Wednesday, February 28, 2007

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

In How to Catch a Star Jeffers depicts that universal desire to reach up and catch a star with this picture book. A boy with a circle head and stick legs inhabits pages of deep, saturated color that reflect many times of the day. In one brief sentence per page, the boy shares his wishes, dreams, and reality, making this book accessible for two year olds, and satisfying for readers much older.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci

One minute Kurt Carmody was hanging out at the old abandoned pier with his sister, Casey, and their friends and the next he is sitting at the police station hoping against hope that Casey was not shot and did not fall 40 feet off the pier into the swirling waters below. Things are not looking good as he sits hour after hour in the police station secretly listening to his friends tell their stories of what they thought happened that night. But, even more frightening, is the dark secret that comes to light about one of his friends.

In The Night My Sister Went Missing, Plum-Ucci weaves a tale full of twists and turns with a shocking ending that leaves the reader reeling. This is a gripping novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat. (YA 10th grade and Up)


The Runaway Princess by Kate Coombs

In The Runaway Princess, Princess Margaret, or Meg, is not your ordinary princess. She would much rather be out mucking around in one of the ponds with her best friend Cam than doing anything a princess should do, like embroidery. Yuck! So when her father, King Stromgard, decides it’s time for her to marry, he pits all of the princes in the land against each other in a contest to win Meg’s hand. But, Meg has other ideas and decides to outsmart the princes and win the contest herself.

For those who liked Ella Enchanted and Goose Chase, you are sure to enjoy this fairy tale of a strong-willed princess who is not satisfied with the way things have always been. A delightful story filled with magic, witches, frogs, dragons, and wizards. (YA 7th grade & up)


Trigger by Susan Vaught

Seventeen-year-old Jersey Hatch was once a successful, popular athlete, a member of the ROTC, and could probably get any girl he was interested in. For the past year, however, he has been moving from one rehab institute to another, trying to get his brain and body working again so that he can function on his own.

It was just over a year ago when, they say, he decided to put a bullet in his head, trying to end his life. But, he didn’t end his life and now he is a shell of what he once was. He has no recollection of that fateful day and does not believe he could have done this to himself. Now, he’s on a quest to find out the truth but it won’t be easy as no one wants talk to him and his fellow classmates think he is a freak.

Trigger is a compelling novel on the affects of attempted suicide, not only to the person who has attempted it, but the people who love and care about them. (YA 10th grade & Up)


Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees
By Sue Monk Kidd

Have you ever heard, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”? This book, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd may have a misleading title. You might think that it is all about bees. True, you will learn some interesting facts about bees and beekeeping, but it is really about a 14 year old girl looking for answers to some very important questions.

How would you feel if your mother died from an accidental shooting accident when you were four years old and you were told that you were instrumental in her death? This is the story of such a young lady, Lily Owens. This makes for a fascinating story in itself, but what makes it so enjoyable to read is the wonderful descriptions and interesting characters and Lily’s relationships with these characters.

Set in the American South in 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act and intensifying racial unrest, Lily lives isolated on a South Carolina peach farm with a neglectful and harsh father. Although she is aware of the boundaries and tensions that exist between blacks and whites, the only love that Lily has received has come from her feisty African American nanny, Rosaleen. Lily can’t understand why the color of a person’s skin is so important, since it has nothing to do with the quality of a person as she so aptly expresses in this quote from the book…

Up until then I'd thought that white people and colored people getting along was the big aim, but after that I decided everybody being colorless together was a better plan. I'd thought of that policeman, Eddie Hazelwurst, saying I'd lowered myself to be in this house of colored women, and for the life of me I couldn't understandhow it had turned out this way, how colored women had become the lowest ones on the totem pole. You only had to look at them to see how special they were, like hidden royalty among us.

Sue Monk Kidd's, The Secret Life of Bees , is a powerful story of coming-of-age and of the ability of love to transform our lives. Join Lily in her journey out of her secret life as she heals under the influence of the love of her new mothers, Rosaleen and the calendar sisters May, June, and August Boatwright as she learns the challenges of becoming a beekeeper.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age is a book that helps to explain an important chapter in Detroit’s (and the nation’s) civil rights history. Dr. Ossian Sweet, the grandson of slaves and the son of farmers, became an educated man by working his way through schools, struggling to better his status and providing a role model for his younger siblings.

The book begins in 1925 when Dr. Sweet decided to move his wife and baby daughter from the crowded lower east side Detroit black ghetto into an all white neighborhood at Garland and Charlevoix. It was the only way that he and his wife could live in a decent environment.

"He wasn’t looking for trouble”, Dr. Sweet’s brother Otis, a dentist, recalled. “He just wanted to bring up his little girl in good surroundings” And it wasn’t unheard of that a black family should move into a “white neighborhood." But the residents in this neighborhood didn’t want any coloreds contaminating their block. Dr. Sweet knew the risks. Just a few months earlier another black physician had moved into an all white west side neighborhood, a mob invaded the home, moved all the furniture into a van and drove him out of the neighborhood. And the woman who sold him the house told him that she had been warned by a phone caller that if he moved in, she would be killed along with the doctor and the house would be blown up. And so Ossian prepared by asking brothers and friends to come to the house on move-in day to provide security. Throughout the day tensions rose in the neighborhood. The Detroit Police Department regarded the situation grave enough to send officers there day and night

And the neighbors were angry. Hundreds came out at night and loitered. Stones were thrown at the house, windows were broken. The police did nothing but watch. And then, the men inside the house defended themselves and the house. They began shooting. And one white man was killed.

This detailed and insightful book is not a fast read. But it is a rewarding read, offering information about the civil rights struggle and the many men and organizations that were integral to this movement. You will read about Frank Murphy, Clarence Darrow, Reinhold Niebuhr, the NAACP, as well as Henry Ford, the history of Detroit, the great migration to the North. Arc of Justice is a true story that will stay in your mind long after you have finished the last page.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington

Follow Mr. Cookie Baker as he makes cookie dough, rolls it out, cuts it, bakes it, and sells cookies in his shop. Follow the easy recipes at the back of the book to make Sugar, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, or Oatmeal cookies.