Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Korman, Gordon. Born to rock

Korman, Gordon. Born to rock. Hyperion, 2006 [0-7868-0920-5]
Leo, a HS senior, found out several years ago by looking at his birth certificate, that his biological father was one of the founders of the punk rock movement. A bit of contrast here since Leo is a conservative guy, president of The Young Republicans at school. His best friend is Melinda, a girl he grew up with who is a punk rock fan. When Leo loses his scholarship to Harvard, he realizes the only way to get the needed money is to meet his biological father. That leads to him going on tour with his biological father. It is one crazy summer. Leo sees a lot, and learns who his real friends are. The punk rock star also learns some things too which is evident at the surprise ending to this fun multi-dimensional 261 page book. Gordon Korman is one of my favorite authors for the middle school. It is a shame he doesn't get the recognition he deserves. His Interflux books are great and my all time favorite is "A semester in the life of a garbage bag."

Bloor, Edward. London calling

Bloor, Edward. London calling. Knopf, 2006 [0-375-93635-1]
Johnny is a 7th grader who goes to an exclusive private school only because his mom works there. He has some struggles with the rich kids who attend the school. Johnny inherits an old radio from his grandmother which takes him back to London of 1940 and a boy named Jimmy. At first Johnny thinks he is dreaming but he checks out the facts of his dream that he could have never known. He eventually finds out that the Jimmy of his dream is trying to tell him something... to solve a wrong done a long time ago. This 289 page book is a mixture of history and current story of a boy in an exclusive prep school. This mix makes a good story which leads to a great ending.

Hopkins, Ellen. Impulse

Hopkins, Ellen. Impulse. Simon & Schuster, 2007 [1-4169-7487-3 // 978-1-4169-7487-1]
The is the story of three teenagers who meet at Aspen Springs mental hospital in Nevada. They have been involved in self-mutilation, sexual abuse, murder, and drug abuse. This 688 page book seals with some very harsh realities and is not meant for elementary or lower middle school students. There is frank talk about all the topics listed above as the teens go through treatment for their various problems. The book is written in a kind of free verse and is told by the three teenagers at various times. Periodically it took me a while to figure out who was speaking. Since the book deals with treatment in a mental hospital, it could be compared to "Cut" or even "I never promised you a rose garden." The reader gets totally wrapped up in the lives these three teenagers. It reads well up through the very dramatic ending. Once again, this is a very harsh book. I would read it before you put it in your library. There are several other books which follow it or are related to it which I understand are more harsh than this one. I will not be getting those. I can not keep this book on the shelf and I see many kids walking around with their own copies of this and the other related books.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Daly, Joseph M. The woods behind Trevor Malone's house

Daly, Joseph M. The woods behind Trevor Malone's house [Strange town - Vol. 1]. Wolf's Corner, 2004 [978-0-9779921-0-2]
One day Trevor hears some strange noises behind his house. The next day he takes his friend Pete to investigate. What starts out seeming like a UFO sci-fi story quickly moves into a story about a secret military technology. Although it is unlikely that a bunch of kids could break into a top secret military installation with high security, this is a fun adventure book which builds and builds. Trevor has some interesting friends (and acquaintances.) I enjoyed this 273 page book which appears to be the first in a series. It is a complete story. You may not have heard of this book but I purchased it because it was written by a local author. I look forward to the next one.

Bowers, Laura. Beauty Shop for rent

Bowers, Laura. Beauty shop for rent. Harcourt, 2007 [978-0-15--205764-0]
Years ago Abbie's mom left her on the steps of her grandmother who has run a limping beauty show. Abbie has been saving her cash.. she has a plan for her life. Grandma and her gray lady friends are a tough group. Grandma decides to sell the shop and retire and the person who buys it makes it more trendy but also learns to gain the acceptance of Grandma. Meanwhile Abbie's mom shows up with a play to turn her life around but she needs cash from Abbie. Will Abbie be able to forgive her mom for deserting her? Will she give her the needed cash? This humorous 328 page book is full of colorful characters and a twisting plot line. It is an adventure in love and loyalty.

Bateson, Catherine. The boyfried rules of good behavior

Bateson, Catherine. The boyfriend rules of good behavior. Holiday House, 2006 [0-8234-2026-4]
Millie is a girl in a single parent family. She and her mom get along well. Suddenly (as will happen) Millie gets a big time crush on a boy at school. Meanwhile her mom has started dating. This 181 page book is not your usual silly book about a girl making lists about dealing with her boyfriend. In reality, it is more about observing and dealing with her mom's dating.. and new boyfriend. What is refreshing, Millie is not plotting against her mom's dating. It is a cute book with a little different twist.

Levine, Gail Carson. Fairest

Levine, Gail Carson. Fairest. HarperCollins, [978-0-06-076408-4 // 0-06-073408-6]
Once again we enter the fantasy world of Ella Enchanted. In the kingdom of Ayortha the things valued most are singing and beauty. Aza (far from beautiful) travels to the castle and by a twist of fate, becomes the favorite of the Queen and thus her lady in waiting. The King is injured and goes into a coma. Aza and a prince fall in love and she soon realized that the queen is evil. The characters get involved with a magical mirror and finally end up happily ever after. This is a great fantasy VERY loosely built around Snow While. It would be especially good for girls struggling with issue of beauty and body image. This 326 page book would be a strong addition to middle school collections.