Friday, May 29, 2009

"The Name of This Book Is Secret"

Bosch, Pseudonymous (2007). The Name of This Book is Secret. Grades 4-6.

The author of this book does not want to share too much information with you, including the names of the characters, where they live, or what they look like. Instead, he provides fictional names and let's you the reader use your imagination in realizing the setting and character traits.
If you can get past the first few pages where the author goes on and on explaining just why he is doing this, you will find that this book is a quirky mix of adventure and mystery.
Cassandra and Max-Ernest, the two main characters, are both outsiders at their school. When Cassandra's grandfathers are given a mysterious box that was found at a recently deceased magician's home, Cassandra notices something strange about it. This is where the adventure begins. Cassandra and Max-Ernest pair up to figure out the secret that the magician does not want anyone to know. They have to keep this box and any other contents they find away from the villains, Mr. L and Mrs. Mauvais, who may somehow be connected to the magician's death.
And if you enjoy this book, don't forget to read the sequel: If You're Reading This, It's Too Late.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What would you do if you were kidnapped?

Kehret, Peg (2008). Stolen Children. Grades 5-8.

Fourteen-year-old Amy is hired at the last minute by Mrs. Edgerton to babysit her three-year-old daughter Kendra. Watching Kendra should have been an easy job, but things quickly take a turn for the worse. When Amy goes to wake Kendra up from her nap she finds that Kendra is gone! Amy frantically searches for her inside and outside the house. Then a horrible thought hits her, what if she was kidnapped? Before Amy has time to call the police, the kidnapper finds her and she is forced to go with him. Both girls are taken to a cabin in the woods where the kidnappers plan on keeping them while they await a ransom from the Edgerton family. But Amy doesn't plan to sit back and wait to be released. She comes up with a plan to send clues to her family and friend in the videos the kidnappers make. Will the clues help them locate Amy and Kendra? She can only try and hope that they do.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Picture Books on Themes of Nature

Casanova, Mary. One Dog Canoe.
A girl and her dog set out in a canoe and are joined by various animals until there is no more room.

Hines, Anna Grossnickle. What Joe Saw.
Joe is always the last student to line up or stay with the group, but this allows him to see more things around him.

Paulsen, Gary. Canoe Days.
A man takes a canoe ride on a quiet summer day and points out the different animals that live around the lake.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"A Drowned Maiden's Hair"

Schlitz, Laura Amy (2006). A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama. Grades 4-6.

Eleven-year-old Maud is known as a trouble maker at the Barbary Asylum for Female Orphans. When we meet her character, she has been locked in an
outhouse (outdoor bathroom) by a teacher as punishment. Several girls are awaiting adoption by three wealthy sisters, but to her teacher's astonishment, Maud is chosen over the others. Maud can not believe her luck! New experiences await her, including a train ride, eating exquisite foods, wearing beautiful clothes, and having her own room. At first she does not question why her room is in the attic or why she can't be seen by the neighbors, but Maude grows curious and eventually the sisters inform her that they are spiritualists who hold seances and that she is needed to act as a spirit. Maud knows that what they are doing is wrong, but she decides to play along with their charade. Only when she is left behind during a house fire does Maud realize that the women do not share her affection and that she is nothing more than their prop.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Falling Bibles from the Sky?...

Horvath, Polly (2008). My One Hundred Adventures. Grades 4-7.

Twelve-year-old Jane Fielding lives year-round in a small, coastal town in Massachusetts with her poet mother and three siblings. She wishes for one hundred adventures this summer, but instead gets fourteen. These include going up in a hijacked hot-air balloon, delivering bibles with the local pastor, visiting a fortune teller, babysitting for the five Gourd children, and meeting several of her mother's past boyfriends, one of which may even be her father. Although Jane does not reach one hundred adventures, the adventures she does experience range from funny to poignant and they allow her to better understand herself. Jane is a very observant and intelligent character. Horvath's other characters add humor, are memorable, and will appeal to many readers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Donavan's Double Trouble

DeGross, Monalisa (2008). Donavan's Double Trouble. Grade 4-6.

Fourth grader, Donavan is looking forward to Heritage Month at his school. Every year, kids can bring in a person that will share something special about their heritage and it seems that everyone, including his sister Nikki, has someone lined up for the event. Donavan, however, is preoccupied with a few of his own dilemmas. At school he is having trouble with his math class and at home he is having trouble adjusting to his Uncle Vic who lost his legs while serving in the military. While Donavan's father attempts to teach him a few strategies for solving math problems, Donavan works on overcoming his discomfort around Uncle Vic. In the process, Donavan discovers that solving math problems doesn't have to feel horrible and realizes that he's not the only one with reservations about his Uncle's new way of life.