Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend Reading

Under a War-Torn Sky has been one of my most popular WWII books (one student liked it so much that I helped him buy a copy so I could have the library one back!), so I was excited to see a sequel. Henry, having returned from WII rather traumatized, decides to go back in March of 1945 so he can lay his demons to rest. He manages to get over to Europe by helping with livestock on a transport ship, and once there meets up with several of the people who helped him survive. His mission is to find a small boy whose mother was probably killed because of Henry. This was a very interesting book, because we never learned anything about what happened in France right after the war. This requires some suspension of disbelief, since things seem to come together rather neatly, but it is a welcome addition to the cadre of WWII books.

William Sleator's Blackbriar seems odd-- even in 1972, would an orphan have been living with his school secretary? It is interesting to read this early work, republished in a nice new edition by Marshall Cavendish. Danny is a little apprehensive about moving from London to the outskirts of the country, and the house that he and his guardian move into is more than spooky. With the help of a neighbor, Danny uncovers not only some past secrets of the house, but some contemporary ones as well.

Greg Logsted's Alibi Junior High was a lot of fun, but sad, too. Cody has lived his life on the run with his CIA agent father, but when his father fears for Cody's safety, he is sent to live with an aunt in suburban Connecticut. It's hard for him to get over the fear of being hunted, and to fit in with the students at school. With the help of an injured soldier, he learns to cope and also figures out more about his father's shady past. It feels like a sequel is possible, and that would not be a bad thing.

I always feel somewhat tricked by Blake Nelson. His plots sound so interesting, and I'll be reading along thinking that this would be a good addition to the collection when *WHAM* total inappropriateness. In this case, rather blunt sex. I read Paranoid Park three years ago, so have forgotten that this author purposefully styles himself as edgy. Really too bad. This would be a good book for middle school otherwise. I liked the environmental issues and the depictions of the characters. Sigh.
Kemp's Breakfast at Bloomingdale's may be of more interest to high school students, but got off to a very slow and depressing start, so I'll pass on this story of a girl who goes to New York City to try to make her way in the fashion business. I was also a little conflicted about Spillebeen's Age 14. His Kipling's Choice was very moving, but this seemed a bit confusing. There was a lot going on-- 12 year old Irish boy desperate to escape his life of poverty joins the military in WWI by claiming to be his older brother. Doesn't end well. I'll get a second opinion on this before saying no.

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