Friday, March 16, 2012

Guy Friday-- Adventure Guys!

Petrucha, Stefan. Ripper.
Carver Young wants to be a detective, so when he is adopted from the orphange in 1895 by Detective Hawking of the New Pinkertons agency, he is happy. Several other children in the orphange have been adopted by families in the same circle, his friend Delia by a news reporter. There has just been a Jack the Ripper-like murder, and certain segments of New York society, especially Theodore Roosevelt, the Police Commissioned, are concerned. Hawking puts Carver to the task of finding Carver's father, in order to sharpen his detective skills, and Carver soon learns that Hawking's motivations for adopting him had some evil motives. As the Ripper's violence escalates, can Carver figure out the pattern before there are other victims?
Strengths: Wow. So many. First, Petrucha seriously ROCKS. He prose is always facile and engaging-- he's probably the kind of writer you could entrust with the most random of assignments and he would produce something brilliant. ("Write about a boy who.... lives with a retired super hero... in Bermuda... and gets involved with... a dolphin and.... the mafia! Go!")I did NOT see the ending of this coming. Brilliant.

The second big strength is BOOK DESIGN. At 427 pages, this could be daunting, but it wasn't. The cover by Greg Stadnyk is awesome-- I want to do an entire post on his covers because he really GETS it. The pages have plenty of white space, the text is not tiny, and there are 85 chapters, but they are all short.

I'm not a fan of horror or suspense, but this was done so well, and was appropriate for middle school. Pair this with Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star for 8th grade mystery lovers.

Is there any bigger compliment than a student wanting to loan me a book he got for Christmas? Don't know that there is. Thank you, Matthew-- I liked this one and will definitely be buying it for the library!

Evans, Richard Paul. The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Series: Michael Vey)
Michael has always known that along with Tourette's syndrome, he has a power no one else has-- he can shock people with the electricity in his body. His good friend Ostin knows this, but his mother tries very hard to keep it a secret, even moving them from their previous location after an incident when Michael's power was revealed. Michael is bullied by some toughs in his school until he uses his powers on them. This brings him to the attention of Taylor, a cheerleader who has powers of her own-- she is able to "reboot" people's brains, rendering them briefly unresponsive! The three teens find that Taylor and Michael were born at the hospital during the same week, and that there was a malfunctioning piece of experimental equipment at the hospital that killed a huge number of babies. While researching this, they are brought to the attention of the Elgen Academy and the evil Hatch, who first tries to entice them to come to his school for special children and then kidnaps Taylor and Michael's mother. Taylor finds that she has a twin sister at the school and gets a taste of how manipulative Hatch is; Ostin and Michael take off to rescue Taylor and find Michael's mother. When they meet up with Hatch, Michael's powers prove no match to the ones at Hatch's disposal, and they are taken prisoner. Michael is put in Cell 25 and tortured, but neither he nor Taylor want to get involved with Hatch's evil schemes and plot their excape. The next book is Rise of the Elgen.
Strengths: There's an underdog main character who turns out to have super powers, vanguished bullies, a hot cheerleader, and high school students who can drive themselves places while behaving in a way that is appropriate for middle school students to read about. Lots of action and adventure, and evil villains. This was a little cheesy, but students will love it. Don't know how I missed this one!
Weaknesses: I was really bothered by Ostin calling their group the "Electroclan". Now have the theme song from ElectroWoman and DynaGirl firmly wedged in my brain. Every time that phrase was mentioned it was like nails on the chalkboard. Other than the essential cheesiness, however, no other problems for me.

Santat, Dan. Sidekicks.
Captain Amazing is getting on in years, but still fighting crime. When he is felled by exposure to a peanut, he uses his time off to look for a side kick to help him out. His pets think that they can help-- Roscoe has been trained as Metal Mutt, Fluffy the hamster has a cool outfit, and Static Cat, who ran away from home after an altercation with Roscoe, has been out on his own as The Claw. Captain Amazing also brings home a chameleon, Shifty, and the pets all attempt to fight crime and prove their worth. They all doubt their own powers to a certain degree, but when Dr. Havoc threatens the world, they manage to save the day.
Strengths: Very, very fun, with a great touch of humanity-- Captain Amazing is tired and just wants to hang out with his pets. Illustrations are appealing-- students will love this!
Weaknesses: The title has been used for other similar books.

Also read Andrea Seigal's The Kid Table, which was great fun for me, since I had 38 cousins on my mother's side, only four of whom were younger than I.
This was really more of an adult book, but I was hoping it was younger teenagers. Another example of really great cover design!

From the Publisher: " Ingrid Bell and her five teenage cousins are such a close-knit group that they don't really mind sitting at the kid table—even if they have to share it with a four-year-old. But then Brianne, the oldest cousin, lands a seat at the adult table and leaves her cousins shocked and confused. What does it take to graduate from the kid table? "

Here in Ohio, the temperatures have been in the 70s! I hope that everyone is able to have a great and relaxing weekend even if your weather is not that good!


  1. I enjoyed Michael Vey too, and I'm embarrassed to say that I only read it because my uncle found it and gave to me, thinking it would be good for the StorySnoops site. Go figure! You need to suspend belief and common sense for a bit, but isn't that the case in so many of the books we read?!

  2. Really looking forward to Ripper-thanks for the review!

  3. Thanks for the heads-up on Ripper. I will be going two falls out of three with the YA librarian to get it first.

  4. Love Love LOVE Sidekicks (and just about anything else by Santat!) Thanks for sharing the good reads!