Sunday, January 28, 2007

Patron, Susan. The higher power of Lucky

Patron, Susan. The higher power of Lucky. Atheneum, 2006 [978-1-4169-0194-5/1-4169-0194-9]
This 2007 Newbery winner is a warm comfortable read about an 10-year-old orphan girl living in a small town (population 43) in California. After her mother died, her father convinced his first wife, who lived in France, to be her guardian so he could take off. Lucky, the girl, has a friend of a boy her age and another around five. This 134 page book tells of life in a small town with its share of colorful characters. Someone mentioned here that the word scrotum is written early in the book and worried about teachers having to define it. At the end of the book, the word is defined appropriately in the summation of the story. While it is a wonderful book, because of the age of the main character (10) and the illustrations, I don't think it will be very popular in the middle school but will be great for elementary students.

Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl: Lost Colony

Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl: Lost Colony. Miramax/Hyperion, 2006 [0-7868-4956-8]
In this 5th book of the series, Colfer continues to keep the series fresh while maintaining familiar characters. Many years ago when then Fairies and Humans fought, the fairies ended underground all except the demons who moved their colony out of time and space from the humans. Now the spell they used is breaking down and Artemis has figured it out. Not only has Artemis figured it out but another whiz kid named Minerva has also figured it out. There becomes a struggle on which genius will take credit for the discovery. There are two big battle scenes and of course, Butler, Artemis's body guard appears and also Holly from the fairy police. This 385 page book is a cleaver adventurous story that will be eaten up by the fans of this series.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Meyer, Kai. Water Mirror [Dark reflections #1]

Meyer, Kai. Water Mirror [Dark reflections #1] McElderry/Simon & Schuster, 2005 [978-0689-87787-2/0-689-87787-0]
Meyer has created a fantasy world in Venice with mermaids, magic mirrors, walking and flying stone lions, and the devil. Two girls are taken from an orphanage to live in the house of a magical mirror maker. While there they are involved in a battle which rocks the very foundations of Venice. Unfortunately this 250 page book is book one in a series that is not a complete story. To finish the tale you must read the next book. I do not like this kind of series and although the author has created a wonderfully imaginative world, I will not purchase the next book unless a student requests it.

Myracle, Lauren. ttyl

Myracle, Lauren. ttyl. Amulet Books, 2004 [0-8109-8788-0]
Zoe, Maddie, and Angela are best friends as they enter 10th grade together. This book follows their lives, friendships, boyfriends, feelings, troubles, fun, parties, and life at school. What is special about the book is that it is entirely told in instant messages between the three girls. To make it easier to follow, each of the girls' messages are printed in a different type face. It is amazing just how wrapped up the reader can get in the lives of these girls just through their instant messages. This is a fun and heartwarming 209 page book but realize that it is about High School girls and they talk about concerns of girls that age so the book is not appropriate for elementary students. The author has another book, ttfn, written in the same style with the same girls. NOTE: Because of one paragraph early in the book, I have decided to send the book over to our High School. The book has a cute presentation which attracts 6th graders but there are things in the book (besides this one paragraph) just not appropriate for them.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Barry, Dave and Ridley Pearson. Peter and the Starcatchers

Barry, Dave and Ridley Pearson. Peter and the Starcatchers. Hyperion, 2004 [0-7868-4907-X]
In this prequel to Peter Pan, Peter is still a normal boy and is being sent overseas on a ship called "Never Land" with some other orphan boys. The ship they are traveling on also carries a trunk of VERY valuable treasure - a trunk of star dust. Unfortunately Black Stache is a pirate who also hears of the treasure so he and his crew (including Smee) take off in pursuit. It turns out this treasure of star dust gives people and animals certain powers, one of which is flying. What follows is a rollicking sea adventure with pirates, mermaids, lost boys, Starcatchers, battles at sea, a mysterious island and large crocodile called Mr. Grin. This 451 page book is a wonderful lead-in to Peter Pan. It explains many things in the Peter Pan story. This is a complete book but there is a follow up called "Peter and the Shadow Thieves" which I will also purchase. This series is a great one for our school since our spring play is going to be Peter Pan.

Gardner, Graham. Inventing Elliot

Gardner, Graham. Inventing Elliot. Penguin/Speak, 2003 [0-14-240344-x]
Elliot was always picked on at his old HS. Finally early in his freshman year he was severally beaten and his family moves to a new town. It is time for a new Elliot. He works hard at not being noticed (if he was not noticed he would not be picked on.) Unfortunately, his trying not to be noticed calls attention to him from the "Guardians" at the new school. This is a group who for many years has bullied the school. It selected punishments, punishers, and those to be punished.. all with the faculty not noticing (or caring.) Elliot becomes involved with the Guardians in a way he would have never believed. Meanwhile his father has had a breakdown and just spends all day watching TV. His mom is trying to hold the family together and Elliot becomes involved with a girl for the first time. This 181 page book is a harsh story of bullying and how it goes on unnoticed or unwantingly noticed at many schools. It displays how bullying and "the group" mentality go hand in hand. This is a powerful book which should be on all junior high and High School shelves. Because of the violence I would not give it to a student below 7th grade.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Cary, Kate. Bloodline

Cary, Kate. Bloodline.Razorbill/Penguin, 2005 [1-59514-012-3]
This book opens in the trenches of World War I. It shows that horrors of that war and also illustrates what a perfect location a war is for a vampire. John returns home from the trenches and is put in a sanatorium because of the horrors he has seen at the front. During his ranting a raving his commanding officer from the front shows up and falls in love with his sister. This starts a vampire tale which traces the original tale by Bram Stoker. John and his girlfriend end up going to Romania to save his sister from the horrors of possibly becoming a vampire. Some the characters in this 324 page book are related to the original Dracula.. hence the title. As the reader begins to get comfortable with the parallels with the original story, he or she should get read for the surprise ending of the book. This will be an excellent read for your vampire readers... especially those who have read Stoker's book although it is not necessary. Just be forewarned.. it is a vampire book with its share of blood and death, but it is nowhere near some of the gory vampire series that are out there.

Peters, Julie Anne. Keeping you a secret.

Peters, Julie Anne. Keeping you a secret. Little, Brown, 2003 [0-316-00985-7]
It is Holland's last year in High School and she is having a physical relationship with her boyfriend which does not appear to be going anywhere. Then a new girl transfers into school who wears gay pride t-shirts. Holland is fascinated by her and eventually falls in love with her. This is the story of a passionate first love affair which happens to be between two girls. This 250 page book is the story of a girl falling wildly in love and also discovering her sexual identity. There is some description of the physical relationship but I was more uncomfortable with the descriptions of the boy/girl activities than the passionate romance between the two girls. The difficulties and implications of coming out are explored. For example Holland it thrown out of her house by her mother and ends up living in a shelter. This is not an easy book and I would only give it to mature students, but I think it is an important book to have.

Doyle, Brian. Boy O'Boy

Doyle, Brian. Boy O'Boy. Groundwood Books, 2005 [0-888999-954-3]
Martin O'Boy (that's his name) lives in Ottawa, Canada during World War II. The war is drawing to a close but everything is not so great with him. His favorite grandmother died, they are low on money, and his parents are fighting all the time. Martin and his friend, Billy try to have fun looking at National Geographics and sneaking into the local movies. They also spend a lot of time at the church since they are both in the choir. The organist at the church has been very friendly with Martin and Billy. One day he takes Martin to an expensive ice cream show and to the park where the organist touches Martin and tries to get him to touch him. Martin has the sense to run away but one day he finds out that the organist is being friendly with Billy. Can he get Billy's mother in time? Can Martin and Billy find a way to get back at the organist? Will Billy's brother coming home from overseas help? This is the story of two boys living through the end of World War II. The child abuse scene is scary but not offensively descriptive. This 169 page book shows how a child predator is frequently someone the child knows and the situation...grows. It even sneaks up on the reader. This is a book with a powerful message which should be on middle school shelves.

Vande Velde, Vivian. Witch dreams

Vande Velde, Vivian. Witch dreams.Marshall Cavendish, 2005 [0-7614-5235-4]
Nyssa is a sixteen year old orphan girl who can see other peoples dreams. The people of her medieval town would not take well to this if they knew - they would brand her a witch. Nyssa always assumed she knew who killed her parents but he was from a rich family and he disappeared soon after he was declared innocent. Suddenly he reappears in town and she wants to make sure he is the guilty one by reading his dreams. She sees strange things in this young man's dream which will turn her life around. Vande Velde writes good tales (about witchcraft, vampires, ghosts, etc) that kids want to read and are not too over the top for me to feel uncomfortable having in my middle school library. Most of her books are always off my shelves and I am sure this 120 page one will be no different