With deceptively simple prose Michael Hall crafts a picture book that perfectly describes otherness and inclusion in a way that perhaps everyone can iWith deceptively simple prose Michael Hall crafts a picture book that perfectly describes otherness and inclusion in a way that perhaps everyone can identify with in one way or anther. The galley flew from hand to hand as we marveled at its brilliance. Destined to be a classic. ...more
This is a sweet family/small town mystery. Ms Frederick has smoothly addressed a slew of issues in the book; bullying, military life, aftermath of lifThis is a sweet family/small town mystery. Ms Frederick has smoothly addressed a slew of issues in the book; bullying, military life, aftermath of life changing injury, survivor guilt, grief, moving, running small businesses, being new in town, the joys of birding, being different, and a fun mystery...
In the voice of 12 year old Truly (family name, don't ask) we get a window on unexpectedly moving into Dad's tiny hometown of Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire. Originally the plan was for Dad to retire from the military and coach wresting in Mom's native Texas. Just before his release there was an explosion killing Dad's lifelong friend and taking Dad's arm. Now Dad has pridefully rejected the wresting job and reluctantly taken over his parent's family book store.
A mystery that emerges from the pages of a first edition, signed copy of Charlotte's Web leads Truly to find friends and a place in her new town. ...more
Poignant and amazingly transparent memoir in graphical form that tells us about Cece Bell coming to grips with deafness, a wonky hearing aid and findiPoignant and amazingly transparent memoir in graphical form that tells us about Cece Bell coming to grips with deafness, a wonky hearing aid and finding true friends. I think there is something here for everyone. ...more
Super stylish heist story. March has grown up with his dad Alphie McQuin international jewel thief extraordinaire. He has learned the mental disciplinSuper stylish heist story. March has grown up with his dad Alphie McQuin international jewel thief extraordinaire. He has learned the mental discipline, the axioms, the cons and switches that are the tools of Alphie's trade. Jules, on the other hand has grown up with Blue. She is an accomplished aerial artist. Swinging and sliding on stretches of silk, flying across rooms and pitches throughout Europe in guerrilla circus performances. Both live one step ahead of the police. Fate conspires that the two meet, discover their past, plot their future and learn to trust in a newly forged family. Along the way, they con, cat burgle, bait and switch themselves into a new life that they control and direct; all before their 13th birthday. Altogether fun and satisfying. I hope the story continues. These kids have some scores to settle. ...more
A sequel to Mister Max Book of Secrets. Max finds peril in one of his jobs, gets a cryptic letter from his missing parents and learns that even a smarA sequel to Mister Max Book of Secrets. Max finds peril in one of his jobs, gets a cryptic letter from his missing parents and learns that even a smart independent 12 year old needs friends, family and confidants. Heartwarming. I am looking forward to the next installment....more
Young Max starling has grown up with his theatrical parents- the larger than life Owners and Stars of Starling Theatrical Company and Theater. They arYoung Max starling has grown up with his theatrical parents- the larger than life Owners and Stars of Starling Theatrical Company and Theater. They are charismatic and fascinating to Max. He is a strapping 12 year old who is raised to be an independent soul- His father says, "After 12 years a boys parents have done all they can. He's ready to be independent!" To this reader the comment seems a bit self-serving and it seems Max would like a bit more parenting and a bit less independence, still he adores his father and mother. The story gets going rapidly with the Starling parents setting sail with the tide and Max standing forlornly at the harbor having well and truly missed the boat. This establishes the first lost things, William and Mary Starling who have left on an unknown boat to an unknown port. Thankfully Grammie lives across the back yard from Max and the two provide mutual comfort and support in solving the predicament of Max's wandering parents. After the initial shock and mystery the story sags a bit until Max finds his stride- after all his father has raised an independent boy. Grammie can give him lessons, she has the skills. They hire a math tutor and Max's painting lessons continue. Money is a problem though, and it is hard for a 12 year old to find work. All seems too hard when Max stumbles upon his true skill, he is a student of human nature (as actors are)and Max uses this understanding to find things and is rewarded for it! As Max is presented with and solves many minor mysteries the greater one, where are his parents? why did the boat leave early? how could they leave him?... all percolate and niggle through the story which finds a satisfying interim conclusion while posing intriguing questions for the next installment. ...more
Slight spoiler in notes here: Derek narrates this story of the last year of elementary school. Budgie used to Derek's friend- now he is is nemesis! YesSlight spoiler in notes here: Derek narrates this story of the last year of elementary school. Budgie used to Derek's friend- now he is is nemesis! Yes really Budgie is either very mean or just less mean to Derek. We find the lame reason reason toward the end of the book, and it explains a certain strand of bullying, but does not excuse it. Derek is a truly nice kid. His mom is a sweet lady; dad comes off as awesome but- he is deployed in Afghanistan flying a helicopter on missions. His little family misses and needs him badly. This is one of those books where the dad dies so shock and grief are here but ultimately this is a book about bullying and a kid facing it basically alone without the support of school or family. ...more
Wacky, wonderful and witty. A reserved scholar is in a shipwreck floating when he spies a bobbing cello case with a baby in it. He rescues the baby anWacky, wonderful and witty. A reserved scholar is in a shipwreck floating when he spies a bobbing cello case with a baby in it. He rescues the baby and when he gets home to England takes her into his care. He is loving, respectful and an altogether charming caregiver for young Sophie. Their life is quite lovely as she grows and is marred only by brief visits by Child Welfare (or some such). We would love that they were merely wrongheaded but I suspect their agent is actually mean and nasty. When it is obvious that Sophie will be taken from Charles and placed in an orphanage Sophie and Charles make a dash for the continent to search against odds for Sophie's mother. Following the only lead they have- the maker of the cello case - Charles and Sophie start their search. When Sophie climbs through her skylight to her hotel roof a whole new society is revealed- Rooftoppers - nocturnal orphans who escape the orphanages and workhouses on the roofs. Working night and day on the pavement with Charles and at night on the roofs, Sophie races time in a search based on the merest possible....more
This is a challenging story to describe. I found it charming - the story Ms Lloyd tells is engaging still there are also bits that we wonder about. InThis is a challenging story to describe. I found it charming - the story Ms Lloyd tells is engaging still there are also bits that we wonder about. In a nutshell- Felicity's little family (Felicity, Franny and Mama) has been on the move for years. The moves are so abrupt that the girls keep their essentials with them all the time. Felicity is truly tired of moving and wants more than anything to stay when the little family rolls into Midnight Gulch where Mama grew up and is planning to spend some time with her sister Cleo. The thing is, Midnight Gulch is an extraspecial place- a place that used to have a Snicker of Magic in all its residents. All different kinds of magic; surprising and funny abilities. This faded away when there was a feud among brothers and a curse was invoked.
Felicity's snicker of magic is to see and collect words, when she teams up with Jonah whose know-how is to fix problems the intrepid duo decide to take on the curse that cast a pall on their town and lives.
The characters are sweet and their interactions are fond. The kind of fond that springs up when generations of families know each other. The descriptions are frequently, for lack of a better word, tasty as Felicity and Jonah savor words and their meanings when they talk to each other and work out this knotty problem that is plaguing the Gulch.
Words are coined, phrases are turned and a story is spun as Felicity does her best to find a home. ...more
Realistic fiction. Lucy and her parents are moving into a house yet again- her father, a famous photographer picks new homes for the family frequentlyRealistic fiction. Lucy and her parents are moving into a house yet again- her father, a famous photographer picks new homes for the family frequently. He moves whenever he tires of the scenery. Lucy is not gregarious and charming like Dad and suffers with each move as she navigates new schools and neighborhoods all too often. Adding to her discomfort is the certain knowledge that with each move is a new job for Dad 'on location'- meaning out of town meaning that Mom and Lucy will settle in on their own. Arriving during summer in a lake community Lucy finds friends in the cabin next door. When she finds out that there is a photo contest, she wants to enter- but it is complicated- her dad is the judge. So she uses the neighbor's name. Inevitable problems ensue. A story of friendship and family that focuses on narrow subject matter; the questions that readers have about motivations, peripheral characters and situations are ignored leaving- at least me- a bit unsettled....more
Ultimately satisfying. The book opens with a young, kind of childish Will who has spent his youth in his father's castle committing hijinks and pranksUltimately satisfying. The book opens with a young, kind of childish Will who has spent his youth in his father's castle committing hijinks and pranks. Now his father is off with King Richard in the crusade which leaves England at the mercy of brutish thugs who want to grasp the unguarded throne and knights castles. Will must flee as Guy of Gisborne takes over his castle and lands. On the road he is injured and extremely reluctantly nursed by the Merry Men, a band of thieves who ply part of the wilds of Sherwood Forest. The Merry Men are actually grim, led by the cruel Gilbert. If Will is to survive he must sharpen his wits and grow up. As he travels with the Men he starts to see how the farmers suffer with the royal system. He sees his father's serfs suffering and realizes that they are, in his father's absence, his! These revelations and the view of the effect of war on a country; the effect of poverty, and the many ethical and interpersonal dilemmas Will faces make this a worthy book to read and ponder.
Willow Chance is a self admitted oddity, she knows she is 'different'. She was a baby 'of color' (her words) adopted by an adoring couple who are so wWillow Chance is a self admitted oddity, she knows she is 'different'. She was a baby 'of color' (her words) adopted by an adoring couple who are so white she comments that they are kind of blue. They are a warm, loving, accepting family that has carved a happy life in their little corner of Bakersfield. When Willow enters middle school - a flawed experiment if there ever was one- she is accused of cheating on a standardized test and is sent to the district counselor. This lands her in small office of the heretofore lackadaisical Dell Duke. Willow upends Dell's world view and over the course of a few sessions she really gets under his skin, he knows she is no cheater, but what is she? While waiting for her appointments with Dell, Willow and a Vietnamese girl named Mai strike up an acquaintance. Their friendship is enhanced by Willow's efforts to learn Vietnamese. Willow is good with languages, she already knows Spanish. While on an ice cream outing (regulations kicked to the curb) with Dell, Mai and Mai's brother Quang-ha, Willow's world explodes with the news that Mom and Dad have died instantly in a car wreck. Mai takes things in hand, she claims long family friendship and brings Willow home to protect her (ironically enough) from Child Protective Services. As Willow's life swirls in a maelstrom of grief the individuals she interacts with are forever changed by her frank, analytical and perceptive view. Even while processing the loss of her family (for the second time, "how many people lose their parents twice?" she asks.) her wacky ability to understand and accept what is going on with people and what needs to be done profoundly impacts the lives around her in beautiful ways. A sweet and hopeful story that defies comparison. I am looking around- who can I hand this beauty of a book to? ...more
I am an unabashed fan of Mr. Kirby's writing. The Lost Kingdom starts slower than his other other books with the formal voice of young Billy Bartram sI am an unabashed fan of Mr. Kirby's writing. The Lost Kingdom starts slower than his other other books with the formal voice of young Billy Bartram son of a noted botanist and colleague of Ben Franklin. They are members of the secret American Philosophical Society, a group dedicated to the unity and preservation of the colonies. The society has decided on the eve of war with France that the legendary Kingdom of the Modoc must be found and enlisted to help the colonists against the French. To this end a Flying Ship is constructed, this steampunk marvel swiftly carries a group of scientists and visionaries on the quest for the Modoc. Once the ship takes off, so does the story. We are carried on an exciting quest as Billy comes of age facing prejudice, duplicity, family love, disappointment, violence, friendship and war. The Lost Kingdom is an adventure story that addresses the grand themes of humanity. ...more