Thursday, February 28, 2013

Aaron-Martin, Tink--The girl who is so grounded this summer that she decided to write an encyclopedia of her life.

Aaron-Martin, Twins--These are the two older brothers who drive Tink crazy just with general older-brotherness from Lex and older-brotherness plus autism from Seb.  This will be a real source of frustration in Tink's life!

Afro--The hairstyle Tink is stuck with, but maybe it's not as terrible as she's always thought.

Anderson, Freddie Blue--Tink's BFF (maybe).  These two girls once did everything together, but now FB is acting weird and fake.  Plus, FB called dibs on Tink's cute (maybe) new neighbor.

Blue-haired boy--Kai is Tink's new neighbor, and even though she knows it's wrong to have a crush on the boy her BFF is crushing on, she just can't help it!  This might not be a problem anyway since Tink turns into a total spaz around Kai anyway!

Encyclopedia of Me, The--You should definitely read Karen Rivers's book!  It is filled with the laughter and heartbreak of Tink's summer before 8th grade year.  A lot can change in a summer, but maybe change isn't always terrible.

P.S.  You must read the footnotes!  They are some of the funniest parts of the book!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Secret Garden

Mary was born in India to parents who never paid her any attention.  She learned to be selfish, cruel, bad tempered, and loved by no one.  When a tragedy strikes her home, she soon finds herself in Yorkshire, England, where the climate and the people are completely different from her home in India.

She is in a mysterious and large house where her uncle does not wish to see her, but she is surrounded by servants who wont stand for her demanding behavior.  Soon she begins to spend time outside in the gardens where she loves the plants and animals, and she slowly begins to change.

But there is one garden she is not allowed to enter.  The gate is locked and the key buried because it is a painful reminder of the past and the secrets of her new home.  The mystery of this locked garden is not the only one at Misselthwaite Manner.  Sometimes Mary hears strange cries, but the servants tell her she is imagining things.

What is the secret pain of Misselthwaite Manner?  Can a simple garden heal broken hearts?  Read Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic story to find out!  Also, visit this site to find out about Yorkshire, England, the setting for this story.

Here is the trailer a movie version:


Fourteen-year-old Carver Young has lived in an orphanage all his life, but just as he's about to forced out on his own, he's adopted by a strange and cranky old man named Hawking.

Carver soon learns that Hawking is a former Pinkerton, an agent from the elite Pinkerton Detective Agency.  This is a dream come true for Carver who's always dreamed of becoming a detective but with no way to get the training he needs.

Soon he is on the trail of a ruthless killer.  Could it be that Jack the Ripper has abandoned his London killing grounds for New York society?  Carver thought he would have the help and training of Hawking, but the man seems determined to make Carver do this on his own, so instead he turns to Delia and Finn, both former orphans who've been adopted.

With a notoriously corrupt police force only recently placed under the charge of Teddy Roosevelt, the Pinkertons may be the city's only hope.  Should Carver trust the Pinkertons, the police, Roosevelt himself?  How could he convince anyone to listen to a poor orphan like himself anyway?

Filled with twists, turns, and heart-pounding action, Stephan Petrucha's Ripper is sure to excite mystery and detective fans!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Whatever After: Fairest of All

In the first book of this new series by Sarah Mlynowski, Abby and her little brother Jonah discover that the mirror in the basement of their new house is no ordinary mirror.  It is actually a passageway into a fairytale kingdom!

They arrive just in time to stop Snow White from eating the evil queen's apple.  Awesome!  They are heroes!  Until they realize that now Snow White won't die, so she can meet her handsome prince and live happily ever after.  Oops.

Now Jonah and Abby have to find a way to fix Snow White's story and get home before their parents realize they are gone and freak out!  That's a lot to accomplish.  It's a good thing they have each other.

I really enjoyed this good fairy tale romp with all the original characters plus a modern twist!  Check out the Scholastic website for for Whatever After games and info!

Monday, February 11, 2013

After Eli

When Daniel's older brother Eli dies in the Iraq war, his family seems to go into a holding pattern.  Even though it's been three years, his mother is still so grieved that she is barely alive, and his father is just angry.  Neither of them pays much attention to Daniel.  His dad only notices him to yell about his grades and to disapprove of Daniel's summer job on a local farm. 

To help him deal with his brother's death, Daniel starts a Book of the Dead.  It's a collection of dead people and how they died.  Daniel is just as stuck as his parents are going through the motions of life without ever sharing or feeling anything real except for the ache his feels at missing his older brother. 

All that changes the summer Daniel is fifteen.  That's the summer Isabel moves into the neighborhood.  Even though Isabel will only be there for the summer, there is something about her that seems to wake Daniel up. 

Suddenly he sees the town geek as a real person and a maybe a real friend.  This unlikely trio along with the twins, Isabel's half-wild brother and sister spend the summer talking and thinking in ways that Daniel has never experienced before.  Maybe this summer Daniel will find a way to live after Eli. 

I really enjoyed Rebecca Rupp's newest book, but the characters a little more mature than I thought they would be when I picked it up.  Don't be fooled by the little kid on the cover.  There are flashbacks to Daniel's childhood throughout the book, but this is definitely a book about a fifteen year old!

Keeping the Castle

Patrice Kindl's new book is an homage to Jane Austen and her fabulous heroines and a laugh out loud tale of romance and crossed signals.

Seventeen-year-old beauty Althea is her family's only hope for saving their home, a crumbling castle built in the medieval style on the edge of a cliff.  Because of the time, Regency England, women have no means of making money other than marrying well.  Thus begins Althea's quest to marry a rich man and save her family's lands and home.

When a crop of new visitors, including a recently promoted Earl arrive in the village of Lesser Hoo, Althea sees her chance.  Will she persuade Lord Boring to fall for her womanly charms in spite of two badly behaved stepsisters, a crumbling castle, and Boring's ill-mannered friend, Mr. Fredericks?

With hints of Pride and Prejudice and Emma, fans of Jane Austen and newcomers to regency romance will love this one!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Westing Game

This month's book club selection is one of my favorite mysteries!  Ellen Raskin won the Newbery medal for it in 1979, and we are still reading it today.

When eccentric millionaire Sam Westing dies, he calls together his 16 heirs, a strange assortment of people who seem to have nothing in common except, of course, for the fact that they've all recently purchased apartments in the Sunset Towers luxury complex.

They are all summoned by Westing's lawyer to the will reading where they learn that Westing was murdered!  They are grouped into preassigned pairs, and each pair receives a set of clues and a check for $10,000.  The first pair to solve the mystery will inherit Mr. Westing's 200 million dollar estate!

The race is on, but with a murderer on the loose, no one is safe, and everyone is a suspect!


Fans of Alex Flinn's Beastly should start getting excited!  This book follows Kendra, the witch who cursed Kyle into a beast is back with more problems.  This time she can't decide if she should intervene in the life of a friend whose new stepsister is beautiful but sneakily evil.

As Kendra tries to decide what to do, she reviews other times she's intervened in the past that didn't turn out so well.  There's the time she tried to help a prince with an overbearing mother and the time a mermaid came to her looking for true love.

Meanwhile, Emma is watching her life slowly unravel under the influence of the deceptively beautiful Lisette.

This take on Cinderella looks at the story from a new perspective.  Maybe the beautiful Cinderella character isn't so pure and wonderful after all, and maybe the "ugly" stepsister isn't the evil one.

If you enjoyed Beastly, you'll definitely want to read Bewtiching!

We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March

In this book about the Civil Rights Movement, Cynthia Levinson uses the stories of four young people who participated in the protests of 1963 to tell the story.

Audrey Hendricks was one of the youngest protestors at just nine years old, but that didn't stop her from volunteering to be arrested in support of the Civil Rights Movement.

James Stewart's family was one of the wealthiest black families in Birmingham, and his parents worried that his participation would ruin this bright student's future.

Wash Booker had never even considered getting involved with the movement.  He rarely even went to school, choosing instead to spend his days roaming the countryside, but like the others, he would eventually feel drawn to participate.

Arnetta Streeter participated in the movement against her parents' protests.  She even formed her own student organization and continued showing up for meetings and marches until she was finally arrested.

How did the situation in Birmingham get so bad that children felt compelled to get themselves arrested?  This book follows the story of segregation and racism in Birmingham during a pivotal year in the movement.  You'll need to be patient as you read because the author has to explain the events that led up to the children's march and the key players, but you will be rewarded.  This book opened my eyes to a part of the Civil Rights Movement I knew little about.