Archive for February, 2009

DOGfish by Gillian Shields

DogfishIn this new book, a young boy desperately wants a dog. But his mom doesn’t understand why he wants a dog when he already has a goldfish. With his hypnotizing eyes, he tries to convince his mom that a dog is better than a goldfish. But his mom says no. So with a little hard work, he teaches his goldfish to act like a dog and changes his name to DOGfish. A cute story, that’s made even cuter with the retro illustrations, about appreciating what you have. Read it along with Mo Willem’s Pigeon Wants a Puppy!

Posted by: Liz

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Nick of Time by Ted Bell

Nick of TimeAhoy, mates, there’s adventure to be had! And suspense, intrigue and villainy to boot. if that piques your interest Ted Bell’s Nick of Time won’t let you down. It’s a wild mix, a new genre, an historical adventure fantasy.

Bell has devised two plots braided together into one rip snorter of a story. Both are steeped in hair-raising sea battles, with the vilest of villains, be they bloodthirsty, rampaging pirates or scheming, soulless Nazis. And then there are the heroes– whether children or adults– as noble as they are brave.

The excitement begins with a raging gale which threatens to smash our young hero, Nick, into the rugged rock outcroppings that surround the small island he calls home before we even get to know him. But wait a moment; I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was first drawn to this book because I had recently finished reading an adult novel that takes place, just like this one, on the Channel Islands off Britain’s southern coast. That one was set right after World War II and this one begins just before the war. That’s where the similarity ends. Rather than a sweet story of letter writing, quirky farmers and a bit of romance, Nick of Time is a wild romp. It’s a mix of piratical child snatching, Nazi villainy, time travel and British/naval history. Even Dan Brown would be pleased with the way Bell has woven in a marvelous subplot about a heretofore unknown invention of none other than Leonardo DaVinci.

Without revealing too much of the plot, it’s safe to say that, in this book, nothing is quite what it seems. The plot unfolds in the same locale but in two different centuries. In 1939, Nick McIver’s father is a mild mannered lighthouse keeper who has recently taken up “bird watching.” However, the “birds” he’s spying on are actually German naval vessels—a new type of submarine to be specific. The Nazis are on to his “hobby,” scouring the Channel waters and trying to stop him from reporting what he’s seen. Meanwhile, back in the 19th century, the dastardly pirate, Billy Bones is roaming the same area of the Channel with kidnapped hostages, trying to influence, for the worse, the outcome of the Napoleonic war.

When his parent’s travel to London trying to get an audience with Winston Churchill, Nick and his younger sister Katy, become embroiled in an outrageous attempt to save both their family name and British way of life. They’re caught up in seafaring intrigues in two different centuries forcing them to rely on their wits, grit and skill. The pace—in both centuries– is breathtaking, racing and zigzagging like a rudderless ship tossed in a tempest. Even the most ardent landlubber will be pulled along by the suspense and peril as good battles evil.

Posted by: Eileen

Don’t let this ship sail without you.

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The Other Alice The Story of Alice Liddell and Alice in Wonderland by Christina Björk

The Other AliceWe probably all know the story of Alice in Wonderland and many of us have read the book. But did you know that there was a real Alice who inspired Charles Dodgson to tell her the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and then insisted that he write it down? If you read this intriguing collection of anecdotes, games, puzzles, poetry, historical references and detailed illustrations, you’ll not only learn how this story came to be and why Charles Dodgson used another name, Lewis Carroll, on the published book, you’ll also learn tidbits about children growing up in Victorian England, how to play doublets and the significance of 42. You may even be inspired to read or re-read The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland to see how the facts and nonsense collected in this book contributed to the classic book by Lewis Carroll.

Posted by: Iris

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A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

A Crooked Kind of PerfectI loved this book. It had such wonderful characters and such funny little bits in it. Zoe wanted nothing more than to have a piano and to someday play in Carnegie Hall as a renowned classical pianist. But her father is an odd person who does not handle people and situations well. In fact, he stays home and works on mail order degrees from Living Room University and her mom works full time. So on his way to buy her a piano he gets distracted and overwhelmed and buys her a Perfectone D-60 organ instead. She begins taking lessons and her teacher thinks she is good enough to participate in the Perform-O-Rama. Zoe begins practicing in earnest.

Zoe has other problems besides her parents and her thwarted aspirations. She has lost her best friend, and she feels out of step with the girls in her class. On the other hand, when she plays the piano for music class at school and knows a lot of the old tv theme songs, the boys in her class begin to think she’s pretty cool. In fact, one starts coming over to her house and working with her father on his latest degree which is in baking. Zoe is the kind of kid who makes lemonade when life hands her lemons. Her dad, though strange, is also kind and funny and warm and the boy who takes a liking to her turns out to be a very good friend. Her workaholic mother even makes it to the big competition. This book was touching and funny! It is highly recommended to girls in 5th grade and up and even to those few sensitive boys who will read a book about a girl if it’s a good story!

Posted by: Fran W.

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Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls

Ways to Live ForeverWow. If you are looking for a fantastic read, then I definitely recommend this one. I thought it was going to be similar to Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, but it wasn’t really. The main character and narrator, Sam, is 11 years old and has leukemia. He only has about a year to live and this is his book. His teacher (who teaches him and his friend Felix at Sam’s house three days a week) encourages the boys to write in a journal. Sam takes it a step farther and starts writing a book. He has lists of things including: things he wants to do, things that happen after you die, and more. He also has questions nobody answers like: What does a dead person look like? feel like? This is his story and it is touching and wonderful and sad and moving. I think it presents death in a way that I have never seen done before in a book. This is Nicholls’ first book and I hope to see many more from her.

Posted by: Kate

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Punished by David Lubar

PunishedPlaying tag in the library is never a good idea. Especially if you get caught by Professor Wordsworth. Logan was playing tag in the library with his friend, Benedict, and he did get caught by the Professor who punished him by blowing dust on him from an old book.

Logan doesn’t realize it at first, but after his family, his teacher and his classmates all groan every time he talks, he catches on that he is talking punny and everything he says is a pun. He returns to the library to try to convince the Professor to remove his punishment. But not so easy! There are three tasks that he must complete in a timely fashion before he can stop speaking in puns. The tasks all involve word games that only Logan can do – he can’t get help from anyone.

This is a fun book to read, (you will find yourself groaning at Logan’s puns), and a must read if you enjoy word games!

Posted by: Wendy

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Kangaroo Christine by Guido van Genechten

Kangaroo ChristineWhy would little Kangaroo Christine want to be anywhere in the world except inside her mother’s pouch? It’s warm and cozy and dry, and when Mommy Kangaroo urges Christine to explore the world around her, she doesn’t see any reason to leave her Mommy’s pouch ever. She sees the little monkeys swinging and playing, she sees the little giraffes running across the plains, she sees the little elephants playing in the water, and still Christine is not convinced to leave her very exhausted Mommy, not even for an instant. But then from off in the distance something comes hopping closer and closer – a new friend who asks her to play, and that is all it takes. Her new friend teaches her to jump, and they are off into the world; of course, with Mommy Kangaroo’s gentle reminder “Don’t go too far!”. This is a very warm and very familiar story, especially if you are a mom with young children. The illustrations are wonderful, with lots of color and expression (you can really tell that the Mommy Kangaroo is exhausted). This is one to take home!

Posted by: Mary

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