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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating EarlyImagine being abruptly sent to a Maine boarding academy after having lived your entire childhood in Kansas. At the end of World War II, Jack's mother dies and his military father doesn't give him a chance to save any of his mother's belongings. Jack barely can remember the way his mother's voice  sounded, but he certainly remembers every word. "You have to look for things that connect us all". At the boarding school, Jack finds a boy who goes by the name of Early Auden. Jack does not consider this boy to be odd - just different. He might be autistic, but they didn't know about autism back then. Early refuses to believe that his brother, a hero from this academy, was killed in the war. Early is on a quest. Does pi and a great bear have some connection to the information of his brother? Jack goes with Early on the Appalachian Trail to find answers.

Early is so insightful. You don't know if Jack is navigating Early or if Jack had to be navigated at an early age. The historical, fictitious, adventurous and scientific elements are cleverly combined to present thoughtful ideas. This is not an easy book, but its cast of characters and their reactions give it a humorous tone.

Be Early
Get the format that is most convenient for you.
Roselle Library has it for you in:
downloadable ebook
downloadable audio
compact disc

                                       *2015 Rebecca Caudill Nominee*

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz

Hook's RevengeSo I thought (notice the past tense) I was an authority on all things Peter Pan.  I had seen the Disney movie and read the Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and discovered about how Peter could fly and why he became the leader of the last boys.  I also learned about Neverland.  However, I never knew that Captain Hook, Peter Pan's nemesis, had been married and had a daughter until I read this book.  The knowledge shattered my whole world!

So let me introduce Jocelyn, the daughter (a.k.a. "female offspring") of fiercely renowned pirate Captain James Hook. She's a feisty girl who doesn't fit into the "mold" of her grandfather's elite society so he sends her to a girl's finishing school where her only friend is Roger, the cook's helper.  Like finishing school would help a daughter of a pirate!  On her thirteenth birthday, Jocelyn receives a letter from her father asking her to avenge his untimely death at the hands of that familiar crocodile (Tick-Tock). Before she knows it, Jocelyn's swept off to Neverland to lead a crew of inexperienced pirates with the help of Mr. Smee, her father's right hand man, on a journey to kill the crocodile who murdered Captain Hook.  You'll just have to read the book to see who else she meets up with on her adventure.

The book is narrated throughout by the voice of a cranky older pirate who adds more spunk to the tale.  You will especially appreciate Jocelyn's ingenious ways of using all of the dreaded etiquette lessons she endured in school to further her journey, and how our narrator (begrudgingly) admits that this is something that readers could all stand to learn.  See, it is helpful to use manners! 

So the good news is you will love this book.  The even better news is that the next book is coming out in 2015.  I can't wait to see what Jocelyn has in store for us next!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Calendar Mysteries Series By Ron Roy

Calendar MysteriesQuick! Read November Night.  The mystery takes place the week before Thanksgiving. Bradley and Brian are twins. New neighbors move into the house next door.  It appears as if the neighbors are hiding something because they put a tarp over the beloved tree of the boys. The boys had so many nice adventures playing in the old tree.  They left money and a flashlight in the tree. What are the neighbors doing and how can they sneak into the yard and get the money and flashlight,? They want to figure out a way, but the neighbors' huge dog will only make things harder.

There is a book for every month of the year. December is December Dog. A puppy is found on Christmas Eve and the children know that it is urgent to find the owner because a gift tag is on the collar. January is January Joker. The books in this series all have two words that start with the same letter. You get the idea. These are transitional books by Stepping Stone for children who are ready for chapter books. I will give you another mystery. Can you find the dedication in each book? Clue: they are tiny print near the front of the book.Even the dedications are special.
For example:
This is dedicated to kids who read to other kids.

I dedicate this book to kind children who do nice things for other people.

How special that books are dedicated to children!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner

Circa NowTwelve-year-old Circa loves spending time with her dad learning how to repair old photographs in their family studio. When he's not repairing photos, he photo shops images into them and then creates stories about the altered pictures. Then one day, her dad goes out in a storm to deliver a photo to a very difficult client, only to have an accident and never return.

Just as Circa and her mom are trying to start life without dad, a mysterious boy, Miles, appears at their house with the photograph her dad was trying to deliver. Miles has lost his memory and doesn't remember his past. Circa's mom suffers from depression and anxiety, so it is difficult for her at first to deal with Miles.

Circa and her mom try to help Miles recover his identity. Through photo restorations and Photoshop fun, Circa and Miles develop a strong friendship with one another. As strange things start to happen, Circa starts to wonder if her photo shopping talent is starting to become real. The story climaxes when Circa is finally ready to accept her father’s death and both she and her mother realize how important Miles is to them. He changes her and her mother in a way that they could not have imagined, or known that they needed.

I have read a lot lately, but this by far has been one of my favorites. I misplaced this book for a few days and I was frantic to locate it so I could found out how it ended. Thank goodness I did. It was a fantastic story. I loved the concept of reality mixing with fantasy. The author included the photo "shopt" pictures from the story with the father's made up story about them. While it was a sad story, it was also one of hope. Circa was a lovely main character - one you would want to know in "real life”. I highly recommend you check this book out!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter MotorI love Jon Scieszka. I admire Jon Scieszka's commitment and creativity to books for boys and girls. This book is for those who think that they don't get along with science. This book is for those who gravitate toward science.  Frank Einstein gets full use of his grandpa's garage workshop.  Frank wants to win the science fair contest; he will use the prize money to save grandpa's property.  I will not tell you about the two robots, Klink and Klank (how about those clever names!).

I have to tell a few secrets about Mr. Scieszka. He promises that the next book will be ready in 2015. Hey, what's taking so long? I figured it out all by myself - the concept of energy should come next. There better be more than one coming. Six sounds like a great number for this series. (see pages 81-85). Of all the formulas Mr. Scieszka could have put in this humorous book, he sneaked in the formula for the farts of cows! Parents probably aren't even noticing it. It is in the back of the book. I am not kidding. If I am not the first to read the next in this Frank Einstein series, I will have to formulate some plan.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Magic Trap by Jacqueline Davies

The Magic TrapThe Treski children are back in a fifth adventure.  Mrs. Treski is leaving to go on a business trip.  Evan is busy practicing magic tricks (which he is really good at) and Jessie is busy looking for ways to make money (she loves money).  Jessie answers the door expecting it to be her mom's friend who is staying the week with them.  But no, it is her dad.  Jessie is excited behind belief, but Evan is more cautious as their dad never stays very long.  However, this time he does end up staying longer because Mrs. Treski's friend ends up in the hospital and cannot watch the children.  Things are really different with dad around; there aren't the usual rules.  Dad seems to spend most of his time on his phone or the computer on work issues.  He is a war correspondent so he travels a lot.  But he does help Evan improve his magic and encourages both children to put on a magic show for the neighborhood.  A hurricane is approaching and dad decides to leave to go on assignment without waiting for their mom to get back, never thinking that the weather might affect her travel.  Jesse and Evan are left alone to deal with the hurricane.  Will they be able to do it on their own?  Will there be a magic show?

I really enjoyed this book.  It is definitely one of the best in the series.  Each chapter title is a word associated with magic and then she gives a definition of the word and the part of speech.  Jessie and Evan are likeable characters, it's like they are your neighbors or a classmate at school.  They squabble like brothers and sisters, but you can tell that when push comes to shove, they are there for each other.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wild River by P.J. Petersen

Wild RiverRyan is twelve years old. He really is into video games. Ryan has to look up to his "perfect" older brother, Tanner. Tanner excels in everything: sports, academics, girls... Tanner is even a home-town hero.  Rather than argue, Ryan goes along with Tanner on an overnight kayaking trip. Their mother is concerned, but their parents allow it. What were they thinking?

Tanner assumes he has all the precautions covered. He includes a dry pack and a special kayak. Tanner is the one who gets seriously injured . The river becomes too fast and has too many rocks. Ryan realizes that his first priority is to get his brother out of the very cold water. He tries to use solutions and strategies that he remembers from his video games. He makes himself think no matter how exhausted he becomes. The survival of his brother depends on him. Bears are around and the sun will soon be going down.

This is truly an adventure story. It starts out as quickly as it ends. There are many books with the themes of rivers and the outdoors. Third, fourth and fifth graders won't want to miss this adventure.

        *   2015 Bluestem Award Nominee   *

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gifts From the Sea by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

Gifts from the SeaQuila is twelve years old. She has never been to the mainland even though the lighthouse is just five miles from Maine. She is feeling resentful that her father didn't get her mother to a doctor before it was too late. Quila also feels so much responsibility because she has to do all the chores that her mother had done before her death. If you think that it would be cool to live in a lighthouse, you might not know how much has to be done. You might not know how isolation affects you. Quila has no outlet for her grief or for expressing herself. Quila spots a mattress in the ocean (actually two). She hears a noise and realizes that it is a baby. If Quila thought she had been busy, she has more non-stop responsibility with the baby. Things change when a woman arrives at the lighthouse two years later. What does she want? Will she take the child from them?

This book is based on true events. Creativity is not a main strength of this historical fiction. I completely disagree with the suggested age level for this book. The Lexile score is 990 and the emotional component also affects the consideration for readers. Children ages nine through eleven will probably get the most out of this book. It turns out that the main theme is not lighthouses, but resilience and independence.

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