Monday, March 22, 2010

Sorrells, Walter. White-out.
Chass, having been on the run all through Fake ID (2005) and Club Dread (2006), is settling in to her new home in a small Minnesota town. When she finds the band teacher murdered during a heavy snow storm, events spiral out of control and a lot of mysteries are uncovered. This installment was very atmospheric, and even though the weather felt like spring outside, it really felt like I was spending a day in this small town with its quirky residents in awful winter weather. This series does very well in my library and is still available. There were just about as many new mysteries uncovered as there were solved, so I'm sure a fourth book is on its way. Can't wait.

Zahler, Diane. The Thirteenth Princess.
Zita has always worked in the kitchen of the castle where the king has twelve daughters, all of whom are named with "A" names. She finds out that she is also a princess, but that after the death of her mother at her birth, she is banished to the servants' quarters. Even though magic has been outlawed in the kingdom, she visits the cottage of a witch who knew her mother and learns more of her background. After making friends with her sisters, they all start to sicken, and only Zita and her friend Breckin can discover what is causing this. I would be leery of more fantasy princess tales if I hadn't been getting a lot of requests for them lately. This one was pleasant, fairy tale fun.

Shusterman, Neal. The Eyes of Kid Midas. (1992)
Many of Shusterman's older titles are being reprinted with attractive new covers. This one reads very much like the Dark Fusion series (Red Rider's Hood, Dread Locks, Duckling Ugly), since Kevin Midas can use magic sunglasses to get whatever he wants. After finding the glasses on the top of a mountain, he and his friend use them to conjure up electronics, make people behave in certain ways, and generally don't exercise any discretion at all with them, even when they start to notice that they can't undo what they have done, and things start to go very wrong. A nice, creepy tale with a realistic protrayal of what boys would do with this power.

Flake, Sharon. Bang!
Mann is still grieving over the drive-by shooting death of his brother, so doesn't do well with the violence that plagues his neighborhood. His parents are supportive and want him to do well in school, but he has trouble behaving himself. His father decides that leaving Mann and his friend Kee-lee hours from home with few supplies and making them walk back is a good way to make them men. When this doesn't work, Mann moves in with an aunt who runs a gambling den. Oddly, this doesn't improve Mann's behavior either, and the only thing that makes him see the light is another tragedy. A student recommended that I buy this, and I liked The Skin I'm In and Money Hungry. This one is very sad, and offers no solutions to the problems of violence in the inner city.

Lasky, Kathyrn. Ashes.
Gabriella's father is a scientist who knows Einstein and other bright lights of German scholarship during the time when the Nazis are rising to power in Germany. She sees all of the changes occur around her-- Jewish shops being closed, schools excluding Jewish students and teaching Nazi propaganda-- but doesn't think that the people she knows will believe in the Nazi message. Her father is accused of being a "white Jew" because he agrees with the scientific work of Jewish scientists, and when book burning and academic witch hunts threaten the family, they realize that Hitler has greater power over the German people than they suspected. This offered some new perspective on different facets of the Holocaust, and had very helpful historical notes. Definitely a good buy for a school where there is a Holocaust unit.

Also looked at Saci Lloyd's The Carbon Diaries, but they seemed overly British and whiny, although an interesting premise. Ferrari's Born to Fly seemed a little young, since it involved an 11-year-old girl during World War II who wants to fly.

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