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Archive for April, 2011

Slick

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

slick 116 pages  Grades 5-8

Thirteen year-old Liza’s parents are divorced, and she has found that one way to take away the sadness is through DIY (Do It Yourself) projects like making things from recycled items and stuff she finds thrifting (shopping at thrift stores).  She doesn’t like her mom’s new boyfriend and becomes convinced he is up to no good when she finds out how the oil company he works for is ruining the environment in Guatemala.  Liza decides to take action and forms a group called GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources Really!) to expose the company.

Connections:  For other stories of activism, try reading Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French or Hoot and Flush by Carl Hiaasen.

Prisoner in the Palace: How Victoria Became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

prisoner in the palaceBy Michaela MacColl, 367 pages  Grades 7 & Up

Seventeen year-old Liza’s circumstances changed suddenly and for the worse.  One day she was living a life of luxury in a fancy hotel with her parents and the next she is destitute, after her parents die in a carriage accident.  Liza considers herself fortunate when she is hired to be the maid for the young princess (and soon to be queen), Victoria.  She quickly finds herself caught up in the intrigue, with the previous maid mysteriously dismissed and the princess’s mother and confidante trying to take away control from the soon to be queen.

Connections: For other tales of enterprising orphans from other eras, try reading Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Crispin: the Cross of Lead by Avi, and The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.  If none of those appeal, a subject search in our OPAC would reveal 190 books with the tracing of “orphan.”

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

mysterious howlingThe Mysterious Howling (Book 1)

by Maryrose Wood

The book begins with Penelope Lumley, a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, on a train headed to her first job.  Miss Lumley is a teacher and governess; she is especially excited (and nervous) about this first job at Ashton Place.  Her interview with the lady of the house goes quite well and she is hired on the spot, even though they were often interrupted by some mysterious howling from outside. The noise, she is surprised to find out, was being made by the children she has been hired to teach.  It turns out the master of the house had found these children while hunting and until now they had literally been raised by wolves.  Many would run away from such a daunting task, but Miss Lumley is not only optimistic, she is determined to do a good job for these “three waifs;”  their predicaments are often funny, and their story is sweetly told.

Incorrigible-210x300The Hidden Gallery (Book 2)

by Maryrose Wood

This sequel is even more exciting than the first book.  Miss Lumley suggests that she might take the children, who had been raised by wolves until Miss Lumley arrived, to London to visit Miss Mortimer, her former headmistress from the Swanburne Academy.  Lady Constance, who has been terribly bored and out-of-sorts because the house at Ashton Place has still not been completely repaired after the children destroyed it while chasing a squirrel in the previous story, is delighted and decides to move the entire household to London for a spell.  A number of suspicious adventures follow, and Miss Lumley and the children narrowly escape danger while trying to unravel the mystery of the children’s condition and other strange goings on about London.
Another difficult-to-put-down sequel is sure to follow.

 


The Maze Runner

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

The_Maze_Runner_coverby James Dashner        374 pages,  Grades 6-10

Tom wakes up in a box without windows or doors.  He fumbles around and cannot find a way out until the top opens up and beyond the glare of the bright light he hears kids voices.
“Look at that shank.”
“How old is he?”
“Looks like a klunk in a T-shirt.” (p.3)
Tom cannot remember who he is or where he came from, but he is pulled up into the Glade by a bunch of other teenage boys. All the kids there arrived in about the same state: confused, some sense of the way things work, but no clear memories of the details of their lives before the dark box that delivered them. The Glade is a bit like a working farm and a bit like a prison.  Each of the teens has a job to keep the place functioning:  cook, farmer, slopper, runner, etc., but there is no way out. They all believe their one hope to get home is to decipher the maze that surrounds the Glade, but the maze changes shape every night, and there are frightening things that roam its halls.

Connections: Those who enjoyed Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins or Unwind, by Neal Shusterman will like the Maze Runner too!