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Cloud Hopper by Beth Kephart

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 332 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Cloud Hopper by Beth Kephart is a novel of adventure in the eyes of three teens who have found their own family among one another. K, Wyatt, and Sophie look to the skies as Sophie’s Grandma Aubrey wove tales of her namesake, Sophie Blanchard, aeronaut extraordinaire. A cloud hopper comes to life in a young migrant girl who falls from the sky one summer as the trio are watching. When they scramble to save her from the wreckage, the trio begin a journey of self-discovery and shared secrets that has little to do with the hopper herself. Sophie must become more at ease in the air, like her namesake, if she is to come terms with all that happens in this novel.

Kephart’s lyrical prose creates a sense of urgency to find the migrant girl’s family without them being caught by ICE or worse, as the hospital will only keep her so long as she heals. Sophie’s grandmother’s multiple sclerosis is progressing at the same time. Sophie is pulled between her friends and the mission and the love of her grandmother who needs her most. What Kephart does so well is create a vivid scene in each moment, making the reader feel they are there on the forest floor searching, in the Cessna circling, at the hospital appeasing, and striving for a resolution and a happy ending, even if they know not all endings are happy.

“You pick the best people for your life, Grandma Aubrey always says. And you stick with them.” (pg.78)

“‘Nothing that is not to be expected,’ she says, but it takes her way too long to say it, and my thoughts are worries, and my worries are like the black storm in the sky that came upon the hopper and threw her to the ground.” (pg. 129)

Like many other Beth Kephart books, readers will be swept into a new world — a world that is both real and fantastical. It’s poetic, it bends the rules, and it soars. Cloud Hopper by Beth Kephart is like the hopper, flying perilously toward danger without a safety net, but the journey is well worth the unpredictability.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Beth Kephart is the author of twenty-two books, publishing memoir, young adult literature, a corporate fairytale, an autobiography of a river, and an essay/photography collection.

Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir (Gotham), based in part on Kephart’s teaching at Penn (where she won the 2015 Beltran Teaching Award), won the 2013 Books for a Better Life Award (Motivational Category), was featured as a top writing book by O Magazine, and was named a Best Writing Book by Poets and Writers. Small Damages (Philomel) was named a 2013 Carolyn W. Field Honor Book and a best book of the year by many publications. Going Over (Chronicle) was the 2014 Parents’ Choice, Gold Medal Winner/Historical Fiction and a Booklist Editor’s Choice. One Thing Stolen (Chronicle) was a 2015 Parents’ Choice Gold Medal winner. Kephart’s 2014 Shebooks e-memoir is Nest. Flight. Sky.: On Love and Loss One Wing at a Time. Her 2013 middle grade historical novel, Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent (Temple University Press), was named a top book of the year by Kirkus.

Kephart is a National Book Award nominee and a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize. She writes a monthly column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, is a frequent contributor to the Chicago Tribune, has given keynote addresses on the state of literature and teaching, and served as a judge for the National Book Awards, the National Endowment for the Arts, and PEN. 

Kephart was one of 50 Philadelphia writers chosen for the year-long Philadelphia’s Literary Legacy, exhibited at the Philadelphia International Airport. Excerpts from her Love: A Philadelphia Affair were the subject of a six-month Airport exhibit. She is a Radnor High Hall of Fame.

Kephart is the co-founder of Juncture Workshops, offering memoir workshops and resources to writers across the country.

Mailbox Monday #597

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Eunice and Kate by Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Elena Napoli from Penny Candy Books.

The girls live with their moms next door to each other in the heart of the city and have a lot in common―even though they have different dreams for the future: Kate wants to be an astronaut and Eunice wants to be a ballet dancer. But when they draw portraits of each other in art class, things get mixed up. Eunice draws Kate as a ballet dancer and Kate draws Eunice as an astronaut, and they both get more than a little annoyed. Can their friendship survive? With a little help from their moms, the girls come to learn the value of respecting each other’s different dreams. Eunice and Kate is a heartfelt new book by Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Elena Napoli, about how honoring our differences can strengthen our bonds.

Luca’s Bridge by Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Anna Lopez Real from Penny Candy Books.

Together in their car, Luca, his brother Paco, and their parents head across the border to Mexico where his parents were born. Luca doesn’t understand why he must leave the only home he’s ever known, his friends, and his school. He struggles through lonely and disorienting times―reflected both in Real’s delicate, symbolic illustrations and through Llanos’ description of his dreams―and leans on music, memory, and familial love for support. Luca’s Bridge / El puente de Luca is a story for everyone about immigration, deportation, home, and identity.

Trini’s Big Leap by Alexander de Wit and Beth Kephart, illustrated by William Sulit from Penny Candy Books.

She easily masters any gymnastic move her teachers show her, and always says, “I can do that.” But when she tries to construct buildings out of blocks like her friends do, she discovers that some things don’t come as easily for her. Through the encouragement of her friends, Trini learns the value of collaboration and trying new things, even when they aren’t so easy. An afterword by the founder and CEO of The Little Gym Europe, outlines why it’s important to encourage children to try new and difficult things.

The Yellow Suitcase by Meera Sriram, illustrated by Meera Sethi from Penny Candy Books.

When they arrive at her grandmother’s house, it’s filled with strangers―and no Grandma. Asha’s grief and anger are compounded by the empty yellow suitcase usually reserved for gifts to and from Grandma, but when she discovers a gift left behind just for her, Asha realizes that the memory of her grandmother will live on inside her, no matter where she lives.

Henry the Boy by Molly Felder, illustrated by Nate Christopherson and Tara Sweeney from Penny Candy Books.

This is not a story about a heron or a robot or a chicken but an ordinary boy with daily struggles, triumphs, and an extraordinary imagination. Henry uses forearm crutches decorated with animal stickers. He sometimes feels out of place at school, especially when he gets made fun of, but through his own rich imagination and his friendship with Joel, Henry learns to define himself on his own terms.

Everything I Own by Angela Just from Pork Belly Press.

These poems are about storytelling, things handed down and examined, from the gifts a mother might give to her daughter to the embrace of two Neolithic skeletons. This micro is intimate and brave—a little wicked, a bit bruised. Ultimately, Just’s poems are darn intriguing.

 

Sap Rising by Christine Lincoln, which I purchased.

In this spare and mesmerizing debut, Christine Lincoln takes us inside the hearts and minds of African Americans whose lives unfold against a vividly evoked rural community. As they navigate between old and new, between youth and responsibility, they find themselves choosing between the comforts of what they trust without question and the fearsome excitements of what they might come to know.

One young man’s world is both expanded and contracted by stories he hears from a beautiful stranger. Another stumbles across his mother having an affair with his uncle. An intense friendship forms between one woman afraid she will turn out like everyone else and one afraid she won’t. Lincoln’s down-to-earth voice, saturated with the manner and details of the South, brings her characters to life with a remarkably light touch and an extraordinary depth of emotion. In Sap Rising, she proves herself one of those writers whose work transcends its own rich particularity to speak with clarity to the most fundamental elements of the human experience.

What did you receive?

Trini’s Big Leap by Beth Kephart, Alexander de Wit, and William Sulit

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 44 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Trini’s Big Leap by Beth Kephart, Alexander de Wit, and William Sulit is published by Penny Candy Books. Trini is a fearless gymnast and a kid with a can-do attitude. But how she faces a challenge will be a lesson to all her readers. When faced with a challenge, how do you react? Do you give up? Do you ask for help? Do you ask someone to do it for you? Or do you work with others who have different skills.

Trini spies her friends in another room building things with blocks, but no matter how hard she tries, she just can’t build the castle she envisions. When Mr. Ed asks if she needs help, she refuses, even though she’s discouraged and frustrated. She doesn’t understand why she can’t do it.

Sulit’s delightful illustrations bring the bouncy Trini to life, and kids will engage with her high-energy activity. The pages are colorful but soft, and are a great complement to the story.

Trini’s Big Leap by Beth Kephart, Alexander de Wit, and William Sulit is a delightful picture book with a great message about perseverance and discovery. Take a journey with Trini and her friends and see how teamwork can save the day and move mountains.

RATING: Quatrain

Please check out these great interviews at Penny Candy Books.

Mailbox Monday #544

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Trini’s Big Leap by Beth Kephart, Alexander de Wit, and illustrated by William Sulit, which I purchased from Penny Candy Books.

Trini is the highest flyer, the strongest gripper, the most spectacular cartwheeler at her after-school club. She easily masters any gymnastic move her teachers show her, and always says, “I can do that.” But when she tries to construct buildings out of blocks like her friends do, she discovers that some things don’t come as easily for her. Through the encouragement of her friends, Trini learns the value collaboration and trying new things, even when they aren’t so easy.

An afterword by the founder and CEO of The Little Gym Europe, outlines why it’s important to encourage children to try new and difficult things.

What did you receive?