Monday, January 24, 2011

Short Take on Sequels

Dowswell, Paul. Prison Ship.
Sam manages to get work on another ship after his adventures in Powder Monkey, but soon is framed for cowardice along with his friend Richard. They are sentenced to hang, but manage to get that commuted to being transported to Australia. They are lucky to get on a decent ship, and are befriended by a young doctor, who helps them once they get to Australia. They get work at a shipyard, but make some poor choices and end up being put to work on a farm where the owner is excessively cruel. They take off through the outback and barely survive, but once they make it back to civilization, their previous contacts help get them out of trouble.

Dowswell, Paul. Battle Fleet.
While Richard decides to go back to the US, Paul signs up with the navy, but this time as a midshipman. He ends up on the HMS Victory and is involved with the battle of Trafalgar.

Strengths (of series): These were very well done, with fights interspersed with intrigue and details of every day life. I found myself liking these way more than I thought I would.
Weaknesses: It's hard to believe that all of these things would happen to one boy, but I don't think the students will mind!

Beil, Michael. The Vanishing Violin.

This sequel to The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour finds the girls hired by one of the sisters in their school to find out who is sneaking in, cleaning and improving the school. This takes a back seat, however, when Margaret recieves a very good violin bow, and the girls have to solve a 50 year old mystery. Like the first, this involves clues and puzzles, helpful adults, and a little romance.

Strengths: These are fabulous mysteries, and the New York setting and local detail are thrilling to students in Ohio.
Weaknesses: While there are four main characters, I had trouble telling them apart. It was sort of Margaret and SophieLeighAnnRebecca. Small complaint for a book that starts out "Like a plaid-skirted Jedi Knight..."

Byng, Georgia. Molly Moon and the Morphing Mystery.
When Molly and Mickey's new tutor, Ms. Hunroe, whisks them off to London, they find that she is not what she seems-- she wants them to steal a second book of magic from a Mr. Black. The two children read some of the book and are able to morph into ladybugs in order to escape. They then change into people and other animals, but only Ms. Hunroe seems to know the secret how to "meego" and return to themselves. Ms. Hunroe and her associates don't want to share this secret until they get their way, and Molly finds that Mr. Black is not as evil as he seems. After surviving a trip to the Andes and solving the immediate problems, Molly and Mickey, along with Petula, return home.
Strengths: Molly Moon's Hypnotic Time Travel Adventure gave me a headache (from too much thinking!), but I found this one rather enjoyable, with all the morphing into different animals. For a fifth book in the series, this one still had a lot of interest.
Weaknesses: I was inordinately bothered by an Asian character named Miss Teriyaki, and found that all of Ms. Hunroe's accomplices were slightly annoying. They were evil, so I suppose that's all right!

Mebus, Scott. The Sorcerer's Secret.
Sequel to Gods of Manhattan and Spirits in the Park.
Final book in series dealing with historical figures from New York City's past reinvented as gods. Found out another weakness of mine from this-- mention more than four characters on a page, page after page, and my interest starts to flag and my comprehension to droop dramatically.

Perez, Marlene. Dead is Just a Rumor.
Sequel to Dead is the New Black, Dead is So Last Year, Dead is a State of Mind. Dead is Not an Option comes out on May 2nd. My students are loving these, because they have witches AND werewolves AND vampires. I kept picking this one up at times when I couldn't concentrate on it so don't feel I can give a plot summary and do it any justice.

Survived the Bulldog Breakfast this morning, but my daughter came to school, threw up, resisted going home, and finally went. I have a headache. I NEVER get headaches. This bodeth ill.

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