Archive for February, 2010

Dear Pen Pal (Mother Daughter Book Club Series, Simon and Schuster, 2009)

Megan, a budding fashion designer resents being an only child. She is angry that her mother is so different from her and never seems to have fun.  Fortunately, her grandmother, also a fashion fanatic, has much in common with Megan and comes from China for a long visit.  This year, Jess attends 8th grade at a local private boarding school, funded by a mysterious anonymous donor. Emma, this year’s school newspaper editor, learns the power of the pen and writes an editorial about the new school uniforms, which causes quite a stir.  Sports jock Cassidy, begins to feel abandoned by her sister’s choice to attend college on the west coast, and the arrival of a new step-sibling while also adjusting to life with her new stepfather. Meanwhile, one of the Mom’s re-connects with an old friend from Wyoming, who is part of a Mother-Daughter book club. Both groups read Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs. Each girl in the Concord, Massachusetts club is paired with a pen pal in the Wyoming group, which creates new challenges about making judgments, and how their initial perceptions about others can be distorted. The many characters in this book, including the moms, develop and grow.  Having never read the first two books in the series, this book can stand alone and is enjoyable and honest.  Fans of this popular series will surly appreciate the third book, and look forward to the fourth, as it ends with interesting possibilities to be taken to the next level. For ages 9 – 12.

J Fiction, Recommended—Anne Beier  (HenHud)


February 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm Leave a comment

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer (Simon & Schuster, 2009)

Ever since elementary school, Annie, Zoe and Genna have spent many afternoons in Louisa’s, (Annie’s Grandmother’s) teashop, The Steeping Leaf.  As 8th grade comes to a close, they are beginning to drift apart; boy obsessed Genna is going to acting camp, Zoe has become more involved with the tennis team, and Annie takes on a part-time job as a barista at the teashop only to find out that it is on the brink of closing due to a lack of business.  Toss in Annie’s crush, who has a crush on her older sister, and the popular Seattle coffee shop chain in town absorbing more of “The Leaf’s” business, all creating an interesting brew.  What keeps the friendship bound is not a pair of jeans that fits each friend, but a teashop girl handbook with official rules, such as, “No Teashop Girl can say anything mean about another Teashop Girl,” and their celebrated reputation that a group of younger girls would like to take on as the next generation of Teashop Girls.” But can they save the tea shop before it goes bankrupt? Sprinkled throughout the narrative, are interesting facts and stories about tea, recipes for scones, cakes, tea smoothies, flavored iced teas, and old print tea ads.  At the end of the book there are even tea party themes, games and discussion questions about the book.  The plot is light, but fun and addresses the issues girls of this age encounter with a different twist.  The relationship between Annie and her Grandmother is endearing and realistic.  This could be the beginning of a new series steeping. For 5th to 8th Grade.

J Fiction, Recommended—Anne Beier (HenHud)

February 24, 2010 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment

Wild Card by Tiki and Ronde Barber and with Paul Mantell (Simon & Schuster, 2009

Although this is the third in a series, it is a stand alone story which can easily be enjoyed without reading the other two. Written by to pro football players, who were the inspiration, it is filled with real plays, lots of action, and a tough battle to get into the Junior High School play-offs. One team member is on academic probation, the team suffers but he ultimately passes due to the help of these two brothers/teammates. The book ends with a section of illustrated football signals. Although the characters are in Junior High, the story is simple and can be enjoyed by young readers on up. Dialog tends to be a little sugary and unrealistic, but the message is good and the characters all learn and grow. This would be good for boys interested in football who need a change from Matt Christopher.

J Fiction, Recommended—Ilene Glickman (Irv)

February 5, 2010 at 6:54 pm Leave a comment