Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Put a Spell on You: From the Files of Chrissie Woodward Spelling Bee Dectective by Adam Selzer

It is time for the Gordon Liddy Community School's annual Spelling Bee. Every 6th grader in the school (and every parent) hopes to participate and win the bee. Chrissie Woodward is the one exception. Being the school's resident tattle-tale, she would rather sit back, observe, and take notes of how the 6th graders prepare for the bee. But when she discovers things are going terribly wrong and that the principal may not have the students' best interests in mind, she decides it's time to take an active role and bringing down the Spelling Bee.

The book is told through Chrissie's notes and each spelling bee participant shares his/here story. Chrissie wants to be sure the right thing happens and the correct people get in trouble for what appears to be cheating in the spelling bee. Every child who has watched or been in a spelling bee can relate to the pressures and fun of bees. The story is funny and quick paced. Once I started this book, I carried it everywhere I went to continue reading--even when walking down the hall.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The 2009 Newbery Winner, The Graveyard Book, is a tale of ghostly proportions. When a hitman tries to kill an entire family, the infant crawls out of his crib, past the front door, and to a graveyard for safety. The ghosts living in the graveyard realize the little boy needs protecting and decide to give him "run of the graveyard". Naming him Bod--short for Nobody--the ghosts help the boy grow from infant to small child to young adult. During his stay in the graveyard, he learns history from those who lived it.

Throughout Bod's time in the graveyard, the hitman realizes he must finish the job he was assigned to do. With each new attempt at capturing Bod, the ghosts work hard to protect him from the evils of the real world.

This is an excellent book from the author of Coraline and worthy of all the praise it has recieved.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Warning: This is book is fun, gruesome, and incredibly well-written. Although, a great book, this story is not for everyone.

Set in England in what appears to be the 1600s, Barnaby is a young messenger boy. He calls himself a "tick-tock lad" referring to the clock always moving forward with lots of messages to be given. His best friend is an older man who drives a hired coach--covered wagon pulled by 2 horses. When Barnaby notices that his friend has not been around for a day and finds his coach's chair broken in many pieces, Barnaby sets out to solve the newest mystery around town: werewolves on the loose! This mystery leads Barnaby to work for the new doctor.

The book has a unique sense of humor that is easily appreciated by many. However, when the werewolves attack, the story is dark and can be horrifying. Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell do a great job of putting all the werewolf attacks between funny and happy scenes to lessen the overall darkness of the book. Those who like action and can understand the complexities of old England will truly love this book. It is a great read!

True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Science Fiction fans take a look here! The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex is an incredible example of great science fiction and fantasy. March 3, 2013 will always be a very special day for 8th grader, Gratuity Tucci. This is "moving day." All human citizens of the world are to meet at special pods to be moved to human camps. Aliens known as The Boov have taken over the world and believe humans should all live together in small camps.

Gratuity's mother left a few days earlier and Gratuity hasn't heard from her since. The last image Gratuity has of her mother was glowing spot on her mother's neck. Instead of boarding a pod, Gratuity believes she needs to look for her mother. She finds an old, beat up car (that flies) and begins driving to Disney World. She and her mother had visited it recently and it is a special place for them both. Along the way, Gratuity meets a very nice Boov who is running away too. The two pair up for their adventure. Along the way, they find secret hidden passages under Disney World, join of runaways, drive across country and begin a galactic Civil War.

The book is long but a lot of fun. It is a quick page-turner. This is an outstanding story for anyone who has been across country or getting ready to go. Also, great for those who simply love Science Fiction.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Faceless Fiend by Howard Whitehouse

Being the Tale of a Criminal Mastermind, His Masked Minions and a Princess with a Butter Knife, Involving Explosives and a Certain Amount of Pushing and Shoving

"The Mad Misadventures of Emmaline and Rubberbone"

This is the 2nd book in a growing series of Emmaline and Rubberbones. The story picks up with English school girl, Emmaline, 15 years old, living with her aunt Lucy in the country hillside somewhere in England. Emmaline has runaway from her boarding school with an Asian Princess, Purnha. Princess Purnha rules a small fictional nation between Russia and India. The two girls hated being at "The Strictest School in the World" (book 1) and with the help of Lucy's servant Rab, aka Rubberbones because he doesn't get hurt, have escaped and are happily being taught by a strange American professor.

However, things do not go well when both India and Russia discover that Princess Purnha has runaway. Both countries want to control her in hopes of running her nation. Things turn unusually violent (mostly because Princess Purnha believes strongly in violence) and quite funny as the three, along with Lucy, Professor Bellbuckle, and Lucy's butler, all try to escape the Faceless Fiend--literally he has no face--who has mistaking kidnapped Rubberbones. During this adventure, flights in balloons and gliders will be made. Rubberbones jumps from roofs and smashes windows. Purnha screams words that make no sense. Professor Bellbuckle shoots off lots of fireworks and tries out his crazy inventions. But mostly, the 3 kids have a great adventure.

Fans of the way The Penderwicks is written will appreciate the style of this book. Those looking for a fun adventure will love it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Travel Team by Mike Lupica

This book is for students in middle school. Especially those who love basketball.

Danny Walker is one of the best basketball players in his town. He is the son of a former NBA star. However, Danny, is also the shortest boy in his grade and when he tries out for the 12 year old travel team, he is cut from the team because of his height.

To Danny basketball is supposed to be fun. It's a game not about winning or losing. It's about enjoying the sport and trying to improve. When Danny's father, Richie, comes back to town and creates a team, Danny and many other players cut from the travel team begin a journey of growing up, accepting additional responsibilities, and being better basketball players.

This book is fun and inspiring. For basketball fans, this book is a winner! However, inappropriate language is used throughout and topics such as alcoholism are covered in depth.

as if being 12 3/4 isn't bad enough, my mother is running for president! by Donna Gephart

This book is a great book for girls who sophisticated 5th graders up through middle school. The bond between mother and daughter in this book also makes it a wonderful book for moms and their daughters to read together.

Vanessa Rothrock is like most almost 13 year olds. She often feels self-conscience and awkward. She has a crush on the cool kid in school. She worries about her appearance. She also worries about being accepted at school. Of course being the governor's daughter doesn't seem to help. The worst part of it all, is now Vanessa's mother is running for president and will most likely win her party's nomination!

Feeling left out of her mother's increasingly busy life, Vanessa struggles with being proud of her mom and trying to keep her at home. Since her father's death, Vanessa worries about safety and doesn't believe Secret Service can keep her mom safe. The mysterious letters she is receiving in her locker only scare Vanessa more.

This book is full of mystery, excitement, spelling (Vanessa is competing to win the National Spelling Bee), friendships, politics, and the love of mothers and daughters.