Thursday, January 26, 2012


Snyder, Laurel. Bigger Than a Breadbox.
Rebecca loves her life in Baltimore even though she realizes that her parents are fighting a lot now that her father is between jobs. After her father forgets her mother’s birthday, her mother packs Rebecca and her brother Lew up and moves them in with their grandmother in Atlanta. Hiding in the attic after she realizes that her mother means for this to be a long term visit, Rebecca finds a collection of breadboxes. One of them is not dusty like the others, and after wishing that she had something to read, and finding a book in the bread box, she decides to take it to her room. There, she discovers that the bread box will deliver most of what she asks for-- money, food from Baltimore, an iPod, etc. What it won’t do is provide her with a way to get her parents back together. After asking for a one-of-a-kind jacket like the meanest of the mean girls has at school, Rebecca starts to realize that all of the things must come from somewhere, and she has essentially stolen all of them. She attempts to get the things back, including a special and valuable spoon that she has asked for for her mother’s collection. The spoon belonged to an elderly lady, and returning it causes big problems. Rebecca’s parents attempt to work things out, and while Rebecca isn’t sure if they can do that, the family will at least go back home, without the aid of the bread box.
Strengths: More of my students are wanting magical realism, and this would certainly fit that bill. Snyder’s writing is very effective.
Weaknesses: So sad, and the episode with the elderly lady was rather disturbing. I’m not sure that this would help students whose parents are getting divorced. While beautifully written, I prefer Snyder's Any Which Wall.

Reyes, Laurisa White. The Rock of Ivanore.
Tanglewood Press, May 2012. ARC courtesy of the author.
Marcus, an orphan under the care of the master Zyll, participates in the quest that all boys of a certain age in the medieval kingdom of Quendel go on so that they can be considered men. This year, they are to find the Rock of Ivanore. Marcus takes Zyll's staff and a key that will help boost his magical powers, which are weak. Joining up with Clovis, Marcus heads to Noam to consult the library about the location of the Rock, but the two are attacked by first a talking snake and then Bryn, a Groc who is sometimes an innocent looking boy. Another boy from Quendel, Kelvin, helps them. Soon Jayson, a half human, half Agoran man joins them, and it turns out that he IS the Rock of Ivanore, Ivanore being his human wife whose father opposed their marriage. He agrees to return with them, but must first go to Dokur. The group follows him and eventually gets pulled into a war in that kingdom. Ivanore's father is still in power, but being attacked by his own son, Arik, who wants control of the valuable Celestine mines. Even though Marcus is attacked by Cyclopes and is heavily involved in the battle at Dokur, he manages to survive, save his friend Kelvin, and return home to find the truth about who he really is.
Strengths: Plenty of action and adventure, short chapters, and good alternation between the fighting and the explanation of why they are fighting.
Weaknesses: Reminded me a bit of The Book of Three; I don't get many students wanting medieval fantasies, and there are a lot already.

Williamson, Jill. Replication: The Jason Experiment.
Zondervan, January 2012
Martyr has lived his whole life in a colorless, windowless world, fulfilling her purpose by being used in experiments to keep the rest of the population safe. He and the other Jasons are educated and cared for, but often the target of horrible abuse by doctors and each other. When a new doctor arrives, Martyr finds a little hope that when he “expires” on his eighteenth birthday, someone may care for the “broken” boy he has been trying to protect. The new Dr. Goyer slowly starts to uncover the conditions on the Jason Farm after he moves his daughter to Alaska for this new job, but when Martyr escapes, Dr. Goyer’s daughter Abby meets him. Thinking at first that he is a boy from her school, J.D., Abby soon realizes that Martyr is a clone of J.D.’s father, who is using the clones for his own evil purposes. Can Dr. Goyer, Abby and Martyr expose the horrors of the Jason Farm and save the inhabitants?
Strengths: Fairly good action and adventure, and Martyr’s entry into the outside world is realistically portrayed.
Weaknesses: Not quite sure what the message on this was in this book. McKissack’s The Clone Codes was better on the coverage of clones’ rights. Like many Zondervan Press books, there is a lot of religion, and some of it seem just tossed in to have it there.

There are so many fantasy books out there, and I just don't have the readers in my library for it. Or the money to buy the books.
Lovric, Michelle. The Undrowned Child.
From the Publisher: "In 1899, eleven-year-old Teodora goes with her scientist parents from Naples to Venice, Italy, which is falling victim to a series of violent natural disasters, and once there she is drawn into a web of mysterious adventures involving mermaids, an ancient prophecy, and the possible destruction of the city itself. "

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Johnson-Shelton, Nils. The Invisible Tower.
ARC from Baker and Taylor; published in January 2012.
From the Publisher: "A twelve-year-old boy learns that he is actually King Arthur brought back to life in the twenty-first century--and that the fate of the universe rests in his hands. "

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  1. Yesterday we finished Bigger Than a bread Box as our class read aloud. 25 kids were on the edge of their seats the last week waiting to see what was going to happen.

    Yes, very sad; but a wonderful read aloud.

  2. Heard lots of buzzing about this pre-awards, but like most that were buzzed about, it didn't get a thing.

    Read Breaking Stalin's Nose last night, and while I thought it was fascinating (I was fairly clueless about Stalin), I can't see kids really getting into it. too much backhistory they wouldn't be familiar with.

  3. Thanks for the warning about how sad Bigger Than a Bread Box is; as a kid I gobbled up sad books but now I'm a softie.

    My guys still like medieval fantasy, but come to think of it they aren't as into it as I was.