PCP Two of Spades: Born in the Wild

born in the wildBorn in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents

by Lita Judge

Roaring Brook Press, 2014

This bright, instructive exploration of different mammal families offers lots of concrete information about what mammal babies need and how mammal parents meet those needs. Sections feature a brief identification of a particular need on a single spread, followed by a few pages with specific examples of different species attention to it. The text is full of fascinating explicatory zoological detail about everything from food to shelter. But the star of this charming outing is Judge’s open, inviting portraiture that finds a perfect balance of natural authenticity and friendly accessibility. The informative text provides the facts and figures, delineating our common place in the natural world, and the warm, soulful imagery makes good on that promise, allowing the reader to feel the connection as well as understand it. In a world where growing up can feel like a daunting endeavor, how comforting it is to know that we’re all in it together.

PCP Ace of Spades: The Disenchantments

11699055The Disenchantments

by Nina LaCour

Dutton, 2012

Colby and Bev have been saving for years (and years) for their year-long-backpack-around-Europe-before-college-trip. It’s going to be the best. They’re best friends, after all, and, well, Colby is pretty much in love with Bev. Except Bev isn’t going. She’s going to college instead. She applied ages ago. Sorry.

To make matters worse (or not quite so bad), Colby will be spending the summer before he’s not going to college traveling around with Bev and Meg and Alexa, The Disenchantments, managing their Pacific Northwest tour from his Uncle Pete’s VW van. There is some road-trip revelry here, and a goodly amount of deep adolescent angst, that keep things moving and give us plenty to think about along the way. But the novel’s real genius comes from profound clarity and resonance with which LaCour paints Colby’s circumstances. To be sure, not many of us have experienced this particular turn of events, but she makes something universal of the skittish confusion and achy disorientation that come when the dependability of high school gives way to the unknown of what comes next. It’s no easy path to tread, and Colby’s way through is thrilling and sad and powerfully affecting. By getting the trauma just right, LaCour makes the resultant growth immediately recognizable and especially gratifying.