Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hautman, Pete. Godless

Hautman, Pete. Godless. Simon & Schuster, 2004 [0-689-86278-4]
I am not sure what I think about this book, but it is definitely an interesting read. Jason who is fed up with his parent's religion invents a new god - the water tower in his town. He also is having trouble with a thug and his gang in town. Jason gathers a small group of followers for his religion. He has always wanted to get up on top of the water tower and when Jason sees Henry (the thug) on top of the tower, the only way he can learn to get up there is to let Henry into the religion (now called Chutengodians.) After a couple of trips to the top of the tower, Jason starts to realize this his religion is getting out of control. One of the group, a not-so-stable boy is more serious about the religion than Jason and the police are not too excited about kids climbing up on top of the water tower. Can Jason control his religion (and its followers) in this 198 page book before the whole mess spins out of control? This book will not have a huge audience but the ones who like it, will really like it. If you like this one, check out "Mr. Was" by the same author.

Scott, Kieran. I was a non-blonde cheerleader

Scott, Kieran. I was a non-blonde cheerleader. Putnam, 2004 [0-399-24279-1]
Annisa has just moved from New Jersey to Florida to an almost totally blonde HS. The first day he meets a gorgeous boy but also gets on the wrong side of the cheerleaders. Because she was a cheerleader in her previous school, she tries out for the team anyway. Well, there are all kinds of struggles on the team which makes their performance go down. Then there is a prank war with this school and their long-time rival. This prank war gets carried away. This is a fun 246 page book which deals with moving, friendship, peer pressure, and trying to fit in. While there is nothing inappropriate for middle schoolers or upper elementary, it does take place in a High School.

McNaughton, Janet. The secret under my skin

McNaughton, Janet. The secret under my skin. EOS/HarperCollins, 2004 [0-06-008989-X]
It is 2368 and there are two groups living together in a tense peace. "The Commission" (or the government) and "The Way" (another group.) Blay is an orphan living in a work house with other kids when she is selected to assist the newly selected Bioindicator study for her tests. She ends up helping the Bioindicator by cheating and doing more than she should. In the meantime Blay finds out she has an identification chip in her skin and she wants to find out who she his. Unfortunately, many years ago there was a techocaust which was a movement against anything technological so she has to find someone to read the chip. This 264 page book is a science fiction tale which takes place after a ecological disaster and a "techocaust" as described above. It will be an interesting read for your sci-fi fans.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Chesire, Simon. Kissing Vanessa

Chesire, Simon. Kissing Vanessa. Delacorte, 2004 [0-385-73212-0]
Kevin is sitting in his HS class when in walks the new girl and sits right down next to him. WOW she is what every boy wants and he is a nobody but he instantly knows he has to date her. What follows is a humorous tale of Kevin doing everything he can to be noticed by Vanessa. He even enlists the help of a friend who has his own dating method and has even started writing is manual down. Of course nothing goes right for Kevin. Will he get the girl at the end of this 135 page book. This is a great high interest book centered around a subject with which all boys can associate. The author is British so there are some "British-isms" but not enough to make it difficult to read. At times this book feels like a boy's version of Rennison's Georgia Nicolson books although not as descriptive. This is a good solid purchase.

Paver, Michelle. Wolf brother

Paver, Michelle. Wolf brother [Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #1] HarperCollins, 2005 [0-06-072825-6]
It is 6,000 years ago and Torak and his father, who long ago left their clan, are attacked by a demon-possessed bear. His father's dying words are to the Mountain of the World Spirit and kill the bear. Torak, a 12-year-old boy is on his own and knows little of his background. He befriends a wolf cub and realizes that he can communicate with the wolf. This starts a perilous adventure where the pair is captured by another clan and Torak finds more of his background. The epic journey is told with wonderful excitement. Unfortunately the climax battle will be less than satisfactory for students looking for a violent fight scene. This 295 page book is a wonderful adventure story taking place in ancient times. I can't wait to read the next one.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Baskin, Nora Raleigh. Basketball (or something like it)

Baskin, Nora Raleigh. Basketball (or something like it). HarperCollins, 2005 0-06-059610-4]
Jeremy moves from the city to the suburbs to live with his grandmother. There he joins the 6th grade basketball team. This story of sports and friends is told by four friends. It takes a while getting used to the four different people narrating (even though each chapter is labeled) because they don't follow an order. In fact sometimes a person will tell two chapters, one after the other. This 165 gets into the many aspects of sports.. sportsmanship, parental involvement, coaches, and the development of friendships. While this book is centered around basketball, the author does not get the reader wrapped up in page after page describing individual games. While this book is great for someone looking for a basketball story, it is so much more and will attract other readers.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Clements, Andrew. The last holiday concert

Clements, Andrew. The last holiday concert. Simon & Schuster, 2004 [0-689-84516-2]
Once again Clements has captured the minds and hearts of his readers. Hart was one of the most popular kids in school but his most dreaded class was 6th grade chorus. One day he is fooling around with a rubber band and shoots the teacher, Mr. Meinert, in the neck. He promptly explodes and draws Hart to the principal. Here after Hart is dealt with, we find out that Mr. Meinert has been riffed and this will be his last concert. The incident makes Mr. Meinert give up and announces the next day in class that the concert will totally be run by and planned for by the class. The class elects Hart to be in control. What follows is a class excited with multiple ideas. Unfortunately when Hart tries to lay out the concert and makes decisions about what is to be included, there is mutiny. Mr. Meinert gives Hart some ideas and gets the kids back on track. The chorus "concert" becomes a multi-media present ion, given in the gym. After the concert, Hart sees Mr. Meinert packing up his things. This 166 page book is a great book about kids excited about a creative experience. I am sure that teachers and librarians will love the book, and I hope that excitement will be shared by students.

Rifkin, L. Life one [The nine lives of Romeo Crumb]

Rifkin, L. Life one [The nine lives of Romeo Crumb] Stratford Road, 2004 [0-9743221-0-5]

This is a wonderful animal story about two groups of cats in a fictional city. The "sticks" (Domestic Cats) and the "alleys" (Alley cats.) I would have preferred if the "sticks" were called "stics" but that was the author's choice. The sticks every day leave their home and go to a deserted building for training on how to survive in the city and stay away from the alleys and the dogs. The head alley, Fidel becomes jealous of a new stick, Romeo. What is interesting, the cats have nine lives. When they die (for various reasons), they lose a life and come back with one less life. This first story is the innocence of Romeo as he lives through his first life. This tells the hard life of cats and is not your usual "cutesy" animal story. I enjoyed it and have ordered "Life two" and "Life three." I hope the kids will like it.

Wynne-Jones, Tim. A thief in the House of Memory

Wynne-Jones, Tim. A thief in the House of Memory. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005 [0-374-37478-3]
Sixteen-year-old Dec's mother disappeared years ago. He now lives with his father and his girlfriend in a new house just below the family's Canadian estate, now just locked up and kept clean for historical purposes. Dec's father is very tight-lipped about his mother but one day a shelf falls on a burglar in the estate house and Dec begins having dreams of his mother. This 210 page book is slow starting but once the reader gets involved in Dec's mystery and starts to believe his doubts about what happened to his mother, he/she suddenly gets wrapped up in the story. This book is a mystery wrapped up in a family secret. Overall I liked the book when I finished it. I have no idea if this Tim is related to Diana Wynne-Jones.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Horowitz, Anthony. Ark Angel [Alex Rider #6]

Horowitz, Anthony. Ark Angel [Alex Rider #6] Philomel, 2005 [0-399-24152-3-]
Book six starts with Alex recovering from a gunshot wound in an exclusive hospital where he meets the son of one of the wealthiest men on earth. Suddenly Alex ends up foiling a kidnapping attempt of this boy. After this the father wants to thank Alex but on the way to the luxurious trip, the CIA secretly snags Alex and enlists him to spy on this rich man who is also a master criminal. Of course, as usual, Alex gets involved with criminals, spies, and an evil mastermind to cause a great disaster. In this 323 page book, Alex ends up going in space. Horowiz has continued his series about this teenage spy.

Morgan, Nicola. Chicken friend

Morgan, Nicola. Chicken friend. Candlewick Press, 2005 [0-7636-2735-6]
When eleven-year-old Becca's eccentric family moves from London to the countryside, Becca has a hard time adjusting. First of all, her author father decides to pull her and her twin brothers out of school to home school them. Then of course, there is the chicken coop with collection of their newly purchased chickens (and rooster.) Her mother is a crazy inventor. So, with all this things added up, Becca has trouble meeting kids and making friends. When she finally does meet two strange girls, she hides the fact that she has diabetes from them. The new girl friends organize a wild birthday party for Becca at our house, out in the back shed. Well, with little supervision from her unusual parents, the party gets out of hand. At the end of the 148 page book Becca realizes that she does not need to change herself to make new friends. This is a fun book about friendship and self-image.

Lyon, George Ella. Sonny's house of spies

Lyon, George Ella. Sonny's house of spies. Atheneum, 2004 [0-689-85168-5]
It is 1947 and just before his father leaves for good, he hears him say "A man can't live in a house of spies!" His father is gone and Sonny doesn't know why. His mom starts going to a conservative Christian Church and one of the men members starts comes coming over to the house frequently. Sonny ends up working in this man's donut shop and eventually finds out that this man is contact with his dad. While trying take care of his younger brother, Sonny becomes friends with a new neighbor girl. One day Sonny hears that his father has gone off with the "queers" (the word used in the book.) There is a cute page where Sonny tries to explain sex to his younger brother. Sonny finds a letter and confronts the donut guy who admits that he was "allergic to girls" and loved his father very much. That night the donut shop burns down and the man dies. After a while Sonny's dad starts talking to his mom again and eventually talking to Sonny on the phone. This 298 page is a touching story of a boy trying to deal with a father who has left the family for a reason that he can't understand. There is of course the homosexual theme in the book, but nothing is descriptive at all... just that the father is "queer."