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Archive for February, 2010

Crows & Cards

Friday, February 26th, 2010

crows and cardsby Joseph Helgerson   p. 279   Grades:  6-8

Twelve-year-old Zebulon Crabtree is angry with his father for shipping  him off on a Mississippi riverboat to St. Louis to become a tanner’s apprentice.  He quickly decides to disobey his dad when  Chilly Larpenteur, a cardshark and con man, tricks him out of his money and convinces Zeb to join his racket.   Zeb pretty much becomes Chilly’s prisoner, being locked in the cupboard of the gambling house each evening and forced to work the wire that signals Chilly about his opponent’s cards, so he can cheat.   Zeb’s only hope is to escape, and with the help and friendship of a slave and a Hidasta Indian chief and his daughter, he may succeed.  This is a humorous, rollicking adventure reminiscent of Mark Twain’s novels.

Connections:  The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventues of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain and The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by W. R. Philbrick.

Runaway Twin

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

runaway twinBy Peg Kehret, 197 pages  Grades 5-8

“Most people who have a life-changing experience survive a terrible injury or disease.  My life was transformed by a craving for Twinkies.”

Twinkies remind Sunny Skyland of her twin sister who she hasn’t seen since their mother and grandmother died in car accident when they were 3 years-old.  A sudden windfall provides the funding for Sunny to set off, alone, on a cross-country journey to find her sister, Starr, with only an old photograph to guide her.  Along the way, she picks up a four-legged traveling companion and braves challenges from both man and nature.

Connections:  For other stories about kids in foster care, try reading The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson or Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson.

The Big Game of Everything

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

The Big Game of EverythingBy Chris Lynch, 275 pages  Grades 6-10

“You have to love your family.  You do, even if you don’t right?  You don’t have to agree with them or appreciate them or go to concerts with them, but you have to love them.”  Twelve year-old Jock’s “hippy-frippy” parents named him Union Jack after their stay in England, and they run a barbershop where they try to convince their customers not to get haircuts.  Jock is constantly jousting verbally with his money-obsessed brother who is a year younger and 30 pounds heavier. His grandfather owns an unfinished golf complex with 13 holes, where customers must replay their favorite 5 holes to golf a full game.  Jock is looking forward to spending the summer at the golf complex, but he and his brother need to avoid the town bullies and help their grandfather get back on course after a visit from two of his old buddies.

Connections:  For other golf fiction, try reading The Million Dollar Putt by Dan Gutman.