Dear Little Blue,

Definitely time to replace your batteries. Your sad little circle of light  bounced and quivered in and out of illumination all through this story of Little Bee, a teen from Nigeria. I’ll pick you up some new ones soon, I promise.

Little Bee seems to be on a journey, not just from Nigeria to London and back, but on a journey through what she calls the story of her life. She occasionally takes an aside to mention how difficult certain parts of her new existence would be to explain to “the girls back home” and in London she takes a moment to consider if she has enough courage to walk out of her own story by taking a new name. And while what she has endured in Nigeria and in the detention center certainly means that she is not innocent, she is still AN innocent. She sustains a certain wide-eyed-wonder and innocence that even her tragedy cannot touch. She struggles to find a way to move forward in her life and to reconcile who she was with her sister in Nigeria with who she is with Sarah and Charlie (and even with Lawrence). She almost sees her world and her life as a person standing over herself (like a more subtle Susie Salmon). She has a very third-person-type voice. I found her voice and her character very engaging. I enjoyed how Cleave touched on issues of identity by letting Bee choose if she wanted to talk good or look good. Little Bee also asks a few different characters what it takes to be “from here” and struggles to discover where she belongs and what it means for her if where she “belongs” is, in fact, a horrible and dangerous place.

And blue, since you weren’t with me in the car, I want to tell you about the audio book version of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery that I picked up from the library. As you know, we read it in French in high school and really loved it. I wanted to share it with the girls so I got this audiobook. Just got the audiobook of this book to share with the girls in the car around town. The audiobook was very short-maybe only an hour-and WONDERFUL. It was such a great story about love and heartbreak and home. I absolutely loved it! I ended up sitting in the parking lot of Giant Eagle crying at the end. I know, Little Blue, how you sigh in exasperation at my emotional tendencies, but you would have been moved too!

There were certain parts that I felt a little nervous about the girls listening to though. The part where the snake offers to bite him and send him back to where he came from was really terrifying and sad for me. The girls asked if the snake was taking him home to his asteroid or killing him and I wasn’t sure what to say. It is a complicated question in this book. The part after the snake bites him was so sad for me too, but I wasn’t sure how much of it the girls understood. I explained that the Little Prince’s body died, but that the snake send his heart back to his planet to be with his flower. They wanted to know if it was his real heart that lived in his chest and I had to say no. Complicated stuff for a six year old…and for me, but absolutely worthwhile.

I know we were reading The Forgotten Garden, but I honestly can’t find it lately. I’ve looked everywhere! So we’ll get back to that one when it turns up again. In the meantime, we’re going to start tonight with The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I’m also on the library list for the 39 Clues series, so we have that to look forward to this spring too!

Now I’m off to find you some batteries!