Monday, February 22, 2010

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

by Gary D. Schmidt (2004)

Newbery Honor Book

This book tried hard to bring tears to my eyes, but I held out.  Beautiful, but not cheerful.

A 13-yr old minister's son deals with racism, grumpy old lady neighbors, the "Eephus" pitch, clams, and falling in love with Lizzie Bright... based on historical events in 1912, the story follows Turner Buckminster as he attempts to adjust to a new town while dealing with being a minister's son.  His only friend is Lizzie, a poor black girl living where the town wants to build hotels.  But Turner learns to stand up for himself and his beliefs, even get a little rebellious, and his Dad, the bully, and the grumpy old lady sidle on over to his side as well.  After a rough (emotionally) climax, the ends are tied up a little too neatly, but after all that is the end of the book.  Thank goodness this isn't one of those "part 1 of 17 in the series" books...

A tough read for some students, but rewarding and much to discuss.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The First Escape*

*which tells ya right off someone's gonna get caught and have to escape all over again...

DG Chronicles #1 The First Escape

by G.P. Taylor (2008)

I think I ended up liking the premise for the book -- part graphic novel, part enhanced text/page layout -- itself more than the story, although at times I liked it less and then more than my final evaluation.  Got it?  Me neither...

Twin girls at an orphanage,  a myriad of mean adults, a spooky house, a brave cleaning boy comes to the rescue.  Lots of action, interesting characters and ideas, great art, strong message of the importance of family...

I'm not sure what it is about this book that kept it from really capturing me; it might be the shifts between the comic book pages and the text pages, or between the characters and settings as the story progressed.  Maybe the book is too glossy/showy and not enough depth -- the twin orphan girls are brats in the beginning, there are too many bad guys trying to do them in, and the potential hero is vague.  But again I do like the comic/book combo and it appears there are more installments coming, so I'd give the "Dopple Ganger" series another try.

connections: Coraline, Series of Unfortunate Events

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

by Robert C. O'Brien

Newbery Medal Winner (1972)

Genetically altered vermin developing their own agricultural society-- Run! Run for the hills!  Actually no, stay away from the hills, since that's where the genius immortal super-sized rats are!

Mrs. Frisby is a widowed country mouse with a sick mouse-child who discovers the neighborhood rats are not all they seem; after chemical/brain testing by scientists the rats (and a few mice) escape the lab and learn how to use electricity.  Some rats come to somewhat gruesome ends, but most of the story is positive and entertaining.

Did they ever tell us what "NIMH" stood for? And is there a sequel?