Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coffeehouse Angel

Suzanne Selfors' newest book sat in my pile for a while. There was something about the cover or title that just didn't appeal to me, and once I picked it up, I was concerned that it was more of a high school book. Don't tend to encourage middle school students to think of their administration as fascists. That comes soon enough. Then, on page 11, I came across this line: "Half Native American and half Norwegian, he looked like the offspring of Geronimo and Conan the Barbarian, minus the killer attitude and weaponry," and I was hooked! (Ms. Selfors' web site is great, too!)

Katrina lives with her grandmother in a small town. They run a struggling Norwegian coffee house, and things are not easy. When Katrina leaves coffee and food for a homeless man who is sleeping in their alley, he turns out to be an angel who is bound to reward her kindness. At first, Katrina just thinks he is crazy and tries to tell him her desire (which he must grant) is for fortune, or fame. These wishes are granted in an off kilter way, so Malcom continues to hang around. Throw in a rival coffee shop with a perky nemesis, a silent but steadfast family friend with a secret, and a love interest in her best friend Vincent, and this wonderfully written tale becomes something I could not put down. I'll have to take another look at Selfors' Saving Juliet, which I dismissed because of the plethora of time-travel-back-to-Shakespeare's-England books in my library. If the writing is this good, I'll have to get it. My 10th grader snatched this one away from me even though she should be doing Spanish homework.

Trying to pitch nonfiction this week, and Dani Sneed's Ferris Wheel, from Enslow Publishing, is a nice quick read. George Ferris joins the Philo T. Farnsworth Hall of Hard Knocks-- things never went well for him despite his successful invention. This was very short-- almost like an article, but students will appreciate the pictures. There is a title about Farnsworth in this series, as well as Theodore Maiman, who invented the laser, and Vivien Thomas, who was a heart surgery pioneer.

Michel Ostow's Popular Vote was a light romp about a girl who decides to run for student body president against her former boyfriend when a historic field near their school is threatened by a corporation who wants to build a gas station there. The complications? The corporation is funding her father's mayorial bid, and blogging about them doesn't make anyone happy. Nice lesson about blogging, interesting story line, and fun characters, but there was something a little irritating about Erin's alternating brand-dropping/Clique like devotion to fashion and her environmental stance. Spoiler Alert: That she was happy in the end that the gas station was still being built but a 300 square foot park was left didn't ring true to me. Still, the book-a-day girls are enjoying it.


A much anticipated arrival was the Cirque du Freak 1 and 2 manga. Number 3 comes out very soon. I like the novels, and buy manga when I hope to introduce (mainly) boys who will read only comics to a book. This was fine, done by Takahiro Arai for the Japanese audience, and I liked especially how some of the words in the background were kept in transliterated Japanese and then translated. Still, any time I read a manga, I invariably think "Oh, Cirque du Freak, as performed by the cast of Speed Racer." Am I the only one who thinks this? Am I wrong?
(From speedracer.com)

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

*choke* hilarious. I've skimmed a couple Darren Shan books and my thought was just "cover looks waaay too sweet and sparkly for vampire horror. hee hee. but they've been checking out like crazy - although i don't know if those reading them are cirque fans or manga fans or both.

Bookworm said...

I loved Coffeehouse Angel, too! It was sweet....and so was Popular Vote. I really liked Erin's character a lot!

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