All the Crooked Saints: A Review

Here is a thing that draws everyone to Bicho Raro: The promise of a miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears after their first miracle: What they’ll need to do to complete their second miracle.

The strange magic of miracles has been a part of the Soria family for generations–long before the family left Mexico for the desert of Bicho Raro, Colorado.

Now, in 1962, three cousins are at a turning point where magic and action intersect.

Joaquin wants many things. He wants his family to understand him, he wants to spend time with his cousins, most of all he wants someone to hear him DJing as Diablo Diablo on the pirate radio station he is running with Beatriz from inside a box truck.

Daniel is the current Saint of Bicho Raro. He performs the miracles and he sets the pilgrims on their paths to help themselves. Despite his saintliness he is incapable of performing the miracle he needs for himself.

Her family calls Beatriz the girl without feelings, objectively she can’t argue the point. But when unexpected misfortune befalls Bicho Raro, Beatriz will have to reconcile her feelings (or lack thereof) with the logical fact of what she has to do next.

Everyone wants a miracle but when miracles go horribly wrong the residents of Bicho Raro might have to settle for forgiveness instead in All the Crooked Saints (2017) by Maggie Stiefvater.

Set in 1962 when radio waves could be stolen and miracles weren’t quite so shocking, Stiefvater’s latest standalone novel is a story of miracles and magic but also family and forgiveness. An omniscient third person narrator tells the story as Beatriz, Joaquin, and Daniel are drawn into the center of the Soria family’s tumultuous relationship to the miracles and pilgrims who shape so much of the Soria identity.

Pilgrims come to Bicho Raro hoping a miracle can change their life, or maybe their fate. The Soria family changed years ago on a lonely night when a miracle went horribly wrong. The Soria cousins–Beatriz, Joaquin, and Daniel–might be the ones to help right the wrongs of that night. But only if they’re willing to risk changing Bicho Raro and themselves forever.

All the Crooked Saints is an evocative and marvelously told story. Wry humor, unique fantasy elements, friendship, and the fierce power of hope come together here to create an unforgettable story. Not to be missed. Will hold special appeal for readers who enjoy character driven fantasy.

Possible Pairings: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher at BookExpo 2017*

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Ada Twist, Scientist: A Picture Book Review

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty and Dave RobertsLike her classmates Iggy Peck and Rosie Revere, Ada Twist is an unusual second grader. Ada is curious and full of questions. “Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose?” All day, she peppers her parents with inquisitive questions.

When a noxious smell fills her house, Ada sets out to use the scientific method to figure out what is behind that foul odor. But in her search for answers Ada also ends up scaring the family cat and annoying her brother and parents. It’s not easy pursuing scientific discovery, but luckily for Ada she has her family’s full support once they stop to think about everything this girl dynamo has already discovered in Ada Twist, Scientist (2016) by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Dave Roberts.

Beaty and Roberts continue their delightful series of companion pictures that began with Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer.

This time around Ada is inspired by scientists such as Marie Curie and, as her name suggests, Ada Lovelace. While I am very fond of this series, previous installments missed opportunities to include a more diverse cast of characters. The author and illustrator work to correct that here with Ada and her family. Ada is a thoughtful, intelligent, black girl and aspiring scientist–something we need to see more often in picture books (and other books for children and teens).

While Ada encounters some pitfalls on her way to becoming a scientists she remains curious and persistent. This story includes rhyming text that rolls trippingly off the tongue and cartoon-like illustrations filled with details to draw readers into the story. Ada Twist, Scientist is a smart story that is sure to inspire many young scientists. A winner for storytimes and one-on-one readings. Recommended.

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*