Archive for January, 2010

Weezer Changes the World by David McPhail (Beach Lane Books 2009)

Move over Al Gore, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela. A little yellow dog has adopted your views and mankind listened. Weezer gets hit by lightning and becomes an intellectual prodigy that teaches the world to help the poor and follow the paths of peace. Unfortunately, the same small yellow dog gets struck by lightning again and returns to normal puppy pursuits. However, the world has learned his lessons and all remains perfect. If only it were that simple! This is a sweet introduction to prophetic truths. I’m not sure the picture book crowd will be convinced by little Weezer, but it does offer an opportunity for adults and children to discuss deep questions.

Picture Book, Recommended— Lillian Hecker (PEL)


January 25, 2010 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

Sent (The Missing Series: Book 2) by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon and Schuster, 2009)

Traveling over five hundred years into the past, Jonah and Katherine are determined to save their friends, Chip and Alex.  After learning that their friends are really the two princes from the Tower of London in 15th century England, Jonah and Katherine must endure unfamiliar surroundings, Middle English, and the seemingly villainous, Richard III.  Fortunately, JB, an ally from the future, is helping them accomplish this difficult task without altering the space-time continuum.  Packed with moments of tension and challenges, Haddix expertly weaves historical elements and the present together.  Reading the first book in this series will certainly be helpful in providing background information, but the well-crafted plot driven by vivid characters makes this second book an enjoyable read.

J Fiction, Grades 5 & Up.  Recommended-KAG (Chappaqua Library)

January 23, 2010 at 12:53 am 1 comment

Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez (Little Brown & Co., 2009)

Lena, a middle school Latina girl, lives with her dad in South Texas. A year ago her mother died and life became difficult. Her dad who teaches English in college is more engrossed in his books than in his daughter. Her best friend Vanessa Cantu has a new boyfriend and that causes strains. And Mrs. Cantu can hardly talk about men without fireworks since her husband left her. Lena is a likeable protagonist who has moods but the dark ones don’t last long. She is crazy about socks and sorts them into categories when she isn’t wearing them around her neck. She is also crazy about a Luis, a boy with his own issues. Each chapter starts with a Spanish proverb that is translated into English. The title Confetti refers to the endless hollow eggshells Vanessa’s mom makes and fills with confetti that should bring everyone luck. Happily, Lena, her dad and friends figure out how to create their own happiness using cascarones (hollow eggshells) and their own emerging social skills. This coming-of-age story is perfectly attuned to middle school readers.

J Fiction, Recommended— Lillian Hecker (PEL)

January 23, 2010 at 12:51 am Leave a comment

Our Choice: How We Can Solve the Climate Crisis by Al Gore (Viking/Melcher Media/Rodale, 2009)

First the bad news: global warming, over population, droughts, dust bowls, deforestation. But for every ill there is a remedy, if we will it. Gore describes the problems by using facts, charts, photographs, maps, capital letters, headlines, diagrams, etc. The happy conclusion ( albeit, extremely difficult ) is that every problem can be solved. The last chapters detail how big business has sabotaged solutions and how people can be blind to unsavory facts. Indeed, Gore’s thrust is that young people are our best hope because they accept the need for change. The book, unfortunately, looks like a school textbook. It lacks an index which would be helpful for reports. Overall, this is a valuable book for everyone of every age because the ongoing menace couldn’t be more urgent and the solution could not be made clearer.

J Nonfiction (8 – 14), Recommended—Lillian Hecker (PEL)

January 23, 2010 at 12:46 am Leave a comment

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Little Brown & Co, 2009)

Minli and her parents live in a tiny shack in the corner where Fruitless Mountain and Jade River meet. The villagers struggle hard to coax rice out of the almost barren land. Mud and poverty are everywhere. The only bright spot is a young girl Minli. She has an adventurous spirit, is always smiling and has a quick mind. Her Ma constantly sighs over the lack of food and other amenities. Minli loves the stories her Ba, father, tells her about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. If someone finds the Old Man of the Moon, he can change one’s fortune.  Mimly goes on her quest and is helped by a young dragon who is unable to fly, a young boy who has only a water buffalo for companionship, and villagers where two children must be sacrificed every month to avoid annihilation by a fierce tiger. Her parents worry about her absence. Minli faces many tests during her odyssey. She learns about true wealth and friendship in her quest. This is a sweet adventure story based on Chinese folk tales and folk wisdom. Beautiful Chinese art and woodcuts add additional interest.

J Fiction,  Recommended—Lillian Hecker (PEL)

January 10, 2010 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment