Friday, October 22, 2010

Touch Blue

Touch Blue
by Cynthia Lord
juvenile realistic fiction
192 pages
New York : Scholastic Press, 2010

Eleven-year-old Tess loves her quaint island home. When the government threatens to close their school due to a small student body, Tess is terrified. This would mean having to move to the mainland for her mother to work and for her to attend school. And she would no longer be able to go lobstering with her father. The town hatches a brilliant plan to increase their school attendance - take in foster kids! Tess's family is given the opportunity to welcome a sullen, red-haired musician into their family. Tess has read many novels dealing with foster kids and orphans so she feels relatively prepared for this change in her daily life. She quickly realizes that real life does not have a storybook ending. Her new foster sibling is not Anne of Green Gables nor is he Gilly Hopkins! A great book about kids having to adapt to changes in their lives whether they be large or small. I loved the literary references and all the good luck/bad luck information. 

Magic Below Stairs

Magic Below Stairs
by Caroline Stevermer
juvenile fantasy
199 pages
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, c2010

Frederick Lincoln seems to be living a life very common to young orphans in Victorian London. He helps out in the kitchen to earn extra tables scraps and to avoid contact with the orphanage director as well as the resident bullies. Frederick soon discovers he has an unusual companion, Billy Bly, a queer little brownie that no one else can see or hear. Billy aids Frederick in being chosen to leave the orphanage to work for Lord Schofield, a mysterious wizard. Frederick is soon immersed in the astounding world of magic as he assists his master in clearing up the remnant of a nasty curse placed on the family home. Frederick is a great character with a bit of a selfish and naive personality. Add into the mix a slightly vague wizard and you have a fabulous combination of historical and magical adventures.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

a crack in the sky

a crack in the sky
by Mark Peter Hughes
juvenile/teen futuristic sci-fi
403 pages
New York : Delacorte Press, 2010

Don't worry! Infinicorp is taking care of everything!
Infinicorp created the dome cities that saved a lot of people from the Great Sickness and the increasing heat of the world's atmosphere. Unfortunately, some still struggle to survive Outside. These people were called Foggers by the dome residents and blamed for every little thing that goes wrong with the dome. Eli Papadopoulos is the youngest of the ruling clan behind Infinicorp. He is rather unmotivated to gain a high and important position within The Company. He would rather spend time reading ancient books and daydreaming. He sees things that cause him to think the dome is falling apart, unable to withstand the terrible storms raging on The Outside. When he confronts his parents and other authority figures within his family he is given no satisfactory answer. This leads him to defy his elders by seeking help in very unconventional places. Eli's search for truth is long and difficult, thank goodness he has his special friend Marilyn to help him along the way. A very promising start to an exciting new post-apocalyptic series. Can't wait for the next one, though it will probably be quite awhile.
Recommended for 5th grade and up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Librarian on the Roof!: A True Story

Librarian on the Roof!: A True Story
by M. G. King Stephen Gilpin
picture book biography
Chicago, Ill. : Albert Whitman, 2010

RoseAleta Laurell is a real-life librarian. When she began working at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas she found it a dusty, dark and dreary place. The town's children never visited the library, they thought it was just for adults. RoseAleta was determined to set them straight and make them feel more than welcome. When all of her original ideas to raise money didn't bring the desired results, she decided to camp out on the library roof. She vowed to stay up there until enough money had been raised to create a fun and inviting children's section. She weathered ridicule as well as terrible rainstorms, but she toughed it out until the people came through! The changes in the library were phenomenal and all because of one librarian!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Clockwork Three

The Clockwork Three
by Matthew J. Kirby
juvenile historical fantasy/adventure/mystery
386 pages
2010-10-01 Scholastic

At first glance Giuseppe, Frederick and Hannah have nothing in common save for the city in which they live. Through a series of seemingly unrelated events their paths cross and re-cross until they are thoroughly intertwined. Each has a secret heart's desire that they will need to divulge to the others in order to achieve it. When working together the three remarkable children accomplish amazing things and learn more about themselves in the process.
The three main characters are superbly developed. The supporting cast of personalities is equally intriguing while not overshadowing the children. A wonderful book that has hints of so many genres that there is sure to be something for everyone. At times it reads as pure historical fiction then there is a dash of fantasy or mystery with a great deal of adventure thrown in to ensure it will be devoured by all ages, boys and girls alike.
(I recommend this for 5th grade and above).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

X Isle

X Isle
by Steve Augarde
post-apocalyptic teen fiction
477 pages
New York : David Fickling Books, 2010, c2009

There was a series of catastrophic storms that flooded most of the world, severing communications and food-supply lines. The only way to improve upon their situation and to get food in their stomach is to get passage to X Isle. Unfortunately the traders from the mysterious island only take teenage boys. Every time the trading ship comes to the mainland people crowd the shore with their most prized possessions trying to gain passage for their children to the safe haven of X Isle. Thanks to his father's amazing poker abilities, Baz is finally chosen. But is X Isle truly a better life for the boys? Will he ever see his father again? Strange and bizarre things are happening that cause Baz and the other boys to decide where their loyalties lie. Then they must decided to take action to improve their future.
I must say I was a tad disappointed with the middle section of this book. It improved and I did like the ending. A gripping storyline that just seemed to waver a bit around a rather goofy subplot. I also predicted another subplot that way actually catch some people by surprise but to me was rather annoying in its obviousness. Overall a good addition to my list of post-apocalyptic teen reads, but not my favorite. And I must say, I absolutely love the cover!

Monday, October 4, 2010

hold still

hold still
by Nina LaCour
young adult realistic fiction
229 pages
New York, N.Y. : Dutton, c2009

Caitlin and Ingrid were inseparable. They both shared a passion for photography and a similar sense of humor. Then Ingrid made a choice that forever split them apart. It became obvious that Caitlin didn't know Ingrid as well as she thought. When Ingrid took her own life, it became obvious that she had been hiding things from Caitlin. Devastated by her best friend's actions, Caitlin took several months to recover. Eventually she started going back to school and meeting new people. Then she decided to finally clean her messy room and found one of Ingrid's journals waiting for her. Reading the entries caused memories to burst forth for Caitlin, yet they also explained what Ingrid had been feeling those last few months. As with any novel with this subject matter, it was a hard book to read at times. However, the characters were realistic and the author didn't dwell only on the negativity. Depressing, but worth the read.

My Invisible Sister

My Invisible Sister
by Beatrice Colin & Sara Pinto
juvenile fiction
119 pages
New York : Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers, 2010

Frank has moved too many times in too few of y ears. He is determined that this move be their last. If he could only get his sister on board then everything will be great. You see, his sister and her condition are the reason for so many moves. Elizabeth suffers from Formus Disappearus which causes her to be invisible. She is also a teen-ager which adds its own set of problems. As the siblings try to settle in they both make an lasting impression on the neighbors and their classmates. The parents play lesser roles in this short novel of sibling relations and coping with disabilities. The authors created their own rather silly problem for this book, yet any of a number of conditions could play out similarly. An entertaining story with a bit of a serious underlying message. Great for kids 4th -6th grade.