Archive for March, 2013

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett

Hold Fast. By Blue Balliett. Scholastic Press, 2013. 288 pages. $17.99

Early and Jubilation Pearl, along with their parents Dash and Summer, don’t have much in this world in the way of material goods, but they do have strong family bonds built on a love of words, language and books. That makes it all the more mysterious when Dash disappears, their apartment is ransacked, and their meager possessions destroyed. This event propels Mom Summer with Early and Jubilation onto the Chicago shelter system. What transpires next is a testament to the resourcefulness and the resilience of the human spirit as Early sets out to solve the puzzle of Dash’s disappearance. The clues are there – she just needs to solve them.  This might just be Blue Balliett’s best work to date, inspiring compassion for those who must traverse the world of the homeless. Suitable for readers in 4th -8th grades.

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Screech Owls Series by Ray MacGregor

The Night They Stole the Stanley Cup and Mystery at Lake Placid. By Roy MacGregor. Tundra Books, 2013. 176 pages and 272 pages, respectively.  $8.95

They Shoot! They Score! The Screech Owls are back in full force in this reissue of the popular Canadian hockey series. Authored by award-winning hockey writer Roy MacGregor, these books are spot on accurate with the thrills, chills and checks of youth hockey.  Add in a solid mystery and there’s no doubt, these books will be hits with a new audience.  Notable is the inclusion of girls who are offer exemplary skills and sportsmanship. Having noted this forward step in gender equity, I was puzzled by the boys’ attempts to view adult movies while at the hotel and the comparison of the hockey rink markings to female anatomy. This female hockey fan is not amused by boorish “boys will be boys” behavior. Maybe those changes will be in the next reissue. Suitable for sports fans in 4th to 7th grades.

Todd Hasak-Lowy Author Visit

Thanks to The Book Stall in Winnetka, I was able to host Todd Hasak-Lowy, author of 33 Minutes, at my school. He held the rapt attention of 125 hoping-for-a-snow-day fifth graders, no small feat in and of itself, with stories of his own middle school years and how those experiences became part of the 33 Minutes narrative. Mr. Hasak-Lowy’s entire presentation was as fast-paced and quick-witted as his writing. His ability to engage students in the conversation was remarkable and even that rogue questioner, whose question is meant to get a few chuckles from his peers, was acknowledged and his question legitimized.  Of great delight to the teachers and students, was the discussion of revisions. Mr. Hasak-Lowy read a portion of the first draft and the comparable section of the published text and led the students in an insightful critique of the two versions. So open another tab on your browser and send off an email to Todd Hasak-Lowy at hasaklowy@gmail.com .  Schedule a visit for your school. You and your students will not be disappointed.

February 26, 2013 at Roosevelt School, Park Ridge, IL

February 26, 2013 at Roosevelt School, Park Ridge, IL


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