Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Jay and Ray have always been "the twins": Adorable, inseparable, and indistinguishable from one another. When they move to a new school and Ray is sick on the first day, they get a taste of freedom from twindom. When they realize that their school files have been stuck together and only one of them is registered, they come up with a convincing plan to attend school on alternate days. This doesn't work out as well as they think it will. Eventually their plan is figured out, parents are brought in, and a satisfactory conclusion is reached. I don't agree with the cover that "Clements set the standard for the school story..." because that would be Haywood or Cleary, but fans will welcome this Andrew Clements' Lost and Found. The first student to check it out was actually an 8th grader!

In Naomi Hirarhara's 1001 Cranes, Angela's parents are having trouble with their marriage, so they send her to spend the summer with her grandparents, working in their flower shop, folding paper cranes for wedding displays. She's not happy about a lot of things-- being sent from home, work she is inept at, her grandmother's affection for an annoying girl who hangs out at the shop. There are a lot of subplots to keep things interesting-- a neighbor has cancer, a skater boy is interested in Angela, and her parents keep upsetting her by having no idea what they are going to do. The cover is really brilliant. My one complaint-- if the mother was 12 in 1968, she was 41 when Angela was born. Possible for her to be a mother, but unlikely that she was a hippie. No more hippie parents of young adults! Hippie grandparents, perhaps!

Penny Colman's Thanksgiving: The True Story is an invaluable resource on the mythology surrounding a beloved holiday. Like Colman's other titles (Corpses, Coffins and Crypts, 1997 and Rosie the Riveter, 1995), this is imminently readable and full of interesting facts. Working on the premise that what most people have been taught about Thanksgiving has no basis in fact, Colman set out to investigate how these stories came to be part of our national consciousness. Replete with maps, pictures rarely seen, and other intersting documentation, Colman covers first the historical aspects of this holiday and then goes on to describe some of the traditions surrounding it. An excellent addition to a middle school library for a variety of purposes.

I was gathering "moldy oldies" for a lesson next week and came across John Tunis' Silence Over Dunkerque from 1962. It came from the high school library, has been rebound and is stamped with due dates from 1971. It's a decent enough war story about twins on the Dover coast who realize there is military action going on across the channel, and fear their father might be involved. It was a bit confusing, switching from character to character, but if you have one of these on the shelf, dust it off and give it to your boys who have read "every" World War II book. I'm keeping this one-- the edges of the pages are rounded with wear, and it smells the way a library book should. It's been checked out once since 1979, but that is about to change!

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