THE SNATCHABOOK by Helen & Thomas Docherty is an adorable children’s book about the mysterious disappearance of story books. The heroine Eliza Brown finds the culprit and hatches a plan to get the books returned and keep everyone happy – including the elusive thief.
This book is so much fun to read out loud. The rhyme scheme of the narrative lends the words a musical quality and is perfect for catching and keeping a child’s interest. I’ve already read this one to a grade one class and they had a blast figuring out who was stealing all the books (one bright kid guessed right away it was the Snatchabook who “flew into town”), spotting the little creature on different pages and then recommending their own favourite books that they could share and read out loud if they were ever visited by the Snatchabook.
THE SNATCHABOOK is graced with quite wonderful illustrations that set the mood of each page and really allow children to explore Burrow Down and easily follow the progression of the story. Helen and Thomas Docherty have crafted a picture book treasure that I will definitely enjoy sharing with any and all future students.(less)
ICING ON THE CAKE by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is the fourth book in the wonderful middle grade series The Cupcake Club. Each books has focused on a different member of the club, and this time it’s Jenna, the official taste-tester of Peace, Love and Cupcakes.
Along with the sweet recipes and hijinks that the club finds themselves in, each story deals with subjects and issues that students may find themselves facing on a daily basis. In ICING ON THE CAKE Jenna has to come to terms with her mother re-marrying. Jenna maintains her dislike of Leo and it’s only through her friends, the club and the love and attention of a sweet little puppy that Jenna starts to think differently. Of course, this is in the midst of Easter – the biggest cupcake holiday for the club – making her mother’s wedding cake and dealing with a last minute Elvis impersonator who has a request of Peace, Love and Cupcakes.
ICING ON THE CAKE by Sheryl & Carrie Berk is a sweet story about family, friends, changes and learning to roll with the punches. Jenna has a lot of things thrown at her in the course of only a couple months but she doesn’t let them bring her down. She is, after all, an important member of Peace, Love and Cupcakes and she has her friends to keep her strong and proud.(less)
MEMBRANE by Carol Moreira is a whirlwind of a sci-fi ride through alternate univers...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
MEMBRANE by Carol Moreira is a whirlwind of a sci-fi ride through alternate universes and (not-so) alien invasions. Tanya is a fairly normal high school student until she finds herself sucked through the Membrane into an alternate universe where she meets her alternate self. Crazyness ensues!
It’s always fun to read books that take place where you live, since you get to recognize street names, places and events. So like Tanya, when she finds herself through the Membrane into a parallel Nova Scotia, I too was struck by the differences. Tanya has had a rough time of high school and the alternate universe experience doesn’t help her any. Tanya is kind, sensitive, a little anxious and depressed, but has a good head on her shoulders and ultimately really cares for others. She’s a quick thinker and helps get herself, her double (called P for Princess, and boy is she) and others out of sticky situations. P on the other hand, is quite opposite of Tanya. She’s very sure of herself to the point of arrogance at times, and while she can be cruel she is kind at heart.
I really enjoyed the descriptions of the alternate universes (Tanya visits two) and the Membrane that separates them. Tanya finds herself wrapped up in quite the mystery where an invasion may not be an invasion, and another may be going on behind the scenes. There is a wonderful “bad guy” who you can tell has secrets and agendas galore. While Tanya and P come from very close universes, the Others that are invading P’s world are quite different. I could have done without the numerous references to how beautiful they are, but other than that they were fascinating and the source of much of the worry and fear felt by P and Tanya.
I’m a huge sci-fi fan, and quite enjoyed MEMBRANE by Carol Moreira. While I found a few parts of the narrative a little jumpy and confusing at times (I’m still not exactly sure who the Fabricists are) the major plot points, resolutions and set up for a sequel (maybe? It’s certainly left open for one!) were all wrapped together rather well by the end of the book. Tanya had some good growth throughout the story, as did P through her interactions with Tanya and some world-shattering truths. MEMBRANE is engaging and unique, and I would be happy to recommend it to young adult sci-fi readers (and not-so young adult ones).(less)
As an educator and a reader, Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven appeal...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
As an educator and a reader, Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven appealed to me in a number of ways. The beautiful illustrations highlight the story of Claire, a glasswing butterfly who finds herself separated from her family. She makes the best of her situation and everything turns out ok for Claire in the end.
The story of Claire’s journey is filled with wonderful tidbits of information on not just glasswing butterflies, but the role that butterflies and other animals and insects (like pigeons, ants and ladybugs) play in nature. So even though Claire has been whisked away from her family and home, she begins to create a new home around her, through new friends and a small abandoned city lot with a few flowers in it. It’s a nice story of making the most of a situation, maintaining hope and forming new friendships all with an educational background of environment.
Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story by Elisa Kleven works perfectly with the curriculum in my area. Primary and grade one learn about habitats and life cycles, and many of the classes even hatch moths or butterflies. This story will fit in perfectly, and I can’t wait to read it out loud to them!(less)
WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST by R.R. Russell is the first book in an ex...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 out of 5 rating.
WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST by R.R. Russell is the first book in an exciting new middle grade series. Discovering a ghostly boy who is all too real and brings unicorns in his wake at the school for troubled girls that Twig is sent to starts Twig on a path she never could have imagined.
Despite being sent to a school on a pony ranch that has five other girls at it, this story is really all about Twig, Ben (the ghost boy) and Wonder Light, the unicorn that is born in front of Twig. We get to see a bit of the youngest girl, Casey, but barely anything of the others. I’m hoping we’ll get a bit more of them in the sequel(s). Over the course of the book, Twig goes from a near-silent, worried, upset and unsure twelve-year-old to a confident, happy and protective thirteen-year-old. Not to say she still doesn’t have worries and concerns about her life before coming to the Murley’s ranch/school/home, but she’s learning to accept and cope with those problems. Ben helps a lot in that, the mysterious boy who cares for the unicorns on the island and has his own mystery about him that I am crazy curious about. He’s patient with, and kind to, Twig – and the unicorns. He helps show her what she’s capable of when she begins to doubt herself.
It is a bit curious that Twig is able to so easily sneak out of the house at night (for a year) without anyone taking much notice (especially after she did get caught once. You’d think that would make it harder in the future). I also found it strange that these girls are at the ranch for a year, with little mention of going home for visits or family coming to see them. The year does move very quickly in the smaller book (220ish pages) so I’m just assuming there are many moments we don’t get to see.
The unicorn lore in the book is quite interesting and the dark, angry herd leader Dagger a stark contrast to the light and joyous Wonder Light – the unicorn that Twig raises from its birth. Unlike the pure and good unicorns you usually see in stories or mythology (though not all!) Dagger is vicious, attacking other unicorns, the horses and ponies at the ranch and even people. Twig, Ben, Wonder Light, Ben’s unicorn Indy and others are out to stop Dagger and help save the herd.
WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST by R.R. Russell brought me back to childhood. I loved unicorns when I was younger, and this is a book that I would have happily devoured and re-read many times. R.R. Russell mixes the fantasy of the unicorns and a parallel world wonderfully with that of Twig’s new home on the ranch, and her journey to finding her own true self, and her courage. I can easily see this book, and series, being a popular one in grades three through six classrooms – with a relatable character, a good mystery and the fun fantasy elements, WONDER LIGHT: UNICORNS OF THE MIST will definitely keep you reading.(less)
Where to start with HALF LIVES by Sara Grant. I can honestly tell you I had very li...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Where to start with HALF LIVES by Sara Grant. I can honestly tell you I had very little idea what to expect from this book, but I was hopeful, and it surpassed any expectation I could, or did, have. I was stunned and crying by the end of the book, and amazed at how Sara Grant managed to blend together two completely separate yet intricately linked story lines.
Icie narrates a good half of the book, telling her story of how she is given cash and supplies and told by her parents to find a mountain outside Las Vegas where an abandoned toxic waste bunker that was never used will hopefully keep her safe from an imminent viral attack. On the way, she encounters a cheerleader, Marissa; a twelve-year-old wanna be rockstar, Tate; and mysterious Chaske. Together in the bunker, with no idea how the outside world is faring from the attack, Icie and the others try to survive. Icie is so much stronger than she thinks. She goes through crazy heartache and horror while trying to keep herself and the others alive, and wait for her Mum and Dad to come find her as they said they would. And while she may be terrified and has no clue what she’s doing, she keeps it together and survives as best she can.
The other half of the book is narrated generations in the future, primarily by Beckett, the teenage leader of a society that lives on the mountain that Icie fled to, but also by a few other characters who help flesh out the action and Beckett’s story. Surviving on the mountain, Beckett’s people fear the terrorists of the outside world, the broken city they call Vega just on the horizon both helping them survive and a source of worry. Beckett is the direct link to their god, the Great I AM, who once walked the mountain and gave the society their Just Sayings, their Facebooks and the hope of one day that Mumanda will come to save them all. The chapters are interspersed with each other and I was always so excited to see something that Icie and the others did become the direct influence of the language and culture of Beckett’s society. By the end of the book I was a mess of tears at all the pain Icie, Beckett, Marissa, Tate and everyone went through, but also because of revelations that Beckett has that nearly broke my heart, and the hope Icie still held. I am just in awe of how the two story lines blended together, and how much I came to care about these characters.
HALF LIVES by Sara Grant is a book about one girl’s journey to save herself in the face of impending disaster, and how choices she makes affect the lives of hundreds throughout the coming generations. It’s about finding strength in yourself to continue on, about making the hard decisions but also the right decisions, about confronting your fears and believing in your faith (whatever it may be). It’s about love, and sacrifice, about realizing what matters in the long run and discovering yourself through hardship. HALF LIVES is also about the threats we face every day through fear, weapons, secrets and lies. It’s about change and growth and the human need to survive and live. All tinged with an innate humour of how culture and language can change and reflect a caricature of words, phrases and things that what we have today in our society. Guys, I want nothing more than to dive right back in to HALF LIVES and live it again. I love this book like crazy, and I hope you do too.(less)