If you were in Washington DC, walking along P Street in the Georgetown area, would you be able to find Pineapple Place? Not likely. But August Brown, a lonely boy who had just moved from Vermont after his parents’ divorce, followed a rag bag lady into an alley off P street and did find Pineapple Place. There he met April and several families whose lives were stuck in 1939. These new friends were invisible to others outside of Pineapple Place, which made for some interesting situations when August looked like he was talking to himself. This fun filled fantasy with a time travel twist links the 1980′s and the 1930′s with some exciting adventures and meaningful friendships.
If you like this book, look for the sequel, Prisoner of Pineapple Place.
You might be interested to know that Anne Lindbergh, the author of this book, is a daughter of Charles Lindbergh who was the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Look for more of her books for more time travel and other fun adventures.
Posted by Iris
This book is set in a pseudo-medieval time but includes wizards of different abilities, magic, evil doers, plenty of humor, silliness and intrigue. It begins with lots of action and drama. The ruling Queen is murdered and her heir, the baby princess, disappears. A sweet and rather bumbling wizard, Silas Heap, is returning home to his family when he finds a newborn baby under a bush in the snow. Upon returning to his family he finds that his newborn son has died and been taken away by the midwife and his wife is hysterical with grief. The wizard substitutes the foundling, a girl, and his wife and their six sons accept the baby with love and appreciation still grieving for their Septimus, who has been taken from them. Septimus was a seventh son of a seventh son and should have grown up to be a very magical wizard.
The story skips ahead 10 years and suddenly, Marcia, the ruling Extraordinary Wizard, sends the family fleeing off to an aunt in the Marram Marshes because an evil wizard, DomDaniel, has learned that the princess still lives and wishes to kill her. There are all sorts of magical elements and also fun as Jenna and her brothers entertain themselves exploring the island and learning some magic from their aunt. There is also a mysterious orphan, “Boy 412” from the army guard and an assistant to DomDaniel who drives DomDaniel crazy with his less than stellar attempts at magic. I loved the humor and the action in this story. It is a long book, 564 p., but it also comes as a book on CD.
Posted by: Fran W.
I have discovered a good Alex Rider adventure ‘read-a-like’ in the Jimmy Coates series. Whereas Alex is 100% human boy (of course not like any human you would know in real life) who happens to be very knowledgeable and skilled in martial arts, motorcycle riding, tightrope walking, etc., Jimmy is an 11-year-old boy just finding out he is 38% human and 62% super-technology. Jimmy is computer chip enhanced to perform all of his super deeds. His super-powerful programming has not yet reached its full potential, but now that he realizes he was ‘created’ by his government to be a killer, he works – very hard – at resisting those assassin instincts. Jimmy spurns his creators and joins forces with those against the corrupt British government. He has ‘parents’ to deal with, a teacher, a sister, friends, and friends’ families, who all have big parts in this science fiction intrigue, some being on the side of good, and the others – definitely, being enemies.
Jimmy can outrun, out jump, outfight anyone after him, but is also programmed to fly helicopters, speak French, breath underwater and much more, along with the program he’s resisting — to assassinate others. This first book of the series introduces you to the characters and sets the stage for good guys vs. bad guys. There is a great sequel, as well, called Jimmy Coates: Target and in that book, you will find that Jimmy meets his match, literally, when the corrupt government force NJ7 sends a second young computer chip enhanced assassin to bring Jimmy down.
At first I thought the Alex Rider books had more action, bad guys, and violence than the Jimmy Coates books, but I’m realizing Jimmy has lots of that too. If you like danger and adventure, fights and chases, and kids on the side of good outsmarting bad guys in superhuman ways, then give one of these books a try. I like them.
Posted by: Fran D.
Noisy Nora has always been a favorite at my house! Poor Nora is the middle mouse child in her family and no one is paying attention to her. Mama and Papa are both busy with the other two children, so Nora finds a way to get noticed. She makes noise! Lots and lots of noise! But, instead of getting the attention she is looking for she is told to “be quiet” by her father, and she is “hushed” by her mum. Feeling very sad and unloved, Nora decides to leave “and never come back.” The mouse house becomes strangely quiet and Nora has finally gotten the family’s attention. Of course, they want her back – noise and all!
Noisy Nora is a wonderful picture book that you will find yourself reading over and over and over again.
Posted by: Wendy
I always loved keys as a little girl, and used to collect them. The more bizarre or strange looking, the better. In this book, Jeremy, as I once did, starts hunting for keys; however, his key hunting is not carefree as mine was, but has a much deeper purpose. Jeremy’s dad died when he was 8 and this summer he is about to turn 13. One day, he receives a mysterious box from his dad that contains the meaning of life. There is only one problem; the four keys needed to open it have disappeared. So begins Jeremy’s quest to find the keys and discover the secret his dad has left him. Armed with courage, determination, and a best friend, Jeremy sets out on the most exciting summer of his life. Along the way he learns that not everything is as it seems and that sometimes life is what you make of it. And just when all hope seems lost and he will never find the keys, a most unexpected surprise comes along that will change everything. A book you won’t want to miss.
Posted by: Kate
This story is one of 13 year old Dina who is sent from Germany to Brooklyn during the 1870s in order to join her uncle and his family, and work in their tailor business. Dina doesn’t want to sew anymore but instead wants to be a maid, like Aunt Ida. She despises Uncle, a strong personality, who insists that she uses her gift of sewing to help him in the family business. You experience Dina’s struggles during her early years in America, until she meets Johann who helps her develop the confidence she needs to fulfill her dream.
I listened to a recorded version of this story, which allowed me to understand the characters more personally through their expressions. If you like historical fiction, especially about early years of immigration to America, you will enjoy this quick, but well-written read.
Posted by: Pat
This picture book is completely charming and reminds me of stories read to me when I was a child. It starts with a little boy asking his father to tell him about when he was small. This is a nightly conversation that Henry and his dad have and becomes a wonderful bedtime story to send Henry off to dreamtime adventures. “In a nutshell” (probably big enough for Henry to use as a cereal bowl), Henry’s dad explains that when Henry was small, he would sleep in one of his slippers, the left one, and used a fuzzy wash cloth for a blanket. The story goes on to explain that “when you were small, we took the toy castle out of the aquarium and you were the king of it”; “when you were small, your mother once lost you in the bottom of her purse and when she found you again, you were clinging to an earring she’d lost three years before”, and so on. The simple old fashioned illustrations make the story even more wonderful and clever. A book you’ll want to own!
Posted by: Mary
With summer vegetable season just around the corner, this book is just right to share with little ones. As the title suggests, children learn which vegetables grow up, down, and around. Readers are introduced to familiar vegetables along with some new ones (i.e. beets and okra). Colorful illustrations match the upbeat text. And children who are enjoying the cicada-mania will have fun looking at all the bugs in the illustrations. This is a great story to read before gardening or visiting the farmers’ market.
Posted by : Liz
Looking for a funny book that isn’t of the Captain Underpants variety? Look no further than this hilarious import from India.
Sarita, Ravi and their baby sister have a lovely life, if a rather dull one, before Younguncle comes to live with their family. Younguncle–their father’s youngest brother–was kidnapped by monkeys as a baby, and he hasn’t been the same since. It’s not that he’s crazy–he’s super-smart, super-nice and talented at any job he undertakes (though he seldom manages to keep one)–it’s that adventures just seem to find him, no matter where he goes. Soon the children are caught up in Younguncle’s escapades–he rescues a stolen horse, discovers a missing cow, saves his sister from an arranged marriage, and even has a run-in with a bandit and a tiger!
This book has been unjustly overlooked, in my opinion, because it doesn’t fit into any typical American children’s book categories. It’s shorter than most novels for older elementary readers, but the vocabulary is more advanced than those in easy readers. Younguncle’s adventures are hilarious, but they lack the satire, sarcasm and snark that infuse so much children’s humorous fiction today. This is not to say that the book is nothing but sweetness and light–Singh’s character’s have very dry senses of humor–but the book isn’t loud.
One of the easiest ways to determine if someone will like a book is to ask “Oh, did you like this other book? If you did, you’ll like this one.” I haven’t been able to come up with any helpful comparisons for Younguncle Comes to Town. It feels like a lot of the classics of children’s literature–a review I read mentioned Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Pippi Longstocking–but I still think it belongs in a category all its own. I’d urge any mid-elementary student looking for a good afternoon’s read or parent seeking a fun read-aloud to check this book out; they definitely won’t be sorry.
Posted by: Sarah