A beautifully illustrated novel by the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which the movie Hugo is based on. This novel combines two separate children’s lives into one coherent story through text and full page illustrations. An imaginative book that won’t soon be forgotten. Even though it’s a children’s book the story and drawings may be appreciated even more by adults.
Eel lives in Victorian London. He makes his way working a number of jobs; working in a tavern, cleaning up for a tailor, taking care of the animals for Dr. Snow and occasionally as a mudlark finding useful things in the Thames. Eel is accused of stealing at the tavern and loses his place. He tries to get the tailor Mr. Griggs to vouch for him and discovers he has the blue death, or cholera. Soon hundreds of people in his neighborhood have gotten sick or died. Eel seeks the help of Dr. Snow to figure out what caused the outbreak and what can be done to stop it.
This book is a fabulous mix of fact and fiction. There really was an outbreak of cholera on Broad Street at this time. Dr. Snow really did figure out the cause and help stop the outbreak. He was the first doctor to link cholera with water contamination. While Eel and some of the others in the book didn’t actually exist, their stories mix very well with the historical facts. This is a very fast-paced book with lots of intriguing plot twists.
Sienna is devoted to her little brother Lucca. She plays with him and takes care of him and reads him stories. She does this because she loves her little brother and because she feels like she is the reason he doesn’t talk. There is nothing wrong with Lucca, he just chooses not to talk at all. He makes noises and acts like a normal boy in all other ways. The parents decide to move the family away from their Brooklyn neighborhood and buy a house on the Maine coast. It is a house Sienna has seen in her dreams and things get even stranger once they move in. Sienna starts having visions of the family that lived there during WWII. She finds a pen that allows her to write the little girl Sarah’s story while in a trance. Sienna believes that Sarah and Joshua’s story is connected to her and Lucca’s in some way. She must solve the mystery of what happened in the past in order to fix the present.
I liked Sienna’s story. For the most part she is a very realistic girl devoted to her brother, scared of making new friends, etc. I even thought her hobby of collecting lost things was quirky and fun. The ghost story/visions of the past however fell a little flat to me. It was a plot line with little reason for being other than to bulk up the story. Sienna’s connection never really made sense to me and I wish there would have been a little more reason for it being there. I also had problems with Lucca. He basically chose not to talk when he was a toddler. At three he has made the conscious decision not to speak to anyone. I am not sure a three-year-old could really make that decision or think that deeply. It would have made more sense if he was a bit older, but the fact that he was so young made it really hard to buy into. However, if you suspend your disbelief when reading this book you will find a charming story about a close family trying to make a fresh start. Even with all its problems I did enjoy the book.
“I bought the milk,” said my father. “I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.”
“Hullo,” I said to myself. “That’s not something you see every day. And then something odd happened.”
Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal, expertly told by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young.
This is Rafe’s camp story. Rafe and Georgia are sent to Camp Wannamorra for the summer. Georgia is part of the advanced academic side and Rafe is part of the trying to catch up side. Rafe is put into a cabin with the camp losers who are constantly picked on and bullied. Rafe and his camp mates have to take on Duelin and his gang. Most of the time they don’t come out on top and the counselors don’t seem to see a problem with the bullying. There is a lot of humor that will appeal to middle school boys. Rafe has a huge imagination which adds even more humor to the book. This isn’t really my type of book, but I do see why this series is popular. Rafe is a fun kid who will definitely appeal to reluctant readers and your average boy.
Robbie Darko wants to be a great magician. Last year’s talent show didn’t go so well so he wants to make sure this year is amazing. He tests out tricks on his family and they mostly go well. But then Grandma Melvyn moves in and takes over his room. She is old and crabby and doesn’t seem to like anyone until she starts teaching him magic. Turns out Melvyn used to be a big time magician until her partner died. Robbie and Melvyn become really close and get the big act for the talent show ready to go. It is everything Robbie hoped it would be and more.
Robbie is obsessed with magic and he is really good at it. I thought he made a different character than what you see in a lot of middle grade novels. His family is pretty typical for this type of book though. Overworked or absentee parents (or both) and a strange sibling. I really wanted more of Grandma Melvyn’s story since I found her fascinating. Robbie spends a lot of the book talking to the reader, which I found a bit distracting, but I am sure kids will enjoy.
Telling the Truth Could Get Them Killed. Remaining Silent Could Be Worse.When Cooper, Hiro, and Gordy witness a robbery that leaves a man in a coma, they find themselves tangled in a web of mystery and deceit that threatens their lives.
A very interesting who-done-it for kids, will definitely make them think about what they might do in the same place. I liked the suspense of it, it would not have surprised me to have some addition things happen, though they didn’t. The story was just right for younger readers.
Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard’s goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster’s mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitants-and put their big ambitions to the test. Full of humor, unforgettable characters, surprises, and lots and lots of heart, this is Joan Bauer at her most engaging.
Kyle Wilson was the size of a regular ninth grader until crazy Mrs. Shepherd injected him with a shrinking formula. Now he’s a prisoner in her dollhouse, the fourth Lambkin in Mrs. Shepherd’s collection! She loves them and would never harm them, she says . . . as long as they don’t make her angry.
One thing is certain. Kyle and the others must figure out how to escape, and fast.
Clare is raw after the death of her mother. Her dad, a doctor, has decided to take her with him to Malawi for a nine week stay while he works for a hospital there. Clare is immersed in the culture going to a local school and making friends with the natives. She struggles with how to carry on and discovers she is more like her mother than she realized.
This touching story was pretty slow at first with lots of Malawian vocabulary words thrown in. It improved as Clare opened up, and made friends with the locals, and I got more drawn into the story. It was pretty good.
Alexandriaville has been without a public library for 12 years. Luigi Lemoncello is a famous inventor of games and puzzles who grew up in Alexandriaville. He has turned the old bank into the most amazing library ever and in order to celebrate its opening he holds a contest for 12-year-olds. The winning 12 12-year-olds get to attend a lock-in at the library. It turns out to be more than a lock-in though. The library is full of games and puzzles the kids have to solve in order to find the way out of the library. The winners get to be Lemoncello’s spokesperson.
This book is a librarian’s dream book full of puzzles that require library knowledge to solve. The kids learn about the dewey decimal system and how the library is set up. The games are tricky using books and rebuses and library cards. The library itself is more wondrous than any library could ever be. I love how the characters are constantly referencing book titles; you could create a pretty good reading list from the titles listed in these pages. My only complaint was the characters. They are all pretty stereotypical with little depth. I think this is a book kids will gravitate towards though…who doesn’t love puzzles!
Everyone you know is fighting a great battle.
Time to step up. Time to step in. Time to say yes.
Bo’s dad is the commander of the Air Force Base they live on. Bo is in sixth grade and has a new teacher this year. Ms. Loupe is an Air Force brat so she knows all about life on the base. Her entire family is in the military including her brother Marc who is stationed in Afghanistan. Ms. Loupe is unlike any teacher the class has had before. She comes from a theater background and starts teaching them improv from day one. She has a TAPED SPACE where anything can happen and she brings in a ugly green couch for a prop. Gari is Bo’s cousin. She is forced to leave her home in Seattle and move in with Bo’s family when her mom, an Army nurse, is deployed to Iraq.
Marc is reported missing from his squad and when he is found he is gravely injured. This puts Ms. Loupe off her game and makes her step back from her class. In order to get Ms. Loupe back and to show how much they care for her, Bo, Gari and the rest of Class 208 enact Operation Yes. The plan is to get 100,000 LGM (little green men) and deploy them throughout the school. Each LGM can be purchased for a $1 donation and all proceeds will go to help wounded soldiers. Soon the students have started a nation-wide campaign and written a play about the soldiers. But best of all they have brought Ms. Loupe back to herself.
I didn’t think I would like this book as much as I did. The second reading was just as good as the first. It seems like such a simple story about kids on a military base, but it ended up being more than that. It was about hope and learning to accept the life you are given and making something of that life. It is about learning to say yes and what happens when you do. It is about being present in the lives of others and how your presence can affect others lives. I thought the kids were fantastic and very realistic. Their reactions were exactly like I would expect kids to react. I would definitely recommend this one to kids.
Alexander Baddenfield is the last of the Baddenfields. Each member of the family has died in some very unpleasant way at a young age. At age 12, Alexander is sure he is going to end up the same way despite the fact that he has been protected and coddled by his man Winterbottom (a Winterbottom has always taken care of the Baddenfields). So he concocts a plan to implant the nine lives of his cat into himself. He finds a mad scientist to do the operation and it is successful. Alexander now feels invincible and quickly wastes his lives by touching the third rail, being thrown head first into a wall during a car crash (he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt), being swallowed by his python, being gored by a bull repeatedly and drowning. When he is down to his last life he finally starts to take precautions, or goes completely off the deep end depending on your point of view. However, a simple allergic reaction finally gets him in the end.
This book had the feel of Lemony Snicket or Roald Dahl, but didn’t quite live up to its ancestors. Alexander really has no redeeming qualities, not even in the end, that would make you want to cheer for him. The true hero of the book is Winterbottom, but he seems so one note that you don’t want to cheer for him either. The book is a quick read, but not necessarily a fun one. The first half is a family history of the Baddenfields and how they died. The second half is all about how Alexander keeps dying. Some of the deaths are fully fleshed out and described and others are not. I found it a little uneven and repetitive.
A Tangle of Knots illustrates just how connected we are to the people around us. This book takes a seemingly unconnected set of people and shows just how much their lives are tied together. You have an old man looking for a suitcase he lost years ago. A woman who takes care of orphans and finds them homes. An older woman who has lost her voice and her words. A young girl looking for her talent. A boy who thinks he’s worthless and can’t seem to do anything to stop. A young adventurer who loves monsters and cake. A woman hanging onto her past glory. But most of all you have a young baker who wants to bake the perfect cake for everyone. These lives might not seem to be connected but they all end up living at the Lost Luggage Emporium and becoming a family.
The world of A Tangle of Knots is one in which everyone has a Talent. It might be a talent for baking or knitting or spitting or floating. You never know what you talent is and some of them are more useful than others. The Talents aren’t really explained very well they are just part of the world and the story. The other mystery in the book is the large man in the gray suit who appears to each of the characters throughout the book. He seems to show up just when things are happening and helps set the characters on their path. Who is he? What does he know? That isn’t really answered.
If you are looking for a fully developed world and a straight-forward story this book isn’t for you. If you enjoy just going along for the ride and enjoy a little magical mystery I think you will enjoy this tale.
Jayne, Gingersnap, and her brother Rob are orphans living alone. Rob is old enough now to take Jayne in, but it is the 1944 and Rob is about to ship out to the Pacific. Jayne goes to live with their landlady, but isn’t happy there. Before he left, Rob showed Jayne a book in French that he believed to be from their grandmother. When she receives a telegram saying Rob is missing, Jayne decides to head to Brooklyn and find her grandmother. She does make it to Brooklyn and Elise’s bakery, but it turns out Elise isn’t her grandma. She stays anyway and makes it her home.
I found this story a little thin with lots of holes. There is an unidentified ghost who helps Jayne out. Elise isn’t really Elise she is Madeline, but goes by Elise who was really Jayne’s grandma. This is one book I wish was a little longer so the story could have been explored a little more.
The Year of Billy Miller is the story of Billy’s second grade year; his interactions with his teacher, his sister and his parents. Even though this is a longer book, it is still geared towards those beginning readers in second and third grade. The language is simple and easy to read and the stories are relatable to younger readers. I liked Billy and his family and thought all the stories were nice, realistic tales.
Moxie Fleece is looking forward to “the best summer ever” with her best friend Ollie. They will be starting different high schools in the fall and this is the last chance they will have to spend a lot of time together. One morning she opens the door, thinking it is her mother, and finds a red-head woman who tells Moxie that Sully Cupcakes wants his stuff back or else. Moxie’s grandpa, Grumps, used to be in the business. He would hide stuff for local criminals. Grumps has Alzheimer’s now and lives in a nursing home. He has his good days and his bad days, but he still won’t talk to Moxie about Sully Cupcakes. Moxie has 14 days to figure out what Grumps hid and where he hid it. Moxie and Ollie set off on a geo-chaching, mystery tour. They discover that Sully Cupcakes stole 12 items from the Sally Gardner Museum and Grumps hid them around Boston in places where he was working. Their hunt takes them to the State House, Trinity Church and the Green Monster itself (Fenway Park). The red-head dogs their steps all the way, but Moxie is determined to find the art and make sure her family stays safe.
I really enjoyed this mystery. Moxie and Ollie are smart and resourceful and adventurous. Sure there were times when I really wanted them to be a little smarter and tell an adult what was going on, but that would have ruined the story. I enjoyed the fact that the mystery was based on a true crime. The Sally Gardner Museum was really robbed in March 1990, but the art has never been found. I also really enjoyed Moxie’s relationship with Grumps. I thought the depiction of Alzheimer’s was really well done and realistic. This is definitely a book I would recommend to kids.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
Mickey Price is an inventive, smart orphan living in Florida. Trace Daniels is a go-kart champion who just happens to be a girl. Jonah Jones is a brilliant scientist. They are all kids who are going to be someone someday. They just didn’t think it would be so soon. Our three heroes plus a few others are all recruited by NASA to attend a space camp. They are trained just like the astronauts. While at camp they learn that there is a secret space program on the moon; one that is not going to be in the history books. Between Apollo and the shuttle, Pleurinium, a super powerful magnet, has been discovered on the moon and NASA is trying to mine it before the Russians get there. The only problem is that it makes adults sick, so they need kids under 12 to shut off the nuclear reactor before the moon is toast.
If you think this is outrageous you would be correct. The whole book is filled with mysterious men in gold sunglasses, daring adventures and danger. Mickey and his friends must work together once they get to the moon to make sure they all make it back. The story is interrupted by scenes of Mickey telling his children the story while on a campout. In some ways it interrupts the flow, but in others it enhances the believability of the tale. It is brilliant and funny and a truly wild ride. The cover is horrible, but hopefully that won’t turn kids away from this fun book.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.