What I liked best about reading OCDaniel by Wesley King to my 12-year-old son was how affected he was by the main character, Daniel, who we, as the reader, know has Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. Daniel must have been on my guy’s mind all the time because he would do something and then comment about how Daniel would handle the situation. At one point he mentioned the author must also have OCD (he does) in order to explain so well what Daniel was going through.

We met both Daniel and Sara in Sara and the Search for Normal, which my son loved so much he wished there was a sequel. OCDaniel was actually first and while Sara is the secondary character in Daniel’s book we see a fair amount of her.

“Daniel is the back-up punter for the Erie Hills Elephants. Which really means he’s the water boy. He spends football practice perfectly arranging water cups—and hoping no one notices.

“Actually, he spends most of his time hoping no one notices his strange habits—he calls them Zaps: avoiding writing the number four, for example, or flipping a light switch on and off dozens of times over. He hopes no one notices that he’s crazy, especially his best friend Max, and Raya, the prettiest girl in school.”

“His life gets weirder when another girl at school, who is unkindly nicknamed Psycho Sara, notices him for the first time. She doesn’t just notice him: she seems to peer through him. Then Daniel gets a note: “I need your help,” it says, signed, Fellow Star Child—whatever that means. And suddenly Daniel, a total no one at school, is swept up in a mystery that might change everything for him.”

What I found so heartbreaking about Daniel in this book is he that he seems to be fighting alone. While he seems to have a great relationship with his younger sister, his parents seem unaware to the extent Daniel is trying – in this mind – to stay alive. At one point I stopped reading the book and reminded my son that if he ever feels scared or worried, he needs to tell me or someone he trusts. The other story in the book with Sara and her family is…bizarre. Honesty is always better.

I can’t imagine the strength and bravery people with mental illness must have. Books like these are important to read and share so we can empathize with people fighting battles we have no idea about.

One Summer in Crete

The latest book by Nadia Marks follows the story of Calli, who, after suffering heart-breaking losses, is sent to Ikaria, a Greek island, to write a magazine article. While there, she meets a host of interesting characters who understand the importance of a balance life, one that Calli herself wants to embrace.

When she gets a call that her aunt is sick, she returns to Crete where her family is from to see family and do what she can to help.

“Her aunt Froso begins to recount the story of her own heartache as a teenage girl facing cruel hardships in rural Greece. A story of love, betrayal and revenge, it will change Calli’s life forever.”

Marks does a fantastic job of showing her love of Crete and making it a must-see destination on my list. The locations, food and culture are described so well, you can see the beauty, taste the freshness and wish you were hanging out in Crete with people who embrace family.

Something happens in Ikaria with Calli and her new friend that made it easy to see the end of the book. I also guessed the “darker secrets” Froso was keeping although not the tragic way it was created.

Despite that, Marks’ writing, characters and locations (I wish I was in Crete) had me devouring the book in a couple of days.

One Summer in Crete is from PGC  Books and retails for 17.99.

On the Line

Jackson Moore comes from a family of hockey heroes. Everywhere he goes, people talk about how natural the Moore’s on at hockey and how great Jackson himself will be. Jackson isn’t sure and the talk makes him more and more nervous. The first time he steps out onto the ice, he falls. He is “like a potato on skates” (which may be my favourite line). When the team’s chances of playing in a tournament look unlikely due to the fact not everyone has the proper gear, Jackson makes a new game plan, one that shows Jackson, like all the Moore’s, is a team player.

Author Kari-Lynne Winters talks about growing up in a hockey-loving  family in a hockey-loving town but being an OK hockey player: “I wasn’t the best skater. I rarely scored goals and I got even fewer assists.” What Winters came to realize, however, was that she was a team steward or leader, helping her team on and off the ice.

“I hope this story inspires other young people to let their stewardship skills shine.”

Keri-Lynn Winters

This a great picture book to show kids that there are more important things than scoring goals – like trying hard, being a great team player and never giving up.

This Pajama Press book is illustrated by Vancouver-based Scot Ritchie’s whose illustrations I love.

One Summer in Crete and On the Line were provided by PGC Books and Pajama Press
books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.