Fourteen-year-old Dewey Marriss’s summer should never have turned out like this. Instead of spending his days at the beach or fishing, he ends up work...moreFourteen-year-old Dewey Marriss’s summer should never have turned out like this. Instead of spending his days at the beach or fishing, he ends up working non-stop in his family’s bike shop when the U.S.A.’s gasoline production dries up. Dewey’s parents are stranded on the road awaiting government aid to get them fueled up and home, while Dewey and his brother repair the nonstop flood of bikes. The bike shop quickly becomes overrun with customers and then bike parts start disappearing. Are Dewey and his brother becoming sloppy or is there more going on here?
This well-paced book is packed with a fun summertime adventure that the whole family can enjoy. The plot twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing for much of the story. The story is also thought provoking and timely: what would happen if gasoline production were simply to one day cease? (less)
Isabelle Bean hears a buzzing noise during a spelling lesson and is lost in the sound when her teacher calls upon her to answer a question. Her inatte...moreIsabelle Bean hears a buzzing noise during a spelling lesson and is lost in the sound when her teacher calls upon her to answer a question. Her inattention in class is enough to cause Isabelle to be sent to the principal’s office. On her way there, she sees a girl that has sprained her ankle and seeing that the school nurse isn’t in, steps in to help. When she opens the nurse’s closet door to get some first-aid supplies, she falls into another world. This world is different than her own, in that there is a child eating witch on the loose. Isabelle becomes determined to find and stop her. Along the way, Isabelle makes some friends, which she lacks in her world, and learns more about herself, her mother and strength in families. (less)
Mina Edelman believes that she and her family have been reincarnated from the lives of Abraham Lincoln and his family, thus, she is always drawing com...moreMina Edelman believes that she and her family have been reincarnated from the lives of Abraham Lincoln and his family, thus, she is always drawing comparisons between the two. Mina has always lived a relatively comfortable life in the Chicago suburbs with her parents and older sister. Her father owns a furniture store, naturally named Honest Abe’s, and Mina writes a newsletter for it filled with factoids about Lincoln and his family. However, in the summer of 1966, Mina’s idyllic life changes when her father gets involved with the Civil Rights Movement. There are many difficult decisions to be made and hard consequences for everyone.
I really enjoyed this book for many reasons, one of which is learning so much about Abraham Lincoln’s life, wife and furniture. This novel feels authentic to me in that it seemed to have precisely captured a period of time through the lens of a child during a volatile period of time in our Nation’s history. Al Edelman has a few cringe-inducing lines when it comes to African-Americans, but again, I felt them to be inline with his personality and reflective of the times.
This book is definitely for tweens/teens. There are references to puberty and prescription drugs as well as complex adult relationships. (less)
The childhood of Zora Neale Hurston is explored through the eyes of her best friend Carrie in this adventurous novel. Carrie shows us who Zora is and...moreThe childhood of Zora Neale Hurston is explored through the eyes of her best friend Carrie in this adventurous novel. Carrie shows us who Zora is and articulates the Eatonville that shaped Zora’s life. There is a clear understanding of the differences between the African-American and white worlds in which these girls seamlessly pass through. In fact, when a young man’s body shows up by the railroad tracks in Eatonville, these two worlds mesh in unexpected ways.
While I loved the insight into Zora’s life and appreciated the excellent epilogue about Zora never realizing financial success despite being published, I wonder if the intended audience will. I think that the authors did a wonderful job explaining the art of “passing” but wonder if young students would understand it. It is a delicate topic and one that predates the Civil Rights Movement. This would be a wonderful story to pair with a unit on the Harlem Renaissance and a study on its leading figure’s childhoods. It would also mesh well with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor on the elementary level and Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley in the high school. (less)
Four twelve-year-old children from very different backgrounds enter a candy-making contest that changes their lives. The first contestant, Logan Sweet...moreFour twelve-year-old children from very different backgrounds enter a candy-making contest that changes their lives. The first contestant, Logan Sweet, is the son of a famous candymaker and heir to his family’s candymaking empire, but lacks the confidence to become a master confectionary like his father. It also doesn’t help that he has never really left the candy factor since a mysterious occurred when he was 5. The second contestant, Miles O’Leary, is preoccupied with death and the afterlife and thinks that developing a special candy will bring him peace. The third contestant, Daisy Carpenter, appears to be a friendly, cute, fun-loving gal but she lacks a clear motive for wanting to win. Finally, fourth contestant, Philip Ransford III, is determined to win the contest because he just can’t lose.
All four contestants convene at the Life is Sweet candy factory to begin to develop their winning recipes, while learning about special candy-making techniques that just may give them the edge they need to win. As the day goes by, the contestant’s secret desires and pasts come to light in unexpected ways. But life isn’t sweet because there are spies among them looking to steal Logan’s family’s trade secret. This is a nicely paced story with a sweet ending.
I love Allie Finkle. If she were real, I’d want her as my best friend. In this sixth novel, Allie is trying to prove that she is responsible enough to...moreI love Allie Finkle. If she were real, I’d want her as my best friend. In this sixth novel, Allie is trying to prove that she is responsible enough to have a cell phone, even though her parents have told her not until she’s 16. The blast from the past develops when Allie finds out that she will see her ex-best friend, Mary Kay, on an upcoming field trip that neither one will ever forget. The trip is to a local living history museum. Allie has been looking forward to the trip ever since she found out about it. The day before the trip, her beloved cat gets stuck in the wall of her house while it is undergoing renovation and Allie no longer wants to go on the trip. Her mother makes her go anyway. How awful then for her to have gotten onto the bus that morning, only to have her problems compounded by being made fun of by the bullies from her previous school. As much as Allie can deal with the taunts, she draws the line when the bullies start picking on one of her classmates. Allie stands up for herself and others and always does the right thing, whether she wants to or not. In an unexpected turn of events, Allie stands by Mary Kay when everyone else turned their backs to her. In my opinion, she rules! (less)
Happenstance, Lord Umber and Oates must leave their peaceful land of Kurahaven to embark on two very dangerous missions. The first is to save Casper,...moreHappenstance, Lord Umber and Oates must leave their peaceful land of Kurahaven to embark on two very dangerous missions. The first is to save Casper, Lord Umber’s devious former assistant, from a terrible fate and the second is to rescue ill-gotten dragon eggs from the clutches of an oppressive kingdom. Along the way, Happenstance (Hap) discovers more about himself and the mysterious powers that he possesses. This action-packed, fast moving story is lavishly detailed and full of unexpected plot twists. It stands on its own; however, it is so good that I wouldn’t want to miss out on the first book: Happenstance Found. (less)
Ben has the unfortunate luck of being late to class and stumbling upon the school’s janitor at the same time. The janitor is in dire pain and Ben trie...moreBen has the unfortunate luck of being late to class and stumbling upon the school’s janitor at the same time. The janitor is in dire pain and Ben tries to help. The janitor seems to know that he’s not going to make it and passes a mysterious gold coin to Ben. He makes Ben promise to guard the coin and thereby guard the school against any threats or attacks from people seeking to destroy it. Ben’s already dealing with his own issues, namely that his parents have just separated and some ultra competitive kids at school. This is the last thing that he needs. He doesn’t take his new responsibility seriously until things start to happen to make him change his mind.
This is a quick, well-paced, action fueled read. It will especially appeal to reluctant readers and boys. (less)
Duck and Cover! Franny Chapman is going through a rough patch in her young life that mimics the turmoil of 1962. Her sister has gotten involved in a m...moreDuck and Cover! Franny Chapman is going through a rough patch in her young life that mimics the turmoil of 1962. Her sister has gotten involved in a mysterious freedom-fighting movement, her best friend hates her, her mother doesn’t understand her, her uncle’s crazy, she has a crush and the bomb might drop at any time. Set squarely during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Countdown gives the reader a realistic glimpse of what the 1960’s were like. Ample information is given on President and Mrs. Kennedy along with informative and often very humorous news quotes and advertisements. Primary source documentation is seamlessly woven into the text and makes the story so much richer for it. Franny is a loveable character and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment of the Sixties Trilogy. (less)
Three orphaned siblings (Kate, Michael, Emma) have been bounced around from one orphanage to the next since their parents abandoned them ten years pri...moreThree orphaned siblings (Kate, Michael, Emma) have been bounced around from one orphanage to the next since their parents abandoned them ten years prior. Finally, they arrive at an orphanage surrounded by darkness and fog that no one has ever seemed to have heard of. There is a door, a doctor, a grouchy housekeeper and a book that leads them back and forth through time. Will they finally find the parents that they have desperately been seeking or will the mystery surrounding their quick disappearance just deepen?
I'm looking forward to the next installment. Jim Dale's narration was wonderful in this tightly written, smart fantasy. (less)