Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Zane and the Hurricane

Zane's father died before he was born in a car accident, so he's only known his mother's side of the family in New Hampshire.  All that changes when his mother discovers a long lost relative in New Orleans, Louisiana.  She's not just any relative though; she's his great aunt Trissy who raised his father.  She's very old, and she wants to meet Zane.

Zane only agrees to go if he can bring his dog, Bandy, so the two set off reluctantly for New Orleans.  Things are going so awful until a few days after his arrival when news of Hurricane Katrina arrives.  In their efforts to escape, Zane is separated from Miss Trissy.

Now Zane must survive the worst storm he's ever experienced, but what happens after the storm is even worse.  Plus, he's on his own in a city filled with danger.  The once beautiful city is now full of filthy water, dead bodies, and violence, and it seems like no one is willing to help.

Zane is lucky to find two other survivors who are willing to share early on, and the three companions set off looking for dry land and shelter, but it seems there is very little compassion left for the poor bedraggled companions.

Rodman Philbrick's new book is a powerful story of survival and the importance of compassion.  This book is a great entry to the Hurricane Katrina disaster for readers of all ages.  Highly recommended.

The video below shows the day by day development of the storm.  If you want to see more storm footage and the devastating effects, there is plenty of video available on the internet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Stubby the War Dog

I was trying to get this review done yesterday in time for Veterans Day, but it didn't happen.  This was such a cute story!  I can't believe it hasn't been made into a movie yet.

This is the true story of Stubby, a stray dog who wandered onto the training grounds where doughboys (soldiers) were getting ready for deployment during WWI.  There he met Robert Conroy, and the two became fast friends.

Stubby went to Europe with Conroy and became a valued part of the unit by detecting poisonous gas, bombs, and injured men.  He also provided much needed companionship to lonely soldiers far from home.

Once the war was over, Stubby became a celebrity!  I am barely skimming the surface in this review because I don't want to give away all of Stubby's tricks.  Read Ann Bausum's new book, and you'll fall in love with Stubby, a real American hero.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood

Abby Spencer's life in Houston has been pretty normal up to now.  She's never known her father, but she has her mom and her grandparents plus great friends at school.  Everything changes one day when she discovers she has a serious food allergy.  Nearly dying can give a girl the courage to ask her mom about her long lost father!

That's when she discovers the truth.  She's always known her father was Indian, but the truth is even crazier than that.  He's a Bollywood star and not just any Bollywood star either.  Naveen Kumar is the hottest star of Bollywood cinema!

Abby wanted her life to be more exciting, but this might be too crazy.  She goes to Mumbai to meet her father and his father where she discovers the wonders and extreme poverty of India.  She also gets a taste of the celebrity life!

No one back home is ever going to believe this!

This is a sweet story about family relationships set against the backdrop of a Bollywood musical.  Varsha Bajaj's story is a light and fun read.  If you went to Tweens Read, you may have seen the author there.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Win Mockingjay Tickets

Now is your chance to win tickets to see Mockingjay Part I!  All you have to do is pick up the entry form in the library, fill it out, and get your parents to sign it.  

All entries are due by 8:15 on November 21, and the winner will be announced later that day.  

Theater:  AMC Willowbrook
Date:  November 21
Time:  7:00PM

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Mockingjay Extravaganza!

I know I'm excited for Mockingjay!  How about you?  Our next book club meeting will December 8, and it will be a Hunger Games/Mockingjay book/movie discussion/extravaganza!  All members of the fandom are welcome even if you are not a regular book club attendee. :)

Anyway...Here are some trailers for you.  :)

And here's a link to the official YouTube channel for even more videos!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Julian is not like his friends.  At least that's what everyone keeps telling him, but the way he sees it is different.  His best friend Lonnie is the leader, the one with all the ideas, and the rest of the gang just kind of follows along because his ideas are usually good and because Lonnie's just so persuasive.

No one meant for Danley to get hurt.  They were just kids playing around, but now the suspension is over, and Julian and his friends are back in class.  But Julian's English teacher isn't satisfied.  Mr. Selkirk wants something written, and it has to be long.

This is beginning of Julian's musings on his life, his friends, and their adventures.  Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes Julian writes the truth whether he can see it or not.

This is the story of the year when Julian finally starts to see things for how they really are, to see the truth about his friendships and about his choices.  To finally see what it means to stand up and be yourself.

I really enjoyed Mark Goldblatt's coming of age story.  Julian is not a character you always like, but I think most of us can identify with those moments when you just go with the flow because that's what's easiest.  Highly recommended!

Students reading this book should be aware that the historical context is important to the details of the story.  You will hear characters using words, phrases, or attitudes to describe people of other races that may surprise your modern mind. Keep the historical context in mind as you read.  How would the characters and story be different if it took place in 2014 instead of 1969?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The School for Good and Evil

Sophie is determined to be a princess in a fairy tale, so when it comes time for the kidnapping, she does everything she can to make sure she is taken.  The rest of the village takes precautions: nailing windows and doors shut, patrols in the street, the good dirtying themselves up and the bad trying to be a little better.    Every four years, a mysterious creature comes in the night to kidnap the best and worst child in the village.  No one is exactly certain where they go, but the faces of kidnapped children in storybooks are proof enough.

Sophie believes her devotion to personal beauty and carefully planned acts of charity make her the obvious choice for good.  Sophie doesn't really have any friends.  She's too good for anyone in the village, but what started out as one of her "acts of charity" has actually turned into a friendship of a sort.

Agatha is the opposite of Sophie in many ways.  She is dark-haired, wears only black, has a perpetual grumpy attitude, and lives in a cemetery.  Additionally, she thinks Sophie is insane for wanting to be kidnapped.  So, while Sophie is doing everything in her power to be kidnapped, Agatha is trying to protect her.

When the actual kidnapping does happen, the two girls are taken together, but Sophie's exultation quickly turns to dismay when she is dumped in Evil and Agatha is dumped in Good.  How could this have happened?!

From day one Sophie is intent on proving there's been a mistake, getting her prince, and winning her happily ever after.  Agatha sees the true danger around them and devotes her time to finding a way home.  Will either girl get her hearts desire?  And will these two misfits find out where they truly belong?

I really enjoyed Soman Chainani's book about misconceptions and friendship.  I love the way the author picks apart common fairy tale tropes to show how ridiculous the are in "real" life.  I recommend this one for fairy tale and fantasy fans.