Thursday, June 14, 2018

Beanstalker and other Hilarious Scary Tales by Kiersten White

Think you know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack and Jill, Cinderella, Snow White, Red Riding Hood?  Well, maybe if you throw a twist or two or three or four or well...you get my meaning.  In this story, there are surprises throughout the tales as White twists these familiar stories together.  And, the voice she uses to tell the story is like she is sitting in the library telling me the story yet getting distracted along the way--then, getting back on track--then, getting distracted, again, you understand where I am going.

I recommend you read this story if you like fairy tales--especially if you like twisted fairy tales. 

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Monday, June 11, 2018

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

May and Libby are best friends in fifth grade when they decided to create a character named Princess X.  Libby created the drawings, and May wrote the story.  Then, tragically, Libby died in a car accident.  May's parents get divorced, and she moves away.  Years later, May comes back to visit her father for the summer, and she sees a picture of Princess X.  Then, she sees another and more and more.  She cannot believe it.  How could someone have stolen their character?  May must get to the bottom of this.  Is it possible that Libby is still alive?  If so, she is in danger.  May must figure this out.  If Libby is still alive--can May find her in time to help her?  Find out in I am Princess X.

The Window by Amelia Brunskill

Jess and Anna are 17 year old twins who are close, but they have drifted apart in the last few weeks.  Jess doesn't know why, but she decides that she is going to talk to Anna about it.  Jess is in class, and she is called out to talk to her parents.  Anna was found on the ground outside her window--dead.  How did this happen?  Was it a suicide or an accident?  Jess cannot believe that it is true until she sees the body for herself.  The police rule it an accident, but Jess cannot believe their rendition of what happened.  She knows there is more to the story, but is she ready to find out what more there is? There are many dark secrets that her sister was hiding, but will Jess be able to figure out what they are in time to protect others in the town?

I liked this book, and thought the author did a good job of bringing suspense to the end of the chapter so that I could not put it down.

If you like a good suspenseful mystery, pick this one up.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

Rashad is getting ready for a party because he is ready to cut loose with his friends and leave his responsibilities behind.  Before he goes, he wants to stop at the local store and get some snacks.  He picks up his snacks and remembers that his money is in his bag.  He bends over to get the money, and a woman who was also there to pick up something on the way home trips over him.  Before they can untangle the mess, a police officer steps in to break up what he assumes is a theft and assault on the woman.  Rashad is caught, and the police officer takes him to the floor.  Then, he takes him outside and yells that he is resisting arrest and begins to beat him.  The beating is bad, really bad, very bad. 
On the street, Quinn sees the beating, and he cannot believe his own eyes.  The police officer is the brother of one of his best friends and has been a big brother figure for him after his father died.  He does not know what to do.  He decides that he has to run and get away from what he has just witnessed.
Rashad goes to the hospital, and Paul, the police officer, is put on administrative leave while the situation was investigated.  Quinn does not want to believe that Paul was wrong, but he cannot ignore what he saw even though he is being pressured to do just that.
This story is told through the lens of these 2 boys as they tell about their experience from one Friday to the next Friday.  One week in the lives of 2 boys tells a story that must be told because we need to understand how it affects us all.

I highly recommend reading this story.  I hope that you will read the book, and understand more. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Revealers by Doug Wilhelm

When is enough going to be enough?  This is the question that 3 middle schoolers ask themselves at Parkland Middle School.  They have been bullied, and they are not the only ones.  But, bullies are many times crafty and do things when the adults are not looking.  Then, they even blame the altercations on the kid who is being bullied.

Russell along with 2 others decide that they will fight back with an anonymous board where they can post exactly what is going on in the school with the hopes that things will change.  But, the bullies don't like their actions being in the spotlight, and they may not go down so quietly.

This is a great story about being able to speak up and fight back when you see things that are just not right.  If more of us do that, there will be fewer problems and more solutions.

Try this good read by Doug Wilhelm.  You will be glad that you did.

2 different cover designs but the same book

Cover image for The revealers

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mapping the Bones by Jane Yolen

Chaim and Gittel are 14 year old twins who must endure unbearable hardships during the Holocaust.  In 1942 Poland, the Abromowitz family is forced to share an apartment with another family who are less than hospitable.  Though the other family is hard to deal with, the Abromowitz family cannot leave them behind especially when the father goes missing.  Chaim must overcome his fear to sell his mother's engagement ring to get the money to leave the ghetto before they are all deported to a concentration camp.  They make a plan to go through the forest, but not everyone makes it through.  When, Chaim and Gittel meet up in the forest, they have hard choices to make about who they will be able to trust.  Needless to say, they met more horrible people including Dr. Mengele who wants to perform awful experiments on them.  How will they survive?  But, they must survive.

I have to admit.  This story was hard to read.  Stories about the Holocaust are hard to read.  The atrocities seem unbelievable.  But, that is the EXACT reason that I must read them and share them with as many people as I can.  They happened.  If they happened due to hate and ignorance and bystanders looking the other way, then it could happen again if we do not do something.  This story will not be an easy one to read.  You will be disgusted by the awful part of humanity that reared its head during this time in history.  But, Yolen is able to weave in glimmers of hope as well.  Chaim is a poet, and she adds that piece to the story which shows how important poetry can be to help people express themselves and the thoughts of a group of people.

After writing The Devil's Arithmetic over 30 years ago, Yolen said that she would not write another Holocaust story.  It took her 4 years to write this one.  But, she did it because this story is one that needed telling.  Being her 365th or 366th book (because she had 2 drop on the same day), you need to read it.  Hear what Chaim and Gittel have to say.

Cover image for Mapping the bones

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

Jeffrey was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 4 years old.  We learn about his illness and his brother, Steven's, story in Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie.  Now, Jeffrey is 13 years old, and he has to learn to navigate life after leukemia in middle school.  He is known as the kid who had cancer, and he wants to move past it.  Will he be able to do that?  And, Steven is absent.  He is half way around the world and does not respond to emails--no matter how many Jeffrey sends to him.  Jeffrey is not sure how to make it without his brother especially when the pressures of middle school start weighing on him.  Take my advice.  Read this book AND Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie.  It really is a must!

When I read Knockout, I was reminded of After Ever After because they are both stories about the little brother who was sick and is now navigating life in middle school.  The authors wrote them in very different styles, but you will tissues with both of them.  I am pretty sure there is a man who works out at the YMCA who still tells of the crazy woman sobbing next to him on the treadmill.  That crazy woman would be me.  I laughed and cried throughout this book.  You will NOT be disappointed with this great read.  (But, honestly, go ahead and get both.  You can't read just one.)
Cover image for After ever afterCover image for Drums, girls, & dangerous pie or the other cover looks like this.Cover image for Drums, girls & dangerous pie