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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

CrenshawJackson wants the facts. He is an aspiring scientist who appreciates the reality of facts and fact-finding. He has a hard time figuring out why an imaginary cat has come back. It first appeared when Jackson finished first grade. His father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and they became homeless. They lived out of their minivan. Now Jackson will be going to fifth grade. He is aware of his hunger and the fact that perhaps he will lose his school . He tries to be brave especially for his five-year-old sister. Eviction is eminent and homelessness is just around the corner again. The imaginary cat is seven feet tall now. The cat, Crenshaw, adds just enough wisdom and support without being too overbearing and "unreal".

This is Katherine Applegate's first novel since The One and Only Ivan. Please don't compare this book with her 2013 Newbery Award winner. This new one was just published in September. This author's new fiction does a most excellent job encouraging people of all ages to tell the truth - especially to themselves. Deal with life's ups and downs with resilience. Cherish and value all family and friends -  real and imaginary.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Concrete Gallery by Chris Everheart

Concrete GalleryWriter in this book means graffiti artist. It was great finding out the special lingo for this urban setting. Every character has their own tag: Exwyzee, Xriss, Dread Sevens. It is the Dread Sevens gang that are relentless to Billy. Xriss does all he can to help her. Her graffiti is so amazing that it is going to be highlighted at an art show. Xriss first met up with Billy volunteering at God's Corner, a homeless shelter. It is located at Ground Zero - a place so bad that there is no hope of fixing it.

The gang is so bad that Xriss can't get a change of clothes to Billy for the art show. Will she ever get to the art show with the Dread Sevens and her abusive father lurking around? What Billy and Xriss go through is real. This book is for readers reluctant to read. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders will get the most out of this fast fiction (you won't believe how wide the margins are). The other books in this Tartan House Series are:
The Alabaster Ring
The Dark Lens
Wolf High
I chose this book because of the author's name. I thought that I knew this author, but the name is spelled differently.  My blood is still boiling over the bullying Billy and Xriss had to endure. The characters are unforgettable. The story was kept real all the way to the end.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories by R. J. Palacio

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder StoriesThis is the companion book of Wonder where R. J. Palacio tells three stories from the other characters points of view: Julian (the bully), Christopher (Auggie's best friend since birth) and Charlotte (one of the students who showed Auggie around school).  The first chapter is Julian's story and it is interesting to read his point of view of the situation and what it takes to make him change and understand what he did was wrong.  It has been two years since Christopher lived in Auggie's neighborhood and he has not really tried hard to keep his friendship going with Auggie.  The reader finds out the issues going on in Christopher's life that have made him pull away from Auggie.  Charlotte's version is a parallel story of how fifth grade can be difficult with trying to fit in with the different types of crowds, yet trying to remain true to yourself.

If you have read Wonder and loved it as much as I did, then you must read this book.  If your teacher has read you Wonder, suggest that he/she read this one as well.  The writing is outstanding and different points of view can be very eye-opening.  Well done again, Ms. Palacio!  Remember:  Always Choose Kind!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The 39-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

The 39-Story TreehouseCalling all boys - The 39-Story Treehouse has arrived!!  Andy and Terry are back in the next installment of the treehouse series.  They have added thirteen more stories to their incredible treehouse.  Again Terry and Andy are asked to write a book by Mr. Big Nose, but they only have a day in which to complete it which is a BIG problem.  Terry has an answer for their problem though because he has made the greatest invention ever - a "Once-upon-a-time-machine!"  The machine lets you set the characters, the setting, the action, the type of genre, the amount of romance, different types of transportation, and the length of a story (in this case a 344 page story).  It's highly secure too due to the fact that it has "Big-Toe Recognition Security;" if any unauthorized big toe tries to start up the machine, it will self-destruct instantly (a foreshadowing moment!).  However, the machine takes over the treehouse which sends Andy and Terry on a mission to find a way to gain control of the treehouse again.  That's all I'm going to say, because you just have to read their crazy new adventure.

Oops, I fibbed.  I have one more thing to say.  To all fans of this series, the book alludes to boys building another 13 stories to the treehouse.  Dare we dream what the next 13 stories will have in story for us readers?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Field Trip by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen

Field TripYes, the Gary Paulsen wrote this book. However, that is his son, Jim Paulsen, who wrote the book with him. Well, they actually didn't write it together. The father sent the first chapter to his son. The son surprises him and sends him the second chapter. And so it goes. The book almost writes itself. This is the first time that they have teamed up to write a book. Roselle Library just acquired this new release.

Wouldn't you know it. The father and son in this book often disappoint each other, but they always support each other. It really is a series. The first one is Road Trip. I knew a lot of thought went into these books. Even the cover has one dog upside down. I really appreciated the thought that went into the naming the dogs. I would suggest reading Road Trip first. Let me just say that you can't help draw attention from the police if you are a speeding in a yellow school bus during the summer. In Field Trip, I won't tell you what type of vehicle was used. However, it is summer and Ben doesn't want to be in any vehicle with his father. Ben just dreams about being a hockey star in the NHL. His father really is a compassionate dreamer - too easily distracted. The father knows that he needs to spend more time with his son and rescued dogs. The dogs get their own chance to "speak". Dad is right - dogs smile with their eyes.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

MarvelsWhile on a journey at sea, a boy, Billy Marvel survives a shipwreck. He then finds work  in a London Theater where his family flourishes for many generations.  Brilliant actress and actors, until one day when young Leontes Marvel is banished from the stage.
Meanwhile a century later, Joseph Jarvis, runs away from school and seek refuge with his estranged Uncle. Uncle Albert's house with it's mysterious contents leads Joseph on a search for clues to his family.
Two families, intertwined together through words and pictures, creates a puzzle that can only be known by reading the story.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison

Grounded: the Adventures of RapunzelI thought I knew the story of Rapunzel.  You know the girl with the really long hair you can use as a rope to climb up the tower, right?  Wrong!  Megan Morrison puts a spin on the classic tale.  Rapunzel is happy living in her tower.  Witch brings her whatever she wants, tells her great stories and makes bad dreams go away.  That's wonderful, right?  It was until she meets Jack - of the beanstalk fame.  Jack has come to get Rapunzel out of her tower two times, but Rapunzel has no memory of him.  Jack convinces her to come down from the tower on her own free will and leads her to the Red Fairies, who want Witch dead after she tried to kill their leader.  Rapunzel is sent on a mission by Glyph the fairy leader, to find the Woodmother, who will show her another side of Witch.  Jack has made a deal with the fairies that if he helps Rapunzel on her journey, they will help him get out of the mess he is in.  I'd tell you more, but I really want you to read this great tale.

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.  I was happy to find out this is going to be a series.  It is so well written and the characters are so wonderfully developed.  The relationship between Rapunzel and the Witch is conflicting and you slowly see Rapunzel loose her innocence but become a compassionate person.  I even began to root for the evil Witch near the end of the story.  It is a longer book but I truly did not want it to end (so then you know it's good).  There are references to other fairy tales in the story, so I cannot wait to see what Morrison chose for Tyme #2 coming out in 2016.  I hope it is as well written as the Rapunzel story.  This book is probably suited best for 7-8 graders, but adults will also get a lot from this tale too. 

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