CIP: "When fifteen-year-old Lexi's younger sister Kasey begins behaving strangely and their old Victorian house seems to take on a life of its own, Le...moreCIP: "When fifteen-year-old Lexi's younger sister Kasey begins behaving strangely and their old Victorian house seems to take on a life of its own, Lexi investigates and discovers some frightening facts about previous occupants of the house, leading her to believe that many lives are in danger."
This book really drew me in, and what a great reprieve from vampire/werewolf fiction! There were a couple of cheesy moments toward the end of the book, but I will forgive Alender as this was her first book ;) Looking forward to more from this fantastic author!
CIP: "Thirteen-year-old fraternal twins Dallas and Florida have grown up in a terrible orphanage, but their lives change forever when an eccentric but...moreCIP: "Thirteen-year-old fraternal twins Dallas and Florida have grown up in a terrible orphanage, but their lives change forever when an eccentric but sweet older couple invites them each on an adventure, beginning in an almost magical place called Ruby Holler."
Twins Dallas and Florida have lived their entire lives in an orphanage run by a cold and cruel couple, the Trepids. The unfortunately accident-prone twins have never experienced unconditional love and are therefore suspicious of all adults. An older couple, the Moreys, with grown children of their own promise adventure, but the twins are skeptical. Along the journey the twins learn that they are capable of being loved and the Moreys learn that they have room in their hearts and home for two more children. This is a magical story with many twists and turns that grabs and holds the readers attention. A good choice for reluctant readers as well.
Hornbook review (May/June '02): "Midway along the road between Lemony Snicket's ironical nightmares and the luminous logic of Tuck Everlasting lies Ruby Holler. Here, too, villains are avaricious and events schematic, designed as much to support the author's ideas as to propel her protagonists' fortunes. Twins Dallas and Florida, thirteen, have been placed by orphanage proprietors Mr. and Mrs. Trepid (who as villains would be right at home in a Dickens or a Dahl novel) in yet another foster home, the first to treat them kindly. Tiller and Sairy, who much resemble the affectionate grandparents in Creech's Walk Two Moons, live in idyllic Ruby Holler, where they cook wholesome meals and support themselves with their exquisite wood carvings of forest creatures. In a bracing dose of reality, even this saintly pair's patience is strained by the twins, whose lifetime of abuse has left them both mischievous and lacking normal skills. Still, they are drawn into the old couple's plans for separate life-affirming journeys, each with one twin. Though their well-founded suspicions of an unfriendly world persist, Dallas and Florida begin to blossom in time to help foil the Trepids and to pitch in, sometimes heroically, where help is needed. Brief chapters, swift action, a hint of mystery concerning the twins' origins, generous doses of humor, engagingly quirky characters, and a lively, kid-friendly voice will all recommend this to a wide range of young readers. J.R.L."
School Library Journal review (Oct. '03): "Gr 4-6-After a series of disastrous foster-home placements, orphan twins Dallas and Florida finally find a loving if unlikely home with an elderly, eccentric couple. A supremely satisfying story, told with healthy doses of drama, suspense, and humor."
CIP: "The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed af...moreCIP: "The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963."
The many adventures of the "Weird Watsons" of Flint, Michigan are recalled in this book, told from the prespective of 10 year-old Kenny, the middle child. The exploits of his older brother, Byron, nicknamed "Daddy Cool" by the family, are hilarious, and the parents reactions are even better. Although mostly a humorous novel, the book also introduces readers to the reality of discrimination and racial tension, culminating with a fictionalized account of the 16th Street Bapist Church bombing, which claimed the lives of four African American girls, all of whom the book is dedicated to. The reader has a first-hand account of the emotions that young Kenny experiences, having thought that his younger sister was a victim of the attack. Curtis' debut novel for young readers is a wonderful way to learn about our turbulent past in regards to racial discrimination without being too preachy. A highly recommended read for children ages 8 and older.
Booklist review (Aug '95): "Gr. 4-8. In a voice that's both smart and naive, strong and scared, fourth-grader Kenny Watson tells about his African American family in Flint, Michigan, in 1963. We get to know his strict, loving parents and his tough older brother, who gets into so much trouble his parents decide to take him back "home" to Birmingham, Alabama, where maybe his strong grandmother will teach him some sense. Several of the family stories are a bit self-conscious (we keep being told we're going to laugh as Dad puts on a show and acts the fool), but the relationships aren't idealized. Racism and the civil rights movement are like a soft rumble in the background, especially as the Watsons drive south. Then Kenny's cute little sister is in a Birmingham church when a bomb goes off. She escapes (Curtis doesn't exploit the horror), but we're with Kenny as he dreads that she's part of the rubble. In this compelling first novel, form and content are one: in the last few chapters, the affectionate situation comedy is suddenly transformed, and we see how racist terror can invade the shelter of home."
Kirkus review (Sept. '95): "Curtis debuts with a ten-year-old's lively account of his teenaged brother's ups and downs. Ken tries to make brother Byron out to be a real juvenile delinquent, but he comes across as more of a comic figure: getting stuck to the car when he kisses his image in a frozen side mirror, terrorized by his mother when she catches him playing with matches in the bathroom, earning a shaved head by coming home with a conk. In between, he defends Ken from a bully and buries a bird he kills by accident. Nonetheless, his parents decide that only a long stay with tough Grandma Sands will turn him around, so they all motor from Michigan to Alabama, arriving in time to witness the infamous September bombing of a Sunday school. Ken is funny and intelligent, but he gives readers a clearer sense of Byron's character than his own and seems strangely unaffected by his isolation and harassment (for his odd look--he has a lazy eye--and high reading level) at school. Curtis tries to shoehorn in more characters and subplots than the story will comfortably bear--as do many first novelists--but he creates a well-knit family and a narrator with a distinct, believable voice." (less)
I bought this book because I was attracted to the artwork on the cover, which was probably not the best decision I've made concerning book purchases....moreI bought this book because I was attracted to the artwork on the cover, which was probably not the best decision I've made concerning book purchases. The book revolves around Nora and her conjoined twin Blanche, who has been in a Rip Van Winkle-like sleep for some 20-odd years. The two live in San Francisco, in a world in which conjoined twins are the norm. In addition, there are two schools of thought as far as conjoined twins go: those who believe that they are best off remaining together and those who feel that the conjoined should be surgically separated. Nora is with the latter, as Blanche has basically been dead weight for most of their life and Nora would like to live the remainder of her years free of the burden of her sister. But bizarre happenings begin to occur when Nora is asleep that suggest Blanche may be awakening from her long slumber.
I had a difficult time getting through this book and found many excuses to put it down to read something else. I finally found the perfect solution in finishing the novel: a 9 hour flight from Chicago to Dublin. I confess that while awaiting my flight at O'Hara International I picked up another book, Digging to America by Anne Tyler. I finally finished Half-Life while in Ireland and I felt like leaving it in one of the guest houses I stayed in, but I didn't want the housecleaning staff to have to deal with it. (less)