Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Counting by 7’s

Counting by 7’s. By Holly Goldberg Sloan. Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group USA Inc.), 2013. 384 pages. $16.99

Willow Chance is brilliant. She has an encyclopedia knowledge of medical conditions and plants.. She thinks of the world as a pattern of 7’s. An outlier? Definitely. But she fits right in with her warm and supportive, albeit small, family. Then Willow ’s life is changed in a heartbeat. Her parents die in a tragic accident and she faces the very real possibility of being swept into the foster care system.  Friends she didn’t know existed step up to provide her a place to live and a buffer against the system. In the spirit of Polacio’s Wonder and Lord’s Rules, Sloan opens our world to the possibilities of those who are differently abled. She writes with the same clarity and strength that she bestows upon Willow, who you’ll come to admire for her resiliency and determination. Counting by 7’s is achingly sad, funny, and heartwarming. A wonderful book for grades 4 and up.

Advertisements

Book 1: The Hypnotists: Hypnotize Me

The Hypnotists: Hypnotize Me. By Gordon Korman. Scholastic Press, 2013. 240 pages. $16.99

Look into my eyes… go to your nearest independent bookstore and buy a copy of Gordon Korman’s newest book Hypnotize Me. When you awake, you’ll remember all of the details and be telling your friends about this great new series. Korman has created a vivid and mesmerizing (sorry, I couldn’t help it!) world for hypnotists. Jackson Opus wonders why things go awry when he looks at some kids in a certain way. It turns out he’s descended from not one, but two, powerful families of hypnotists. As he learns to control his power, he realizes that not everyone has his best interests at heart as Dr. Mako seeks to exploit his powers to influence the results of a national election. Non-stop action will put even the most reluctant of readers in a trance. Korman has a winner here. Readable, thrilling, full of twists and turns, this book will appeal to readers in grades 4 to 8.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. By Chris Grabenstein. Random House, 2013. 304 pages. $16.99

Disclaimer! I’m an elementary school librarian. I LOVED this book. I’m trying to think of how I can use it in my school library program to turn kids on to the magic of the Dewey Decimal System. But let me back up a minute….

Mr. Lemoncello, a board game magnate, bequeaths his hometown of Alexandriaville the funds for a new library. This is not just any library. It has all of the latest and greatest, not-yet-to-be-imagined-in-the-real-world, features. A drawing is held and twelve seventh graders are selected to celebrate the library’s opening by spending the night in the library. Their challenge is to find their way out. Relying on their game-playing skills, knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System, and applying old-fashioned logic, the 12-year-olds battle each other to win the grand prize. Conflict arises, allegiances form, egos are bruised, and friendships are formed as the puzzle is solved. Grabenstein has crafted an innovative story, but it requires a certain knowledge of and appreciation of how libraries are organized. Readers may not have that fascination and/or interest and that could narrow the appeal for this book. Hand-selling the title to library lovers will be key.  Perfect for bibliophiles in grades 4-7.

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.

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.

You Only Die Twice by Dan Gutman

The Genius Files #3: You Only Die Twice. By Dan Gutman. HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013. 304 pages.

Having not read any of Dan Gutman’s latest series, The Genius Files, I felt compelled to give the newest addition, You Only Die Twice a try. I have to admit, I made it about half way through the book and had to stop. I couldn’t take any more of the nonstop action, run-ins with bad-guys-maybe-turned-good-guys, undecipherable plot, and crazy (but real) tourist attractions. While certainly not my cup of tea, I can see the appeal for a broad set of readers. Kids will love all the things that drove me nuts reading the book — the fast pace, the plethora of bad guys, local “attractions,” and unfathomable death defying scenarios. This is the perfect recommendation for Gutman fans who have outgrown Miss Daisy is Crazy, but aren’t ready to settle into Honus and Me. The prompt to look up the travel routes mentioned in the book using Google Maps is a plus. For readers in 3rd-5th grades.

Road Trip by Gary and Jim Paulsen

Road Trip. By Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen. Wendy Lamb Books/ Random House Children’s Books, 2013. 128 pages. $12.99

Like dogs? Love a good road trip? On a school bus? Add in a cast of colorful characters and you have the book Road Trip, a joint venture of Gary Paulsen and his son Jim. Dedicated to “all the dogs who make us better people,” Road Trip is in fact a homage to all that is good about dogs and our unique caretaking relationship with them. Narrated in part by Atticus, the family Border Collie, we are treated to a special a dog’s eye view of the goings on complete with his insightful editorial comments. The first person narration of Ben holds up well in the comparison to his beloved canine.  Best read snuggled up next to a furry friend. For 4th to 6th grade readers.

33 Minutes by Todd Hasak-Lowy

33 Minutes by Todd Hasak-Lowy. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013. 224 pages.

33 Minutes and counting until Sam Lewis has his date with destiny. Or at least a confrontation at recess with his former best friend Morgan Sturtz. The likely outcome? Sam’s butt will be kicked. But Sam is saved by the bell — actually a food fight followed by a fire alarm, but who’s keeping track? Moments of 33 Minutes are laugh-out-loud funny and yet, there is a certain poignancy to Sam’s dilemma as he navigates his middle school world. Hasak-Lowy creates a nuanced bully/bullied relationship, with Sam understanding he has some culpability in his situation and its resolution. The book will have broad appeal — beginning with readers who have exhausted the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise and are looking for something equally funny, but a little meatier. For 4th to 6th grade readers.

Mr. Terupt Falls Again by Rob Buyea

Mr. Terupt Falls Again. By Rob Buyea. Delacorte Press, 2012. $16.99

Anyone who read Because of Mr. Terupt wanted to be in his class… the adults included. The masterful teacher with amazing insights into his students is back for 6th grade along with his seven narrators. Following the format of the first book, the student voices relate the trials, tribulations, challenges, and joys of the school year including a special celebration. Sequels don’t often surpass the original, but this one just might! For 5th to 8th grade readers.

A Smidgen of Sky by Diana Dorisi Winget

A Smidgen of Sky. By Dianna Dorisi Winget. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. 208 pages. $16.99

Piper Lee DeLuna misses her dad. He’s been missing for four years and thought to be dead in a plane crash. Piper’s mom has plans to marry again and Piper will get not only a step-father but a cranky step-sister in the deal. Piper comes up with an ingenious plan to get the wedding called off. A tragedy is narrowly averted and Piper realizes how much she cares for all of the people in her life. A notable effort by newcomer Dianna Dorisi Winget. Suitable for 4th to 7th grade readers.


RSS Feed

Goodreads

Twitter Updates


%d bloggers like this: