Saturday, July 25, 2009

Local Teen Author

Katelyn Sheinberg, A Parkland High School student who writes under the name of Katelyn Emily, presented a copy of her first book, The Treasure Trove Tales : at the Gazebo to the Parkland Community Library a month or two ago. So, since I hope Katelyn will do a booksigning at the Library before school starts, I brought the book home to read. Here is my review.

The five Avery children find themselves orphaned after a fire destroys their home and kills their parents. Luckily, their grandparents are willing and able to take the children in but as middle child, Julia, explains their lives are bleak and barren. They have no photographs, no mementos, and for several days, not even any clothes except what is on their backs.

Then, Danielle, whose relationship with her parents was deeper than that with her siblings, goes missing and the four other Avery children go on a desperate search for her. When they find her, they also find a link to some of the best memories they have of their times with their parents.

This a lovely book about the importance of preserving memories in the face of loss. There is an element of mystery as well as the Avery children try to find a missing memento that should have survived the fire.

The book is best for readers 9 and up and will appeal to thoughtful readers of all ages.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents

Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (HarperCollins, 2001) is full of talking animals. So, does it belong in the Teen section of the library (YA) or in the Juvenile section of the library? I took the book home to see.

Maurice is a cat. The boy is a piper and the rodents are sentient mice. Maurice comes up with a scam to end all scams. He send the rats into a village to carry on shamelessly. Then the boy offers to pipe the rats out of the village - for a fee. The rats willingly stream out of the village after the boy and they all move onto to another town.

When they come to the village of Bad Blintz, the group find a weird and creepy situation. Rat catchers seem to rule the village but there are no native rats in sight. Worse yet, the mayor's daughter, Malicia, has decided to stick to the boy, and to Maurice, like glue.

There is "Evil" in the tunnels under Bad Blintz, and greed, and revenge. And being a rat who can think is an existential curse at times. A battle to the death, poison and traps, tricks and betrayal, and acts of extreme kindness, all take place in the dark and hidden places.

Younger readers - ages 10 and up - will enjoy the novel. But the angst and the humor will be best appreciated by teens and adults.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days - yeah right!

Here is book review 8: waaay overdue.

Dying to meet you : 43 Old Cemetry Road, book one by Kate Klise, with illustrations by Sarah Klise.
The story is told in a series of letters and journal entries. A washed-up children's author rents a mansion without reading the lease's small print and finds himself saddled with the care of an 11-year-old boy -(the author abhors children!) -and sharing the home with a ghost. Suspend your disbelief that parents could actually get away with this kind of behavior so that you can enjoy a story that is funny and satisfying. The parents get their come-uppance in the end. Hooray! Great for good readers in grades 3 through 6 - fun for older people, too

Book Review 9:
The red blazer girls : the ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil. The academy that 7th graders, Sophie, Rebecca, Leigh Ann and Margaret go to abuts the home of an elderly woman who is trying to find a treasure left by her father. The mystery is well constructed but some of the subplots go astray. Still, there is something appealing about mysteries solved by school kids and these girls are fun and fairly realistic. For grades 4 through 8.

Book Review 10:
Same, same by Marthe Jocelyn with illustrations by Tom Slaughter.
This concept book for little ones groups things and animals together in pairs by similarities - things that fly, things that are round, things that go, etc. Great for toddlers!

And since I'm pretty sure I reviewed The red blazer girls on this blog before I will add another book review.
Wink : the ninja who wanted to be noticed by J. C. Phillipps.
Wink is an EXCELLENT ninja, able to scale walls and slip through narrow openings and do all kinds of amazing feats but he really wants to be seen and, as we all know, that is NOT what ninjas are supposed to do. Read this picture book to find out how Wink is able to use his ninja skills and get the appreciation he desires. For children ages 3 and up.

No more promises! I will try hard to review new books every week. Check back.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

10 book reports in 12 days Part 7

I failed. Sigh. I allowed myself to be distracted by other things like computer malfunctions and Storytelling Workshops. Forgive me, oh faithful reader(s). I did not write 10 book reviews in 12 days. So now I am aiming for three book reviews in the next two days.

Okay, I just finished Ally Carter's book Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, the third entry in the Gallagher Girl series. It involves presidential conventions, kidnap attempts, covert operations, boy-girl stuff, hot teachers, family complications, and of course, spy jargon and spy tech thingies.
Better than the second book, this is not as light-hearted as the first book in the series. Carter makes the adrenaline rush of operations, successfully avoiding capture, and the need to find answers irresistible, while highlighting the terrible price that is paid for living the life of a spy. This is a PG book because of the violence. The romance is actually romance lite. Fans of the series will snap this up. The series is for middle and high school students.

Monday, July 6, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 6

I Wanna Be Your Shoebox by Cristina Garcia -
Yumi Ruiz-Hirsh faces a lot of changes in her thirteenth year. Her beloved grandfather, Saul Hirsch, has been diagnosed with cancer. Her mother, poet and professor Silvia Ruiz, has finally found the man she wants to marry. Yumi's chronically depressed father, a piano tuner and aspiring punk rocker, and her grandmother, Hiroko, are the only stable things in her life. At school, the orchestra has been cut from the budget and Yumi spearheads a campaign to raise money and awareness for the orchestra. And Yumi has no one to surf with!

There is almost too much going on in this book. The book would have been just as absorbing - maybe even a little easier to get through - without the move from the house to the apartment, or the drama around Ms. Ruiz's impending wedding.

Two things kept my attention - Yumi's attempt to record her grandfather's life story and the musical subplot. Saul's voice contrasts with Yumi's urgency. The choice to use classic punk rock songs (and one of her Dad's original songs) for the orchestra's fund-raising concert was a clever idea. Yumi makes a lot of things happen for a lot of people in this book.

Out of five stars, I'd give this book a solid 3 1/2 stars. It's a fun read, a bit too ambitious, but with elements to appeal to most middle grade readers. I suggest this book for grades 5 through 8.

Friday, July 3, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 5

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trent Stewart.

The four children who were recruited for The Mysterious Benedict Society come together again under happier circumstances. Their mentor, Mr. Benedict, has promised a "surprise" adventure and not too soon, either. Reynie is happy to be safe with his adopted mother; Sticky loves being safe with his parents; Kate works hard to keep the farm she shares with her newfound father going; and Constance enjoys living with Mr. Benedict - but - regular life is a little boring.

No sooner do the children leave the farm than Kate's father, superspy Milligan, gets a telegram warning the children to stay where they are. Mr. Benedict and his helper, Number Two, have been kidnapped. Too late! The children are already on their adventure

A trip across the ocean in a superfast cargo ship, run-ins with evil Mr. Curtain's henchmen, a seaplane flight to an uncharted island - riddles, packets of money, tunnels...the four youngest members of the Benedict Society are in for a hair-raising adventure.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 4a


In Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, a small rabbit insists that what he is playing with is NOT a box. This simple book is a celebration of a young child's (or rabbit's) imagination. Portis writes a similar story in her book, Not a Stick. Enjoy!

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 4

Today's review: Carrie's War by Nina Bawden.
Carrie and her brother, Nick, are sent to the countryside during the bombing of London in WWII. They meet a weird old woman, Hepzibah Green, her ward, Johnny Gotobed, and another evacuee, Albert Sandwich, and form a makeshift family.
Right before Carrie goes home, she does something rash and, soon after, catastrophe falls on the people that stay behind. Carrie grows up positive that she was the cause of the misfortune of her friends.
When she has children of her own, Carrie brings them back to the country village and her children manage to unravel what actually happened so many years before.
Bawden helps the readers see events through her character's eyes. Bawden takes simple misunderstandings, people's fears and hopes and turns all this into adventures.
This book was turned into a BBC movie in 2004 and was a stage play on London's West End.
Carrie's War wll be enjoyed by good readers entering grades 4 and up. Adults will enjoy this slice of history, too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

10 book reviews in 12 days Part 3

Happy July! Time for my next book review. Before I do the review, take a look at this "book finding" website put together by Sylvan Learning Centers, Book Adventure! I looked at it yesterday and it lets the viewer enter exactly what he or she is looking for. Just check the Parkland Community Library's catalog (or your own public library's catalog) to see if the library has the book.

Ok, here's a review for the little ones! Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Spoon tells his mother of all the wonderful things his friends, Fork and Knife, can do. His mother listens and empathizes and then, she says just the right thing to help Spoon see how special he is.

Rosenthal is the artist behind the YouTube sensation, The Beckoning of Lovely, and the author of other great picture books such as Duck! Rabbit! and Yes Day.

Meet me here tomorrow!