Monday, May 29, 2006

Macphail, Catherine. Dark Waters

Macphail, Catherine. Dark Waters. Bloomsbury, 2003 [1-58234-846-4]
Dominic's older brother is always in trouble with the law so whenever anything happens in town, the police knock on their door. One day Dominic rescues a rich boy from downing and it changes his life. All of a sudden Dominic has someone who cares about him - this boy and his family. After the rescue on the ice, Dominic starts having nightmares. When he goes to the lake he finds a homeless foreigner and tries to help him by bringing clothing and food on and off. Who is this stranger? What does he have to do with his brother? What is more important - family.. or doing the right thing? This 176 page book is a good high interest story dealing with family loyalty mixed together with a mystery.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Taylor, G.P. Wormwood

Taylor, G.P. Wormwood. Putnam, 2004 [0-399-24257-0]
Once again Taylor has crafted a dark tale in 18th century London. A scientist finds a book (with a spirit of its own) called the Nemorensis. With the help of this book he predicts a comet will destroy London. This tale is full of angels, fallen angles, demons, magic,and a monster made of clay and brought to life. It is full of plots and subplots which will keep your good readers who like dark stories thoroughly entertained. This 259 page book has little white space and is a difficult read. While this book is not for everyone, it is for the group of kids who like dark and evil stories.. and we all have some kids interested in such stories.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Horowitz, Anthony. Skeleton Key

Horowitz, Anthony. Skeleton Key [Alex Rider #3] Speak/Penguin, 2003 [0-14-24102-1]
Alex once again is drawn into the service of MI6 to be loaned to the CIA. It appears that an arms dealer has sold something to a former Russian General on a Key off of Cuba and the CIA think it would be easier to get two agents on the Key pretending they are on vacation with their child. Hence Alex gets involved. Once again in this 327 page book, Alex is a super spy and saves the day. It is interesting how the MI6 is potrayed as being cold and not caring that Alex is a teenager. While the stories are full of gadgets, intrigue, and espionage, and they are far from believable. But who cares.. they are great adventures and the kids love them!

Shusterman, Neal. The Schwa was here

Shusterman, Neal. The Schwa was here. Dutton, 2004 [0-525-47182-0]
Anthony has only a couple of friends at school and one of this is Calvin Schwa. Calvin is one of those people that few people notice... someone who falls in the cracks. Unfortunately it becomes physical and Anthony and Calvin do a series of tests a discover that 4 out of 5 people actually can not see Calvin. This starts a business where people pay Calvin on dares. Unfortunately of the dares gets him and Anthony involved with a crotchety, rich man in town and his granddaughter who just happens to be blind. Both Anthony and Calvin fall for the granddaughter and the competition begins. This 228 page book takes the idea of someone who is not noticed one step further. I enjoyed it thoroughly. What will happen to Calvin?

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Barons

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Barons [#4] Aladdin, 2003 [0-689-83910-3]
In book four of the series we return to Hendricks School for boys where all the students have false identities. They are third children in a world where families are only allowed to have no more than two children. One day Luke's brother shows up (the brother of his false identity) and he is brought to this very wealthy home where is fake brother is traumatized by the situation of the death of his real brother with the carrying on of his life with an impostor. At the home Luke gets tangled in webs that both the parents and the underground are weaving. I enjoyed this 182 page book the best in the series. Of course this is another one after this 4th one.

Johnson, Angela. The first part last

Johnson, Angela. The first part last. Thorndike, 2003 [0-7862-6510-8]
On Bobby's sixteenth birthday he hears from his girlfriend that she is pregnant. They are both urban African American teenagers and know this will change their live. What is unique about this particular unwed teen pregnancy story is that it is told entirely from the boy's perspective. The particular 147 edition I read was a large print edition. This would be a good high interest story but be aware there is some harsh language (although I did not feel it was more than needed for the environment.) And one could not have a pregnancy story without some discussion of sex - but once again, not overdone. The thing which might confuse some readers is the alternating chapters of "then" and "now." The background of the story is told alternating with the current running story. I won't say more than... be prepared for a dramatic ending.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Williams, Mark London. Ancient Fire

Williams, Mark London. Ancient fire [Danger Boy #1] Tricycle Press, 2001 [1-58246-032-9]
Eli's father is a scientist who works on time experiments. Earlier, his mother disappeared in one of his experiments so his father ends it all and drives with Eli to California. Unfortunately when you work for a government agency you don't just quit so Dad is convinced to work again. Unfortunately Eli gets sent back into time to Alexandria Egypt when the library is burning where he an Egyptian girl and a lizard boy from another time and dimension. This 167 page book is the start of a series which deals with time travel and alternate dimensions. The book is a little higher than Bruce Coville science fiction but not written to be as humorous. Although the story does end, it is very evident that it will continue through a series. This is just the kind of series I do not like... although kids often do.

Kaye, Amy. Focus on this [The real deal #1]

Kaye, Amy. Focus on this [The real deal #1] Smooch/Dorchester, 2003 [0-8439-5252-0]
Fiona's parents get a divorce and she is suddenly thrown from an exclusive private school in NYC to a public school in New Jersey. To solve a financial crisis the district is allowing a TV firm to film a reality show in the HS. Not only does Fiona have to try to make new friends, choose groups, and fit in at school but she has to do it all on camera where a producer is trying to create drama so the show will get good ratings. Can Fiona get her new "friends" together to get even with the producer. This 202 page book is a great story about a topic that kids are seeing on TV. Just be aware that it concerns HS kids and there is a descriptive kissing scene (in the school library) and along with an episode of gay bashing of a young man who has not really come out yet.

Hausman, Gerald & Loretta. Escape from Botany Bay

Hausman, Gerald & Loretta. Escape from Botany Bay. Orchard Books, 2003 [0-439-40327-8]
It is 1786 and Mary is one of the many poor in England where she is arrested for stealing a hat. For that crime she is sentenced to death but gets her sentence commuted to being shipped to Botany Bay in Australia as an experience to settle the new colony with prisoners. The prison ship lays in the harbor for many month where Mary and her fellow prisoners live in horrid conditions. When they get to Australia conditions are no better so Mary, her husband and several other prisoners steal a small fishing boat and sail many miles across the sea. Where the are eventually captured and sent to England for a new trial. This 220 page book show the horrid conditions the prisoners of that time faced. It is based on a true story. The part of the trip across the water is a great survival story.