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Archive for March, 2010

Pop

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

pop-gordon-korman-book-cover-artby Gordon Korman  p. 260  Grades:  6-9

Pop!  That’s the feeling and imagined sound that comes from taking the hit in tackle football and that sixteen-year old Marcus has come to love.  Before this summer, Marcus had always held back as quarterback, fearful of being injured.  New in town and hanging out in the park to practice his football maneuvers, he meets Charlie, an eccentric older man who challenges Marcus and teaches him to play rough and tumble football fearlessly.  Disappointed that Troy Popovich gets to start as quarterback, Marcus takes on his role as lineman with a vengeance, winning him not only the acceptance of his teammates but also Troy’s former girlfriend.  The tension grows between Marcus and Troy when Marcus learns that Charlie is Troy’s father and discovers the reason behind Charlie’s increasingly odd behavior.  Korman delivers lots of football action as well as a thoughful story.

Connections:  Here are some other good football novels for teens:  Crackback by John Coy, Necessary Roughness by Marie Lee, and Gym Candy by Carl Deuker.  Matt Christopher writes football stories for younger readers.

Imperfections

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

imperfection_by_lynda_durrantBy Lynda Durrant   p. 171   Grades 5-8

What is perfection?  When Rosemary Elizabeth arrives at the Shaker community of Pleasant Hill, she has plenty of delicious food to eat, spotlessly clean, white clothes to wear and beautiful surroundings.  She also gets to leave her drunk, abusive father and knows that her younger brother and sister are safe, too.  But, can Rosemary Elizabeth live up to the Shaker ideal of perfection with all of the rules about eating, sleeping, dressing, working, praying and talking?  Even if she can, does she want to?

Connections – Other stories that depict the impact of the Civil War on the youth is Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Rosemary Wells and The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.

When the Whistle Blows

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

whistle blowsBy Fran Cannon Slayton, 162 pages  Grades 6-10

The B&O Railroad passes just outside Jimmy Cannon’s window, and since his dad is the foreman, the engineers hit the whistle every time they pass.  Jimmy has learned to sleep with a pillow over his head, but on Halloween night in 1943, his brother Mike snatches away the pillow so they can sneak out and follow the Society to learn their secrets.  On Halloween night, 1944, and Jimmy and his buddies (the Platoon) are planning to use some rotten cabbages to get  revenge against the local bully, Stubby Mars.  On Halloween night, 1946, Jimmy and the team are playing in the championship game of the first undefeated season in Rowlesburg High school history.  Halloween happens to be Jimmy’s dad’s birthday and through Jimmy’s teen years the day (and night) always bring him something, including mysteries, antics, and heartache.

Connections:  Another historical fiction book about working on the railroad is Dragon’s Gate by Laurence Yep.  For another book set in the country, try reading Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech. Tony Johnston’s Bone by Bone by Bone is another historical fiction title with a complicated father and son relationship.  To learn more about the book, the author or the railroad, check out the author’s website.

War Games: a Novel Based on a True Story

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

war gamesBy Audrey Couloumbis & Akila Couloumbis, 229 pages  Grades 5-8

Before the Germans invaded their village in Greece, Petros fought with his brother, played marbles with his buddies and loved hearing stories about his heroic cousin fighting in the war.  Now, people have left the village, neighbors can’t be trusted, and friends need help.  In these trying times, twelve year-old Petros finds that even his services are essential to the war effort.

Connections:  Hitler’s Canary by Sandy Toksvig and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry are other stories of kids involvement in the resistance during World War II.

The Potato Chip Puzzles

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

potatochippuzzlesby Eric Berlin   p. 227  Grades 6-8

Want a puzzling puzzler?!  Seventh grader Winston Breen and his two best friends enter a contest at the local pototo chip factory to win $50,000 for their school.  All they have to do is be first to solve all six puzzles which take them and their obnoxious chaperone all over town and beyond.  The biggest puzzle, however, turns out to be figuring out who is cheating.  Someone has been sabotaging some of the teams by causing flat tires, locking people in bathrooms, and stopping the ferris wheel.  The reader is expected to solve puzzles as well as solve the mystery.

Connections:  Another Winston Breen title is The Puzzling World of Winston BreenThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet are other good puzzle mysteries.

The Brain Finds a Leg

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Brain-Finds-a-Leg-Coverby Martin Chatterton    p. 212    Grades: 6-8

Farfetched but fun!   The Brain does find a leg.  It used to belong to Biff Manly, a seventeen-year-old surfer, who has been found dead at the bottom of a quarry.  Theophilus Brain, a thirteen-year-old self-described genius and Sherlock Holmes disciple, has figured out that a saltwater crocodile (who thinks he’s a dog) severed the leg and hid it underwater.  The crocodile is just the first of list of bizarre-behaving Australian wildlife who show up in this zany science fiction mystery which includes koalas that attack in gangs, possums  that steal SUVs, kangaroos that rob supermarkets and whales that toss tourist boats.  The Brain enlists Sheldon McGlone as his sidekick, and the two are fast on the trail of the murderer and the secret to what’s making the animals act so strangely.

Connections:  Other creepy creature stories include The Cryptid Hunters, The Underneath, and Loch.