Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lucky For Good

Lucky for Good

Susan Patron (2011)

Third in the Lucky of Hard Pan series. Hard to pin down what this book is "about" except it's about Lucky and how she deals with different events -- school bully, friend leaving, religious beliefs, her absent father.... Good characters, interesting stories.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated...

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making

by Catherynne M. Valenti (2011)

Full of interesting creatures and people, a spunky, resourceful heroine, very Alice in Wonderland-like. I like books that I can hear myself reading to a class; even though the vocabulary in high, the story has a captivating tone and many reading levels would be able to follow along.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

by Sonia Manzano aka Maria from Sesame Street! (2012)

Three generations of women deal with being Puerto Rican in New York City, the past and present of poverty, politics, and class struggle, and the family drama of being three women. Set in 1969 Spanish Harlem the story is full of true events and shows how larger events change personal daily lives, and how people can also affect larger events. Lots of discussion also for holding on to ethnic roots and traditions.
The newspapers from the story's events can be seen here at the book's website.

Stuck In Neutral

Stuck In Neutral

Terry Trueman (2000)

A narrator with severe Cerebral Palsy describes what he sees, thinks, and longs for, and how he fears his father may end his life out of "mercy" -- not light themes, but lots of humor and personality. Similar to Out of My Mind but Shawn is much less functional, more "trapped" by his disability. The book, and narrator's fate, has one of those he did/did not endings, but there is a recent sequel out so that settles the cliff hanger.
Great review and discussion ideas here at TLT: Teen Librarian Toolbox and an interview with the author, whose son has CP, here at The Hub website.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Flora & Ulysses

Flora & Ulysses

Kate DiCamillo
Newbery Medal 2014

A fun book, whimsical and cartoony but poignant. A girl with divorced parents, and a distracted, disinterested mother, saves a squirrel from a vacuum cleaner and their adventures begin. Great vocabulary, some of it comic book creative, and parts of the story are shown in comic style panels. Good read aloud.

Extra Credit

Extra Credit

by Andrew Clements (2009)

Pen pals across international boundaries, a Midwestern girl not doing well in school and an Afghani boy excelling in his classes. Good read aloud with lots of ideas for research projects, letter writing, social studies, and of course pen pals.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Who's Next? Any suggestions?

Any suggestions?
 I of course want to know who the bald guy is in the background?!?

Among The Free

Among the Free

Margaret Peterson Haddix (2006)

The conclusion to the Shadow Children series, a Big Brother dystopian saga of "third children" forced to hide. I read the first one, Among the Hidden, but skipped right to the last book (it was only one the Library had). Some adventure, some danger, lots of bravery and decisions to help others and the greater good. My first impression of the lead character is why is he still so weak and confused after 6 books? Seems like by now he would have a better idea of what's going on and where he stands.

Like Dystopian books? Here's a website with series titles, summaries, even teaching ideas: Dystopian Pathfinder. And here is the author's site, but I'm not sure it's been updated in a while.

My Brother's Ghost

My Brother's Ghost

by Allan Ahlberg (2001)

A short little book about a woman remembering her childhood and how the ghost of her older brother helped their family through rough times. Set in the 1930s (40s?) it's a bit old fashioned -- polio, cigarette cards, pork pie hats -- and British, but the story stays interesting and has a dramatic finish.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Mary Pearson (2008)

A techno-mystery thriller with questions of medical (and parental) ethics. Good supporting characters, quick paced, futuristic, and a little family drama. A girl awakes from a terrible car accident and must put together the mysterious pieces of her life. Friendship and a bit of teen romance, plus her strong courage, help her start figuring things out.

And now for our Guest Reviewer, Son #3:

I liked the book because it is suspenseful. Jenna Fox is a 17 year old girl that just woke up from a coma and is dealing with amnesia. She slowly finds out the danger of the whole truth about her survival of a deadly accident. The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a good story of the future of illegal medicine.

Timmy Failure 2

Now Look What You've Done

Stephan Pastis (2014)

Actually haven't finished it yet, but really enjoy it so far. I don't think there's any other book character I've wanted to give a hug to more than Timmy, but I doubt he'd accept one. "Mendacity!"

Not as sad as the first one, but the Calvin and Hobbes-esque (totally a compliment) detective duo is still frustrated in their efforts at Greatness. And solving any case.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library

by Chris Grabenstein (2013)

A game, a mystery, a list of great authors and books to read, a Willie Wonka homage, and a celebration of libraries. Kyle loves to play all sorts of games, and while spending the night at the brand new town Library takes part in he most challenging game yet: how to escape from being locked in the Library? It is more game than dangerous mystery, very Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-ish, but there are many clues and puzzles to unravel before the end. Great examples of teamwork, using your brain, never giving up. And many, many books are referenced to fill an entire shelf.

Deeper: How many authors and books are mentioned? Research libraries, Dewey Decimal, and apparently there is one more problem to solve for the reader, not the characters in the story. I think this would be a great read aloud and higher level project book.

Nice author's website too, and it looks like he visits schools!

The Young Man and the Sea

The Young Man and the Sea

by Rodman Philbrick (2004)

A boy and his father deal with loss, the dad stuck on the couch and the boy out at sea after the tuna that can help turn their lives around. The hero is brave and resourceful and we pull for him immediately.

Deeper levels: geography of story, fish/lobsters.

Timmy Failure

Mistakes Were Made

by Stephan Pastis (2013)

Tragicomedy with bad art and a polar bear. The story of a boy detective not in any way in the same league as Nate the Great and Encyclopedia Brown. Imaginative and silly, similar to Calvin & Hobbes (or is the bear real?), but with a poignant touch of real life sadness.

I liked it, chuckled out loud many times, and definitely want to keep reading about his misadventures.