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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

I picked up this book and thought, "Ugh, maybe it will be a good read."  You know what, I'm glad I selected it because it was a great read.  The story takes place on Moon Base Alpha (MBA) in 2041.  Several scientists and their families have been selected to live in a moon colony for the next three years.  People back on Earth consider them rock stars, but the actual reality of living on the moon...well, it kind of sucks.  It's small, uncomfortable, you have to exercise every day or your muscles can turn to mush, and the food is just awful.  But that's not the worst of it; it's BORING if you are a kid living there.  That is until there is a MURDER!!!!

Meet Dash, our 12-year old sleuth.  Dr. Holtz has been found dead on the moon's surface.  Dash is sure that Dr. Holtz has been murdered because of a conversation he overheard Dr. Holtz have in the bathroom about making a great discovery.  But no one on base will believe Dash.  Nina, the base leader doesn't believe him and does everything in her power to make him stop talking about it; including grounding him to his room (and she's not even his parent!). Hmm, that's a bit suspicious, don't you think.  But don't worry; Nina is not the only suspect.

Each chapter begins with a short page from the NASA handout for MBA, making the moon base sound completely awesome, which as we go into that chapter we find out it's the complete opposite.  Readers will enjoy the story.  I didn't guess who did it until the end of the story.  And then there is another twist at the end when Dr. Holtz's discovery is revealed (which I cannot tell you about or it would spoil the story!).  So I'm just going to tell you to check this book out.  Feel free to tell me what you think!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart

Death by Toilet PaperSeventh-grade Ben Epstein lost his dad to cancer, so it's just been him and his mom for about a year.  Ben is totally into sweepstakes.  He is constantly entering them and he's not too bad at them.  Ben has won hats, t-shirts, coupons for free items and even a gas grill.  Ben and his mom are trying to fulfill  Dad's Grand Plan for Mom to pass her four CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exams in order for her to get a good job which will give her and Ben a better life.  Life has been hard since Dad died, but they have not deviated from the plan.  Now they are in trouble because they have had to cancel their phone service, sell their computer, and carefully watch their money. They are behind on their rent and are being threatened with eviction.

Ben decides to enter the Royal-T Toilet Paper Company's jingle sweepstake where he can win $10,000 and help keep his family in their apartment.  Ben is surrounded by great people in his life, which helps him keep a great attitude most of the time.  Toothpick is Ben's best friend, who loves to make horror movies.  Mrs. Schneckle is his neighbor who helps out Ben and his mom when she can.  Then there is Zeyde Jake who moves in with them, but Ben's grandfather is showing signs of early Alzheimer's. 

It was the title that got me.  Who wouldn't pick up a book entitled Death by Toilet Paper?  Just the thought intrigued me.  The story wasn't what I expected; it was totally better and I didn't want to put it down because I needed to know what happened to the characters.  The book made me laugh, it made me tear up, and it made me care about all of the characters.  Oh, and each chapter started with some extra tidbits about toilets and toilet paper.  Very cool! 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Cat Diaries: Secret Writings of the MEOW Society Dog Diaries:Secret Writings of the WOOF Society by Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

The cats are at the annual meeting of the MEOW Society. They always meet on the third full moon of the year. The MEOW Society is Memories Expressed in Our Writing. There are only thirteen short chapters. There is even one about a library cat. In the last chapter, they commit to keep on writing and to meet again next year.

The dogs have their own stories in Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society. This is the first meeting of the WOOF Society - Words of Our Friends. This book also has thirteen short chapters. These dogs certainly show history and adventure from their own point of view. What a great variety of stories

Yes, the author is the famous Betsy Byars. However, the other two authors are her very own daughters. How wonderful that the family collaborated to write these amusing stories. Erik Brooks illustrated both books . The illustrations are precious and you can't tell if Erik has a preference for cats or dogs. Reluctant readers or beginning independent readers should read these to their own pets!
No, you don't have to like cats or dogs, but you will like these cat and dog stories.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Frankenstein Journals: Feet First by Scott Sonneborn

Fourteen-year-old John Doe, J.D. for short, grew up at Mr. Shelly's Orphanage for Lost and Neglected Children.  J.D. has never been adopted as things don't quite match up with him.  In J.D.'s words:

1.  My right eye is blue and my left is green.
2.  I have short fingers on one hand and giant ones on the other.
3.  One leg is longer than the other.
4.  My feet are way too big for my legs (not to mention two completely different sizes!).

The orphanage is closing so J.D. is on his own.  As he is leaving, Mr. Shelly gives him the box J.D. was found in when he was a baby.  Inside was a journal Mr. Shelly had never found.  J.D. finds out from the journal that his father is none other than Frankenstein.  He realizes that is why his body parts are a bit off.  On the front of the journal is an address he decides to visit.  Who should answer the door but the daughter of Dr. Frankenstein, who has changed her name to Fran Kenstein due to all the bad publicity.  J.D. shows the journal to Frank, who happens to be an evil scientist herself.  She runs off to find all the relatives of the people her father used to construct Frankenstein.

The rest of the book tells how J.D. tries to reach his first relative to save him from the plight of Fran and to learn more about himself.  Book 1 of more to come!

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!

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