Friday, March 26, 2010

Reef Rescue

Reef Rescue
Finding Nemo #1
written by Marie Croall
art by Erica Leigh Currey
unpaged
comic book
Los Angeles, CA : Boom Kids!, 2009

Nemo, Dory, and Squirt are back in another exciting adventure. Something is killing the coral in their reef and all the creatures living there are on the verge of emergency evacuation. With the help of Marlin, Nemo's dad, the three young friends head out in search of the cause of this plague and a cure. The characters are true to their movie form, even absent-minded Dory. Look for more new undersea tales of Nemo in the future. Boom Kids! is also giving us more stories with the characters from Cars, Toy Story and the Incredibles.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wow! New York City: Imagine a city built with a paper clip...

Wow! New York City
imagine a city built with a paper clip...
By Puck
Art by Rey David Rojas
New York : Duo Press, 2010

Take a visual tour of New York City thanks to the amazing wire sculpture by Rojas. Brief text guides you through his masterful works. At the end of the book there are a couple of pages with more in depth information about the various aspects of New York City. A short but informative book that even if you don't really care to learn about the city, it is worth looking at for the unique art alone.

Freeze-Framed

Freeze-Framed
Time Runners #1
by Justin Richards
Juvenile Science Fiction
169 pages
London : Simon & Schuster, 2007

Jamie Grant gradually becomes invisible to those around him, including his parents. Only Anna, a strange girl in an old-fashioned dress, takes notice of him. She tells Jamie that due to a break in time, he no longer exists. If he doesn't help repair the problem, then many more people will cease to be and the world will become a totally different place. Midnight and his skitters are out to get him on the side of darkness and evil - those who want the time break to expand. As with most books about the paradox of time and time travel, it is interesting but if you think too long and hard about it you will get a whopper of a headache. The villain, Midnight, wasn't as well-developed of a character as I had hoped for. Even the good guys, the Time Runners, remain mysterious in their purpose and existence. I can only hope that more is revealed in further volumes in the series, yet I don't know if I am interested enough to try them out. However, kids in about 4th and 5th grade will probably enjoy this as a light science fiction tale.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Cure

The Cure
by Sonia Levitin
young adult
science fiction
historical fiction
258 pages
San Diego, Calif. : Harcourt Brace, c1999

The year is 2407. Gemm 16884 is considered a deviant in his utopian society of Conformity, Harmony, and Tranquility and forced to choose between being recycled or undergoing a painful and mysterious cure. Having no desire to let go of life, he chooses the cure and finds himself living in Strasbourg, Germany. The year is 1348 and he is now a 16-year-old Jewish musician trying to survive the onset of the Black Death. He struggles to hold onto his faith and his family through very confusing times full of hatred and terror. How will this affect him when he is brought back to the future in his own time? Will he be cured or will he be even more deviant in his love of life and pursuit of joy? An amazing combination of my two favorite genres, science-fiction and historical fiction.

Lawn to Lawn

Lawn to Lawn
by Dan Yaccarino
unpaged picture book
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010

The lawn ornaments in Pearl's yard are devastated when the family moves and they are left behind. Only Pearl knows the decorations are real. The pink flamingo, deer, jockey and garden gnome decide to follow a map they found in the driveway until they are reunited with Pearl. Danger lurks around every corner in the form of the garbage truck. Will Pearl and the decorations have a joyous reunion? Or will they suffer a tragic end in the trash heap? Dan Yaccarino's illustrations are perfect for his quirky little story about lawn ornaments.

The Big Empty (series)




































The Big Empty (series)
by J. B. Stephens
Razorbill 2004 & 2005
  1. The Big Empty
  2. Paradise City
  3. Desolation Angels
  4. No Exit
Half the world is dead, the other half is trying to survive. The government is trying to control everything. A group of teenagers are trying to follow some coded messages to a supposed safe haven somewhere in the northern part of the United States. Novo Mundum doesn't quite live up to their individual expectations. When life throws them in another direction they must test their loyalties to each other and their ideals. They find traitors and allies in extremely unexpected places.The end result was slightly disappointing to me, just a little anti-climatic. Otherwise, this is an interesting addition to the teen post-apocalyptic genre.

The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes

The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes
by Kelly Easton
ill. by Greg Swearingen
juvenile adventure
214 pages
New York : Wendy Lamb Books, c2009

Liberty (Libby) Aimes leads a miserable life, but she doesn't fully realize it as she has known nothing else. Confined to her house Libby spends all of her time frying everything in sight for her extremely overweight mother, Sal, to eat. The rest of the time she is cleaning or laying bricks, depending on her nasty father's mood. Mal, is always trying to teach his daughter "a lesson". Libby is always looking for a chance to discover the secrets that Mal keeps in the basement. When the opportunity finally arises, nothing is ever the same. A bizarre adventure literally whisks Libby off her feet and sends her flying feet-first into an amazing world that she had never dreamed existed. As she encounters numerous people and animals she realizes that some people are good and some "scoundrels". As she tries to avoid the latter she also discovers that she can have an effect on her own destiny as well of those she meets. Liberty is a lovable character with a very sweet nature. Her story is ridiculous yet touching at the same time. If you are looking for a fun and quirky book (with a little bit of gross) you might want to check it out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Crossing Stones

Crossing Stones
by Helen Frost
Historical fiction/verse
178 pages
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009

Two families live on opposite sides of Crabapple Creek. The parents are great friends as are the teen-age children of both families. Everyone dotes on little seven-year-old Grace. It is spring of 1917 and eighteen-year-old Muriel is struggling more than her peers with the idea of the war raging in Europe as well as the fact that women aren't considered equal to men. Though she is quite opinionated, Muriel is fairly content with life until the realities of war strike close to home. A tender and touching glimpse into the everyday life of a family trying to survive and thrive in a world of turmoil. Helen Frost does an amazing job of crafting her novel. The well-worded verses also act as illustrations due to their layout design. A fabulous historical fiction that I will gladly add to my personal collection someday. (If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend the author's previous two novels The Braid and Diamond Willow.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Whole Nother Story

A Whole Nother Story
As told by (the one and only) Dr. Cuthbert Soup
Juvenile Adventure/Humor
264 pages
New York : Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books, 2010

   Ethan Cheeseman has three (er, four?) children who are "attractive, polite, and relatively odor-free". The family, along with their psychic hairless dog, has been living on the run since Mrs. Cheeseman died a few years before. They are being pursued by some top-secret government agents, international super-spies accompanied by a variety of pets, and some evil corporate henchman. This motley crew of bad guys all have the same motive - get the LVR! The LVR is an amazing machine invented by Mr. and Mrs. Cheeseman. The nasties will do anything they can to gain control of it. Exciting adventure follows this quirky family everywhere they go in their quest to settle down and lead a normal life.
   As a general rule, I don't read books this off-the-wall. Yet something about the Cheesemans grabbed my attention. Despite all that had happened to them they remained a close-knit family trying to be as normal as possible. An extremely odd yet compelling read. And fun too!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux
by Geraldine McCaughrean
historical adventure
328 pages
New York : Harper, 2010

Pepper Roux grew up with both his mother and his Aunt Mireille caring for him. His father, a ship's captain, was forever at sea making only brief appearances throughout Pepper's childhood. Due to a a dream his aunt had the night before he was born, Pepper's life was unlike any other child his age. Saint Constance told her in a dream that Pepper would die before he was fourteen -years-old. With such a profound prediction, Pepper's aunt spent her whole existence in making sure he was ready to enter Heaven's Gates.  He didn't go to school as no one saw the point since he wouldn't live long enough to be able to make use of an education. With such an upbringing you would think he would be rather a depressing young man, but quite the opposite was true. Pepper was a very kind boy who just wanted people to be happy. He wakes up on the morning of his fourteenth birthday knowing it is the day he is going to die (according to Saint Constance and Aunt Mireille anyhow). Instead of sitting around the house with his mother and aunt watching him, awaiting the critical moment, Pepper chooses to flee. He can run away from his house and the staring eyes of his family, but can he outrun death. Pepper goes from one adventure to the next seeking peace and maybe someone who truly loves him. No doubt about it, this was a very strange book. I found it oddly intriguing at the same time. I absolutely loved Pepper though I didn't agree with some of his actions. I just kept thinking about the poor boy growing up constantly being told he was going to die at any moment, and not because of an illness, but just because his aunt had a dream. Despite all the negativity in his youth, Pepper was able to find the way to becoming his true self. Definitely not a book everyone will enjoy or even get all the ways through, but I am glad that I read it as it made me think.

The Hotel Under the Sand

The Hotel Under the Sand
Kage Baker
juvenile fantasy adventure
180 pages
San Francisco, CA : Tachyon Publications, 2009

Emma suffers a tragic accident and ends up washing up on a sandy beach in a mysterious place. Surrounded by sand dunes she works hard to build herself a shelter out of other debris strewn on the beach. She meets a strange young man in a hotel uniform wandering around. He tells her the story of a grand hotel that is buried under the sand. The next day a miracle occurs and the hotel is uncovered during a vicious windstorm. If I were to tell you what happens next, it would completely ruin the story. All I can say is that there are ghosts, pirates, evil lawyers, an assortment of bizarre creatures and a rude little rich boy. An extremely strange and unrealistic story, yet magical enough to grab my interest.

On Viney's Mountain

On Viney's Mountain
by Joan Donaldson
Historical Fiction
227 pages
New York : Holiday House, 2009

   There couldn't be two sisters more different than Lizzie and Viney!  Lizzie, the oldest by a year, is well aware of her feminine charms and uses them to their utmost advantage. She is not afraid of work, but desires a man of money to take her away from their rustic and primitive mountain home. On the other hand, Viney loves the Cumberland mountains with every fiber of her being. She is a weaver and loves to create beautiful things with her hands. She too is a hard worker, but has no desire to settle down and be subservient to any man. Their lives are turned upside-down when a group of wealthy Englishmen choose their mountain to build a near-Utopian society upon. Young gentleman are sent to clear the land, build a town, and learn farming. Lizzie sees this as a fabulous opportunity to meet her dream man whereas it is nothing but a nightmare to Viney.
   A wonderful historical fiction novel for pre-teen girls and older. The characters have depth and personality so as you read you can feel everything they feel, from the depths of anger to the heights of love and everything in-between.

Friday, March 5, 2010

this world we live in

this world we live in
The Last Survivors: Book 3
by Susan Beth Pfeffer
teen science fiction
239 pages
Harcourt Children's Books; April 2010

   In Life as We Knew It we meet Miranda who faithfully keeps a journal recording the world-changing events after a meteor crashed into the moon. The Dead and the Gone introduces us to Alex and Julie, trying to survive the same cataclysmic event in New York City. Once again, Miranda writes in her journal and tell us what is going on a year later in This World We Live In. Life hasn't become any easier for people a full year after the catastrophe, but people are surviving. Miranda along with her mother and two brothers have managed to stay in their home throughout the rough and lengthy winter.  One spring day her father, his wife and their new baby along with three strangers show up on the doorstep. Things are tighter with six extra people, but they will manage anything to be able to stay together as a family. Romantic relationships pop up in some surprising (and not so surprising) places. Just when things seem to be looking up and a little bit of happiness is being felt by most Mother Nature decides to throw something else at them in the form of a devastating tornado!
   Anyone who knows me and my reading habits knows that Post-Apocalyptic literature is my absolute favorite genre. The first book in this trilogy is among my top favorites because it was such a gripping and believable story.  Book number two was good but nothing like number one. It was however, interesting to read the same events from a big-city perspective as opposed to the more rural setting of Life as We Knew It. The author did a good job of uniting the two groups in this concluding volume yet the first one remains my favorite of the three. I must say that Miranda got on my nerves a few times and I totally disagreed with some of her actions. Being as it was her journal we are reading it should be expected to get a little too much of her inner thoughts. All-in-all a good and positive conclusion to a fascinating series.