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Archive for April, 2009

Ghostgirl

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

ghostgirlby Tonya Hurley, p.328 – Grades 7 & Up

It is the first day of her junior year and Charlotte is geared up to shift from ignored wallflower to part of the in-crowd.  When she gets dream-guy Damen as her physics lab partner, she thinks that the stars have finally aligned. As they leave the classroom with Damen asking her to be his tutor, Charlotte chokes on a gummy bear and dies.  Caught in the world between life and eternity, Charlotte and her new Dead Ed. classmates find out that they have some unfinished business before they can really move on.

Connection:  For another book about high school and struggles with popularity try reading, She’s So Money by Cherry Cheva –CRW

Cheater

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

cheater-michael-laser-hardcover-cover-artby Michael Laser, p. 231 – Grades 7 & Up

Karl always gets straight A+s and is tired of being labeled a geek. He is offered the chance to join the “in” crowd when super-popular, Blaine asks him if he would like to join their high-tech organization of cheaters. He flatly refuses until the super-strict vice principal sets up harsh new anti-cheating consequences and makes an example of one of Karl’s childhood friend.  Karl then sees joining the cheaters is his chance to be the hero.

Connection:  For another book that deals with the issue of peer pressure, try reading Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Koman –CRW

Laurie Halse Anderson

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

chainsCheck out this new historical fiction title from a favorite author:

Chains, p. 316 – Grades 6-10

Highlight:  Watch this great interview (from Reading Rockets) with Laurie Halse Anderson talking about her life and her books.

Gossamer

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

gossamerby Lois Lowry, p. 140 – Grades 4-7

This is the story of “Littlest One,” a young Giver learning how to bestow dreams.  She is trying to save an 8 year-old boy (a victim of abuse who is currently in foster care) from the nightmares brought on by the Sinisteeds.  The stories of the boy, his foster care mother, and his rehabilitating mother are all told through the gathering of fragments (short memories) collected by touching the objects of a person’s life.  This is a beautiful quiet story that looks at the fallout from child abuse and the challenges of foster care.

Connection:  Another great book by this author is The Willoughbys– a darkly humorous story about two children left with a nanny by their neglectful parents.

Highlight:  Check out this interview with Lois Lowry from Reading Rockets.   –CRW

Hitler’s Canary

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

hitler's canaryby Sandy Toksvig, p. 191 – Grades 5-8

Bamse, just 10 when the Germans invaded Denmark, is coming of age during the occupation.  He must decide whether to follow his brother in working with the Danish Resistance or listen to his father and stay out of trouble.  His mother’s acting career and her theatrics provide the structure for the story as well as drama and comic relief.  Bamse comes to realize that not all German’s are bad nor all Danish good, and why his friend Anton’s participation in the resistance is particularly dangerous/courageous.  The author’s note explains what parts of this work of fiction come from her own family’s experiences.

Connection:  This book might appeal to those who enjoyed Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  –CRW

Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest

Monday, April 27th, 2009

71YrBlUUGRL._SL1052_by Matt Haig, p. 316 – Grades 4-8

Twelve-year-old Samuel and his sister Martha (who has recently become selectively mute)  find themselves living on the edge of a mysterious forest in Norway after the sudden, tragic death of their parents.  Samuel is having trouble adapting to this new strange environment and his quirky aunt’s long list of rules, including the most important – “NEVER – UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES – GO INTO THE FOREST.”  The forest contains dark and dangerous creatures as well as a mystery surrounding the disappearance of Aunt Eda’s husband, Uncle Henrik.  Samuel is forced into unlocking the mysteries of the forest when he has to save his sister, who also inexplicably disappears into it one day.

Connection:  This story might appeal to those readers who enjoy spunky orphan stories like Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events.  –CRW

The Porcupine Year

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Porcupine Yearby Louise Erdrich, p. 193 – Grades 5-8

This third book in the series that started with the Birchbark House can stand alone.  Omakayas is twelve as her family is forced,  by increasing numbers of white settlers, to move westward through northern Minnesota from their original home on Madeline Island.  The story picks up quickly with Omakayas and her younger brother being swept far down river through raging rapids.  The family faces many dangers (human, nature and animal) while Omakayas moves through the uncharted territory of womanhood (changing relationships, responsibilities and romance).

Connection:  Another story of personal growth along with voyages and travel is Sharon Creech’s Ruby Holler.  –CRW

Peace, Locomotion

Monday, April 27th, 2009

peace locomotionby Jacqueline Woodson, p. 136 – Grades 4-7

In this companion to Locomotion, Lonnie Collins Motion (aka Locomotion) helps his sister Lili remember life before their separate foster care placements by sending her letters filled with memories of the past triggered by his day to day experiences.  Both Locomotion and Lili are happy with their foster care families, but miss their parents and being together.  The letters start to focus on the importance of peace and the realities of war as Locomotion becomes more aware of his foster brother who is in the army.

Connection:  This quick read might appeal to those who like Shooting the Moon by O’Rourke.  –CRW

Highlight:  Watch this great interview (from Reading Rockets) with Jacqueline Woodson talking about her life and her books.

Masterpiece

Monday, April 27th, 2009

masterpieceby Elise Broach, p.292 – Grades 4-8

Marvin (a beetle and the narrator of the story) lives under the sink in the house in NYC where James lives with his mother,  step-father and baby brother.  Marvin remains hidden with his family until one day he uses ink from James’ new pen and ink set to make the boy a birthday drawing.  Their growing friendship and Marvin’s drawing talent lead the two to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and into a mystery around some missing Albrecht Durer drawings.

Connection:  The talented bug is remniscent of The Cricket in Times Square, and the mystery surrounding the art brings a couple of books to mind: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and  Chasing Vermeer.  –CRW

Seaborn

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Seaborn, p.201 – Grades 6-9

Sixteen-year-old Luke would rather stay home and fish than go on the annual trip with his family on their small, cramped sailboat.  Luke decides he has no choice but to go when his mother walks out out on them.  The two decide to explore the Gulf Stream rather than sticking to the islands off the coast of Massachussetts and run into trouble when an unexpected storm blows in.

Connection:  This quick read is a good choice for fans of Gordon Korman’s Dive, Everest & Island series.  –CRW

Out of Reach

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

out-reach-v-m-jones-hardcover-cover-artby V.M. Jones, p. 264 – Grades 6-9

Thirteen-year-old Pip McLeod is tired of his father’s pacing, yelling and disappointment at his soccer games.  He is tired of being compared to his super-athletic, older brother.  He wishes that his best buddy, Katie, would start looking at him as something more than just a friend.  The construction of a new sports facility in the neighborhood provides the walls for Pip to climb to reach his true potential and find himself.  This import from New Zealand give a glimpse daily life in that distant land and is a good choice for readers looking for a different kind of sports book.  –CRW

Suck It Up

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

suck it upby Brian Meehl, p. 318 – Grades 7 & Up

After graduating from the IVLeague (International Vampire League), Morning McCobb gets the opportunity to be the hero he had always hoped to be… rather than just the skinny, awkward teen he will eternally be.  The president of the IVLeague offered Morning the chance to be the first vampire to reveal himself to “lifers” (humans) in the hopes that humans and vampires can live together in harmony.  Morning is thought to be the perfect canidate since he only drinks a soy-based blood substitute rather than the farmed animal blood that most Leaguer vampires drink.  A potential love interest and an angry “loner” (non-league vampires that still drink human blood) make the challenge of convincing humans that vampires are friends even more difficult.

Connection:  This book is a good choice for those interested a lighter version of Twilight, told from the vampires point of view.  –CRW