An adventure in the vein of a comedy of errors as Hilary Westfield, aspiring pirate, has no desire to go to finishing school. Rebuffed by the Very Nea...moreAn adventure in the vein of a comedy of errors as Hilary Westfield, aspiring pirate, has no desire to go to finishing school. Rebuffed by the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates because she is a girl, Hilary is determined to find her own way to sea alongside an enchanted stone gargoyle from her home. It's too bad her father, Admiral Westfield, has plans other than piracy for his daughter. More troublesome for Hilary is that her hard to escape governess does as well.(less)
Just in time for the Fourth of July comes a new middle grade mystery from author Kate Messner. Anna, José and Henry are three strangers stuck at a spe...moreJust in time for the Fourth of July comes a new middle grade mystery from author Kate Messner. Anna, José and Henry are three strangers stuck at a special function at the National Museum of American History. Anna’s itching to get an interview for the school paper, but the senator she wishes to interview is too busy for a school girl’s project. José’s hoping his mother will be spending time at home after months involved in restoring the flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner for the museum. Henry’s stuck with his aunt for February break while his dad’s off on his honeymoon. None of them are very happy to be sharing a bench at the event, but little do they know what is happening behind the scenes.
The next day, the three children cross paths again when they are snowed in at a Washington airport. While holed up inside news come across that the Star Spangled Banner flag was stolen from the museum following the reception the night before. Anna, José and Henry get tangled up in hunting for the flag at the airport. Who of their fellow travels could be responsible? How would anything that big be smuggled into an airport? Does the tattooed man at the café who hurried off have anything to do with its disappearance?
The police investigating the theft are focusing on the international orchestra that played at the museum the day before while Senator Snickerbottom, presidential candidate, makes promises to track down those responsible for the flag’s disappearance. Anna doesn’t believe that the orchestra players are guilty for an instance, especially not the parents of young Sinan, a boy with a rambunctious poodle. When the poodle is taken away, it inadvertently leads all four children into danger and discovery.
This is fast paced adventure also has a secret society that Anna is dying to help with and Henry knows nothing about. Our three main characters are all related to historical creators, which adds another layer to the fun. The copy I read was an arc won from an author giveaway.
On the Same Shelf: The 39 Clues Series We the Children by Andrew Clements For Older Readers: Storm Runners by Roland Smith (less)
Change is a word that can describe many things in Jaden Megg's summer. For the first time she's basically out of contact with her mom, who is doing vo...moreChange is a word that can describe many things in Jaden Megg's summer. For the first time she's basically out of contact with her mom, who is doing volcano research while Jaden's living with her dad for the first time in four years. Jaden's meeting her half-sister and stepmother in person for the first time after several years of video chats. Her father has recently returned from his weather experiments and research in Russia to work near Placid Meadows, his company's StormSafe community.
Spending the summer in Oklahoma is nothing like the Northeastern US where Jaden's grown up. There are massive storm shelters every fifteen minutes of driving in Oklahoma to provide havens when the tornadoes hit. Storms are worse around the globe with the increase in temperature, but Oklahoma is particularly bad. Jaden and her dad are nearly caught out in a tornado.
When the first storm come while Jaden is inside Placid Meadows, she's floored by what doesn't happen. The storm doesn't plow through the community. It goes around. She learns that the storms never touch Placid Meadows. One of her new friends tells her it is in the contract that the storms never will hit there. Jaden doesn't understand how such a promise can be given.
Change doesn't apply just to Jaden's family life, place of residence or her exposure to storms. She's participating in Eye on Tomorrow, a brilliant summer camp for gifted students. The campers are able to choose from different lines of scientific study and have access to simulation technology, well equipped labs and more are part of their summer study. Jaden's interests lie in storm dissipation as do those of Alex, a local boy in his second year at Eye of Tomorrow. Alex's family is one of the few still holding out on the farms near Placid Meadows, farms that have faced increasing weather damage that year. For the first time, Jaden faces criticism because of who her father is. As the two teens work together, their research into dissipation is thwarted again and again in simulation though Alex is confident in their calculations. They discover there is more to these storms than simple weather.
Eye of the Storm is a gripping near future science fiction story filled with suspense. I think both middle grade and young adult readers would enjoy Kate Messner's work. There are twists and turns to keep the reader guessing what is going on as well as who Jaden can trust. Readers can compare the places and things Jaden encounters in 2050 with those we experience today. I especially enjoyed the character dynamics between Jaden and Alex. The librarian at Eye of Tomorrow was my favorite minor character.(less)
When Zita's curiosity gets the better of her, her friend Joseph is the one to pay the price. The two children were investigating a crater when they fo...moreWhen Zita's curiosity gets the better of her, her friend Joseph is the one to pay the price. The two children were investigating a crater when they found a strange device with a large red button. When Zia activates the device, a portal appears and Joseph is whisked away. Zita soon follows, but she can do nothing as Joseph is taken away by a tentacled alien. Trying to find her friend, Zita is rebuffed again and again, ending up in a shady, downtrodden part of the city. That's where she meets Piper, whose music has a bit of magic. He also has a talent for the mechanical. He agrees to help fix the portal device so long as he gets to leave the planet when they go to rescue Joseph from the Scriptorians, who plan to sacrifice him.
Zita meets an interesting array of people, aliens and robots in this imaginative story where the small take on the big and menacing. Danger is all around with the menace of Scriptorians and their robots as well as from an asteroid en route to destroy the planet. Not everything that looks dangerous is a danger and not everything that looks safe means Zita no harm.
I love Zita's adventuresome spirit and the lengths she goes to try and rescue her friend. As a flute player and a fantasy lover, I was pretty much sold at Piper's first appearance. This graphic novel is one I will share with readers who still believe anything is possible.(less)
I ordered this book for my school library because it looked like a good adventure story to pitch at the many fans of 39 Clues in third and fourth grad...moreI ordered this book for my school library because it looked like a good adventure story to pitch at the many fans of 39 Clues in third and fourth grade that was a contemporary story and not a fantasy. I was not disappointed in that regard. It was an extra bonus to discover part of this book was set in Wisconsin. It is not often that I come across books set in my school's state that are not prairie stories. Even more exciting was that the book's climactic sequence takes place at the House on the Rock, a very unique place that I first visited last year. (http://www.thehouseontherock.com/) That there was a sentence mention of the town my school is in made pitching this story to my students that much more fun.
In this first book of the series, twins Coke and Pep McDonald are days away from becoming teenagers when they discover they're part of a secret project known as the Genius Files after a golf cart tries to run them down on the way home from school and they're forced to jump off a cliff to survive. The next day they are locked into a classroom while a fire starts to take the school. With unexpected aid they are able to survive, but the dangerous people after them pursue them on their summer vacation. While their mom drags them into a series of museums and monuments to oddities, Coke and Pepsi have to figure out how to evade pursuit while not telling their parents what is truly going on. Stops along the way include the Spam museum and the largest ball of twine. Google Map information is included so readers can track the McDonald family as they journey across the United States.
This is a fast paced book. Both the villains and the twins are shown to be dogged and resourceful. Both sides make mistakes which adds to the readability in my opinion. The parents are oblivious to what's going on and reacting only to what they see, such as Coke and Pep's driving escapade.
When I had a question about one of the Wisconsin museums mentioned, I emailed Dan Gutman and had a response by the next morning. I was very impressed and am excited to read the second book in this series when it is available.(less)
Ben Pratt was worried about Ms. Wilson, his homeroom teacher, busting him for being late. At least, that's what he was worried about until he found Mr...moreBen Pratt was worried about Ms. Wilson, his homeroom teacher, busting him for being late. At least, that's what he was worried about until he found Mr. Keane, the janitor, in distress. Before the ambulance arrived to take Mr. Keane to the ambulance, the janitor forced Ben to take a coin that had been protected by a long line of janitors at Oakes School. The back of the coin had this message: "First & always my school belongs to the children. Defend it. 1783." Mr. Keane also warned Ben that he had told Lyman, the new assistant janitor too much.
Oakes School was purchased by a company planning to turn the area into an amusement park. Unsure what to do about the coin, Ben asked his friend Jill for information about Duncan Oakes, the captain who started the school and who had a strange grave built for himself in the middle of what is now the school playground. Mr. Keane's sudden death made Ben all the more determined to figure out what was going on. Trying to keep ahead of the ever suspicious Lyman while searching for clues around the school with Jill became harder other distractions, such as his parents' separation and a boat race against bully Robert, get in the way.
This was a fun adventure story to read. Not much is resolved at the end of the book, which does make this a good stand-alone read. I'm curious to see what happens in the second book.(less)