At first I couldn't tell what was going on - just a bunch of skating, hitting, and falling.
Synopsis: Astrid and Nicole have been best friends sinceAt first I couldn't tell what was going on - just a bunch of skating, hitting, and falling.
Synopsis: Astrid and Nicole have been best friends since first grade, after an incident involving the class Mean Girl, Rachel. They do everything together. Astrid assumes this means that they'll spend the summer following fifth grade together at Roller Derby Camp - Astrid's newfound passion. She is stunned to discover that Nicole has other plans, namely, Dance Camp... with Rachel. With middle school looming and things changing all around her, Astrid rolls into the toughest summer of her life.
Review: A smart and funny realistic look at that stage so familiar to anyone who was once an almost-teenager, when friends start growing into their own people, and sometimes growing apart. Astrid speaks, thinks, and feels like a regular kid, someone you might know (or remember). She likes the way things are and doesn't want them to change, but she ultimately faces those changes with good humor and strength. There are lessons in her story about growing up, accepting yourself and others for who they are, and working hard to achieve a dream, even when it doesn't turn out quite the way you hoped, but it avoids didactic condescension easily. Totally charming.
Personal Thoughts: I happen to love roller skating, and I am a little sad that I didn't encounter the whole roller derby phenomenon at an age/time/place when I might have joined in. I'll just have to live vicariously through Astrid, I suppose. I loved everything about this book, from the painfully realistic depictions of the way pre-teen girls interact to the wonderful relationship between Astrid and her mother. (There's a fourth-wall-breaking moment in which Astrid literally winks at the reader about an interaction with her mother that cracked me up.) I adore this book.
Recommend to: Fans of Raina Telgemeier... and pretty much any tween girl, actually. (Although I'd *love* to see some tween boys reading this one.)
Source: Checked out from my public library....more
What if Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, and Arsene Lupin all met as children?
That's the question this series sets out to answer. Irene is 12 years oldWhat if Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, and Arsene Lupin all met as children?
That's the question this series sets out to answer. Irene is 12 years old in the summer of 1870, when she arrives with her mother and their butler (her father having stayed behind to conduct the business that keeps them in their lovely Paris home) in the seaside resort town of Saint-Malo. Her very first day there, she encounters a strange, skinny boy tucked up on top of the wall with a book. Irene, of course, isn't supposed to be wandering about town all by herself, but when the butler tries to fetch her home, she follows Sherlock to the harbor, where he and his friend Lupin take her in a "borrowed" boat to their regular spot, an abandoned manor house falling into ruins.
Their afternoon jaunt comes to a strange end, though, when they discover a dead body washed up on the beach. Since the official police seem to make no headway with the case, the three new friends take it upon themselves to investigate.
There are secret identities, clandestine criminal societies, fights, chases, and plenty of adventure packed into the story. Irene is a spirited character, smart and self-reliant, a girl just on the cusp of becoming a young lady and chafing at the constraints that role will place on her. It's easy to see her becoming The Woman of the "Scandal in Bohemia" one day. Holmes is also recognizably himself, only younger, though the clues given about his family situation are sometimes puzzling.
All in all, this is a fun mystery for young readers. I'm looking forward to seeing how some of the threads left dangling are picked up in future installments of the series. ...more
I wanted to like this more than I did. It started off with such promise. And then there was a muddle in the middle. And then there was the ending, whiI wanted to like this more than I did. It started off with such promise. And then there was a muddle in the middle. And then there was the ending, which just left me thinking, "Wait, but, no...."...more
I would very much like to know why my mother named me "Enola," which, backwards, spells alone.
Synopsis: Enola receives three fourteenth birthday giftsI would very much like to know why my mother named me "Enola," which, backwards, spells alone.
Synopsis: Enola receives three fourteenth birthday gifts from her mother: a drawing kit, a copy of The Meanings of Flowers: Including Also Notes Upon the Messages Conveyed by Fans, Handkerchiefs, Sealing-Wax, and Postage Stamps, and a small hand-made book of ciphers. The same day, her mother vanishes without a trace, and Enola must contact her much older brothers in London - Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. Dismayed by the way the grounds of the estate (and Enola, in his opinion) have been left neglected, Mycroft makes plans to send his sister to boarding school for an education befitting a proper young lady of the late 1800s. Enola has no interest in such an education (or, for that matter, being a proper young lady), so she makes her own plan to escape to London and search for their mother on her own. As if eluding her brothers and keeping herself out of danger weren't enough, she quickly finds herself tangled up in the mystery of a missing young Lord as well.
Review: With a smart and feisty teen-age heroine, this historical mystery is a pretty easy sell. Enola's free-thinking ways stand out against her brothers' much more of-the-time views on women. The period as well as the varied settings are evoked with strong, carefully chosen details. My only complaint is the choice of "Marquess" for the missing boy's title, since that term is particularly confusing for American kids, but that's a bit of a nitpick. The very real dangers faced by a young girl (and a young boy) in London are portrayed in an age-appropriate yet suspenseful way. This first volume of six wraps up one mystery while leaving enough dangling ends to make the reader want to have the next volume handy.
Recommend to: Historical and mystery fans ages 8 and up.
Source: Checked out from my public library....more
"So I have been considering what kind of Englishman goes to America for a very short stay, carries a magnifying glass and a swordstick, and is well
"So I have been considering what kind of Englishman goes to America for a very short stay, carries a magnifying glass and a swordstick, and is well known to the New York police, and there was only one-" "Conclusion," finished Sherlock Holmes, nodding. "Yes, Arthur, there usually is."
In the seventh installment of Coren's Arthur series, young Arthur William Foskett is travelling alone on a transatlantic sailing, headed back to school in England. The early days of the voyage are plagued by bad weather, and most of the ship's passengers take refuge in their cabins, leaving the dining room to just Arthur and two other men, who turn out to be none other than Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. When the weather clears and the passengers re-emerge, there is a robbery on board. Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Foskett are both on the case. A charming, very funny mystery for young readers, with plenty of amusing references for those already familiar with Holmes....more
Please allow the SPFD to welcome you more formally. Go to The Dancing Men (if you're hungry, they make an excellent ploughman's lunch) and ask for aPlease allow the SPFD to welcome you more formally. Go to The Dancing Men (if you're hungry, they make an excellent ploughman's lunch) and ask for a saucer of milk for your snake. Then all will be revealed.
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Xena is sitting on the front steps of a London hotel with her little brother, Xander, when a strange man presses a note into her hand. The kids barely have time to read the peculiar message before the ink disappears from the paper. Once they learn that "The Dancing Men" is a nearby pub (and that a "ploughman's lunch" is something they might actually like), they can't ignore their curiosity about it. The clever siblings might be a bit more curious than most, though, since they happen to be the American descendants of the famous Sherlock Holmes. After inheriting his casebook of unsolved problems, they quickly find themselves on the trail of a century-old mystery the Great Detective himself never solved.
Review: Barrett introduces a pair of protagonists with immediate appeal for young readers. Like any siblings, Xena and Xander occasionally bicker and even embarrass each other, but when push comes to shove, each has the other's back. Because they are American kids newly arrived in London, explanations of British culture and customs come up naturally in the narrative, rather than as awkward exposition for the reader. Nods to the original Sherlock Holmes stories are sprinkled throughout and sometimes explained (the saucer of milk for snake reference slips right by, but the Irregulars get a quick description). The mystery itself is very simple, and the characters never face any real danger or violence, making this a great selection for newly independent chapter-book readers as well as slightly older mystery fans. Once they've finished this quick-paced adventure, readers can continue to follow the Holmes siblings in three more series installments: The Beast of Blackslope, The Case that Time Forgot, and The Missing Heir.
Recommend to: Fans of mystery and adventure ages 8-12.
Source: Checked out from my public library....more
A mystery is like a puzzle. It can be something unsqueakably scary, like a thing that goes THUMP in the night.
Synopsis: It's hamster Humphrey's seco A mystery is like a puzzle. It can be something unsqueakably scary, like a thing that goes THUMP in the night.
Synopsis: It's hamster Humphrey's second year in room 26 of Longfellow School, and by the beginning of October, he's getting to know his new classmates. Mrs. Brisbane has just started reading "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League", and Humphrey is just as disappointed as everyone else when she stops in the middle of the story to move on to another lesson. Disappointment turns to dismay when Mrs. Brisbane doesn't return to school the next day, then is replaced (temporarily, Humphrey hopes!) by a substitute teacher named Mr. E., who seems to want to play with the students instead of teach them. Humphrey decides to follow the example of Sherlock Holmes and sets out to investigate Mrs. Brisbane's disappearance as well as a few other mysteries as only a determined class pet in a cage with a lock-that-doesn't-lock can. And, maybe, along the way, he'll find out just what happens in that story about the man with the red hair.
Review: This is the eighth installment of the "According to Humphrey" series, and he is just as charming as ever. Fans of the series will enjoy this new adventure, but reading all the previous volumes isn't strictly necessary. At the end of each short chapter, Humphrey shares something he's learned in his "Detectionary", and there is a list of the "Top 10 Tips for Beginning Detectives" at the end of the book.
Recommend to: Middle grade readers looking for a fun and funny light mystery, as well as fans of books in this series and other animal fiction series.
Source: E-book checked out from my public library (via Overdrive). ...more