Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hicks, Betty. Get real

Hicks, Betty. Get real.Roaring Brook, 2006 [1-59643-089-3]
This is the story of two best friends who want different parents. Dez is very neat and structured and organized while her parents are more creative and messy. Dez just doesn't feel like she belongs. Her best friend, Jil is adopted and comes from a well off family. One day Jil finds a way to contact her birth mother and her adoptive parents are supportive of this contact. Unfortunately this become a struggle as to who is her real parent. What will happen with her birth parent when push comes to shove. Jil runs away and tries to get Dez to join her or help her. This 184 page book is a thought provoking book about teens trying to fit in and the meaning of friendship.

Chesire, Simon. The prince and the snowgirl

Cheshire, Simon. The Prince and the snowgirl. Delacorte, 2006 [978-0-385-73342-7]

Tom is a look-alike actor who looks like England’s Prince George. (I am not sure why they used a fake name.. maybe for legal reasons.) He goes around at various store opening and other affairs, acting as Prince George. Meanwhile at school he has fallen in love a girl on the ski team with him (hence snow girl.) Of course he is shy and does nothing about it. One day the ski team travels to a competition and stays in a hotel and just for kicks, Tom pretends he is the Prince to scam the hotel for better rooms. Well of course you can guess what happens, the real prince shows up. How will Tom get out of this situation? Will he and “the snowgirl” ever get together? This 167 page book is a fun read. For students who might be bothered by it, there are a lot of “Britishisms” in the book which some students may not understand.

Rinaldi, Ann. Come Juneteenth

Rinaldi, Ann. Come Juneteenth. Harcourt, 2007 [978-0-15-205947-7]

Luli and her family live on a plantation in Texas as the Civil War draws to the end. Like most of the other slave owners in Texas, they decide not to tell their slaves of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Ruth (or Sis Goose as she is called) is a slave who was raised like a sister to Luli. She becomes very bitter when she finds out that the family hid the fact from her (and the other slaves) that they were free for two years. Will Sis Goose ever feel like part of the family? How will the family react and survive when a small group of Union soldiers occupy the plantation after the war? This 246 page book is a great piece of historical fiction as is usually the case with Rinaldi. What I liked about this one is that it is a little less meaty and therefore more approachable to greater number of students.

Douglas, Lola. True confessions of a Hollywood starlet

Douglas, Lola. True confessions of a Hollywood starlet. RazorBill/Penguin, 2005 [159514-093-x]

This is an interesting twist on several books with similar titles. Here we have an actual starlet who has had a drinking problem and a drug overdose. She is sent to a treatment program after which her mother decides she needs a real life so her hair is dyed and she is enrolled in a Midwestern H.S. to live like a normal teenage Of course it is important that non one learns of her background. This 259 page book traces her transition from feeling aloof yet trying to fit in, to actually becoming a integral part of the school community. Can she keep her secret? What will happen when she leaves and goes back to Hollywood after a year? I enjoyed the story. It is a fun story with serious undertones.

Daneshvari, Gitty. School of fear

Daneshvari, Gitty. School of fear. Little, Brown, 2009 [978-0-316-03326-8]

Four kids have strong phobias that are ruining the lives of them and their families. Their parents decide to send them off to a very exclusive school which deals with fear. Once there, they meet the strange teacher, Mrs. Wellington. They are very confused about her methods. This 333 page book is a fun read with a wild plot twist at the end (which I figured was coming.) This was an Advanced Readers copy. expected publication date, September 2009.

Pfeffer, Susan Beth. the dead & the gone

Pfeffer, Susan Beth. The dead & the gone. Harcourt, 2008 [978-0-15-206311-5]
This book is related to "Life as we knew it", telling of the same disaster, this time in NYC. The life of Alex and his family is suddenly changed when the asteroid hits the moon. When the flood and tsunamis come, his mom is on the subway to work and his father is visiting family in Puerto Rico. Always hoping his parents will return, Alex and his two sisters fight to survive as society crumbles in New York City. Things are terrible but every morning he goes "body shopping", searching the bodies of the deceased, finding anything of value he can trade for food. This 321 is as depressing as "Life as we knew it." These books are not for elementary students, both of them sent me into a terrible melancholy mood. The reader experiences the total collapse of society as we know it.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Dogar, Sharon. Waves

Every summer Hal and his family have gone to the coast. This year is different. Last year is different because last year hit her head on a rock on the beach and is in a coma. After they decide to go to the shore anyway, Hal begins getting messages in his mind from his sister, in her coma in the hospital. No one knows what happened and how she had her accident. It appears that she is trying to tell Hal what happened. This 324 page book is about a family dealing with a tragedy, not knowing what happened in the accident. It is a mystery. It is a tale of new love and the love between a brother and sister. This is a touching book, but not really for elementary students.

Treggiari, Jo. The curious misadventures of Feltus Ovalton

Treggiari, Jo. The curious misadventures of Feltus Ovalton. Lobster Press, 2006 [978-897073-43-8 // 1-897073-43-7]

Feltus is a loner. He has no friends and his parents ignore him. Everything changes for him one day when he discovers mysterious creatures under the kitchen table and a previously unknown aunt shows up at the door. Suddenly Feltus is selected at the one to save a world in another dimension. He teams up with his quirky aunt to deal with this magical and wild situation. This 334 page book is a fun fantasy that reminded me a little of Ibbotson.

Strasser, Todd. Boot camp

Strasser, Todd. Boot camp. Simon & Schuster, 2007 [978-1-4169-0848-7 // 1-4169-0848-X]

After continually dating his teacher, Garret is sent to a “boot camp” to learn to obey his parents. The campers are isolated from their family and the rest of the world and given extremely harsh treatment. They are beaten, put in isolation, and treated incredibly harsh. This 238 book makes “Holes” look like a walk in the park. It shows the terrible reality of these types of training camps that actually exist today. There is a bibliography at the end of the book. I do not recommend this book for elementary students. What made it especially scary to me was that it is based on how some of these camps are actually run.

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Runaway

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Runaway. Knopf, 2006 [0-375-83522-9]
Holly is in foster care and has run away before. This time when she runs away, she takes a journal with her and begins to write of her adventure, addressing it all like a letter to the teacher who gave her the journal. This 250 page book depicts the harsh way of life for a runaway and homeless people in our country. It is not a happy run away book, but rather on a lone teen trying to survive in the real world all alone by not trusting anyone. The only thing that concerned me about the book was the journal thing. Would someone with so many troubles take the time to keep up with the journal? Who knows? Maybe this would not bother student readers.

Lawrence. Iain. Gemini summer

Lawrence. Iain. Gemini summer. Delacorte, 2006 [0-385-90111-9 // 978-0385-90111-6]

It was the summer of 1965 when Danny and Beau’s father began digging in the front yard. Beau was crazy about space travel and rockets. One day there is a terrible accident when Beau falls in the ditch and dies. Was it an accident? The death is difficult for the whole family but Danny takes his brother’s death especially hard and only starts to recover when he adopts a stray dog in which he starts to see his brother. Danny takes the dog and runs off to see a Gemini launch in Florida. This 258 page book is a touching story about brotherly love and recovering from a tragedy. I enjoyed the story except that I felt the writer wanted the reader to begin to believe Beau was really in the dog. This changed the very nature of the book. Maybe Danny is just imaging things, but there are an awful lot coincidences.