Monday, March 01, 2010

Short takes on lots of books!

Barnes, Jennifer Lynn. Fate. In this sequel to Tattoo, Bailey (having saved the world from the evil Alecca and taken her place as a Fate) spends her nights in the mystical world of Nexus and has trouble balancing everything, especially when the wall between these two worlds starts to thin and she worries that forces of evil will once again threaten the mortal world... and perhaps high school graduation. A lot more amusing than many of the paranormal books out there. Barnes does great stuff-- also liked her Perfect Cover and Killer Spirit.

Berk, Josh. The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin. Will has been mainstreamed despite his severe hearing impairment, but he struggles through classes reading lips, failing to wear his hearing aid, and not wallowing in any "poor me" sentiments. Well, about his hearing, anyway. He reluctantly makes a friend with Devon, and when a football player is killed during a class trip to a coal mine, the two work together to solve the mystery. I was surprised at how interesting Will's voice was. The cover on this is a crime, because it really is an older book. Excellent.

Garcia, Cristina. I Wanna Be Your Shoebox. This story of a girl who is struggling with her grandfather's imminent death and the cancellation of the school orchestra program, as well as with her mother's remarriage and her father's inability to be much of an adult is fairly standard and enjoyable, but gets extra points for having, I'm guessing, the only half Cuban/quarter Japanese/quarter Jewish character in YA literature. Yumi Ruiz-Hirsch. Have to love that, even if the title song is overplayed.

Holmes, Sarah. Operation Yes. Miss Loupe is one of those crazy, tattooed, theater-teaching educators that apparently a lot of people wish they were. In her first job on an army base, she attempts to reach a variety of children through her unorthodox teaching methods, but it takes a tragedy to really bring the students together to form "a plan so big, so daring, so life-changing"... and I wondered why this one didn't sell at the book fair even though it had army men on the cover. Teachers will be more interested in this one than students are.

Lee, Ingrid. Dog Lost. Incredibly sad book about a dog recommended by student. Mackenzie lives with his drunken and abusive father after his mother's death. When his father wins a dog in a card game, Mackenzie is thrilled and spends hours with the dog, even though the neighbors are concerned about the threat of pit bulls. Things get worse when the dog growls at the father and gets dropped off far from home. Mackenzie is devastated and looks for the dog, who is eventually involved in several heroic acts that improve the image of pit bulls in the community.

LeFlore, Lyah B. The World is Mine. I was hoping for a somewhat flashier sort of Bluford High book with this one. Inner city boys are trying to become players in the music business. Blue's parents want him to go to law school, but he would rather be a music promoter for rap stars. I had trouble getting into this one, with the negative talk and the rap scene, and there were a couple of gratuitous f-bombs, but students will no doubt adore it. The cliffhanger ending indicates there may be a sequel. From Simon Pulse, available in prebind.

McKissack, Patricia, Frederick and John. The Clone Codes. Finally, a science fiction book that has conflict but isn't necessarily completely dystopian. In 2170, Leanna's life is going well until her mother is taken away because she is a founder of the Liberty Bell Movement that maintains that clones are human beings and not property. The clones, sold by the Topas corporation, are engineered to be bald and differently colored for each job they do, so it is easy for people to discount their humanity... until Leanna finds out that she, too, is a clone and must fight for her own safety. Really, really good and much needed.

Scott, Elizabeth. Something, Maybe. Hannah's mother, Candy Madison, makes her living doing on line chats with men... in her underwear. Candy's father is a Hugh Hefner-like characters who has an ever changing stable of young lovelies hanging around. On top of that, Hannah has her own issues to deal with in school and with the boys she finds attractive. Perhaps because of the detail given to the parents' lives, this is more of a high school book, much like this author's Perfect You and Bloom.

Spring, Debbie. The Righteous Smuggler. Hendrik, whose father is a poor fisherman, is disturber when the Nazi's take over Holland. Many of his friends and members of his community are ill-treated, and he doesn't understand why this has to be. His father has always told him that he must help others who need it, so when opportunities arise to do so, and when the death of his father makes it all the more important, Hendrik rises to the occasion and saves many Jewish families. This is part of Second Story Press's Holocaust Remembrance Series For Young Readers.

Williams, Laura E. Slant. Lauren was adopted as an infant from Korea, and is comfortable with her family and friends... until the boy she likes, Sean, slips and calls her "slant". When she finds out that her adoptive mother, who passed away when she was small, had nose reduction surgery as a teen, she enlists the help of her grandmother to visit a doctor about plastic surgery on her eyelids to make her look less Oriental. Her father is furious, and family secrets are revealed that make Lauren understand that happiness cannot be guaranteed by one's appearance.

Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Delphine, Vonetta and Fern have been raised in New York City by their father and grandmother, while their mother has been living in California following her dream to be an artist. Against their mother's wishes, the three are sent to spend the summer with her, and find out that she is involved with the Black Panther movement. When they attend the Panther's summer camp for children, they learn about the issues their mother is fighting against, and start to have an understanding of her motivations. Some historical notes would have helped this, but it was a more engrossing story that the cartoonish (although very 1968) cover promised.

Richardson, Gillian. Kaboom! Explosions of All Kinds. Nonfiction. The cover and title of this book will ensure that students will pick it up, but the text is much denser than the cover would indicate. A very scholarly and complete discussion of every sort of explosion there is, from popcorn to volcanoes to farts, this would be especially helpful to science teachers or to better readers who really want to know the ins and outs of explosions. Some of the text is hard to read because of the colors or sizes, but it is still a good treatment of the subject.

Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. Boy on the Lion Throne. (2008) This short and well-illustrated biography of the 14th Dalai Lama was absolutely riveting and shed a lot of light on the problems with Tibet as well as the way that successors to the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist leaders are chosen. The layout of the book itself is also very beautifully done. I picked this one up because it seemed like such a surprising offering from Kimmel (of Lily B. on the Brink of Cool fame). While this concentrates on the childhood of His Holiness, it does bring readers up to date with the latest on Tibet and the state of Buddhism there. Really surprised this wasn't a Newbery honor book.

And no, I didn't do anything else this weekend and you really do not want to see the state of my house!

1 comment:

  1. I've only read Something Maybe out of this list. Not a fave of mine, probably b/c it didn't fit my demographic either.

    On another note - I remember you had an entry about Forever sometime back, which is funny, because just in the last few weeks, I've seen it floating around the 7th grade and heard girls whispering about it.

    Also, She is Too Fond of Books has an entry this week on Are You There God it's Me, Margaret.