April Grace is a country girl from the Ozarks and proud of it. She lets her new neighbors know what she thinks of them from the beginning even if she does get in trouble for it. Isabel and Ian St. James are from California and snooty; they have bought a run down place down the road from April Grace’s family. The place is in such bad shape that April’s parents invite Isabel and Ian to move in with them until it is habitable. Cultures clash between the St. Jameses and the Reillys and hilarity ensues. But through it all the Reillys (at least mom and dad) handle the situation with grace and kindness; they are an example to their daughters and their neighbors. The St. Jameses are not the only new additions to the neighborhood. Grandma has a new beau; Jeffrey Rance is a hard-of-hearing Texan who looks to sweep Grandma off her feet and clear out her pocketbook. It is up to April to find the evidence to prove her dislike of Mr. Rance right.
Being from the Ozarks, I enjoy books that show good honest country people and don’t make fun of them for being hicks or hillbillies. In this book it is the citified St. Jameses who come off looking bad and the Reillys with their simpler ways and good living who shine. April Grace is funny and sarcastic and honest and really enjoyable to read. I loved how involved her parents were in their children’s lives and what good examples they were for April and Myra. They are definitely part of the lead by example school of parenting. This is a great book with a great lesson on treating others with kindness.
Found opens on an unusual note: a plane appears at an airport. It’s not on any manifest and there are no pilots on board. Stewardess Angela DuPre is the only who saw it appear and is the only one brave enough to set foot on the mysterious plane. What she finds is quite surprising: 36 babies on board with no parents or other adults in the vicinity. Once the infants are taken off the plane, it disappears.
13 years later, we meet a boy named Jonah who has recently begun getting mysterious messages in the mail that appear to be related to the fact that he is adopted. Things get stranger when his friend, Chip, reveals that he has also been receiving messages in spite of the fact that he’s not adopted. Or doesn’t think he is until he questions his parents. In shock over discovering that he has been adopted, Chip joins up with Jonah and his sister Katherine to figure out who is sending these messages and why. An unexpected interrogation by the FBI nets Jonah and Katherine a chance to find out a bit more. Chip and Jonah are among 36 kids who have all been adopted and are all located in the same geographic region. They realize this has something to do with the mysterious plane incident and subsequently begin to seek out other kids and witnesses who might know more.
As one might expect from Haddix, this is a fast-paced adventure story and the beginning of a series. This installment merely sets up what will undoubtedly become the main arc of the story, as the matter of how these kids got where they are currently is clearly not nearly as important as where they came from in the first place. There’s a lot of running around trying to piece together clues, only to have them explained in detail near the end. The first part of the book is intriguing and fun; the second becomes quite a stretch in terms of premise and execution. Unfortunately, the questionable premise is what will be driving the series and I’m not certain I can get over it enough to read the rest. Still, an entertaining diversion and a fun take on the time-travel genre.
Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths
Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret–behind the mirage of the “death farm” there is instead a place called Artime.
In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.
But it’s a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.
In this affecting and beautifully written story of family and forgiveness, 12-year-old Raine spends the summer at a mysterious artists colony and discovers a secret about her past.
In Quill everyone is sorted into three categories: Wanteds who go on to rule the country, Necessaries who do all the menial work, and Unwanteds who are sent to their deaths in the Lake of Boiling Oil. Alex has always known he will be an Unwanted and his twin brother Aaron will be a Wanted. But the shock of being sent to his death still hurts until he finds out that Unwanteds are not killed. They live in a magical world called Artime. There they use their creativity to learn magic and prepare for a coming war against the Wanteds.
I had mixed feelings about this book. As with any dystopian novel I want the world to make sense and this world just didn’t at times. For one thing, Quill has fallen into disrepair and segregation within 50 years. The world is crumbling around these people yet they have shut away all emotions and become evil robots basically. They have no problem sending their children off to die. Artime is a land of plenty and filled with magic and magical creatures. How do these two worlds exist side by side? I also didn’t like that being creative was evil to the people of Quill and they only defined creative as being of the arts. All the Wanteds seem cold and evil, but they are still able to think for themselves and solve problems (in creative ways?). I am not sure I buy that the world can devolve and diverge in such a short amount of time. And in the end magic triumphs rather easily over reason. Why let the world go on as it was for 50 years if it was that easy to solve everything?
That being said I really enjoyed the story. I love the characters and I enjoyed the magic of Artime. I like that the magic spells are those created from the arts: deadly rhyming couplets, invisible paintbrushes, etc. I thought that was really creative. I also enjoyed that the kids in Artime were real kids with real emotions and problems. Alex truly loves his brother and wants to be with him. In order to accomplish that he makes mistakes and alienates his friends. The other kids are equally flawed and perfect.
This was a quick, fun read and if you can get past the world-building one I am sure kids will enjoy. We read this book in my 3rd-5th grade bookclub and the kids loved it. It was one of their favorites that we had read. The world building didn’t bother them at all!
Because of Mr. Terupt is a wonderful book that will leave you smiling (or crying, as the case may be!) Mr. Terupt is a fifth grade teacher in his first year and his class is full of children with a range of personal issues that they are dealing with. Some of the kids think he will be easy to fool since he is new, but Mr. Terupt proves to be very perceptive and deals with the kids in a mellow manner. When he is finished, the kids know that he still loves them, and they know that their behavior will not be accepted. Each of the kids form a special bond with Mr. Terupt, because they understand that he really cares about them. Relationships break and form, kids learn more about themselves, and forgiveness is key to happiness.
Mr. Terupt reminded me of a couple of teachers I had the pleasure of working with. My kids and I listened to the book on cd version and many times had to sit in the garage for “just a few more minutes!” to find out what was going to happen next. I really liked how Mr. Buyea wrote from the viewpoint of each child in the class. It was fun to listen to the different characters and see what each one of them was experiencing in the different situations. We highly recommend this book!
When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra’s father steals a minivan. He doesn’t know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too.
Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth – that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel-in-poems reveals the complexities of memory and the strength of a friendship that can overcome pain.
From the award-winning author of SO B. IT, a story about family, friendship, and…pie!
When Alice’s Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily fat, remarkably disagreeable cat, Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice.
Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat. Everyone wants to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it’s making them pie-crazy. It’s up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness: Friendship. Family. And the pleasure of donig something for the right reason.
With Pie, acclaimed author Sarah Weeks has baked up a sweet and satisfying delight, as inviting as warm pie on a cold day. You’ll enjoy every last bite.
Some kind of disaster has befallen the world and humanity must be saved. So the Builders create Ember, a city deep underground. They create instructions for the citizens to follow once it is safe to emerge. Unfortunately, the instructions are lost and the people of Ember never know there is a world outside of their small community. The expiration date is coming due on Ember; the power is failing and they are running out of supplies. No one seems that worried however, except Lina and Doon. Lina finds the instructions, unfortunately after her baby sister Poppy has eaten part of them. As Lina and Doon try to decipher the Instructions, they also uncover corruption and greed in Ember. In order to safe everyone they must find a way out of Ember.
I really enjoyed this book and my bookclub kids did as well. I also thought they did a really good job on the movie as well; one of the few times when I actually liked a movie made from a book. Lina and Doon are really interesting characters who are actively pursuing something unlike the majority of the characters in this book who are stagnant and just want to continue with the status quo. I liked the mystery of trying to figure out what exactly the Instructions were saying and I thought the adventurous escape was thrill a minute. However, my favorite part had to be the end where Doon, Lina and Poppy discover a world they have only dreamed of. This book won the Missouri Mark Twain award.
Kate, Michael, and Emma have passed from one orphanage to another in the ten years since their parents disappeared to protect them, but now they learn that they have special powers, a prophesied quest to find a magical book, and a fearsome enemy.
This may be a series I read just to see how the next 2 atlases are found. I liked this book, see the appeal for young readers, it’s got a little magic, a little mystery, a little time travel. It is being called a new Narnia for tweens, and that seems accurate enough, with just a bit of Harry Potter tossed in. I want to discover the identity of the mastermind behind it all.
In a society that purges thirteen-year-olds who are creative, identical twins Aaron and Alex are separated, one to attend University while the other, supposedly Eliminated, finds himself in a wondrous place where youths hone their abilities and learn magic.
Someone touts it as “Hunger Games meets Harry Potter” on the cover, not really, in my opinion. Yes, it has a magic element, a kindly, older mentor, and several sneaky boys. Yes, there is a point where children are weeded out of their society and sent to what they think is their death. However, I didn’t really find it to be a meshing of the two stories. Another book that I don’t think I want to read the sequel to, it was a fine story, but beyond that, it doesn’t really pique my interest. Kids may find it very fascinating, though.
After the death of Polly Portman, whose award-winning pies put the town of Ipswitch, Pennsylvania, on the map in the 1950s, her devoted niece Alice and Alice’s friend Charlie investigate who is going to extremes to find Aunt Polly’s secret pie crust recipe. Includes fourteen pie recipes.
A cute little mystery, a good book to get started on the genre if you’re young. I did enjoy reading it, even if I did have the culprit figured out fairly early! And I’ve got to admit that I want to try some of those recipes, they looked scrumptious.
This is a great adventure of three “Familiars” – animal buddies of wizards. The unusual trio are a blue jay (Skylar), a tree frog (Gilbert), and an alley cat (Aldwyn). The bird and frog know they have magical powers, but the cat uses his “street smarts” to pretend he knows magic. The wizards get abducted and the Familiars have to ge across many lands to rescue them. There is continuous action and concern about the future through the whole story. Many lessons in friendship, courage, and trust are woven into this excellent tale.
Alice’s best friend, Aunt Polly, was a kind-hearted woman who made pies and forged friendships like no other. When she dies, she leaves her award-winning pie crust recipe to her cat, Lardo. Alice is left in charge of Lardo, Lardo disappears, pie making fever abounds as a pie baking contest looms closer, Charlie works with Alice to find the cat thief, and Alice comes to realize that her gifts are worth sharing. Aunt Polly always brought out the best in people, even in her death.
This was a slower moving book but it had a great message. I enjoyed the peek into the future in the epilogue. This was a 2013-2014 Mark Twain Award Nominee.
In the “perfect” society of Quill, those who don’t follow the exact rules or meet the highest qualifications are weeded out when they reach thirteen. They are taken to the outer wall of the kingdom, through a gate always kept locked from the inside, and handed to some enormous Eliminators to be thrown into the Boiling Lake of Oil. Alex and the others knew they were doomed, but were very surprised to be welcomed by a giant flying tortoise and Mr.Today. They actually had escaped from a land of black and white with stiff rules to a colorful place where people were enjoyed and taught many magic and creative activities that would eventually save their lives. Alex missed his twin, Aaron, who was a Wanted in Quill, but visited him in dreams, hoping to someday bring him here to Artime. There are many surprises and lots of exciting experiences – good booki!
Just before summer begins, 13-year-old Ali finds an odd photograph in the attic. She knows the two children in it are her mother, Claire, and her aunt Dulcie. But who’s the third person, the one who’s been torn out of the picture?
Ali figures she’ll find out while she’s vacationing in Maine with Dulcie and her four-year-old daughter, Emma, in the house where Ali’s mother’s family used to spend summers. All hopes for relaxation are quashed shortly after their arrival, though, when the girls meet Sissy, a kid who’s mean and spiteful and a bad influence on Emma.
Strangest of all, Sissy keeps talking about a girl named Teresa who drowned under mysterious circumstances back when Claire and Dulcie were kids, and whose body was never found. At first Ali thinks Sissy’s just trying to scare her with a ghost story, but soon she discovers the real reason why Sissy is so angry. . . . Mary Downing Hahn is at her chilling best in this new supernatural tale that’s certain to send shivers down her readers’ spines.
Why were people warned to not go on Superstition Mountain? Was there really a lost gold mine there? Whose skulls were lined up on the ledge? Simon, Henry, and Jack couldn’t pass up the temptation to explore and had a very exciting adventure. Looking for historical information in the library introduced them to a new neighbor, Delilah, who also wanted to explore. Unfortunately, she had an accident on the mountain, which led to finding a hidden canyon and another mystery. This was an exciting book that was hard to put down (even as an aging adult).
Twelve-year-old Raine spends the summer at a mysterious artists colony and discovers a secret about her past.
I really think that this is going to be my favorite Mark Twain nominee. The characters were all so real and the storyline rolled out at a nice pace. Sometimes authors try to stuff things into their stories as they are reaching the end so it feels too rushed. I thought that Raine’s personality as an only child trying to deal with all the upheaval was well done, she is a very grounded character, not flighty like some authors might make their characters when dealing with similar plots. Very well done.
Growing up in the country is never easy, but it sure is funny–especially if you happen to have a sister obsessed with being glamorous, a grandma just discovering make-up, hippie friends who never shower, and brand new neighbors from the city who test everyone’s patience.
I loved April Grace! Having been the older sister, I can’t see her view of what’s it’s like to be the younger sister, but I loved her sarcasm when dealing with her sister. And as a kid, she is rather invisible and dismissed by adults when overhearing and seeing things they think are secret. Very good book, I can’t wait for the next one.
Will lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with his mother and three sisters. His father is a doctor helping out in Washington and his brother is a prisoner of the South. It is 1863 and the Civil War is raging. Will dreams of being a drummer boy for the Union Army and doing heroic deeds, but his mom won’t let him join up. Then the war comes to Gettysburg. The bloodiest battle of the War is fought right on Will’s doorstep and he is right in the middle of it. He finds that war is not heroic deeds and glory but bloody, chaotic and terrifying.
This was an amazing story of what it was like in Gettysburg during the battle. Calkhoven does a great job weaving historical details into her fictional characters’ story. She shows the true horror of war, but also the selflessness of some of the people. I really enjoyed how she showed the townspeople opening their homes for the soldiers on both sides and taking care of the sick and wounded. She also provides historical notes at the end of the book with details about the battle and the Civil War.
2013-14 Mark Twain Nominee.