Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book Review 47: Stolen Children by Peg Kehret

Peg Kehret's books seem to always be on the Mark Twain list like every year, kind of like Mary Downing Hahn's books do. While they've not been my favorites in the past, and I alwasy feel they tend to have some similar trends in them, I decided this was a really good book. The main character is Amy, and she is babysitting for a girl named Kendra, who gets kidnapped, and the kidnappers decide they have to take Amy too because she sees them. The kidnappers intend to send a DVD every day for a week and then ask for ransom. Amy is a writer, (I'm enjoying all the books this year with kids who like to write in them), and so she uses what time she has to try to figure out how to put clues into the recordings so that hopefully when her family and friends see them they might figure it out and come help them. I really like how it gives all the ways Amy thinks to do this, as well as all her thoughts about making sure she keeps herself and Kendra safe as long as she can. I feel this could be helpful to kids that may end up in a similar situation. Another thing I really liked was how it showed people who had chances to really help, and didn't. In these cases, it was because they figured no one would believe them, or that someone else would do something because they were away from what was going on. But it really stood out because of a news story I heard last night about a girl who was raped right outside her high school while a bunch of people watched and took pictures on their phone, but no one did anything. Not to mention they went back to a woman who was murdered years ago and people just closed their windows and did nothing even hearing what was going on. The one person in the story who does something at the end, you really have respect for. And I liked this a lot.

Next on to my last sports book called Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park. I believe I've read one or two of this author's books and enjoyed them in the past. I only have 3 more books, although one I'm still waiting to get to re-check out from the library, and then I'll be done!

I want to do NaNoWriMo this year, but the more I read, the more I figure it is a waste of my time. I really don't know how to think of all the details and stuff these authors do, so I think that means I probably am not meant to be a writer. We'll see. I have an idea for a new novella, or I could go back and work on my one from 3 years ago.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Review 46: School Spirit by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

This is also part of what I assume to be a newer series, this one called Suddenly Supernatural. My assumption is that the series will follow a 7th grader named Kat as she comes to realize she can see and talk to ghosts just like her mother. And her friend named Jac, who is a cellist, who doesn't play anymore. In this book Kat has just started seeing ghosts, but doesn't want to tell her mother because she's not sure she wants this "gift". She doesn't have many friends, has only in the past year moved to this town. A new girl named Jac moves in, and she and Kat become friends. Jac doesn't play the cello anymore because she froze up at a huge concert. Her mother moved her there because they have a teacher who is supposed to be good with helping kids in her situation.

I enjoy ghosts and the like, so maybe that's part of what I enjoyed. And I like the show The Ghost Whisperer, where all ghosts aren't bad. And this is kind of a kids' version of that in a way. I think kids would like what Kat goes through with the popular crowd finding out about her gift as well as other issues like homework for a 7th grade girl.

Next book I'll start tonight is Stolen Children by Peg Kehret.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review 45: Safe at Home by Mike Lupica

This is one in a sports series called Mike Lupica's Comeback Kids. I read "The Big Field" by Mike Lupica for the Truman list just a short time ago. My main criticism of that was how technical the baseball talk was. In this one, it wasn't quite as technical, and maybe that's why it was a quicker read for me. A pretty good story, but kind of short. The main character is Nick, who is adopted. We learn about his past, how he came to be adopted, and how he came to love baseball and comic books. Nick is a really good catcher, getting ready for the JV season at his middle/junior high school. Before the season starts the catcher on the varsity team hurts his wrist and the coach comes and recruits Nick to fill in until his wrist injury heals. However, all of Nick's talent seems to disappear in his nervousness at being part of the varsity team. Not to mention that he's been slacking on his school work, and now his parents are starting to get on his case and possibly ban him from summer baseball. Of course there's the big game at the end, this time with the school's biggest rival, and Nick must do his best to help his team win. He also must come to term with feeling like he doesn't fit in with his adoptive parents.

Next book is in the Suddenly Supernatural series by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel called School Spirit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review 44: Margret and Flynn by Kathleen Duey

This is part of the Hoofbeats series, which I think we had one of as a possibility for last year's Mark Twain, but didn't make it. It takes place in 1875. The main character is of course Margret, and she and her sister Libby are orphans. They are living with Mrs. Frederickson, an elderly widow who lives in a sod house in Littleton, Colorado. Margret and her sister don't stay in one place long. As soon as Libby sees things changing for the worse, or else if she sees Margret getting too attached to the family, she'll pack them up and leave in the middle of the night with no word to the people they've been with. Margret likes this latest place though. She gets to take care of the horses, and Mrs. Frederickson is really nice. A tornado comes and all of a sudden there's an extra horse, a very fancy looking horse. Margret names it Flynn, and after riding it, falls in love, and even gets to meet some neighbors when she goes to share their milk with neighbors who have chickens for them to take.

The story is about Margret finally wanting to settle, not sure how to convince her sister, and also wanting to keep Flynn, who she knows must belong to someone else. It all culminates in a race, that Margret wants to win to get the money to buy Flynn.

This story goes back to the stereotypical girl loves horses, horses are wonderful creatures. Not a bad thing, but still kind of nothing out of the order.

Next up is another Mike Lupica book. I know from the one I read for the Truman list that he is a good writer, but also very technical in his "baseball speak". So we'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review 43: The Truth About Horses, Friends, & My Life as a Coward by Sarah P. Gibson

Long title on this book. Cute book. I was wondering why in the world there would be two "horse" stories on the list. Yeah, I know girls love horses and most dream of having their own pony as they grow up, I did. But what I loved about this book is that it didn't make horses out to be wonderful, perfect creatures. The mom decides to get a horse for her daughters, and it's name is Really. They soon figure out that is short for Really Mean. It bites. Then they get another horse, this one is perfect to ride in the ring. But the minute they take it out, it ends up running and knocking the girls off by running under trees. They finally get a really huge horse, which ends up as not the smartest of the bunch, but the gentlest. Our main character is Sophie, so not only is she dealing with this crazy bunch of horses, but she also has 2 friends she likes, but at first the 2 don't get along with each other. And, Sophie is afraid to do anything with the horses unless she has to, or her friend kind of wants her to do it, so she doesn't want to seem like a chicken.

The whole story is just so funny, I think it is a good choice for the next year's nominee list.

Next on the list is Margret and Flynn by Kathleen Duey, another horse story.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Review 42: Waggit's Tale by Peter Howe

As I said in my last blog, I'm not a huge fan of books from the animal point of view. But all in all, I overcame that and enjoyed this book.

At first, the dog, Waggit is left in the park by his owner, and is adopted by a "gang" of dogs, led by Tazar. He soon figures out that his owner isn't coming back, and settles in to a life in the "wild". I was a little unsure how I would like that, as the dogs living in the park think that life is better there than with an "upright" or human. After a long, hard winter, spring comes, and Waggit happens upon a woman who is eating lunch in the park every day, and she thinks he's cute so she always gives him food. One day he shows up and she's not there, and he gets caught by the "Ruzelas" or I would guess they are actually dog catchers. He goes to the pound, or the "great unknown". After a few days there, the woman comes and finds him and takes him home. It takes him a while to get used to it, and he feels a bit like he's betrayed his family in the park. But at the end he's able to get out and go let his family know that he's okay, that sometimes going to the "great unknown" isn't a bad thing.

I do know there is a sequel to this book because I've seen it at the store I work at, so I'll have to look into reading it some day when I've got some extra time.

The next book I started is one of the two horse books on the list. Again, the title sounded really dumb in my opinion, but it has been a pretty amusing book so far. It is called The Truth About Horses, Friends, and My Life as a Coward by Sarah Gibson.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Book Review 41: The Bronze Pen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Another book about a little girl who wants to be a writer. I wonder if this was just a theme by the people on the committee, or if there were just a lot of books along this theme published at the same time. I enjoyed that aspect of it. I wish I had my own Bronze pen to help me write my stories, as well as to make what I write come true. I'd be totally writing about me and David Cook meeting and him falling in love with me. :-)

Anyway, I love the dog, Beowulf, and it's a pretty good story. The main character is Audrey, she's living in the 70's I guess because it talks about her best friend not wanting to pretend anymore because she's more into being a hippie. Other than that part of the story, I enjoy most of the story. I could see kids enjoying it. I'm not sure how I'll rate it though.

Next book I started is Waggit's Tale by Peter Howe. Another dog story, only this one is told from the dog's point of view, and they are actually talking dogs. I'm not actually a fan of this type of story, I didn't enjoy Watership Down, but I guess Bunnicula was a favorite series of mine, and it was talking dogs and cats, so I'll give it a chance.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Review 40: Mary Ingalls On Her Own by Elizabeth Kimmel Willard

Reading Little House on the Prairie books takes me back to younger days. Not as young as you might think though. I didn't read the books when I was a little girl. To me, the tv show is what I think of. In high school, I remember being home during the summer with my brother and watching the show on tv every morning. My brother and I loved Nellie and all the town folk. And we made fun of Pa's idiosyncracies and Laura's brothers that showed up towards the end of the series. It was just a part of my summers with my brother. I think that we probably watched when I was younger, middle school even, because for some reason I remember when we'd play with my Barbies, we'd drive them out in their cars in front of the tv and pretend they were at the drive-in movies, and I seem to remember watching Little House on the Prairie one time. Now, I tried reading the books after I'd discovered the show, but the books are always just so simple. When you were reading at the age of 3, like I was, they were just too babyish for me. I'd like to go back now, now that I can appreciate them for what they are and that I know more of the whole "history" of Laura Ingalls Wilder. But that will wait till when I have some extra time. Whenever that happens.

This book is about Mary when she goes off to the college for the blind in Iowa. It's short, and sweet, and of course different from the tv show. At the end it goes into what they know is real for the book, and other details about Mary's life. I'm guessing I need to read some more historical books on this as what I saw on the tv show I know is not all reality. For instance it doesn't talk about Mary ever getting married, yet on the show she did. I figured they did change a lot of the story on the show, but didn't know that they changed that much. Oh well. Live and learn. It just intrigues me to read more.

Next book I'm starting today is The Bronze Pen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Not sure if I've read any books by this author, I'm familiar with them because we have them at the store I work at. Some of the titles sound familiar, but can't remember for sure if I read them.

Oh yeah, only 10 more books to go! Then November, National Novel Writing Month, not to mention re-reading New Moon and the rest of the Twilight series to get ready for the new movie!! After which I intend to go through and read the whole rest of the Sookie Stackhouse series.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book Review 39: The Magic Half by Annie Barrows

Cute little book. Miri is the main character, and she is the middle child between twin boys and twin girls. And she has always felt a little bit left out. Sure, it's cool to be part of a family with two sets of twins, but when all the fawning is over the twins, and not you, that gets old fast. The twins also have built in friends, Miri doesn't, in fact, her family has just moved away from her best friend. The old house they move into may have a mystery, buried treasure. When Miri gets in trouble and gets sent to her room. She finds a lens stuck to the wall for no apparent reason. When she looks through it, all of a sudden she's been taken back in time to the 1930's and meets a girl named Molly. Well, Molly's life isn't a good one, she's been orphaned and left with her grandmother and mean aunt and cousins. Her grandmother loves her, but is not in good health, and her aunt and cousins want her grandmother's money. Her cousin Horst is a violent boy, and Miri decides she must somehow rescue Molly and take her back to her own time. Turns out Horst is a thief, and the stories of buried treasure are pretty much true. All this leads to an interesting adventure, and a happy ending, which I kind of wondered if that is what would happen.

Next book I started tonight is "Mary Ingalls On Her Own" by Elizabeth Kimmel Willard. Which is taking me back to some old childhood friends. Can't wait to blog about it, probably tomorrow night is my guess.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review 38: The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum

Okay story, a girl who recently watched her mother freeze to death, and is now afraid to leave her house, has a dog come up to her cabin door one day. She lives with her father, I'm guessing up on a mountain or in a forest or something. I'm guessing this is supposed to be in the past, because she doesn't go to school because she can't walk there, and it sounds like they just live up in a cabin. So, the dog is limping, and not too sure about Dessa, but eventually she wins the dog over. There's a big deal with a bear, and the dad needing to hunt, and eventually Dessa is able to leave the cabin in order to try to save the dog. Ehh, interesting, but not great. Not much else to say.

Started the Magic Half by Annie Barrows today. It's okay so far.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Book Review 37: The Sherlock Files: The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett

Cute, short book. I love the main characters' names, Xena and Xander. I always thought if I ever had a boy, if he wasn't a "Junior" of his father, I'd want to name him Xander, of course I now like the name Cullen too. Both my names are from my favorite vampire series, Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Cullen from Twilight. Anyways, back to the book, Xena and Xander are direct descendents to the great Sherlock Holmes, and they have moved to London, where they meet some people who give them their ancestor's unsolved case book. And of course, they right away choose to solve one of those mysteries. It has to do with a painting that has been missing for 100 years, called "Girl in a Purple Hat".

It's a short, quick mystery, I think kids might like it. And again, as I said with Dodger and Me, it seems as if it will be a series, and you can get kids hooked into reading with series if they like the first one. I don't know that I believe this belongs as a nominee, but who knows what others will think.

For the next book I picked one of the dog books, Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum, there are like 2 or 3 on the list, so we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Book Review 36: The Totally Made-up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish by Claudia Mills

I really enjoyed this one. The main character is Amanda MacLeish, and her school does thematic units where all the classes are doing something about the theme, in this case it is the Civil War. There was a time when middle school teams were supposed to do this, and lately, we've gotten so far away from this that it saddens me that our students don't get to experience this as much any more. I think some elementary schools may still do this, but with all the emphasis on testing and meeting No Child Left Behind standards, it is sad that kids don't get as many of these kinds of experiences. Anyway, for Amanda's favorite class, English, each student is given a person from that time period and they must write diary entries for what that person sees and goes through during this time. Amanda loves this assignment as she loves to write, and from her diary entries, you can tell she loves it and is good at it. Her math class is more normal, fractions, and all that stuff, and Amanda is not good at math. The music class however is learning songs that have to do with the Civil War time period, so it is fun to hear what songs they're learning, along with what those songs have to do with history. I also love the 2 "trouble-maker" students in the book, Ricky and Lance. It especially amuses me because their behavior, reminds me of a similar behaving student I have this year, also named Ricky. The things these 2 boys did are so like what my more immature students do sometimes that it made the book realistic for me, and I'm sure would be for kids for the same reasons.

Now, the meaty part of the book is that Amanda's parents are fighting all the time, and her father moves out after a really tense Monopoly game. Amanda seems to be losing her best friend Beth to a girl that she does Irish dancing with. There is a black boy named James that Amanda looks to throughout all the Civil War and racism talk to see how he is reacting to everything, and what he thinks. James is also good in math, so Amanda ends up getting his help as well. Soon, Amanda learns what really happened with her parents, and learns that even the way she looked to James about the Civil War talk could be considered a little bit of racism in a way. While there isn't a "happy" ending for the parents, Amanda gets her friend and a couple new ones with James and Meghan, Beth's Irish dancing friend. So it is one I hope makes the list. I enjoyed it even just for Amanda's diary entries.

I'm now reading the Sherlock Holmes Files: The 100-year-old Secret by Tracy Barrett.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Book Review 35: Dodger and Me by Jordan Sonnenblick

The cover of this book is so not interesting to me. And the premise, and it didn't start out very good either. However, I had read a book by this author before that I did really enjoy, and as I got into this, it got better. The main character is Willie, his best friend moved a while back, he's horrible at baseball, but he loves baseball, and his mother is WAY overprotective. While walking home from a baseball game that he loses for his team, he cuts through the woods, which he isn't supposed to. He sees a McDonald's bag laying in a clearing and picks it up. When he does, out comes a giant blue chimp. Turns out the blue chimp is kinda like a genie, but not. So we get the normal story of be careful what you wish for. But a humorous one. In the end, I really got to where the blue chimp, Dodger, was making me laugh. So it was entertaining. And at the end, it kind of leaves you hanging, not knowing how the big last baseball game of the year actually turns out. But they also give an excerpt from a sequel to the book, and I like when the books on these lists do have sequels. At least that's what I've decided.

I think a really good book, that gets kids to read it, and then to go on to it's sequels, only leads to those same kids, who may not have read much before, really getting into reading. Soon they're in the library asking for more books like what they just finished, sometimes while they're waiting for the next book in the series that got them started to come out. In fact, I've seen this over and over in my classes the last few years. It's so great to see. While this isn't personally my cup of tea, I can see it fitting in the same slot as the book I didn't really care for last year that still made it to the list, The Big One-O by Dean Pitchford.

Got to this blog a bit late, almost done with the next book: The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish by Claudia Mills, which I'm really enjoying.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Review 34: The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy by Diane Stanley

This was a pretty good book. Of course it's about a school that is very prestigious, and all the students are nice, smart, and very hardworking. Franny's younger sister Zoe, is actually the one the school wants, she's recruited by a famous politician, the first female secretary of state supposedly, in fact. But Zoe won't go without her older sister Franny and her twin brother J.D. Franny and J.D. must go for a weekend of tests to see if they qualify. When they don't, Zoe says she still won't go without them, so Martha Evergood, the secretary of state, pulls some strings to get them all in. At the testing, Franny meets Cal, a moody girl whose father travels a lot and is leaving her there for his job, Brooklyn, a cute boy who writes poetry, and Prescott, an annoying, know it all boy. She is happy to see they are all there when she goes for orientation. Franny wonders if she'll ever fit into a school where all the students there look so perfect, and the "cottages" which is what they call dorms, are all kept so neat, and everyone is talented in some way, be it art, writing, science, etc. But soon they are meeting with counselors who make suggestions about their look, and things seem to calm down, and just work. Zoe and Franny and their brother J.D. are all in different dorms. J.D. is in the "oddball" dorm, and doesn't seem to change as much as Zoe and Franny do. And when they go home for Thanksgiving, and the meeting with Franny's best friend from before goes kind of weird, things start to unravel. But, there's always the famous Allbright Academy brownies to make them feel better.

Good book, I rated it a 5 on the 5 point scale.

I went through the books I had left and rearranged what order I'd read them in by the due date to the library, because a bunch are due back on October 19th, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to renew them this time. So the next book is by an author I've read before, Jordan Sonnenblick, but its premise and cover do not look good at all. And so far, I've read about 2 chapters, and I'm still like ehhh.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review 33: Hard Gold by Avi

This is in a series of children's books called I Witness. I looked on the Internet, and other than the book I read last year by Avi called Iron Thunder, I haven't seen what other books are part of this series, or if there are any other authors. But like Iron Thunder, this had lots of diagrams and maps showing scenes from those times. While Iron Thunder was during the Civil War, Hard Gold takes place during the gold rush as you might guess. The Pike's Peak gold rush in particular. The main character is named Early, his family is close to losing their farm due to mortgages being called in, and the fact that the railroad wants to run their track right through Early's family's farm. Early's uncle, who is actually only a few years older than him is named Jesse. He wants to go out west to get the money they need in the big gold rush, but Early's father says they can't go, they're needed to stay and help at the farm, and it costs money to go that they don't have. Well, one night, the bank is robbed, and the next day, Jesse is gone. Early decides to go out and look for Jesse without telling his parents. So, he sees a sign and signs up to help a family go. This family is a man who is a barber, his sickly wife, and his daughter Lizzy, who her father wants her to be more ladylike. Early and Lizzy hit it off, and we get to follow their trip through the Nebraska and Kansas territory to get to Pike's Peak. There are good times and sad times, as well as dangerous times as a Mr. Mawr is following along, trying to find Jesse and get the money from the bank robbery back as well.

I did like this story quite a bit. But I liked Iron Thunder really well as well, and it was not a finalist on the Mark Twain for this year, so who knows if my vote on this will go far either.

Next book I started last night is The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy by Diane Stanley, it is starting out pretty good.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review 32: Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor

This was a sweet, endearing book. The main characters lives all came together at a motel by chance. Aggie, an old lady who owns the motel, but is running out of money to pay for it, so puts it up for sell. Willow, a girl whose mother has just left her and her father, and her father decides to buy the motel to get a new start. Kirby, a young boy who is on his way to a special school for troubled boys with his mother, they get stranded when their car breaks down on the way to the school. And Loretta, a girl who receives a box full of trinkets from an "other" mother she never knew existed, visits the museum with her loving adopted parents as they visit places represented by charms on a bracelet out of the box. And of course, Ugly, Aggie's cat. They all work to be a family in a way, and it is really great to see them all fit together and kind of heal/help each other with what is needed at that moment in their lives. Great book.

Started last night was Hard Gold by Avi.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Review 31: Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs

So as I mentioned at the end of my last blog, this one started out with a good hook, a meteorite crashed through the roof of the main character Brady Steele's house. I assumed, this was just a hook, didn't know it was actually going to turn what I thought would just be a boys biking extreme summer story, into a sci fi story. So, in other words, I ended up really enjoying this. Turns out the meteorite wasn't just from the asteroid belt, it actually came from Mars, and was carrying some hitchhikers, bacteria from Mars. Brady gets infected, and it causes him to be really strong. But there's a later, not so good effect that will come from this. And it will tie into Brady's long standing nightmare of being cut open for an autopsy while still alive.

I love how this talks about the history of the Crazy Horse monument as well as Mount Rushmore. I think it's so interesting that the boys are able to ride around on their bikes with no parents around for a long time. Even just go camping overnight to go fishing without actually getting permission from their dads. There's also a rivalry with neighbor boys, and their dog Attila. The dog also gets infected. Then there is his cousin Quinn's dad who needs a job, and that is affecting what happens with the boys as well. I enjoyed this book, and could see it on the list for next year.

Very early this morning I started the book Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Review 30: Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis

The storyline of this book was just two girls and their mom, who go to visit their grandma after a cryptic call from their aunt and their father has just left to compete in an Elvis impersonator contest in Vegas. But really, it's just a good family story. But that isn't what I really enjoyed about the book. I loved how sarcastic the main character Elvira is. The relationship between her and her mother, who she calls Mel, reminds me a lot of my relationship with my own mother. Just the way they talked to each other made me giggle and think of years past as well as even how I joke with my mom today. The whole family is a group of characters, and I just really, really enjoyed reading about their story, even as kind of a minor, run of the mill story as it seemed to me.

While this isn't really about Elvis, just an Elvis impersonator, I wonder why there are two books I've read for these 2 lists that include Elvis. On Beale Street was the one from the Truman list.

Next book is Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs. I've never read any of his books, they mostly don't sound like my interests. The cover of this really doesn't make me want to pick it up either. But, the little blurb on the front says: "A meteorite blazes the way to extreme adventure" and the first few pages is where this happens as I started reading, so I'm hooked.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Review 29: Don't Talk to Me About the War by David A. Adler

I'm not sure if it's because I read the Truman list before these, but I'm feeling that some of these are so low reading level. I realize that Mark Twain list is for grades 4-6, but wow. This was a good story idea, but so low reading level. I mean, I look at the winner's from the past couple years, The Lightning Thief, Sea of Monsters, which are really so much better and at a higher reading level than half of the books I've read on this list so far. I even feel the most of the books I read last year for Mark Twain were better than this.

Anyway, normally I would really like this book, it is on a time period that I always am intrigued to read about, World War 2. The main character is a 13 year old boy named Tommy. His mom is having health issues, shaking hands, having vision problems, etc. He's a big fan of baseball, and wished people would stop talking about a war that was in Europe. This book is taking place in 1940, leads up to Pearl Harbor at the end. He has a friend named Beth that he walks to school with every day, and he kind of likes her. She lost her mom to cancer. There is also a friend of theirs named Sarah, who is a Jewish girl who escaped from Germany, but her uncle disappeared and hasn't been heard from since. His friend Charles has an older brother who is graduating from high school and decided to join the Navy. As I suspected from the symptoms, it turns out Tommy's mom finds out she has Multiple Sclerosis after she finally agrees to go see a doctor and gets a not so good evaluation.

It's an okay story as I said, just really, really, low level reading in my opinion.

Tonight I started the next book, Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis, it is okay so far as well, but has a quite humorous tone to it that is keeping me hooked.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review 28: Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty

Not a big fan of this book. It was okay, but not the best in my opinion. The main character Lily, has no mother, and her brother died in a carbon monoxide accident as well. Since her brother died, Lily has quit talking, making herself invisible basically. Soon a new girl named Tinny moves into town, Tinny is also motherless, but does talk, and is actually a thief. Tinny has a bad man looking for her, and this leads to danger. The only thing about this that I was interested in was the talk about how cicadas have 17 year life cycles in between each infestation. I was curious about this as I've seen them the last few years, so I went and did some Internet research. And while they are on 17 year cycles, there are different genetic broods that come out, so one group came out last summer, and won't be back for 17 years, and another is out this year.

Now reading Don't Talk to Me About the War by David Adler.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Book Review 27: The Missing Book 1: Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

I think we have another great series along the line of the Shadow Children series by Haddix as well. The kids in this series are all adopted, there are 36 of them. The book starts out with a plane showing up at a gate at the airport with no one on it other than these 36 babies. We flash to 13 years later when 2 of the kids find each other by chance, or so they think. All the kids are moving to within certain areas all grouped around the same towns. The 2 boys who are our main characters are Jonah and Chip. Jonah's sister Katherine helps the boys with their sleuthing when they find out something is up with their whole adoption. Turns out these 36 kids are all from the past, rescued by time travelers from the future, trying to save children or people from horrible tragedies. Only, the rich have decided to adopt these babies, and they want famous babies, such as a king from the 15th century. It leaves off with these 3 and another one of the children, Alex, being sent through time back to the 15th century. They want to fix what is going on, and be able to come back to the home they've lived and grown up in for 13 years. And that is where the 2nd book will start off, back in the time period. I'm looking forward to reading it after I'm done with my Mark Twain list.

Next is Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Book Review 26: The Seer of Shadows by Avi

So, I'm now officially immersed in the Mark Twain possible nominees for 2010-2011 as I've finished my first book.

The Seer of Shadows sounded like a really good book, it's about ghosts, and picking them up with photography. The book was okay, not as good as I was hoping, but still pretty good. The main character is Horace and he is an apprentice to a photographer in New York in 1872. A rich woman comes asking Mr. Middleditch to take her portrait to put on her recently departed daughter's grave. Turns out according to a servant girl named Pegg that the death was under suspicious circumstances. Mr. Middleditch decides to take advantage of Mrs. Von Macht by making a double exposure photo with the daughter's likeness to simulate a ghost in the picture. Well, Horace soon finds funny things, the image he uses, isn't the one he sees in the picture. And now Horace is afraid the daughter, Eleanora, may actually be back as a ghost, looking for revenge. So it was good, but not great.

Next book I'm reading is Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I'm a big fan of this author, so even though I had put her book further down in the stack of Mark Twain books to read, I pulled it out instead of the Avi book that I had next. So far it's pretty good. The beginning was REALLY good. So I hope there is some pay off soon.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Book Review 25: On Beale Street by Ronald Kidd

I wasn't too sure about this book, but once again I was pleasantly surprised. This is a fictional tale about the time when Elvis was first starting out. It is told by a fictional narrator named Johnny Ross. We get to see the racial tension of the time, as well as learn about how the music business worked. Johnny and him mom live in Memphis, in a cabin on the back of her boss, Mr. Chapman's, estate. The chauffer is Will Turner, a black man. His son Lamont Turner shows up at the very beginning of the book, and it is both Lamont, and Mr. Chapman's son Trey that turn Johnny onto the black music. There is a girl that Johnny likes, but turns out she's Trey's girlfriend. Johnny doesn't know his father, because his father left when he was a child. Johnny begins visiting Beale Street, where he meets Elvis, and soon gets a job working for Sun Records. So we get to see the rise of Elvis in a way. And soon we find out who Johnny's father really is, in a weird situation with the "big house" and all the people involved.

I like all the historical issues this book brings up. I like that they mention Brown vs. the Board of Education, and talk about how record companies would pay black artist for recording the records, but then not give them the royalties later on. I think this would be a great book for Communication Arts teachers to read with their students who were studying this time period in their Social Studies classes. I hope this one makes it to the actual list next year. I also know there was another book by Ronald Kidd called Monkey Town that I think was about the whole Scopes trial, which I think was the evolution debate. Now that I know I enjoy his writing, I'll be sure to find that book when I'm done with my reading.

Also, I am done with the Truman list! Yay! I'm going to mail my ballot this week, and today I've started the first book on the Mark Twain List, The Seer of Shadows by Avi. I'd never read any books by Avi until last year when I read for the Mark Twain list, and I really liked the book I read last year and was disappointed when it didn't make it to the nominees for kids to read this year. There are 2 of his books possible this year, and I'm going to read both of them first.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Review 24: Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman

I just have to say, wow, I was wrong about this. This was a really good book. So cute, and made me laugh out loud many, many times throughout the book.

Antsy, nickname for Anthony, has a friend named Gunnar who he finds out is dying from Pulmonary Monoxic Systemia. Antsy doesn't know what he can do to help, face it, what can you actually do in that situation? So he decides to "donate" a month of his life to Gunnar who says he only has 6 months to live. When he tells other people, they decide to do the same. Soon, they are building up lots of months to extend Gunnar's life, although people start putting stipulations on them like they have to be months from the end, not the middle, etc. It turns into a really big thing at the school, even to the point where they have a rally, and try to get it up to 50 full years donated. All the while Antsy and Gunnar are making a dust bowl out of Gunnar's back yard. Gunnar's sister Kjersten starts liking and dating Antsy. Antsy's family runs a restaurant which is really stressing his dad out. His friend Lexie and her grandpa are also a big part of Antsy's life. I wonder if they're actually what the book before this was about. Of course disaster strikes at the rally, and Antsy feels he must do something to counteract all this time given. Things aren't right with Gunnar and his family either, so all that plays into the situation.

I have to say one of my favorite quotes was about how they talk about dysfunctional families, but does anyone really come from a "functional" family that never fights or argues or disagrees? What an awesome thought. I will put this as a 5 on my ballot.

And last night before bed I began the final book on the Truman list, On Beale Street by Ronald Kidd. It also is shaping up to be a pretty good book.