Archive for May, 2007

Amy Unbounded: Belondweg Blossoming by Rachael Hartman

Amy Unbounded

This is simply one of the most delightful books I’ve ever read.  Nine-year-old Amy of Eddybrook is growing up in the kind-of-magical medieval realm of Goredd.  Her father is a weaver and her mother is a barbarian ex-warrior clockmaker; her best friend/worst enemy Bran lives on the nearest farm and her tutor is a dragon–whoops!  But don’t tell anyone about that last part!  Amy’s life seems very idyllic and uncomplicated–there are imaginative games, weddings, and interactions with friends and neighbors–but she’s beginning to grow up and notice the lives of the adults around her.  Those lives don’t seem to be as perfect as she thought they would be. 

Much like the story, the artwork in this graphic novel seems simplistic at first, but reveals its depths later on.  Each character is an individual, with expressions that are true-to-life and extremely evocative.  The reader will really care about the future happiness of his or her favorite characters and root for them to succeed.

The best part about this book is the world that author Rachael Hartman has created.  Every part of it is fully realized and so inviting that it makes the reader want to enter the book and explore it.  Any child who enjoys historical fiction or fantasy would enjoy this book, but the fantasy elements are so muted that a child who prefers realism would be equally happy.  I highly recommend this book for all readers.

Posted by: Sarah

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Aaaarrgghh! Spider by Lydia Monks

Aaaaaaargh! Spider!

Are you afraid of spiders?  Aaaarrgghh! Spider is the story of a not-so-scary spider that wishes to become a family pet.  She tries to win the family over by showing them all the things she can do better than traditional household pets.  Initially, her plan doesn’t work, and the family keeps putting her outside.  Eventually, the spider resigns herself to being alone and in doing so finds a way to win the family over.  The catchy refrain and sparkly spider webs add to this fun, family story.  If you prefer snakes to spiders, check out Slithery Jake by Provencher, another fun story about a family who is afraid of their pet.

Posted by: Liz

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Chance Fortune and the Outlaws by Shane Berryhill

Chance Fortune and the Outlaws

Since I was little, I have loved playing “What super power would you have if you were a superhero?” (I picked telepathy by the way).  In this book, Joshua Blevins wants to be a superhero more than anything in the world.  He convinces a retired superhero to train him in the hopes that one day he can attend The Academy, a school for superheroes.  When the day arrives, Joshua is rejected because he does not have any super powers.  He is devastated, as anyone would be, and doesn’t know what to do now.  Luckily, his mentor has created an alter ego for him and reapplied to the school under a new name.  He is now Chance Fortune, the luckiest person in the world.  With his new luck, Chance starts training at The Academy, but, of course, he is not actually the luckiest person in the world.  It becomes a test to see if Chance can keep his secret, learn the skills he needs to be a good super hero, make friends, and defeat an evil power that is threatening to take over the world.    But it is all in a day’s work for a true superhero.

Posted by: Kate

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Drift House: The First Voyage by Dale Peck

The First Voyage

This is a tale of time travel, and pirates and adventures!  It is also the story of three  siblings who love each other very much and struggle to be sure that they will all remain safe and together.  Each child  shows a lot of cleverness, loyalty, and bravery although they also do a lot of arguing and sometimes are not very nice to one another.

 

Susan, Charles and Murray have been sent off to their Uncle’s house on The Bay of Eternity in Canada because of 9/11.  They find their uncle to be very likable but also strange.  He doesn’t seem to know the housekeeper’s name and he seems to be keeping secrets.  The children find a mural which contains their uncle’s house, Drift house, mermaids, a whale and an island and most puzzling of all is that the mural changes and that they find pictures of themselves in the mural.  In trying to discover what is going on, they lose Murray and discover a strange key.  Then things really go wrong. 

 

The house begins to drift, a parrot begins to converse with them,  Uncle Farley becomes very agitated and a mermaid shows up at the door demanding to speak with Susan. The house is adrift on the Sea of Time and the mermaids want Susan to rescue one of their sisters who has been kidnapped by Time Pirates.  This would be daunting in itself but Murray claims to have been lost in the future and knows that Susan dies trying to help the mermaids.  He doesn’t remember how that happens but he desperately wants to prevent it.  Can they change the future?  Can they escape from the mermaids and steer Drift House back to the Bay of Eternity?  The answers are not easy and the children, Uncle Farley and the parrot, President Wilson, face many surprises, difficult choices and dangers.

 

This book is full of mind-boggling creatures and strange twists and turns in the plot.  It was a lot of fun.  I actually listened to the book on CD and it was well done.  I recommend it to readers in 5th and 6th grade who like adventure fantasy. 

 

Posted by: Fran W.

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Minnie and Moo: The Case of the Missing Jelly Donut by Denys Cazet

The Case of the Missing Jelly DonutIn an effort to update our Easy Funny Books list, I came across this clever and humorous story.  Not only would it appeal to 1st – 3rd graders, but I really enjoyed it too (which I can’t really say so much for some of the other books on the list – maybe if I was in 2nd grade).  The story starts out with Minnie noticing that her jelly donut is gone and Moo consequently deciding that someone has stolen it!  Moo finds a blue feather and believes it is the clue needed to solve the crime.  He leads them on a “wild goose chase” looking for the blue chicken who must be the culprit.  In the end, Moo discovers that the culprit is Minnie herself!  Minnie must have sat on the donut and has been walking around with it on her bottom this whole time.  What a surprise ending (so to speak).  Really cute and clever, and I was surprised by the ending too!

Posted by: Mary

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The Abernathy Boys by L. J. (Laura) Hunt

The Abernathy BoysI’ve just finished reading an amusing adventure called The Abernathy Boys by Laura Hunt.  This book is about brothers, Bud and Temp, who decide to follow in their adventuresome father’s footsteps and have some exciting times of their own.  The Abernathy brothers are young cowboys who set out in the summer of 1909 to travel through the caprock, which is a vast and lonely Texas desert, to reach their destination of the Goodnight Ranch in New Mexico. 

Their adventures begin in Oklahoma when they load up their saddlebags, hop on their horses, Sam Bass and Geronimo, and wave good-bye to their father and sisters.   Bud, the older of the brothers, has a good sense of direction and Temp is good at making campfires.  These are two smart cowboys!  Their travels take them through Texas, into Santa Fe, New Mexico and back home to Oklahoma.  Along the way they encounter many dangers, such as mirages, deadly water, wolves, quicksand and rattlesnakes.  Not to mention the ever present danger of lawless gangs of outlaws! 

I enjoyed reading this small glimpse into the Old West, especially knowing that this book is a fictionalized story of true events!  While it seems like this book could be one long tall tale, the Abernathy brothers really did ride together to the Goodnight Ranch one summer many years ago!   Oh, another remarkable fact (and this adds to the adventure!) is that Bud is 9-years old and Temp is 6-years old!

Posted by: Wendy

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Yankee Girl by Mary Ann Rodman

Yankee Girl

Moving can be either a real pain or an adventure.  When 11-year-old Alice moves with her mom and dad from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi, she thinks of it as an adventure.

They move a lot. After all, her dad is in the FBI and he’s got a new special assignment in Mississippi.   All she usually has to do is ride her bike up and down the block and pick out a likely looking kid to be her new friend.  But Jackson is different.  Really different.  Jackson is not like any other place they’ve ever lived.

It’s the summer of 1964 and school is about to start.  Alice’s father was called to Jackson because the schools there are about to integrate and everyone—from her neighbors right up to the President in The White House–is expecting trouble.  All Alice wants is to make some friends, be popular, have a good time at school and be a normal kid but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

There’s trouble at home.  Alice’s Dad is always at work and strangers are leaving unfriendly “messages” on their front lawn.   There’s trouble in the neighborhood with a group of snooty girls who are not about to make friends with a meddling “Yankee Girl”.  Then there’s the biggest trouble of all, at school.  As much as she’d love to be popular, Alice also feels the need to help the other new girl in class, the only black student in her grade, settle in for a good year also.  In 1964, in Jackson, it’s not possible to do both things and Alice is really torn, especially when her classmate, Valerie, the daughter of a prominent black minister and civil rights activist, starts making friendly overtures. 

It turns out that “everyone” was right.  There is trouble in Jackson, Mississippi, big trouble, the kind of trouble that makes people take sides, even Alice.  Having made her choice, she finds herself in the middle of a world she never knew existed.  Did she choose rightly?  How do you go about making a real, true friend?

Despite what her classmates may think, “Yankee Girl”, Alice, knows that, North or South, true friendship is about what’s in your heart, not the color of your skin.

Posted by: Eileen

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