Arianne and her family live on a horse farm in the 1960s. Arianne’s rock star father abandoned them after her little brother Robbie was born. Robbie is a thalidomide baby with physical disabilities. One night the family goes out to the field to watch the Pleiades and Arianne witnesses a white light jumping in among the horses. Then their old pony Agora becomes pregnant and gives birth to a centaur. The little pony boy, who they name Kai after Chiron, becomes the focus of the family, the stable manager Martha and the vet Dr. Herks. They all pull together to keep Kai safe and away from prying eyes even if it means they lose some of their riders and boarders. Kai is a typical centaur with a horse body and a boy torso and head. He becomes one of the family as he grows at an astonishing rate. Of course no secret this big can stay a secret forever. It is up to the family to figure out how to keep control of the story and to keep Kai safe.
This was an interesting mix of historical fiction and fantasy. I thought it was really smart to set the story in the past because there is no way they would have been been able to keep the secret in the world of today’s technology. I thought it was a great story about a family and the unconditional love they felt for each other. I don’t think I have ever read a children’s book with a thalidomide baby character so this was also a nice piece of history that kids are probably not familiar with. However, I will admit that I was a bit bored by the story. There was nothing wrong with it, but it just seemed very slow story with a lot of repetition.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is the original Zorro, a foppish aristocrat, who in reality rescues French aristocrats from the guillotine and excesses of the French Revolution (seen here at its worst). After the excesses, the story moves into how the Scarlet Pimpernel has pulled of some quite daring rescues, tweaking the noses of the brutal French guards. Then it moves into the love story/romance between Marguarite and her husband. I dislike how far in debt, Margaurite is to her husband, and how high/large his forgiveness needs to be, to reconcile the couple. Then back to more adventure. Though really the quick thing to do, would be to incapacitate Chauvelin. It is an old book and the treatment of women shows the misogynistic flaws of the time. The “smartest” woman in Europe, remains clueless about her husband’s masquerades throughout (my husband noted this). Fun, but could use some updating.
Brenda “Chip” Anderson’s world has come crashing down. Her beloved daddy has died and taken the world she knew away with him. Chip used to spend her days outside exploring nature and climbing trees with her daddy and best friend Billy. Now mama is moving the family from New York to North Carolina to live with a grandma they have never met. Chip’s sisters Charlene and Ruthie immediately fit in with the Southern belle pageant atmosphere of grandma’s house. Grandma was Miss Dogwood 1939 and mama was Miss Dogwood 1961 so of course Charlene will be entered in the pageant and young Ruthie can do the Little Miss Dogwood pageant. Chip decides to enter the Junior Miss Dogwood pageant in the hopes that she will fit in with her family, but even that doesn’t seem to work. Chip is definitely not pageant material and can’t seem to get on grandma’s good side no matter what she does. Her tomboy ways just make her an outsider in her family. Then she discovers Miss Vernie’s School of Charm. Miss Vernie’s isn’t like a regular charm school. Chip and the two other students, Dana and Karen, don’t learn how to eat properly or walk with a book on their head. They spend their days working in Miss Vernie’s garden and learning about themselves. Miss Vernie gives each of them a charm bracelet and as they learn their lessons a charm falls off. The girls have to learn to stand on their own two feet, to find beauty, to blossom.
School of Charm is simply charming. I thought the Southern setting in 1977 really set the stage for the story. The South at that time was a different world from the world Chip left in New York. The women in Mount Airey do seem to be obsessed with the pageant and everything it represents. There are also the racial elements as Dana is the only Black contestant in the pageant. I love the fact that when Chip realizes her plan to fit into her family has failed completely she takes a stand and comes out as herself. She forces her family to accept her on her own terms and quits trying to change to please others. I think this is an excellent lesson for young readers to absorb. The one part of the book that I thought could have been a bit stronger was grandma’s story. We do learn a bit about why she is the way she is, but it comes so late that her character doesn’t recover from her one-dimensional, pageant loving, animal hating, mean lady persona of the rest of the book. Overall though this was a magical book full of spunk and charm that is sure to please.
Murphy has a horrible owner named Carrick, but all he really wants is a home. So when he gets a chance he runs away; he has to live hard on the streets of Nome where everyday new prospectors come searching for gold. One day Mama and Sally get off the boat and they are so different from everyone else that Murphy approaches them. Soon he has the home he has dreamed of, but times are hard in the frontier town. Mama has to work around the clock to make enough for them to survive. Sally dreams of having her own stake and finding gold. When Mama decides they have had enough and are going back to San Francisco Sally and Murphy take off to find their claim. Their journey is full of hazards from wolves to bears to avalanches to Murphy’s old owner Carrick. Murphy has always thought he wasn’t brave, but he has to be brave to protect his family.
This book is told from Murphy’s point of view which makes it a different kind of book. Murphy wants nothing more than to find a home and family and once he has it must decide to be brave and do whatever he can to protect them. I like that the story was based on historical events and that the author included a lot of information about the gold rush, claim jumpers and actual dogs. It is a strong story for reader’s who like animal books.
Tormented by horrific nightmares since the death of her baby five years before, literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw agrees to accompany an author to Wales, where she encounters an eccentric young widow desperately afraid for her own infant’s safety and a reclusive playwright who could be her only salvation
Who’s got time for hair curlers and high heels when you’re busy keeping baby turtles alive?
Chip has always been a tree-climbin’, fish-catchin’ daddy’s girl. When Daddy dies, Mama moves her and her sisters south to Grandma’s house and Chip struggles to find her place in a family full of beauty queens.
Just when she’s wishing for a sign from Daddy that her new life’s going to work, Chip discovers Miss Vernie’s School of Charm. Could unusual pageant lessons and secrets be the key to making Chip’s wishes a reality?
Full of spirit, hope, and a hint of magic, this enchanting debut novel tells the tale of one girl’s struggle with a universal question: How do you stay true to yourself and find a way to belong at the same time?
So I picked up this book because it was on a time travel list. So I was expecting time travel; I didn’t expect to have to wait until the very end of the book to get it. This is a story of two girls separated by hundreds of years but connected by their love and grief over two little boys. Donnelly does an excellent job of bringing their stories together and making them both very believable. What she didn’t do a great job of was making me care about the characters. Modern day Andi in particular was hard to like or connect with. I got that she was grieving over the death of her brother Truman and that she blamed herself for his death. What I couldn’t get past was how unlikeable she was. She was whiny, self-centered and horrible to those around her. French Revolution Alex was easier to like even if she was further away in time. However, at times she too didn’t seem that realistic. She seemed to innocent of what was going on around her while at the same time she was jaded by the events as well. It was a contradiction that was a bit hard to reconcile. I thought the time travel bit at the end was pretty much unnecessary even though I was expecting it. It was basically a way for Andi to work through her grief and come to terms with her life as it is. I wish she had been able to come to that point on her own, but thought the narrative twist worked in its way. The problem with dual storylines is that one is often a lot better than the other and I think that is where this book fell for me. I really wanted more of Alex’s story and the French Revolution and every time it went back to Andi I got bored.
Seventeen-year-old Althea is the sole support of her entire family, and she must marry well. But there are few wealthy suitors–or suitors of any kind–in their small Yorkshire town of Lesser Hoo. Then, the young and attractive (and very rich) Lord Boring arrives, and Althea sets her plans in motion. There’s only one problem; his friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks keeps getting in the way. And, as it turns out, Fredericks has his own set of plans.
Maisie and Felix are off for another adventure through time. This time they are headed to Imperial Russia and the Romanovs. Before they leave they befriend Alex Andropov who is Russian and has hemophilia. Alex smuggles himself along through time and once he gets there he doesn’t want to leave. The three kids spend months with the Romanovs in 1911 traveling from one palace to another. They need to give Anastasia a Faberge egg and get a piece of advice. Unfortunately when they arrived the egg ended up in the Czarina’s possession. Then Alex wanted to destroy the egg so he wouldn’t have to go back to the present time. Felix is also enjoying his time in Russia and bonding with Anastasia. Whereas Maisie is feeling jealous and left out and just wants to get the mission done. There is a lot to figure out.
I still don’t really like this series. I find the kids pretty unlikeable and unrelatable. There are also instances where logic seems to be thrown out the window for no reason. For instance, why does Alex have to destroy the egg? To get back to the future he has to be touching either Maisie or Felix when they give the egg to Anastasia. So instead of trapping them in 1911 he could just not be around when they give her the egg. Seems pretty straight forward to me.
When his mother, a tribal enrollment specialist living on a reservation in North Dakota, slips into an abyss of depression after being brutally attacked, 14-year-old Joe Coutz sets out with his three friends to find the person that destroyed his family.
Susan Marcus is leaving New York and heading to St. Louis, Missouri. It is 1943 and the family is moving so her dad can start a new job. Living in St. Louis is much different than New York. Susan has a hard time accepting the Jim Crow laws of Missouri. She doesn’t like the fact that her new friend Loretta can’t go to the movies, the swimming pool or to restaurants just because she is black. Susan, Loretta and Marlene concoct a plan to fight Jim Crow when they realize that public transportation is not segregated.
I like the fact that this book is set in Missouri and it was interesting to read about the Jim Crow laws that affected this state. Most historical fiction dealing with this time period is set in the South not the Midwest so this is a new and different perspective. I think Susan’s confusion over the difference between New York and St. Louis came off completely realistic. I am sure there were a lot of kids who didn’t really see color if they didn’t grow up being told to notice it. It is a nice message for kids today. However, I did have a couple of issues with this book. There is a lot packed into this very short novel, yet strangely not enough. A lot of the book is taken up with the Jim Crow laws and the issues facing people who are not white. Very little is actually mentioned about the war and the rationing and how this affects every day life. There are a few instances, but you would have thought it would have more of an impact on the characters. I also truly hate the cover of this book and think it will turn kids off. I know you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover but we all do and this one looks too old fashioned for kids today.
Esther’s mom is extremely superstitious. Any little thing can be bad or good luck. Esther never knows when she is going to do something wrong and it seems like her mom doesn’t love her like she does the other kids or like other moms love their kids. Esther never gets hugs and kisses or “I love yous”. She is always trying to think of ways to earn her mom’s love. It is the height of the Depression and things are not looking good in Chicago. When Esther’s dad loses his job, the family decides to buy a farm in Wisconsin and start over. Esther loves the farm and all the animals. She has made a new friend and likes the community. However, her new friend has a mole on her face which to Esther’s mom means she has been marked. She tells Esther they can’t be friends anymore. Esther can’t obey her mom in this as Bethany is her best friend and so very nice. Esther wonders if her mom could be wrong for once about the signs.
This is a nice story about a girl living in the 1930s depression. I liked the story of surviving on less and learning to appreciate what you have. I think the heart of the story is really Esther trying to understand her mom and learning to live with the restrictions her mom’s superstitions place on the family. It is a gentle and slower story than many that are written today; more heart than action.
This is the story of Alma Whiteacre a scientist of moss and evolution. It starts with her father’s life, an unscrupulous lad, who starts prospering by stealing botanicals.
His life is interesting, though he is not a likeable character. The next 3 segments of the book cover Alma’s life, a very intellectual but very lonely life. Her mother and secondary mother figure, are all about being tough, and stoic. Her father is pretty self-centered, and behaves however he pleases. An interesting, if uneven read.
Hazel lives with her parents in the small Vermont town of Maple Hill. Her parents are the caretakers of the local cemetery and Hazel has free reign over the cemetery. It is 1953 and the height of the Joseph McCarthy Red Menace where communists seem to be everywhere. Hazel believes what she hears. She is building a bomb shelter in one of the mausoleums and investigating the new gravedigger Mr. Jones. She believes that since the FBI is investigating the local factory there must be other commies in town. Hazel thinks Mr. Jones is suspicious and wants to catch him in the act. She enlists the help of her new friend Samuel who is new in town and has a mysterious past. Together they have to figure out the mystery of Mr. Jones and the communist threat.
I liked this book. Hazel is spunky and smart and a bit full of herself. She loves the mysteries of Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and wants to solve mysteries herself. Since she lives in a small town there aren’t really a lot of mysteries, which doesn’t stop Hazel. She sees things as she wants them to be in a lot of ways. She doesn’t have a whole lot of parental supervision, but this is the 1950s so maybe parents were a bit more lax back then. I like the fact that this book is set in a time period that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention with middle grade novels. There is also McCarthyism which is not something a lot of kids know about it. It is a fascinating time in our history when there was a lot of fear-mongering going on. While the Mr. Jones mystery wasn’t really that interesting, Samuel’s story was as was how Hazel resolved it.
Survive. At any cost.
10 concentration camps.
10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.
It’s something no one could imagine surviving.
But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.
Based on a true story, this book brings a story that young people can read and maybe gain some insight into a part of history that takes us where no one should ever have gone. This may be what interests boys in the way that Anne Frank’s diary interested girls. While brutal in nature, it is written so that young people can read it and maybe learn from it in the hopes that history will never repeat itself. Recommend for both boys and girls.
In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.
But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of “pigeoners” trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.
While set in the 1800s and the setting seems western in nature, it really isn’t a western. Georgie, the main character, refuses to believe that her sister is dead, despite the evidence pointing to her demise. She sets off, determined to find her. While she is out looking, she runs into more than she anticipated and even though she still doesn’t believe her sister is dead, Georgie begins to resign herself to that conclusion. What intrigued me about the story, were the pigeons and pigeoners, due to the fact that I had just been reading stories about the extinction of the passenger pigeon and the huge flocks of them that would migrate across the country. I think this is a story that will find both boys and girls enjoying.
Joel has always wanted to be a Rithmatist, but he wasn’t chosen. He still gets to go to the prestigious Armedius Academy and, while he can’t take the courses that the Rithmatist students do, he can still sneak into the occasional class. His obsession with Rithmancy earns him a summer assistantship with his favorite Rithmancy professor, Fitch. When students studying Rithmancy start disappearing with no trace save for some drops of blood, the whole school is in an uproar. It’s believed that someone or something is targeting Rithmatists. The likely weapon is a set of oddly drawn Chalklings that have the ability to attack physical forms rather than chalk lines, the sort that are typically only seen far away on the war-torn isle of Nebrask. Professor Fitch is charged with assisting in the investigation and Joel is eager to help. The artistically-gifted-but-geometrically-disinclined Melody, also assigned to help Professor Fitch over the summer, teams up with Joel as they work to solve the mystery of their missing classmates.
Author Sanderson has created a fascinating and original world where battles are drawn in chalk. A working knowledge of geometry is every bit as important as a steady hand. Joel excels in geometric strategy, but ultimately can do little more than watch from the sidelines. The ability to become a Rithmatist is not one that can worked towards; either one is a Rithmatist or one is not. The setting is the United Isles of America (a detailed map of which appears at the beginning of the book). The Rithmatist is interspersed with illustrations featuring chalk-drawn defenses and Chalklings. Joel and Melody both break the mold of the middle-grade magic novel. Joel has no magical abilities. Melody, while a Rithmatist, is at the bottom of her class. She doesn’t particularly enjoy being a Rithmatist either. She is, however, an excellent artist, which winds up being far more useful than she had previously believed. This book works on a number of levels: it’s a mystery/fantasy/steampunk/action/adventure story. And it does all of these things quite well.
Murder. Vice. Pollution. Delays on the Tube. Some things never change…
London 1859-62. A time of great exhibitions, foreign conquests and underground trains. But the era of Victorian marvels is also the time of the Great Stink. With cholera and depravity never far from the headlines, it’s not only the sewers that smell bad.
Novice detective, Campbell Lawless, stumbles onto the trail of Berwick Skelton, an elusive revolutionary, seemingly determined to bring London to its knees through a series of devilish acts of terrorism.
But cast into a lethal, intoxicating world of music hall hoofers, industrial sabotage and royal scandal, will Lawless survive long enough to capture this underworld nemesis, before he unleashes his final vengeance on a society he wants wiped from the face of the Earth?
Lawless & The Devil of Euston Square is the first of a series of historical thrillers by William Sutton set during the mid-nineteenth century, featuring Metropolitan policeman, Campbell Lawless, aka the Watchman, on his rise through the ranks and his initiation as a spy.
Before Holmes, there was Lawless…
Before Campbell Lawless, the London streets weren’t safe to walk.
This is a collection of poems that capture the spirit of the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. The voices range from young to old and from black to white. They capture the commitment of those determine to make a change in their world. While these are all fictional people it isn’t hard to believe there were those in the crowd who felt the way these characters felt. The poems are interspersed by verses by famous people who were actually at the March. This is an excellent collection of poems that really illustrate just how powerful that day was for those who were there.