Wednesday 30 June 2021

Book Review - The Girl Who Speaks Bear


Title: The Girl Who Speaks Bear

Author: Sophie Anderson 

Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd 

Release Date: 5 Sept. 2019 

ISBN-13: 978-1474940672


Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka has always felt out of place in her small village. When she wakes up to find that her legs have become bear legs, she sets off into the forest to discover who she is, on a journey that takes her from icy rivers to smouldering mountains, with an ever-growing group of misfits alongside her... Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka's journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs. 


My Review

This is the last of the Carnegie shortlist books that I have been reading. From the blurb, I thought is sounded a bit weird but very intriguing and i think the cover is beautiful so I was quite looking forward to reading it. 

Yanka was found as a baby outside a bears cave, she was taken back the village by the person she now calls mother, but Yanka has always felt out of place, much bigger and stronger than all of the other children and with a yearning for the forest, she isn't sure where she belongs in life. Then one morning, she wakes up to discover that her legs have turned from human to bear! Desperate not to let anyone see, she runs away and takes off into the woods - desperate to find out what is happening to her and guided by old folk stories and legends.

That was my favourite part of the book - between chapters there would be a traditional story printed that was linked to this story, so you got a variety of other tales too that all connected and made the world seem more alive and realistic. I actually preferred the legends to the main story.

I found Yanka to be quite a strong and brave young lady considering what she was going through but at times she could also be very annoying and naive. But I did find myself hoping that she would find her happiness.

The story was quite odd, and I wasn't entirely sure of the relevance of all of it, it is quite convoluted in getting to the ending and i skim read some parts as i got a bit bored, but overall I really enjoyed the story and would definitely like to know more about the background of her father and ancestors and their links to the bears.

Overall, I enjoyed it and wouldn't be upset if it won.   

My Rating


Book Review - Clap When You Land


Title: Clap When You Land

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo 

Publisher: Hot Key Books 

Release Date: 5 May 2020 

ISBN-13‏: 978-1471409127


Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people...
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance - and Papi's secrets - the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they've lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Papi's death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

 My Review

This was another of the Carnegie nominated books, it is also another one written in verse - which seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment. The book is also told in a duel narrative - splitting between Camino in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira in New York. They both share the same father, but neither knows of the others existence. He splits his time between life in New York and the summers in the DR, Camino knows he has a family and his main life is in NY, but Yahaira assumes that he goes away for business each year.

Then at the start of summer, his plane crashes, there are no survivors and suddenly both girls have to come to terms with the loss, and when they discover that he had more secrets than they could have ever imagined, they also have to come to terms with having a whole new family. But can they get along, when they are so different?

The story was better than I expected, but very slow to get started. I found it quite difficult to tell the difference between the two narratives at first - both girl seemed quite similar, but as the story progresses they do start to develop their own characteristics and personalities and the story got more exciting.

I liked the concept of the story, the idea of the two worlds colliding and the two very different lifestyles having to find the common ground. And it was executed fairly well, but I honestly think I would have got more out of it if it had been written in prose, I craved more details, I wanted to know more about the girls and their backgrounds and the places they lived. Verse novels tend to skim the surface, and whilst some do give details in a clever way, this one just felt like there was something missing.

It wasn't a bad read, and I'm glad i've read it, but I wasn't blown away by it.

My Rating