Posts Tagged 'review'

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.

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After Iris by Natasha Farrant

After Iris. By Natasha Farrant. 272 pages. $16.99

Imagine having your twin die. And then imagine life going on. That, in a nutshell, is the story of After Iris by Natasha Farrant. Life for the Gadsby family goes on after the death of Iris, but things will never be the same for Flora, Jasmine, Twig and their parents. But most of all, life won’t be the same for Iris’ twin, Blue. Blue disengages from the family viewing them, as they grieve separately rather than together, through the lens of her movie camera. When Zoran, the Bosnian male au pair, and Joss the new-boy-next-door enter the scene, things can go either way. Will it be further disruption or a mending of the family? Farrant has crafted a poignant story about the fragile emotions that envelope a family as they cope with what life has wrought. At times funny, at times sarcastic, at times heartfelt, all-in-all this is an engaging read. For grades 4-8.

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.

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.

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.

Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford

Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot.  By Anna Branford. Simon and Schuster, 2012. 112 pages. $14.99

It’s great to be a third grade reader these days! Joining Piper Reed, Clementine, Mallory and Penelope Crumb is newcomer Violet Mackeral! Smart and spunky with a well-grounded family, Violet lives by her Theory of Finding Small Things. Violet applies it to her current desire, the small china bird that she sees at the market. One thing leads to another and Violet hatches her extraordinary plan. This is the first book in a series perfect for 2nd to 4th grade readers.

Joshua Dread by Lee Bacon

Joshua Dread. By Lee Bacon. Random House Children’s Books, 2012. 272 pages. $16.99

Middle school is pressure-filled enough and when your parents are supervillians, bound and determined to destroy the world, a normal life is nearly impossible. Add to this Joshua’s own emerging superpower and the appearance at school of Sophie Justice, daughter of superhero Captain Justice. A supervillian turns against his fellow villains, presenting an unlikely opportunity for Stacy and Joshua, with support from Captain Justice, to come to the defense of the supervillians. Witty and fast-paced, Joshua Dread will appeal to fantasy readers and superhero fans. A sequel can’t come out quick enough. Suitable for readers in 4th to 7th grade.

 

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Ungifted. By Gordon Korman. Balzer & Bray, 2012. 288 pages, $16.99.
Donovan is a most unlikely candidate for a gifted program. However, when there’s a paperwork mix-up and a prank that Donovan needs to distance himself from, he’s not complaining. With proud parents looking on, Donovan makes a go it at the gifted school, making friends and offering surprising contributions to the class. Presented with typical Korman wit, this is a celebration of the giftedness in everyone. Suitable for 4th to 7th grade readers.


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