Sunday, February 26, 2023

Today's read... The Umbrella House by Colleen Nelson

Today's read caught my attention due to the cover and the title, especially when I discovered that the entire thing is based on a real building with some actual issues...although this is still fiction and doesn't expose a true story. But I do enjoy the mix of reality with fictive ideas, since this usually means that the reader will learn a few things, while being entertained.

After reading this one, I'm happy to say that it will be going onto my list for possible favorites of 2023!

by Colleen Nelson
Pajama Press
Middle Grade Contemporary
224 pages
ages 8 to 12

JUNE 6th!!!

In this intimate and inspiring novel about the power of art and the value of community, award-winning author and former New Yorker Colleen Nelson brings life and liveliness to an eccentric cast of New York City neighbors.

Middle-schooler and New Yorker Ruby Markowski wants to tell the truth fearlessly and powerfully, just like her idols at Veracity News. She and her best friend Scout already make YouTube videos together about East Village life, so when Veracity News announces a Young Voices video competition, Ruby knows it’s the perfect opportunity to make a name for herself, if only she can find a story worth telling. When a real-estate mogul threatens to buy her historic East Village apartment building, Umbrella House, Ruby sets out to create a video about the people who live in her building, depicting their love for art, community, and family.

With time—and her options for saving Umbrella House—running out, Ruby finds herself caught up in the mystery of the Midnight Muralist, a famous East Village artist whose murals once made buildings famous and valuable. Could finding this enigmatic artist be the key to saving her historic East Village apartment building?



The true life behind buildings and neighborhoods hits with heart and will have readers rooting for this determined duo until the end.

Ruby is a born journalist and, luckily, her best friend, Scout, is the camera talent at her side. Together, the duo creates Youtube videos about their neighborhood and what matters to them. When Ruby's idolized reporter announces a contest for young journalists, her and Scout are determined to enter and give their best. The theme of their entry soon swings toward a threat in their neighborhood; a corporation is purchasing properties left and right, tearing down the old, and building new. Their own, very special building, The Umbrella House, appears to be next on the list. Ruby is determined to save her building and neighborhood, but more and more problems roll in. With the clock ticking and such a huge opponent, she's not sure how she can ever win.

One of my favorite things about this read is that it's based on a real building, and the author has included an older photo of it near the front of the book. While the story itself is completely fictional, the tale flows as if it could be reality. That gives it a nice flair.

Ruby and Scout are a fun, determined pair of friends, who each have their dream, aren't always sure of their abilities, but are willing to give their best. They are full of energy and hope, and even when things don't go their way, their disappointment soon melts away with a new burst of inspiration. These two don't give up, look for help and advice from the adults around them, and keep going even when they know their chances are dimming.

The tale weaves in interesting facts and information without ever breaking the story's flow. And something is always happening. With the time tight, there's not a lot of space for sitting around, which means these two are always on the move. There are a few, smaller side plots to give everything depth and make the characters around them gain personality, but the main focus stays on Ruby's attempt to save the neighborhood. Her actions are believable, and the situations realistic as she tries everything she can think of to make things work. Because of this realistic side, readers can be inspired to chase their own dreams and ideas, knowing that while some things are difficult, there is a chance of success. 

It's a lovely read with a wonderful bunch of neighbors and a very amazing home.

And here she is...

Colleen Nelson earned her Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba in her hometown of Winnipeg. Her previous novels include Blood Brothers, selected as the 2018 McNally Robinson Book of the Year for Young People, and Pulse Point, selected as one of the CBC’s Most Anticipated YA Books of 2018. Colleen writes daily in between appearances at hockey rinks and soccer fields in support of her two sports-loving sons.

No comments: