Monday, July 27, 2009

Daisy Dawson and the Secret Pond

Daisy Dawson and the Secret Pond
by Steve Voake
ill. Jessica Meserve
87 pages
Grade 2-4
Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2009

Daisy Dawson has a special gift that no one else has. She can talk to and understand animals. Daisy has a camera and she loves to take candid photos of everyone and everything around her. Now she has a special project for school that she can use her camera for. With the help of Boom, the dog, and three rambunctious squirrels, Daisy sets out to take pictures of some otters. When a sudden rainstorm hits it makes their return home a little treacherous.
This is the second Daisy Dawson adventure. She is an adorable little girl with a tendency to always be late to school. Who could blame her when there are so many interesting animals to talk to on the way to school? The black and white illustrations are a perfect match with the fun story.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Den of Thieves: A Cat Royal Adventure

Den of Thieves: A Cat Royal Adventure
by Julia Golding
413 pages
New York, N.Y. : Roaring Brook Press, 2009

In her third adventure, Cat Royal finds herself homeless and too proud to tell her friends about her situation. The Theater Royal is scheduled for demolition. Mr. Sheridan, her patron, has persuaded Cat to travel to Paris and be his informer as to the state of the revolution there. Being Cat Royal, she is immediately up to her neck in trouble and excitement.
If you enjoy historical mysteries and spunky female characters, this series is a must. Be sure to check out The Diamond of Drury Lane and Cat Among the Pigeons first.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Happenstance Found

Happenstance Found
The Books of Umber: Book One
by P.W. Catanese
342 pages
age 10+
New York : Aladdin, 2009

His first memories are of waking up in a dark underground cave. He knows things but has no memory of who or what he was before waking up. Strangers discover him and are instructed to call him Happenstance by a mysterious voice in the darkness. There is a note addressed to Lord Umber who is the leader of this group. He is a well-respected, wealthy man in the harbor city of Kurahaven. A merchant, explorer, inventor, and chronicler of the strange and unknown, Lord Umber is enthusiastic about this mysterious boy put in his charge. Then a stranger arrives in the city looking for a boy that matches Happenstance's description. What does this Creeper want and will he reveal the mystery of the boy's past? And who is Lord Umber, really?
The Books of Umber promises to be an enticing blend of fantasy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. The characters are captivating yet unknown. Hopefully the rest of the series will reveal how shy Sophie lost her hand and how brutally honest Oates was cursed. If you love magic and mystery you might want to give this book a try. Now I only have to wait until January to find out what happens next. My love/hate relationship with series continues!

ripple effect

ripple effect
time thriller trilogy: Book One
by Paul McCusker
204 pages
Zondervan 2008

Elizabeth lives in Fawlt Line, a strange little town she describes as "Mayberry trapped in the Twilight Zone". And that was before things started getting really weird. She planned to runaway because she was embarrassed by her parents and sick of living in her town. As she is lying in her bathtub making her final escape plans the bathtub fills with dirty water and leaves. Creeped out by this she gets out of the tub and finds herself in a twisted version of her normal life. She is now living the life of another girl. She has no idea how she got here or how to wake up from this dream, because surely it has to be a dream. Of all the people she is meeting in this new life, is there anyone she can trust?
An interesting book that of course has me anxious to read the rest of the trilogy. The paradox of time is always cause for a headache if you think about it too much. The author gives us yet another "what if" scenario involving time and alternate realities. This story relies on a lot of coincidences which are attributed to the "secret workings of God". If you have ever wondered at the whole deja-vu thing, read ripple effect and you will have a possible explanation for it.

Where the Steps Were

Where the Steps Were
by Andrea Cheng
143 pages
age 9-12
Honesdale, Pa. : Wordsong, c2008

Pleasant Hill School is scheduled for demolition at the end of this school year. Miss D.'s 3rd grade class writes in verse what happens during that final year. They learn about Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks. The lives of these historical figures gives them strength to deal with the trials of their daily lives as well as the impending change to a new school.
It was fascinating to me how much you can learn about characters from such short verses. The characters were well developed as were their families and friendships. Every novel I have read by this author has been thought-provoking but accessible to upper elementary age children.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Biggest Bear

The Biggest Bear
by Lynd Ward
85 pages
1953 Caldecott winner

Little Johnny Orchard feels quite humiliated that his family never has a big bearskin drying on the side of their barn. It seems everyone else has at least one and they all live further from the woods than Johnny does. One day he takes it upon himself to hunt a bear and proudly display it for his family. He finds a bear without any problems, but things don't quite turn out how Johnny planned.

One of my reading goals for work this year is to read as many of the Caldecott winners and honors I can find. The story was simply told with short sentences on big white pages. On the facing page you will find gorgeous illustrations to accompany the story. The drawings are sepia-toned and full of life, giving a very realistic feel to the story. So far, thjs is one of my favorite Caldecott winners!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

City of Ashes

City of Ashes
The Mortal Instruments: Book Two
by Cassandra Clare
453 p.
Young Adult
New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, c2008

Clary continues to struggle with her new found family history. Tension rises between her and Simon as well as between her and Jace. Valentine and his demon-hordes cause destruction and mayhem wherever they appear. Clary may have found some new powers as well along with some new friends and enemies. A mysterious Shadow Hunter reveals the secret to Clary's mother's illness. The Mortal Instruments trilogy moves along at a fast pace in this second book.
There is lots of demon-fighting and spell-casting. I found City of Ashes to be somewhat darker than City of Bones. A few characters were mildly annoying but nothing too distracting. I have made a few personal predictions as to how the third one will end. I still am not any closer to absolutely loving the series, but I have already started City of Glass which just shows that I am impatient and need to know how the author wraps things up. So check back in a few days and see my reactions to City of Glass.