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Monday, August 14, 2017

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El DeafoWhen Cece is a baby, she gets sick and loses most of her hearing. Luckily, the doctors save her life and can help her hear better. Unfortunately, it's with big, ugly hearing aids that Cece is embarrassed to wear. Then, Cece's family moves to a new town, and she has to try to make friends with the other kids in her neighborhood. Some of them are nice, and some aren't.

With her new high powered hearing aids, though, Cece can hear everything! It's like she has superpowers, like x-ray vision for her ears that no one knows about. How will Cece and her superpowers (and weaknesses: people mumbling, covering their faces, mustaches) survive the school year?

This was a great book about disability, self-consciousness, and what happens when other people want to help but do it wrong. It's also about finding superpowers in things that other people may think are weaknesses. I'd recommend this book to kids who like graphic novels, to anyone who is worried about fitting in, and to kids who either have hearing impairments or know someone who does.

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Monday, August 07, 2017

The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman

The MetropolitansJapan bombs Pearl Harbor on the same day four thirteen-year-olds meet and become a team at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  There they encounter Dr. Bean, the curator of the musem and Miss Lake his assistant.  A page of the Kelmsbury Manuscript, an ancient book of Arthurian legends, has been stolen and it holds the key to preventing a second attach on American soil.

 Madge, Joe, Kiku, and Walt are the four children who agree to help.  They begin to develop extraordinary powers and experience the feelings of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Morgan le Fay, and Lancelot.  Will they survive the quest that they have been sent on and save the city?  Or will betrayal befall the group?

I like stories set in World War II as well as those about King Arthur.  If you like stories about quests, this may be a book for you to add to your reading list.  There is a little teaser at the end which leads me to think there may be more titles in the future for these characters.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Last In A Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre

Last in a Long Line of RebelsLou Mayhew is a typical 12 year old girl who lives in Tennessee.  She has her best friends Patty, Isaac, and Ben to hang out with during the summer. On the last day of school, she tells a rival girl, Sally Martin, that she will have the most exciting summer ever!  Lou is terrified!  What if she does not have a thrilling summer at all?

One afternoon, she hears her parents talking about how their old Civil War home might get knocked down to make office buildings.  Can she come up with a plan to save her house before school starts?

Just by luck, she finds the diary of Louise Duncan Mayhew, her namesake ancestor.  After reading the entries, she realizes that there is a stash of hidden gold on her land.  All she has to do is figure out is where the gold is located.  Starting with the public library, the diary, and an old photo of her property, she puts the clues together with help from her friends.

I loved this book because Louise is so determined and smart.  She finds out that her family has all sorts of kinds of people in it, slave owners, secret abolitionists, thieves and possible murderers. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dreaming the Bear by Mimi Thebo

Dreaming the BearCan you imagine being uprooted from your home only to find yourself living in the middle of a National Forest with no friends, no WiFi, and even, at times, no heat or electricity?  To make matters worse you're recovering from a serious illness and can't even go to school.  That's exactly what's happening to Darcy, who, along with her father, mother, and older brother, are living in Yellowstone National Park where her father works as a naturalist.  Darcy spends a lot of time alone while her parents are working and her brother is at school, and each day straps on her snowshoes to go for a walk to help her build up her strength.

One day, Darcy has a very unusual encounter with a hibernating grizzly bear who appears to be badly injured.  From that point on, much of the story takes on a fantasy-like quality as Darcy mixes reality with the out-of-body experiences she has while in a weakened state of health.  The reader also gets some of the bear's perspective which explains her strange behavior with a human.

Dreaming the Bear is a book that I couldn't put down. It's what I would call an easy-read.  The story and language are simple, but very compelling.  I really couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen to Darcy and the bear.  Scenes with the bear were sometimes tense and scary, and other times gentle and touching, but all seemed very realistic and believable.  Some readers might think the ending is sad, while others might say it has a happy ending.  I'm not going to give my opinion on that - read it and decide for yourself!  I'd love to read your comments.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Baby-Sitter's Club: Kristy's Great Idea by Raina Telgemeier and Ann M. Martin

The Baby-Sitter's Club: Kristy's Great IdeaOne day while Kristy's mom is trying to find a babysitter for her younger brother, Kristy has a great idea: why not start a babysitting club with her friends so that parents in the neighborhood can call just one place and get a sitter? That way, they can be more organized, it's easier for parents, and they can all get together and make some money!

Of course, working with your friends is a little different than just hanging out. And then there are sometimes problems when you try something new -- like people who want pet sitters instead! Or who gets "dibs" on babysitting jobs. But if Kristy and her friends want to stay friends and keep their club going, then they'll have to work together to make sure their business and friendships are the best they can be.

I read all of Ann M. Martin's Baby-sitter's Club books and loved them, and since I loved Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, I couldn't wait to read these! This version of the BSC is slightly simpler (because it's a graphic novel, the story has to be shortened in places), but having pictures allowed the author to show a lot of stuff that would normally have been in paragraphs. This was bright, colorful, and fun, and it made me want to read a bunch more. It was a good story about friendship and working together even when your friends seem like they're being jerks.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Escape from Funland by Bill Doyle

Escape from FunlandEscape from Funland is the second installment of the series about the Talaska family.  They love to enter contests.  The local theme park, Funland is holding a contest to turn a family's home into the ultimate fun house.  Many families have entered, but no one has won the grand prize yet.  The Talaska family is eager to participate in the contest, after all, their beloved house is falling apart.  If they don't win the makeover contest, they will have to sell the house.  Each member of the family has a strength they bring to the table.  Mrs. T is like a human Google search engine, Mr. T rhymes and writes music, Cal is the mastermind behind entering contests, Imo can fix anything and little brother, Bug is a daredevil who speaks his own language (see if you can figure it out - I did!).  Oh, and they have a great dog named Butler who also helps out.  Can the Talaska family work together and win the Funland contest in order to save their home?

Fun book to read about a family who gets along with each other and supports each others quirky characteristics.  I was intrigued by Grandma Gigi.  I'm thinking she'll become more important if the series continues.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

Mark of the DragonflyPiper, an orphan, lives alone in Scrap Town 16, next to the Merrow Kingdom, in the World of Solace.  She makes a decent living by fixing mechanical things that fall from the sky.  For a fair price or a good trade, she can make anything broken work like new.  Micah, her best friend, is well aware of her talent to fix things that have gears or wires. 

One night, she goes out to find Micah during a meteor storm.  When she finds him, she also discovers a caravan near the meteor field.  In the back, she discovers a girl named Anna.  Piper takes her to the closest, safest place she knows, her house.  While the two girls rest, Piper sees a tattoo in the shape of the dragonfly on Anna's arm.  Only royal family members in the Merrow Kingdom have that mark.  Piper knows King Aron must be connected to this girl, but Anna has no memory of her past. 

The real danger starts when a mysterious man asks to see Anna.  Anna hides in the corner and shakes.  That's when Piper chooses to run away from this bad man and Scrap Town 16.  Piper and Anna must stow away on the train and survive until they reach the Merrow Kingdom.  Will they be safe?  Will Anna ever recall how she arrived in the meteor fields of Scrap Town 16?  The adventures continue with another set of characters in book two, The Secrets of Solace

For fans of the Matt Cruse series by Kenneth Oppel, here is another tale of a slightly dytopic but familiar setting with action and adventure and just a touch of steampunk to keep readers turning the pages. 

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