Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--"

Drago, Ty. The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses.
ARC received from publisher.

Some days just aren't good ones. At Will's house, the morning starts with his sister whining that cable is out, then his neighbor turns out to be a crotchety old DEAD guy, then most of his teachers turn out to be zombies who are after him. Luckily, Will is saved by Helene. Turns out there's a whole infiltration "corpses", who use dead bodies to get around, masking their true selves with an illusion that only some teens can see. Will is one, and his father, who was killed by corpses two years ago, was the only adult who could see them. Will's father set up the Undertakers, teens who can see the corpses, both to keep the teens safe and to try to keep the world from falling to the corpses' evil whims. They have a great hide out in the Haven, but when an evil corpse newscaster sets his mind on destroying will, the entire operation is in peril. How can will defeat the corpses and have some chance of seeing his family again? Maybe we'll find out in book two, Queen of the Dead.

Strengths: Yes! THIS is what my students want from a zombie book. Not only is there plenty of graphic description of rotting hands and fighting, there's a slightly snarky main character, a cute but feisty "like" interest, and a whole society run by children who are the only ones who can save the world. Mr. Drago dedicated this book to his son, and it's very clear he consulted him.
Weaknesses: There is a lot of detail on how the society was set up, how one fights corpses, and the relationship between Will and his dad. While this is well done, some tighter editing in these areas would have made this a little shorter and a quicker read. A lot of my struggling readers love zombies, and 465 pages will intimidate some of them.

Whelan, Gloria. Small Acts of Amazing Courage.
Rosalind enjoys living in India in 1918, but can tell that things are changing. Her father has been off fighting, and her mother is not taking it well. Most British children in India are sent back to England for school, but since Rosalind's brother died after being sent back, her mother is reluctant. After Rosalind spends too much time with her Indian best friend and saves a servant's grandchild from being sold to a man who will cripple him and use him for begging, she is sent to live with aunts in England. Her trip there is short, because she and her kindly aunt run afoul of the overbearing one when they attend a talk by an Indian woman who sides with Ghandi's attempts to peacefully overthrow British rule and their picture ends up in the paper. Rosalind is glad to be going home, and her aunt thrilled to be able to go along and help with the situation in India.

Strengths: I adored this, and even requested a book Whelan cites, Children of the Raj, because this is such an interesting historical era. Homeless Bird is one of my most popular historical choices, so I might be able to justify purchasing this one.
Weakness: Not a time period any of the grades study, and anything historical is such a hard sell. Why IS it that adults love historical fiction but the children don't seem to?


Iron Guy Carl said...

Historical fiction gets a bum rap. Kids think it's boring and don't bother to find out differently. Or they think history itself is boring. Too bad because there are so many good hf books out there.

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