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Must Read Books by Lisa Railsback

October 12, 2010

Noonie’s Masterpiece
written by Lisa Railsback, illustrated by Sarajo Frieden
Chronicle Books, 2010
middle fiction chapter book

Visually, Noonie’s Masterpiece is one of the most beautiful chapter books I’ve ever seen – its pages are filled with Noonie’s drawings, doodles and designs (drawn by the talented Sarajo Frieden).

I can barely write about this book without tearing up . . . Noonie’s Masterpiece will tug at your heartstrings  – okay, maybe just yank them. You see, Noonie’s mother died when she was five and her father, an archaeologist, travels all over the world so Noonie must live with her aunt, uncle and cousin, Junior.

Here’s what you must know about Noonie: She’s is a brilliant (fourth grade) artist just like her mother. She hates living with her aunt and uncle. She gets a lot of interesting sicknesses (purple principal pneumonia) that might require her dad to travel home. Noonie thinks that if she gets a blue ribbon in the art show, her dad will come home. And, the only person alive who Noonie thinks understands her is her art teacher, Ms. Lilly.

Noonie’s Masterpiece is about more than just art, it’s the story of finding home and family, the masterpieces we all are as individuals, and living courageously. I loved this book – it’s a must read!

Betti on the High Wire
written by Lisa Railsback
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2010
middle fiction chapter book

In an unnamed war-torn country, in the ruins of an old circus camp lives Babo, one of many left-over children. Babo loves imagining her mom and dad and when they’ll return for her.  She entertains the others with stories of their lives – her mom is the Tallest Woman in the World and her dad is the famous Green Alligator Man.

When an American couple decides to adopt Babo, she doesn’t want to leave the place she’s always believed her parents will return and search.

But, she is adopted and becomes Betti.  She still refuses to like living with her new family in the United States but each day decides to just stay “one more day”.

It’s mindfulness at it’s best. Living one day at a time is sometimes all someone can do when they’re healing from heartbreak; it’s also the best advice for everyone who wants to live in the present moment.

I loved this book, too, for different reasons. It’s not as whimsical as Noonie’s Masterpiece; it’s funny, dark, and hopeful.

Read Lisa Railsback’s post on kids and puppets on Imagination Soup.

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