah will occasionally provide reviews of books from a teen perspective. Her first focuses on a series for young adults, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare:

“This series was amazing, and I am currently waiting for the next book to come out. Cassandra Clare has created an utterly believable world filled with magic and magical beings. But, these books are not so filled with fantasy that they are too hard to believe, in fact, they were very believable and were a nice refreshing break from the usual teen vampires and werewolves. This series is possibly one of the best I’ve read.”

Barrett Booknotes by Maggie - August 31


  Peals of laughter from my co-workers greeted me when I came into work recently – everyone was poring over the newest Olivia book, Olivia and the Fairy Princess.   Featuring the world's most precocious pig, this book opens with Olivia in the middle of an identity crisis revolving around her oft-expressed need of standing out in the crowd. Olivia has always wanted to be a fairy princess, but everyone wants to be a fairy princess lately. As usual, Olivia has some creative ideas about how to show off her unique style.  Why not dress like a princess from India, Thailand or Africa?  No more ballet, either. Now Olivia is striking out covered in black, Martha-Graham style. Olivia also dreams up different hilarious career options available to her other than royalty. I loved this newest Olivia book – it’s my favorite of the series! This little piggy is definitely one of a kind.


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