Archive for July, 2010

How To Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart (Random House, 2010)

While this book received starred reviews and has an attractive cover and title, I found it very hard to get into and read.  David Greenberg is a huge fan of TV anchorman Jon Stewart (who I think most kids in grades 5-8 don’t know) creates videos starring himself and his hamster and puts them on You Tube.  Meanwhile, David misses his mom who has abandoned his family, he has trouble with his friend Elliott, and then the ultimate tragedy–David’s hamster passes away.  The story and characters are hard to relate to, are slow moving and dull.

J-Additional Purchase— J/YA Crossover, R—Tee C (Port Chester/Rye Brook)


July 29, 2010 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell (Bloombury, 2010)

What do you get when you get 4 modern families and have them spend 2 months living a 1890s lifestyle named Camp Frontier?  Chaos, laughs and a big appreciation of modern living (things like air conditioning, grocery stores, indoor bathroom and plumbing etc)  Meanwhile 13-year-old Gen Walsh (the main character of this book) manages to sneak her cell phone inside the camp and is able to blog to the outside world how her summer vacation is really going.  Obviously no one in the camp realizes this, nor does Gen whose blog turns out to be a bigger hit than anyone could have realized.  Readers will find this a fast paced and comic read with several surprises.

J/YA Crossover, R—Tee C (Port Chester/Rye Brook)

July 29, 2010 at 6:50 pm Leave a comment

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm (Random House, 2010)

Eleven year-old Turtle is sent to live with her Aunt, Uncle and four, unruly male cousins in Key West, Florida, during the summer of 1935, after her single mother finds employment as a live-in housekeeper for a family who doesn’t like children.  Turtle’s eldest cousin of the same age, and his buddies are scoundrels.  Fortunately, she is resilient, observant and wise beyond her years. As the only female in the “hood,” Turtle is savvy enough to walk a fine line to fit in, and maintain her integrity.  Many obstacles and suspenseful adventures await her throughout this coming-of-age story.  Some are comical.  Some are dangerous.  Along the way she manages to outlast and outsmart the boys.  She matures beyond the reader’s expectations, while uncovering some surprising and life-changing family secrets.   This powerful book inspired by stories and
folklore from the author’s great-grandmother and her family will beguile readers.  Ages 9-12
J, R*—Anne Beier  (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

July 19, 2010 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment

Finding Danny by Linzi Glass (HarperCollins, 2010)

Bree Davies, the only child of two high-powered journalists living in upscale Santa Monica, fills the void left by her unavailable parents by focusing on her lovable border collie, Danny.  The absence of her mom causes a large wake of resentment, but intensifies as Bree finishes 6th grade, when she needs mother.  Right before Danny’s worn out collar is to be replaced, he escapes the family’s fenced in yard after Bree’s mother forgets to lock it.  Of course Bree is devastated.  The plot kicks into high gear as deeper friction grows between daughter and mother, and the broadening search for Danny continues with the help of an unlikely new friend from school who is also a dog-lover.  Bree befriends an elderly neighbor after Danny’s collar is found in her yard.  She becomes a dedicated volunteer at an animal shelter after meeting quirky, but lovable Rayleen, who mentors her and helps search for Danny.  Pet lovers will enjoy this title with a strong story arc, and likable characters, despite two flaws. The ending wraps up too neatly. And, there is no mention of microchipping until the last quarter of the book, which is a well-known, common tracking device used with outdoor pets, and always recommended by vets and shelter workers. The absence of this thread of the story might not ring true for it’s intended audience.
Ages 8-12
J, R—Anne Beier  (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

July 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm Leave a comment

The Popularity Papers: research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow (Abrams, 2010)

Readers who enjoy the Amelia books by Marissa Moss will enjoy this story.  The format of this book has been compared to the Diary of Wimpy Kid series.  However, The Diary of Wimpy Kid books are written in black and white with illustrations in black and white.  This book is written in a multitude of colors which gave this reader a headache!  Above all the story is funny and popular with patrons.

J, R- —Tee C (Port Chester-Rye Brook)

July 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

The Fizzy Whiz Kid by Maiya Williams (Abrams, 2010)

6th grader Mitch Mathis moves from the midwest to Hollywood, California with his parents.  Everyone in his school is involved with some facet or another with the entertainment business.  On a whim he auditions for a tv commercial and lands the part.  Thrust into the spotlight, Mitch begins to attend cool parties, learn to “work” the room and start signing autographs.  When he realizes that he’s neglected his friends and become someone he doesn’t like he ultimately decides he would rather be a normal kid then be a part of Hollywood stardom.  Williams creates a hilarious comic read that readers will enjoy.  The story is fast paced and has some unexpected twists and turns.

J, R—Tee C (Port Chester-Rye Brook)

July 13, 2010 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment

Emily’s Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010)

The quiet and shy, eight year old Emily Wiggins becomes an orphan, after her mother is accidentally killed in a carriage crash with her employer, the very wealthy Miss Nash.  Her evil Uncle Victor is next of kin, and wants custody.  The unscrupulous Catchem Child-Catching Services is looking for her too.  Her lovely Aunt Hilda sends word for Emily to come and live with her on her farm in Redbud.  She is only related by marriage, but wants to share what little she has with her niece.  Her neighbors and guideposts, Mrs. Ready, Mrs. Aim and Mrs. Fire pack Emily up with her turtle, Rufus, and send them off to Redbud.  A several day journey by train and stagecoach ensues and is filled with obstacles.  Fortunately, she befriends Jackson, another orphan with the street-smarts and the confidence Emily lacks, who is also on the run from Catchem.  Half way through her trip Emily learns she is the one who will inherit Miss Nash’s fortune.  Most chapters end in cliffhangers and tension rises rapidly to the conclusion. This 1850’s, west coast adventure takes many wild twists and turns.  Will Emily and Jackson reach Redbud before Uncle Victor?  Can Emily develop the courage she needs in the face of danger?  How will the kind-hearted, Aunt Hilda convince the authorities that she should have custody of Emily instead of Uncle Victor?  Line art illustrations enhance the suspenseful text.

A great page-turner.  Ages 9-12

J R* — Anne Beier  (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

July 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm Leave a comment