Monday, February 16, 2009

Savvy by Ingrid Law and On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck

I have a couple of books that I started reviews on, but for some reason, didn't publish. So here are two back entries...

Savvy by Ingrid Law - I can see why this book is winning awards. I really enjoyed the original voice that this novel exudes. It many ways, it reminds me of Each Little Bird that Sings, so if you didn't care for that book, you probably won't care too much for this book. Mibs is a young girl facing many changes in her life, not the least of which is getting her "savvy", a talent that all Beaumonts get at age 13. When her savvy isn't what she expected, she and her siblings, along with two of the local preacher's kids, need to learn to manage in order to save Mibs's father. I am probably one of only a handful of people who watched the show "Wonderfalls" from start to finish. (You can watch the unaired episodes on DVD!). Right off the bat, Mibs's savvy reminds me quite a bit of that show. It has good heart and is a well-told tale. I will recommend this one to my students.

On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck - On the Wings of Heroes seemed like the kind of story my boys would love. It got starred reviews from School Library Journal and rave reviews from other sources. It's about two boys and set during World War II. Maybe I just am not a historical fiction buff, but I didn't love this book. I anticipate that my boys may be let down by the lack of action in the story. Seeming much more like a memoir, Peck shares what goes on in the small town that the boys live in and how the war affects them. However, collecting scrap metal and a need for a new classroom teacher just aren't very lively stories. Things pick up a little when Miss Titus comes into the story, but her portion of the story is too little and almost too late. Students expecting to hear about battles, airplanes, and recounts of the war will not get it in this book. While not a bad read, Heroes left me wanting a little bit more than what I got.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

I smell another series coming on. This book has been sitting in my house for quite a while. I finally picked it up the day I came home sick and couldn't really stand to do much else. When I was in junior high, there was a series called, "Friday the 13th". It had nothing to do with the horror flick of the same name. It was actually about some characters that ran an antique shop and had to chase down cursed items. I got a little of that feeling from this book. Theodosia has the special ability to sense curses on items, especially those of Egyptian origin. Since her parents run a museum that focuses on Ancient artifacts, Theodosia's knowledge and abilities develop from self-educating herself with what exists in the museum. Mom and Dad are not aware of her abilities or the curses and, of course, danger and adventure ensue after mom sends home some very cursed items. I think this could be a decent series if developed correctly. My students all seem to be into the scary spooky stuff right now, so this might be right up their alley. A little magic and a little spooky stuff make a decent combination. The book didn't specifically indicate a sequel, but the plot certainly left room to create more stories with this adventurous character.

I also reread The Westing Game this weekend. I highly recommended the book to one of our teachers and she came back in a little later and said she had been told there was something controversial about it. I couldn't remember anything too bad, except maybe a little stereotyping. So I reread it. I still love it. Yes, there is some stereotyping, but the character that makes the stereotypes is regarding poorly by the other characters. There are "bombs" and a mention of a suicide. But I wouldn't even venture so far as to call it violence compared to what goes on in most cartoons and upper level books that kids read today. The mystery is well-written and heartfelt and the novel is quite complete in its circle. It's a classic and I will always recommend it. =)

Monday, February 2, 2009

If You're Reading This It's Too Late

This book is the sequel to "The Name of This Book is Secret". Pretty lighthearted reading, I spent my time covering "silent reading duty" reading this book. It has bad guys, magic, adventurous kids saving the world, and a sarcastic author that tries to convince his readers they're better off not reading the book. What all kids books are like nowadays. Nothing special, but not necessarily a bad book either.

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

The first half of this book was very slow. I listened to most of this on CD and I bet it wasn't until CD 7 that it really started to get interesting. In the end, the story had a satisfying resolution, even if the character you're indebted to for saving the story is less than likable. A satisfying end to a trilogy that sucked me in right away. Now...I just can't decide if I want to embark on the Twilight saga. I know that I will love it, but it's four big books. And so many for me to read that are actually in my library. I'm a little torn. So for the moment, I've moved on to one that's been sitting around my house for quite a while. It's called Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. I'm enjoying it and it's a faster read than I expected. I'll probably update soon on it.