Young Max starling has grown up with his theatrical parents- the larger than life Owners and Stars of Starling Theatrical Company and Theater. They ar...moreYoung 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. (less)
Lots of concepts are described here in an accessible way. The narrative depicts the Russian experiment on foxes that examined the genetic changes that...moreLots of concepts are described here in an accessible way. The narrative depicts the Russian experiment on foxes that examined the genetic changes that occur in domestication. The structure of experiments is depicted, the changes- how they are selected and how they occur along with the outcomes are well explained. Some canine behaviors and communication tactics are shown. All in all, really well done description of a fascinating study that can be applied to general science literacy as well as interesting for those who are fans of dogs and foxes. (less)
A story of friendship, acceptance and courage with the grand point that greed, entitlement and excess are not sustainable. Oscar works as a magician's...moreA story of friendship, acceptance and courage with the grand point that greed, entitlement and excess are not sustainable. Oscar works as a magician's hand- in this case Oscar is to harvest and process plants for potions and keep the shop well stocked and in order. This fills his days. All is upset when lust for power kills the magician's apprentice and greed lures that magician away to another city. Alone to mind the store Oscar is overwhelmed with the task until the Healer's apprentice takes matters in hand. Oscar's integrity and generous spirit carry the story as he an Callie, the young healer face the crisis caused by the magicians who gathered wealth and power making magical trinkets for the wealthy residents of the City. When the true cost comes due it is up to the youngsters to muster the means and courage to settle the debt. (less)
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 an...moreWacky, 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.(less)
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. In...moreThis 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. (less)
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 w...moreWillow 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? (less)
One swiftly realizes that Ms Graff is weaving a tale that will wrap up at the end. Our young main character is an orphan in a land of people with odd...moreOne swiftly realizes that Ms Graff is weaving a tale that will wrap up at the end. Our young main character is an orphan in a land of people with odd talents. Hers? From a tender age she could divine and make the perfect cake for a person. She lives with a loving lady who runs an orphanage who can tell immediately the perfect family for a orphan- she has come to love her young charge for whom no family has appeared. Until now. Crisis all around as various characters and plots interweave in a tangle that only Ms. Graff can sort out for a tasty ending. Recipes throughout. (less)
Timeless. Nikki's art is lovely. Cats are lovely. Sure to be a treasured title in homes as children and families turn the pages recognizing their own...moreTimeless. Nikki's art is lovely. Cats are lovely. Sure to be a treasured title in homes as children and families turn the pages recognizing their own pet. (less)
An engaging and accessible telling of Little Rock Arkansas 1958, a pivotal year in integrating the schools there. This is the story of a young girls...more An engaging and accessible telling of Little Rock Arkansas 1958, a pivotal year in integrating the schools there. This is the story of a young girls finding her voice as she comes to grips with a changing society.(less)