Friday, July 22, 2005

Peck, Richard. The teacher's funeral

Peck, Richard. The teacher's funeral. Dial Books, 2004 [0-8037-2736-4]
It is 1904 in rural Indiana and the long-time school teacher for the local one room schoolhouse has died. Fifteen-year-old Russell is hoping the school will close but the school board appoints his older sister as teacher. Can she guide the varied group of eight students? Will she be able to keep the school running in the middle of vandalism, snakes in desks, and a fire in the outhouse? Once again Peck has painted a homey picture of rural America in the early 1900's. The 190 page book starts out slow but soon becomes a colorful and enjoyable read.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

DuPrau, Jeanne. The people of Sparks

DuPrau, Jeanne. The people of Sparks. Random House, 2004 [0-375-82824-9]
DuPrau has outdone herself in the sequel to "The city of Ember." Lina and Doon lead over 400 people of Ember out of the cave and wander until they come upon the city of Sparks with a population less than 400. The people of Sparks must make a large sacrifice to help the people of Ember and agree that they can stay for six months while they learn the many things they need to know to survive and build their own city. But it isn't long before resentment starts to build. The arguments grow more serious. In this 338 page book the reader sees how two people forced on each other because of need can let resentment and hate grow until it may not be possible to stop the slide down the slippery slope to armed conflict.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Farmer, Nancy. The Sea of Trolls

Farmer, Nancy. The Sea of Trolls. Atheneum, 2004 [0-689-86744-1]
Here is a fantasy adventure story full of magic, wrapped around Norse mythology. Jack had just been apprenticed to the local Bard and had started learning magic when he is kidnapped in a Viking raid. Because of his ability of to draw on the Life Force for his magic, Jack ends up going on a quest to the land of the Trolls. This 450 page book is a great fantasy adventure in the spirit of "Lord of the Rings." It is a complete story but it would not be difficult for Farmer to craft a sequel.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Philbrick, Rodman. The fire pony

Philbrick, Rodman. The fire pony .Scholastic, 1996 [0-590-56862-0]
Roy and his older brother Joe are drifters. Joe has a way with horses so when they happen upon Bar None Ranch which raises horses, they work out fine. The owner takes to them, especially Roy to whom he gives a horse. Unfortunately Joe has a problem with fire ... that is why they are drifters. Will Joe's problem surface again at this new farm where everyone likes the two brothers? This 175 page book builds tension as the reader moves further into the story to the point where it can not be put down.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Nixon, Joan Lowery. Nightmare

Nixon, Joan Lowery. Nightmare. Delacorte, 2003 [0-385-73026-8]
Emily has had nightmares for a long time about a dead body. She will not tell anyone what they are about. Her parents only know she has nightmares. Her parents send her to a camp one summer to help her with her grades and strange things start happening. Could someone be trying to kill Emily? Does it have something to do with her nightmares? Once again Lowery has written a great suspense story. The only thing that seemed strange to me (unless I missed something) is how Emily ends up going to a camp where the murderer (in her dreams) happens to work. Besides that, it is a great story.

Frank, E.R. Friction

Frank, E.R. Friction. Atheneum, 2003 [0-689-85384-x]
Alexandra attends a private school in 8th grade with a innovative teacher whom everyone loves. When Stacy arrives at school she creates all kinds of friction at the previously calm school. It soon becomes well know that Stacy tells lies but after she starts spreading rumors and twisting stories about Alex and her teacher the entire class doesn't know what to believe and how to react to their formerly beloved teacher. Then a detective shows up at school. This 197 page book is a powerful story. You should be aware that because it deals with possible sexual abuse there is some discussion of sex.

Kelley, Nany. The whispering rod

Kelley,Nancy. The whispering rod. White Maine, 2001 [1-57249-248-1]
Hannah whose mother died in her childbirth, lives in Puritan Boston with her father, an Elder of the town, in the spring of 1659. The people and powers of Boston do not like the Quakers who are becoming more vocal so they pass laws to get rid of them. Eventually they execute some of the Quakers. This 167 page book is a good tale of religious intolerance which is not written in a black and white fashion. Hannah is confused and becomes more so when she tries to find out more about the mother she never knew. This book is good historical fiction and a great discussion starter. There is a bibliography at the end of the book.