Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Today's read... A Green Velvet Secret by Vicki Grant

Today's read is one I've been looking forward to reading the last month or two. It's a novel with more difficult topics (death of a family member) but should take an original twist in mourning and finding new footing in life. Plus, I love the idea of a vintage store!

by Vicki Grant
Tundra Books
Middle Grade Contemporary
256 pages
ages 8 to 12

Letters from beyond the grave and a green velvet dress reveal a secret to Yardley's beloved grandmother; for fans of The Parker Inheritance and The List of Things That Will Not Change and ages 10 and up.

It's always hard to lose a friend, but for Yardley O'Hanlon it's devastating. Her best friend is her wild and wonderful grandmother Gidge. They're two fashionable peas in a quirky little pod. They spend all their time together sewing and crafting and creating beautiful things — until Gidge dies, and Yardley loses her for good.

Or does she?

Yardley isn't convinced. Gidge was a big believer in reincarnation. She promised she'd never leave Yardley, and Gidge always kept her promises. So when a stylish older woman walks into the Over Easy Vintage Emporium where Yardley is helping out, Yardley is sure it's her grandmother, back from the dead. But her happiness doesn't last long, as the woman runs away in terror and no one else believes she was Gidge reincarnated. It's only with the help of a beautiful green velvet dress, a series of letters from "the other side" and an irritating twelve-year-old buttinsky named Harris that Yardley discovers there's more to the mystery woman — and Gidge — than she ever imagined.


With finesse and care, this book deals with the death of a grandmother, a green dress, difficult friendships, and, finally, acceptance and hope.

Gidge isn't only Yardley's grandmother, she's Yardley's best and only friend. They are two peas in a pod. When Gidge happily announces she's ending life to head into the next adventure, Yardley is anything but enthusiastic. As cancer wins out and Yardley faces the difficult loss, she finds herself sticking to the vintage shop her grandmother loved and helping out as she can. When one of Gidge's green dresses comes in, Yardley's convinced the woman who brought it is Gidge's, there are many other 'signs' she continues to cross. But there's so much more to everything than Yardley realizes.

The author has done a lovely job on addressing the difficulties when losing a beloved grandparent. The first chapters take time to let Gidge and Yardley's relationship root and blossom, letting the reader understand how much they mean to each other. When the time comes and Gidge passes away, it's not a shock but a gentle passing, which lets the feelings calmly soak in. It's a situation, which more than a few middle graders can identify with as they remember their own grandparents' deaths or realize the same situation is sinking in. And this is all done with a positive attitude from Gidge as she tackles it with style and celebration. It keeps bitterness and extra weight away, allowing this to really sit nicely for the middle grade age group.

Yardley has difficulties coming to terms with Gidge's death and, at the same time, needs to connect to others. This re-shuffling of life comes across nicely and understandably. There's a bit of imagination poured in as Yardley clings to the impossible belief that another woman is her reincarnated Gidge, which gives the slight feel of magic/other-worldly without really going near it. It gives a nice twist of possibilities and impossible hope. The boy at the vintage store, Harris, offers a wonderful off-set to this with his prickly, no-nonsense personality, and helps the story flow in the right direction.  All of it creates a fun and engaging read to balance out the heavier undertones and themes.

I do recommend this one and enjoyed reading every page.

And here she is...

VICKI GRANT is the author of seventeen books, including 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You (which has been sold in twenty-two territories and translated into seventeen languages), The Puppet WranglerQuid Pro QuoDead-End Job and Not Suitable for Family Viewing. Her books have consistently garnered her recognition from the American Library Association, the Canadian Library Association and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Quid Pro Quo was shortlisted for an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America and was included as a “best book” by the New York Public Library, Bank Street College, and The Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile Crime fiction in Canada.


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