Samworth, Kare. Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual.
March 4th 2014
by Clarion Books
Copy Received from HMH Middle Grade Mania
I wasn't quite sure how to categorize this book, but finally decided that it is fantasy nonfiction. That is, a nonfiction, informational book on an imaginary subject! Based on the premise that most of the birds in the world are extinct by 2031, this book pretends to be a catalog of bird parts for sale that can then be assembled into an actual bird. The pages almost count as information about different types of birds-- the different beaks, feet, feathers and other features are described a bit. The instructions on putting the bird together were a little weird-- the base bird arrives without feet, beak or wings and must be fed "welcome mix" and be sedated by a large meal and a glass of milk before their wings and feet are installed. There is even a page of birds that people made that didn't seem quite right, and the "catalog" explains what needs to be done to make the birds right. This is a very beautiful book, and it's good to see a picture book that isn't a biography or about a new baby, new school year, or going to bed, but it is a bit odd.
It's that time of year when I find myself scouring the clearance rack at Half Price Books because I've spent all of the board money for the year. I am conflicted about this-- I want the authors to get money, I really do, but how many times can I replace Erin Hunter books at full price? Or Wimpy Kid? Well, Half Price Books donates a lot of items to our school, so I like to patronize them as often as I can, and since I don't really buy books for myself... anyway, picked up these two on a recent trip.
Kimmell, Elizabeth Cody. In the Stone Circle
April 1st 1998
Cristyn's professor father needs to finish his book so he can get tenure, so he takes Cristyn to a small town in Wales where her long dead mother once lived. She's disappointed, especially since they are sharing the house with another professor and her two children, Miranda and Dennis.There's nothing to do, so the children investigate the area and find that there is the ghost of a girl from long ago who seems to want their help when they make their way down into a creepy subcellar. There are other issues going on as well-- Miranda's father attempted to kidnap Dennis back in the States, and then shows up in Wales. There is a romance between the parents. The children need to do research to find out who the girl is and how they can help.
Strengths: I picked this up thinking it was perhaps In the Circle of Time, which I owned at one point and remember fondly. When I realized that it wasn't, I bought it anyway because it was 1.) Time travel and 2.) by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. It doesn't have a horrible cover, considering the date of publication.
Weaknesses: Had its moments, but didn't knock my socks off. I am surprised that this wasn't in my library already, though.
Lafleur, Suzanne. Listening for Lucca
August 6th 2013
by Wendy Lamb Books
Sienna and her family move from Brooklyn to a big house along the Maine coast, hoping that it might have some effect on her young brother, who is selectively mute. Sienna is obsessed with lost objects and considered odd at her school in the city, but seems to make friends of all kinds easily in her new town. She also finds a pen with which she starts to write the story of Sarah and Joshua, who lived in the house years ago. Somehow, she feels that this story has something to do with her brother's lack of speaking, but is it a dangerous place for them to be?
Strengths: This had many elements of a good time travel story-- big old house along the coast, enchanted pen, connection with the past. A much better review of it was done by Charlotte at Charlotte's Library.
Weaknesses: There was something about this that didn't resonate with me. There was something about Sienna that made her annoying, and I didn't believe that she would make friends so quickly. Also, there was something not quite right about the pen-- it was introduced to abruptly and just didn't make sense. Lucca's mutism wasn't resolved to my satisfaction, either.