Friday, June 20, 2008

Found (Missing Series #1) by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix's Shadow Children series will LOVE her new series, Missing, which begins with Found.

When thirteen-year-olds Jonah and Chip, who are both adopted, learn they were discovered on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, full of babies with no adults on board, they realize that they have uncovered a mystery involving time travel and two opposing forces, each trying to repair the fabric of time. The cliff-hanger ending promises that the next book in the series will pick up with the same action and adventure that permeates this book.

The many fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix will love other books by her, including the previously mentioned Shadow Children series (starting with Among the Hidden), Double Identity, Running Out of Time, and my personal favorite Takeoffs and Landings. Another author you may enjoy is Eoin Colfer. And don't forget the ultimate classic of time travel, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Burning Up by Caroline B. Cooney

Another suspenseful book from prolific author Caroline B. Cooney. When a girl she had met at an inner-city church is murdered, fifteen-year-old Macey channels her grief into a school project that leads her to uncover prejudice she had not imagined in her grandparents and their wealthy Connecticut community. This is a book which caused me to reflect on the issue of prejudice.

Although I enjoyed Burning Up, the series The Face on the Milk Carton sremains my favorite book by Ms. Cooney. Fatality by the same author is on my summer reading list, as it has been recommended by one of my students. If you like Caroline B. Cooney, you'll also enjoy Lois Duncan.

Miracle on 49th Street by Mike Lupica

Here's another sports book from Mike Lupica for all his fans. Josh Cameron, introduced to readers in Travel Team and its sequel Summer Ball, "stars" in this new book. Josh meets a girl, Molly Parker, who claims to be his daughter. There's some basketball court action, but most of the book is about Josh and Molly's attempt to begin a father-daughter relationship.

I heartily recommend Lupica's other books, and I can't wait to read Heat, another of his latest reads. Other great sports books are Night Hoops by Carl Deuker; great sport writers include John Feinstein, John Tunis, and Thomas Dygard.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A House Called Awful End by Philip Ardagh

"When Eddie Dickens was eleven years old, both his parents caught some awful disease that made them turn yellow, go a bit crinkly around the edges, and smell of old hot water bottles." So starts this book, the first in the Eddie Dickens Trilogy. Eddie's Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maud take Eddie to their home, Awful End. A madcap series of zany adventures begins, with zany characters abounding throughout the pages of this quick read (alright, I didn't actually read this book, I listened to it on audio CD in my car, but that's considered reading, too!).

You'll love this book if you liked A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (for the offbeat humor, use of vocabulary definitions, and frequently absurd happenings). And if you really liked this book, continue on with the series!

Drita My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard

When ten-year-old Drita and her family, refugees from Kosovo, move to New York City, Drita is teased about not speaking English well, but after Maxie, a popular student, is forced by their teacher to learn about Kosovo as a punishment for teasing Drita, the two girls soon bond.

The theme is a perennial favorite of middle school literature: that despite our differences, we truly are more alike than we may have originally have thought. This book, the first by the author, was a quick and enjoyable read. I particularly liked the format, with Drita and Maxie telling their side of the story in alternating chapers.

If you liked this book, you'll also like Defining 'Normal' by Julie Anne Peters (for the theme) and Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen (for the alternating chapters format).

Friday, October 19, 2007

The End (Book the 13th) by Lemony Snicket

I finally reached the end of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Thirteen volumes of the adventures and misadventures of the Baudelaire orphans came to an end with The End (Book the 13th).

More questions were left unanswered than answered, in my humble opinion, as the book came to its end. My vocabulary increased substantially as a result of reading this series, as Snicket uses a "big" word in the book and then gives the definition.

I started this series when my son was in fourth grade, and finished it with him now a sophomore in high school!! I read the first four volumes, and have enjoyed the last nine as CD's on my car radio. I saw the movie, which was based on the first three books--I loved it, my son hated it, and my husband slept through it. Wow, the Baudelaire orphans and I have been through so much together the past six years. A good series for those readers who enjoy expanding their vocabulary.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

This book was sent to me by the publisher for my review. It is scheduled to be published in October. The similarities between this book and A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket are many: among them, both of these authors' names are obviously pseudonyms. Next, the tone of absurdity and offbeat sense of humor (and I mean that in a positive way!) by both authors is similar, as is the technique of using a big word and then defining it in the text.

I was also struck by the appearance of the condition synesthesia, or confusion of senses, in this book as well as in A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass, one of the most popular books in our school library this past school year.

In The Name of This Book is Secret, Cassandra and Max find a missing magician's notebook and start to investigate the fire which burnt down his house and his mysterious "symphony of smells." I found the book a little too long (359 pages), but that seems to be the trend in children's book publishing since Harry Potter came on the scene.

So if you like Lemony Snicket (and I'm a BIG fan), you'll be sure to like this book, too. The ending foreshadows a sequel to come, so that's good, too. Who is Pseudonymous Bosch? We'll have to wait to find out.