Reread December 8, 2013--While I still whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment from 2009, I just read the book again for my...moreNeil Gaiman is AWESOME!
Reread December 8, 2013--While I still whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment from 2009, I just read the book again for my student book club. If you want a longer review, go to Gator Book Chomp.(less)
This biography of Eleanor Roosevelt chronicles her life from her unhappy childhood to her marriage which became unhappy because of the interference of...moreThis biography of Eleanor Roosevelt chronicles her life from her unhappy childhood to her marriage which became unhappy because of the interference of her mother-in-law through her years as a public figure. The book is organized thematically and only loosely chronologically. Fleming suggests Eleanor Roosevelt connected better with the public and her friends than she did with her own family. Fleming paints an objective portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt, praising her virtues and triumphs without glossing over her shortcomings. The result is a real person with real flaws who tried to do what she thought best for the world. The thematic organization sometimes complicates the timeline of Roosevelt’s life, but the style also creates a vivid portrait of the subject. Chapters are divided into short subsections. The book is illustrated with photographs and reproductions of important documents. The book contains source notes and an index. (less)
I was reluctant to read this book, but I'm glad I finally did. This is the first offering from a new series by the author of the Gallagher Girls books...moreI was reluctant to read this book, but I'm glad I finally did. This is the first offering from a new series by the author of the Gallagher Girls books (I'd Tell You I Love You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You). This book is more mature in subject matter and themes than Carter's other series, and the plot takes a twist half-way through that adds extra depth to the story.
Kat is a fifteen year-old girl who wants to quit the family business. The only problem is she comes from a long line of illustrious thieves who don't want her to go "straight." Kat has faked her way into an impressive American boarding school, but someone has framed her for a destructive prank on campus. When she is expelled, she learns that a long-time friend, wanna-be thief, and potential love interest, Hale, framed her because he has a message for Kat from Uncle Eddie.
This message sends Kat and Hale on a globe crossing adventure to save her father, who has been falsley accused of stealing some valuable paintings from a very bad guy. As Kat discovers the truth about the stolen paintings, she begins to discover herself and maybe a new mission for her life. She isn't a thief, but she isn't cut out for the "straight" life either.
This book is one part spy novel, one part mystery, and one part heist, but the relationships are at its core making it a thrilling adventure with heart and depth.(less)
America is in the midst of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, and Turtle's mom just got a new job as a maid. Unfortunately, her new boss doesn't...moreAmerica is in the midst of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, and Turtle's mom just got a new job as a maid. Unfortunately, her new boss doesn't like children, so Turtle has to leave New Jersey to live with relatives in Key West. To make matters worse, her aunt and cousins are not happy to see her because they are struggling financially, too.
The boys won't let her join the Diaper Gang (no girls allowed), but Turtle is determined to prove she's just as clever and tough as any boy. She'll also discover some truths about the past and her family that will change the way she sees herself.
Like Penny From Heaven, Turtle in Paradise is filled with quirky but believable characters and bizarre but believable events. One of the things I found most interesting about this book is the way Holm reveals mysteries and presents information that the reader can easily comprehend but to which Turtle remains oblivious. For example, Turtle has no idea who her biological father is, but the answer is quite obvious to the reader from fairly early in the book. It's an interesting choice, and I felt a little frustrated that Turtle still didn't know the truth at the end of the story. Holm has created a character who is believable and sympathetic, and I wanted her to get the big revelation at the end. Maybe there will be a sequel? (Grades 4-7)(less)
Vivian and her pack have the gift of transformation. During the day they appear to be human, but at night they can morph into a creature like a wolf,...moreVivian and her pack have the gift of transformation. During the day they appear to be human, but at night they can morph into a creature like a wolf, only more powerful. After one of the pack kills a human, the family business is burned down. The fire kills her father, the pack leader, and they all move temporarily to the suburbs. Everyone expects Vivian to connect with one of The Five, a group of males her own age, but Vivian feels an intense attraction to Aiden, a human boy. Aiden feels drawn to Vivian as well, but he doesn’t know the truth about her. Meanwhile, the males of the pack fight in an ordeal to determine a new leader of the pack. The winner is Gabriel, who is twenty four, attractive, and aggressive. Despite his attentions to her, Vivian doesn’t like him. While all this is happening, someone is the pack is committing violent murders, and Vivian is convinced she is the killer, though she has no memory of the killings.
This novel is a modern fantasy with a contemporary setting and contemporary issues. Vivian’s wolf-like perspective is different and interesting. Her view of the world is animalistic, focusing on food, mating, and pack concerns. She wants to be different, but she can’t really understand how the humans interact. She uses her self-confidence and sexuality to win Aiden, but she is frustrated with what she perceives as timidity. The essential conflict of the book is Vivian’s struggle with her own nature. She feels repulsed and attracted by the aggression and wolfish playfulness of her pack mates. She questions herself and her own nature. Is she a killer, an animal who can’t control her own impulses?(less)
This is Rodman Philbrick's latest book, and it is the story of Homer Figg whose parents are dead and whose brother has been sold into the Union army b...moreThis is Rodman Philbrick's latest book, and it is the story of Homer Figg whose parents are dead and whose brother has been sold into the Union army by his evil Uncle Squint. This book has a very lighthearted tone and has a fantastic adventure feeling. Homer runs away from his uncle's farm in Pine Swamp, Maine, to search for his older brother. Along the way, he meets many crazy characters and has outlandish adventures. He finally finds his brother, but Harold is not the perfect hero Homer always imagined him to be. Regardless of their character flaws, the Figg boys joing the battle of Gettysburg and help the Union win. This book is funny and outlandish, but the battle section is intense and as realistic as possible in a book for children (grades 5-7). This book uses some sophisticated language, but the chapters are short, and Homer's adventures can be easily chunked. This is a great book for establishing setting during the Civil War era and the Battle of Gettysburg. Additionally, despite his many setbacks, Homer maintains a positive attitude and perseveres in his goals(less)
Analysis: This modern fantasy novel’s greatest strength is the change in the characters. While they aren’t bad in the beginning, they are immature and...moreAnalysis: This modern fantasy novel’s greatest strength is the change in the characters. While they aren’t bad in the beginning, they are immature and a bit selfish, not at all concerned with the welfare of others, even the mother. They are just happy to be on their own. As the story progresses and Rosoff presents the children and the reader with some of the horrifying effects of war, we see them slowly change into more compassionate people. At the beginning of the story, Daisy is mainly concerned with her own unhappiness with her stepmother and her father’s indifference. She has even become anorexic to annoy and frustrate her step-mother. When the government institutes rationing, Daisy doesn’t mind because it makes it easier not to eat; however, when she and Piper are hiding in the forest during their journey home, living on what they can find, she finally realizes she has been starving all along for love and for food. This revelation helps her overcome the disorder. She also describes her feelings for Edmund as starvation and hunger. It is the powerful relationship with Edmund that teaches Daisy compassion. Even though the characters are separated for about two thirds of the book, the connection is so strong they can sense each other across the miles. All the cousins have telepathic ability and seem to be more fragile than Daisy. As the story progresses, she forgets herself and begins to take responsibility for protecting them. Rosoff uses Daisy to illustrate the callousness of human nature when presented with the suffering of others. Like Daisy, many people aren’t concerned with a problem if it doesn’t directly affect them. By the end of the book, Daisy understands the suffering of war and takes her place among her cousins as a protector. Most of the characters are helpful and considerate, making the best of a bad situation, but the occupying army knows they will most likely be killed eventually and the soldiers have no fear of death. Rosoff shows the effects of wars fought by suicide bombers and people with nothing to live for. The book has some elements of fantasy (telepathic ability and an alternate reality embroiled in WWIII), but Rosoff’s descriptions are graphic and intensely realistic. It is not hard to imagine the world in a similar state. (less)
I just love these books. It is hilarious and heartbreaking watching DJ try to figure out life. Plus, you'll finally find out what Dairy Queen really m...moreI just love these books. It is hilarious and heartbreaking watching DJ try to figure out life. Plus, you'll finally find out what Dairy Queen really means!(less)
Summary: When Jameela’s Mor (mother) dies, she is left alone with her father, an impulsive and frightening man who does not share the same devotion to...moreSummary: When Jameela’s Mor (mother) dies, she is left alone with her father, an impulsive and frightening man who does not share the same devotion to his faith that Jameela does. Shortly after her mother’s death, Baba moves them to Kabul where he eventually marries a cruel woman who forces Baba to abandon Jameela on an unfamiliar street. She ends up in an orphanage where she overcomes some of her meekness and timidity before she finally comes into contact with her father and stepmother again, and this time she has the courage to stand up to them. (Grades 5-8) Analysis: Though based on a true story, this book has a fairy tale element about it. Every time Jameela falls into a bad situation, she is rescued by a kind stranger. Even Mor’s lesson that you can be good even if you aren’t beautiful has a Cinderella ring to it. The narrative does not have a continuous flow; in some sections, the chapters fall close together chronologically, but in other parts of the book, much time passes between chapters, and there seem to be holes in the narrative. For example, one of the orphans mentions Jameela’s kindness in doing chores for the other girls when they are sick, but this is only alluded to. Characterization is week and inconsistent. Jameela’s perspective on the American invasion of Afghanistan and the importance of her faith are interesting. In Western cultures, we tend to think of the burka as a means of oppressing women, but Jameela is happy to cover herself because she believes she is behaving in a respectful and mature manner, and she notes the respect she receives from men on the street. This is a fresh perspective for American eyes. (less)