At least, that is the way Moose Flanagan feels about it. They’re all telling Moose what he can and cannot do,...moreEveryone is Trying to Boss Moose Around…
At least, that is the way Moose Flanagan feels about it. They’re all telling Moose what he can and cannot do, what he must do, what he should do. No one seems to care what Moose wants. No one seems to care how it might affect him. So, what can Moose do? Comply. “Good Moose. Obedient Moose. I always do what I’m supposed to do.” (31)
Peer pressure affects all people. It is especially hard on children and teens, but even adults find themselves being pressured to comply with what their peers expect from them.
Twelve-year old Matthew Flanagan, known by his friends as Moose, enjoys playing baseball with his friends at school. He’s pretty good at it. Things are going great and then, suddenly, Moose finds himself living on “the Rock,” Alcatraz, where murderers, rapists, hit men, embezzlers, and kidnappers are sent. The worst of the worst live here.
Natalie Flanagan, Moose’s older sister, has autism. She thinks and acts differently than most people expect. Many of the family and friends of the Flanagan’s think Natalie should be placed in a special institution. Natalie’s parents think a new program offered at a special school located in San Francisco can help her but it takes lots of money and Mr. Flanagan needs a good job. So, here he is, “Moose Flanagan, Alcatraz Island Boy.” (3)
The first day on the island people begin telling Moose what’s expected of him. Warden Williams informs Moose that he must always follow the rules, or else. His parents expect Moose to be responsible and take care of Natalie even if it means giving up his ball games. Piper Williams, the warden’s daughter, tells Moose that he has to help her with a certain “school project” or she’ll tell her dad that he isn’t cooperating. Everyone bosses Moose around.
Moose gets angry with everyone, everyone except Natalie. He loves his sister and want to help her, even when she gets upset and embarrasses him in front of his friends. Despite his mother’s objections, she thinks she knows what’s best for Natalie, Moose figures out how to keep Natalie calm by allowing her to play with her favorite buttons.
More problems develop and Moose is given more restrictions. Moose decides that enough is enough and determines to take matters into his own hands. Will things change for Moose Flanagan? What do Al Capone and prisoner 105 have to do with the outcome?
Gennifer Choldenko writes a believable story about the struggles of a boy who is overwhelmed with pressures from other people and challenges to his self-esteem. She also shares a glimpse of the difficulties that families face when dealing with disabilities. (less)
“Long-time Echo Falls resident, Katherine Eve Kovac was murdered Thursday, according to Echo Falls police chief, Gilbert L. Strade.” (39)
It had been a...more“Long-time Echo Falls resident, Katherine Eve Kovac was murdered Thursday, according to Echo Falls police chief, Gilbert L. Strade.” (39)
It had been a chance encounter that Ingrid had met the strange woman. All Ingrid was trying to do was get to soccer practice on time. She didn’t mean to get lost in that part of town. She didn’t mean to forget her bright red cleats at Cracked Up Katie’s house earlier that day of the crime. Will the police find her shoes and suspect that Ingrid is involved in the murder?
Ingrid Levin-Hill decides to do some investigating on her own (just like her favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes) and learn the truth about why Katie was killed. Soon Ingrid learns that she and Katie have a connection with the local theatre group. Ingrid plays the lead in the upcoming production of Alice In Wonderland and Katie had once been a brilliant actress and star with the Prescott Players.
Each bit of information Ingrid discovers leads her down another trail and soon our amateur sleuth becomes tangled in another unsolved mystery. It isn’t long before Ingrid finds herself tumbling down the rabbit hole just like her character’s namesake.
Peter Abrahams weaves a suspenseful tale that keeps the readers clinging to the edge of their seats. His use of animated personalities and descriptive references to Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland contributes to the twists and mounting tensions of the story. It is going to take everything Ingrid can muster and some help from her friend, Nigel, to solve this riveting mystery. (less)
School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and rui...moreSchool was finally out and I was standing on a picnic in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it. (1)
This sounds like a typical beginning for a story about a 12-year old boy, right? You may think so, but imagine that you are on a rollercoaster just about to reach the crest of the highest peak and then, “WOOSH!” First day on the job that his mother has arranged for him, Jack Gantos meets Miss Volker, an elderly neighbor who boils her hands in molten wax!
“Oh, Mercy!” I cried, and fidgeted up and down like a terrified squirrel. “Miss Volker, what have you done to yourself?”
She stumbled toward me, then held out the sagging stumps of her melted arms. I hesitated, but there was nothing else to do except run away screaming, so I grabbed what I thought were her wrists. Oh cheeze! The warm, lifeless flesh squished between my fingers as I tugged her forward and held her ruined hands under the water. (25)
Excited yet? That’s only the beginning of Jack’s wild summer adventure!
His mom and dad are quarrelling with each other and he’s stuck in the middle digging a bomb shelter.
“Yep, we need a bomb shelter. The Russian Commies say they’re planning to bury us.” (51)
The older citizens of Norvelt are dropping like flies and Miss Volker expects Jack to type up their obituaries! How much can one guy take?
Old Mr. Spizz, the self-appointed neighborhood watchdog, rides around on his giant tricycle handing out citations and warnings. And the then there’s the Hells Angels who ride into town burning down houses and terrorizing everyone!
This is not a teenage boy’s “typical” summer story. It's better. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I picked up a copy of Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos when the announcement came that it had won the Newbery Award. I read the general description of the story and decided to begin reading it that evening. By the end of the third chapter, my sides were aching from so much laughter!
It’s a wonderful adventure and we are introduced to some pretty odd characters. Throughout the story we read snippets of history and learn some important truths thru Jack’s sometimes misguided attempts to do the right thing.
Although the ending seemed a bit contrived, I really enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it as a must read for everyone. (less)
Billy Broccoli is determined that moving to a new neighborhood and a new school is the wrong thing to do, especially when the school bully lives next...moreBilly Broccoli is determined that moving to a new neighborhood and a new school is the wrong thing to do, especially when the school bully lives next door! Just when he thinks nothing can be worse, Billy discovers a teenage ghost with a whole lot of attitude living in his bedroom closet! Billy Broccoli definitely doesn’t want his own personal ghost!
When Rod, the obnoxious school bully, zeros in on Billy as his next target at school, “The Hoove “ and Billy must work together and come up with a plan to get even.
I enjoyed reading Ghost Buddy. It’s a fast pass story with funny twists and turns and even an unexpected outcome. This is the first book in a new series for Winkler and Oliver so we can expect more adventures and complications that make life interesting for the friendship of Billy Broccoli and his buddy “The Hoove.” (less)
Chris Van Allsburg has given us a sailor's tale in The Wretched Stone. What seems to be an ordinary voyage turns out to be mysterious, dangerous, and...moreChris Van Allsburg has given us a sailor's tale in The Wretched Stone. What seems to be an ordinary voyage turns out to be mysterious, dangerous, and almost mystical! Captain Randall Ethan Hope records these extraordinary and even bizarre experiences in the ship's log. What is this strange glowing stone that has been brought aboard the ship? Why has the crew seemed to "disappear " from the ship's decks? What does Captain Hope do to save his crew?
This is definitely a book that could be the starting point for some interesting discussions between teachers, students, and even parents. I enjoyed the premise of a ship's log to record the events and could see many opportunities to encourage research into sailing, life aboard the old ships, and the history of sailor's tales of the sea. The primary theme for The Wretched Stone adds another dimension for discussion which is the danger of being so preoccupied with certain things ( in this case the stone) that a person may miss more important events that may affect one's life. I especially appreciate the way the story is resolved. Mr. Allsburg has given us another beautifully illustrated and interesting tale! (less)