Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez

"Son, I know you're wondering why we asked you not to go telling folks that we got some Mexicans working for us."
Tyler sits down, feeling relieved. Finally, the big mystery will be explained to him.
But his mother is shooting glances at his father. "We haven't yet decided how we're going to approach this," she reminds him.
"I think the boy should know. What if there's a raid or something?"
A raid!
"Are we doing something wrong?" Tyler is shocked. (55-56)

Tyler has had a horrible summer, with his beloved Grandfather dying and his father suffering a horrible tractor accident. After coming back from visiting relatives in Boston, Tyler finds out that his father has hired a family of illegal immigrants to help out on their Vermont dairy farm. Tyler is conflicted on what his parents are doing, especially when he ends up with one of the three girls in his class at school. Between a missing mother, an arrested uncle, and a raid on the farm, the girls' lives are anything but easy. Read Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez to find out if Tyler ends up helping them in the end.


Monday, June 29, 2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

You wouldn't expect the radio to work afterward. But it does.
The car is eviscerated. The impact of a four-ton pickup truck going sixty miles an hour plowing straight into the passenger side had the force of an atom bomb. It tore off the doors, sent the front-side passenger seat through the driver's-side window. It flipped the chassis, bouncing it across the road and ripped the engine apart as if it were no stronger than a spiderweb. It tossed wheels and hubcaps deep into the forest. It ignited bits of the gas tank, so that now tiny flames lap at the wet road. (13)

This is the first major occurrance in Gayle Forman's If I Stay. Seventeen-year-old Mia loses her father, mother, and younger brother in a tragic car accident. Her spirit observes her doctors, nurses, boy friend, and extended family encouraging her to live. But Mia isn't sure she wants to wake up from her coma, when no one is left, and she's forced to choose. Get ready for a good cry as she debates what makes life really worth living.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake by Jennifer Allison

Miss Underhill frowned at Gilda as if she were suddenly speaking a foreign language. "What?"
"You said her ghost rises out of the water screaming. Then what happens?"
"I don't think I want to find out."
Gilda's mind raced with questions. Was Our Lady of Sorrows truly haunted, or was Miss Underhill simply trying to scare her? What were the circumstances surrounding Dolores Lambert's death by drowning?
Gilda had just made up her mind; she wanted to attend Our Lady of Sorrows. (25-26)

Gilda Joyce has won a scholarship to the prestigious all girls Catholic high school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. While initially skeptical about attending, she's convinced to attend when she hears about a drowning "accident" that occurred three years ago. She's anxious to prove her worth as a paranormal investigator, but after her first day at school, she realizes that not everyone is as excited as Gilda to investigate a tragedy. When the girl's ghost starts haunting some of the students and the school, will this convince Gilda to halt her investigation? Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake by Jennifer Allison is actually the second in a trilogy of books detailing Gilda's mysteries.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Harriette Gillem Robinet

Gideon waved at the people standing around him in the moonlight. "You people stay here in the slimy shame of slavery. You nobodies! I be free and on my way to own land. Landowners are somebody!" He laughed. (6)

Pascal's brother Gideon comes back to the plantation after the Civil War, announcing that all the slaves have been freed and they are each guaranteed forty acres. Along the way to Georgia to claim the free land, they travel with Pascal's young friend Nelly, Mr. Freedman, and Mr. Freedman's granddaughter Gladness. But getting the free forty acres isn't as easy as it sounds, and there is still a lot of hatred toward slaves in the south. Harriette Gillem Robinet tells the little known story of Reconstruction, when former slaves were promised Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Lightning Thief by RIck Riordan

"Sir," I said, "where's Mrs. Dodds?"
He stared at me blankly. "Who?"
"The other chaperone. Mrs. Dodds. The pre-algebra teacher."
He frowned and sat forward, looking mildly concerned. "Percy, there is no Mrs. Dodds on this trip. As far as I know, there has never been a Mrs. Dodds at Yancy Academy. Are you feeling alright?" (15)

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson has had some weird things happen to him before, as he has been to six schools in six years. But when his pre-algebra teacher attacks him while on a field trip, and then disappears with no one remembering her, that's just the start of Percy's adventure. Soon he finds himself be shipped away to summer camp for the offerspring of the Olympic gods and goddesses. But Percy seems to have discovered his new identity just in time, as he is sent on a quest for an item stolen by the gods. If you haven't started the series by Rick Riordan yet, now's the time to start with The Lightning Thief.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman

After he died, I huddled up against the wall, searching for what little warmth remained locked away in the giant stones. My eyes fell upon the locket around Warvold's lifeless neck, and then to his closed fist clutching the locket key, which got me to thinking about things one really should not be thinking about at such a time. If ever there were a person who would know how to get outside teh wall, it would have been Warvold. I didn't know what other things the key might unlock, but I had a suspicion that possessing it might get me one step closer to sitting with my back against the other side of the wall. (29)

Twelve-year-old Alexa Daley is the only one there when Warvold dies, the smartest and oldest leader of the four interconnected towns in the Land of Elyon. After his death, trouble starts threatening from a neighboring town outside the protective but confining walls that Alexa has lived behind all her life. Alexa is curious what lays behind there, and is intent to find out. What she discovers in her search however is danger that no one expected; a danger that everyone thought had left the towns years ago. Now, with the head guard suspiciously watching her every move, Alexa must save her town in The Dark Hills Divide, the first in the Land of Elyon series by Patrick Carman.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck

A sacred Halloween ritual was pinning horns. If a Halloweener could get into a car, he'd jam one end of a stick into the horn on the steering wheel and the other end into the back of the seat. Then he'd run like the devil while the car owner had to come out and unstick the horn before the battery ran down. Car horns went off all over town. One went off right then, over on Summit. Dad was waiting for business, and the windows were down for bait. (18)

Richard Peck's On the Wings of Heroes tells the story of Davy Bowman, whose homelife has been turned upside down by World War II. His older brother is off to train, and ultimately fly, B-17s overseas. This breaks his father's heart, who fought in World War I and thought he was making the world a safer place for his sons. Instead, rations and scrap drives become everyday occurrances, and Davy must adjust to all these changes.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Magic Half by Annie Barrows

Miri began to feel dizzy. "I'm not a fairy, and nobody called me up. I was just sitting in my room--this room--and then it all switched, and I was here, and I don't understand any of this. . ." She trailed off. (33)

Miri Gill is the middle child in her family of two sets of twins. Her family is something special because of that, but she's just something extra. That is, until a small piece of glass in her new house transports her back in time to 1935. She meets a girl named Molly, who thinks Miri is a fairy that she called to help her escape from her evil aunt and cousins. Miri wishes she could help Molly, but gets accidently sent back to her own time. Read The Magic Half by Annie Barrows, who also wrote the Ivy and Bean series, to find out what happens.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus

He could make out a small pigeon hopping along the roof's edge. [...] It inched along the edge of the roof near one of the gargoyles, a lion's head with its stone mouth open in a growl. The pigeon stopped just short of the gargoyle, looking away at something on the roof. Then, in a flash, the gargoyle head turned and gobbled the pigeon up in one huge bite. Feathers burst out of its mouth and floated softly down toward Rory's astonished face. He would have thought he'd imagined this, too, if the gargoyle wasn't still chewing. Finally, with a swallow, the gargoyle went back to stillness. If not for the falling feathers, nothing would have been different. (pg. 12)

Thirteen year old New Yorker Rory Hennessy thinks he's going mad. After he assists a magician at his sister's birthday party, he starts seeing things that other people can't see. It's obvious to him when shadowy figures called Strangers try to snatch him that he is not going crazy. Instead, he finds out that he is the last known Light, and enters into a centuries old war amongst the ghosts and gods of Manhattan. With everyone trying to convince him that he should fight on their side, debut novelist Scott Mebus keeps readers guessing with who's the good gods and who's the bad guys in Gods of Manhattan. And as Rory and his sister soon find out, sometimes they're one and the same.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

"I was supposed to play the piano.
The piano is a beautiful instrument.
People wera ball gowns and tuxedos to hear the piano. With the piano, you could play Carnegie Hall. You could wear a tiara. You could come out on stage wearing gloves up to your elbows. [...]
I play the organ.
A wood-grained, vinyl-seated, wheeze-bag organ.
The Perfectone D-60. (1-3)

In A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban, Zoey Elias dreams of playing Carnegie Hall one day like her all time favorite pianist Vladimir Horowitz. But when she asks her dad for lessons, he signs her up for lessons with Lester Rennet, music teacher and motivational speaker who teaches on paper keyboards. When she finally convinces her dad that she needs a real piano, he goes out and buys an organ. This is the same dad who bought 432 rolls of toliet paper at one time and has earned dozens of "degrees" from online universities because he's afraid of leaving the house. While this is going on, her workaholic mother is gone a lot, so classmate Wheeler Diggs follows Zoey home from school and eats her mom's dinner. And her best friend has decided that Zoey is no longer her best friend. How is Zoey ever going to be ready for the Performa-Rama with all this going on?


Friday, June 12, 2009

Three Cups of Tea Young Readers Edition by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

"As the sun set, Greg spent an hour clambering up a slope of loose rock, hoping to get a view that would help tell him where he was. He knew of a landmark on another mountain, and if he could find it, he might be able to get his bearings. But when he got to the top of the slope, all he saw were unfamiliar peaks in the fading light. He had wandered about eight miles from where he should have been.

All he had with him was a small, purple backpack that held a blanket, and empty water bottle, and a single protein bar." (5)
In this Young Readers Edition of the New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea, Sarah Thomson adapts Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin story of building schools in Pakistan. In an attempt to climb the second highest mountain on Earth, he gets lost and finds himself being rescued and taken care of by a remote village. He promises that he will build the children there a school as a thank you. This book details the difficulties he had in getting that first school built, and then what happens when Mortenson learns he can't just stop at just one school. As word spreads of what Mortenson is doing, it turns out that not everyone is as supportive as that first village.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Missing Magic by Emma Laybourn

"Normally we wouldn't have the means to admit a child who's so. . ." She paused.
"Disabled," said my mother flatly. Under the table, I pulled my hand away.
"That's not a word we use," Miss Ibbs said with reproof. "We've had pupils who are -- magically challenged, shall we say; a little slow to develop. But I must admit I've never seen a child quite so . . ."
She glanced sidelong at me. My mother was silent.
"Quite so special," said Miss Ibbs. "Quite so entirely power free." (4)
Ned Truso has no magic. None. Not one drop. Which wouldn't be so bad, except that everyone else does have magic. They can conjure and fly and instantly pull homework answers out of thin air. So when rumors spread that kids are disappearing, Ned doesn't want to believe them, since he's the easiest target there is. But then disaster happens, and he and his classmates are kidnapped. With a surprising change of events, Emma Laybourn presents a fast-paced story in Missing Magic.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Isabel's Texas Two-Step by Annie Bryant

"My reactionwas the complete opposite. Texas! Whoa! Chickens. I could barely remember my uncle and aunt's ranch, only that it was in the middle of nowhere, that the house was big and dark, and that there were cows... and a rooster. But, wow, what an adventure! "Yee-haw," I yapped. Oops! I clapped my hands over my mouth.
Elena shot me a look. She was not happy with my enthusiasm. (12)

Isabel Martinez's older sister Elena Maria is celebrating her quinceanera, or 15th birthday. Rather than doing it in their hometown of Detroit or their new town of Boston, the whole family is flying down to Texas. Isabel's aunt, uncle, and three boy cousins live there on a ranch with an insane rooster and a skitish horse. While their house is amazing, Isabel's cousin Ricardo keeps getting her in trouble and her sister is turning into quincezilla. When Ricardo and Isabel get stuck in a rainstorm overnight and the same storm cancels Isabel's dad's flight to Texas, trouble is just beginning. Part of the Beacon Street Girl Series, Isabel's Texas Two-Step is a light-hearted tale by Annie Bryant.


Monday, June 08, 2009

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

"Out of the millions of people in America who might become Lucky's mother if Brigitte went home to France, Lucky wondered about some way to trap and catch the exact right one. She was pretty sure she'd be able to, if only she had a Higher Power.
But when she envisioned her perfect mother, she kept thinking of traits and habits like Brigitte's. That always made her think somehow not of the perfect mother but of the perfect child, which in most ways Lucky already was, but not in every way. Brigitte did not fully realize the ways Lucky was almost perfect, but she did notice thoroughly the ways Lucky was not." (13)

By listening in on the discussions of the various annonymous groups that meet locally, 10 year old Lucky Trimble learns that she needs a Higher Power to get control of her life. Two years ago, her life went spinning out of control when her mother died after being struck by lightning. Her father's ex-wife, Brigitte, comes from France to care for Lucky. But Lucky keeps expecting that anyday, Brigitte will want to return to the France she loves and misses. Lucky devises a plan to runaway from home and make Brigitte miss her so much that she won't want to leave. Plans change though, when a windstorm whips up that sends the entire town (population 43) in a frenzy. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron won the Newbery Award in 2007.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

"Well, it wouldn't be the best way to get help, would it?" asked Max-Ernest, a little more slowly than usual. "I mean , he could have just called someone--like the police. Or the fire department. But I guess maybe if he didn't want everyone to know. Like if it was only for a certain person --"
"Whoever it was for, we're the ones who read it," Cass pointed out. "That means we have to help him."
"But he's dead!" (46-47)

Cassandra's uncles, who run an antiques store, receive a package from an real estate agent who is handling the death of a reclusive magician. This package, inscribed as the Symphony of Smells, is filled with vials that smell like peanut butter, licorice, or other things. But there's also a call for help, which Cass feels obligated to answer. Max-Ernest, a boy who talks too much, becomes an undesired collaborator. But when Cass encounters Dr. L and Ms. Mauvais, and a classmate with unusual abilities goes missing, Cass smells disaster. Unfortunately, Cass thinks disaster is everywhere, and no one believes her, so she's forced to set off on her own. If you liked Lemony Snicket series, you'll like this new series by Pseudonymous Bosch, which starts with The Name of This Book is Secret.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

"Are you sure about the answer? Absolutely, positively, down-to-your-very-soul sure? If we got the very first question wrong, I think I'd crumple up and die."
"Yuck," said Gil.
"No really."
"Really, Bianca? If I thought I was wrong, I'd be racing like a wild man. Instead, I'm going to sit on this nice, hot bench."
"Then why are more people over there?" Bianca pointed toward an overflowing section B. (53)

Gilbert Goodson is a twelve year old bent on participating in the first ever Gollywhopper Games. The games promise a grand prize of a full college scholarship, a copy of every game and toy Golly Toy and Game Company has ever sold, and "other stupendous prizes". Gil however has his own reasons to win. Gil's father was accussed of embezzling money from the toy company. If he wins, Gil's father promises to move away from the scrutiny that has followed him around for over a year. Gil however, has to prove his worth against 25,000 other competitors. When he enters into the finals against nine other contestants, it's a question of brains versus brawn versus the cheaters. The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman is filled with mind games to test any reader's fast thinking skills, and math and word fans will find plenty of enjoyment.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff

"What will Gram say?" Lily asked. "She won't like it. She'll hate it. I know she will."
Poppy moved his hand, held it over Lily's wrist on the oar. "Gram knows."
Lily stared at him. "You told Gram first. You knew about it. Both of you keeping a secret . . . not telling me . . ."
She shook his hand off her wrist, feeling tears hot in her eyes, a terrible burning in her throat, feeling angry enough to burst. She hated him, hated Gram. (34)

Lily's summer is starting off very badly, even though she's staying in Rockaway by the Atlantic Ocean with her grandmother just like she always does. However, her best friend Margaret is moving with her family to Detroit, and her father is called overseas to serve as an engineer in World War II. Finally, she's strapped with the neighbor's nephew from overseas, who Lily is suspicious about. While teaching him to swim and rescuing an abandoned cat bring them together, one of Lily's infamous lies might just tear this budding friendship apart. As a companion novel to Willow Run, Patricia Reilly Giff presents Lily's side of the story in Lily's Crossing.