The book opens with Jack's mother's funeral. The deal is, there is no body- just Mom's car sailing off a cliff into the ocean with nobody in it. A notThe book opens with Jack's mother's funeral. The deal is, there is no body- just Mom's car sailing off a cliff into the ocean with nobody in it. A note is found but Jack knows, his mom would not leave him like that. Enter grim, oh, let's just say it, evil Aunt Edith. She is taking custody of Jack and hauling him up to San Francisco. Once there Jack teams up with Hitch (Alfred Hitchcock's alter ego) to solve the mystery of what happened to Mom and when she disappears, Aunt Edith as well. Mr. Averbeck evokes the feel of post war San Francisco as twists, turns crosses,and double crosses seem to thwart the clever duo's efforts to untangle the layers of the plot hatched by nefarious villains determined to capture ill-gotten gain. ...more
Set just on the cusp between gaslight and electricity there is a glow and a slightly slowed pace in the story of this particular Alice's adventures.
LiSet just on the cusp between gaslight and electricity there is a glow and a slightly slowed pace in the story of this particular Alice's adventures.
Living with just her father since her mom passed away, Alice is a rule follower, except when she doesn't follow rules. For example the night she has stayed up past her bedtime to do her homework. (Real rebel, huh?) This means she is awake when her father arrives home late from work. She misses him, so she decides to go downstairs and greet him, after all she has that good homework excuse for being awake. She is stopped short when she hears that Father is not alone. She knows eavesdropping is certainly against some rule, but.... When she creeps to the crack in the door she is in for a new surprise. Father is conversing with a fairy- not just any fairy, a nasty, threatening fairy. Yeeks, Alice creeps back to her bedroom.
In the morning when Alice would have asked about the visitor, she finds Father preparing for a sea voyage. Alice is to wait for his return at home. Within days news of a storm that has swallowed the steamer Gideon and her father along with it arrives. Alice is bundled off to an unknown uncle who lives in a gothic mansion with a mysterious forbidden library on the grounds.
Alice knows she is caught in circumstances she cannot resist and now her efforts are to come to understand what is going on with her father, this strange house, and more to the point what about that library?
When she meets a talking cat (can this be any stranger than that nasty fairy?) he shows her how to enter the library. Once in she is literally captured by the magic of the place and finds herself inside a book and hunted by the perilous creatures within.
This kicks off Alice's magical adventures in the Forbidden Library. With twists, turns, crosses, and double crosses we learn right along with Alice that this is not just a perilous life she has been tossed into but one in which every-single-person-she-knows has an agenda that excludes caring one bit about her. It seems to me as each challenge emerges that Alice's principles and courage are her one constant ally.
Book 2 should arrive soon. I am looking forward to it. ...more
Spot on portraying the casual cruelty that children vying for social position exert. Both boys and girls; Apple bears the brunt of the social machine.Spot on portraying the casual cruelty that children vying for social position exert. Both boys and girls; Apple bears the brunt of the social machine. Thankfully she has Evan, a truly nice, even tempered boy in her class who sees a nice girl for what she is; a friend and who proves himself to be a friend time and again. ...more
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