Saturday, June 29, 2013

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Design
This is another Iowa Teen Choice nominee for 2013-2014.



Summary from Amazon.com:
Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out. 

My 25 cents:
This is an easy summer read.  The main character is a strong, independent girl that has chosen to live with her dad after divorce, even though that means moving around a LOT!  Sometimes every two months??  Really makes the reader think about how people see you and how you need to think about how you want to be "seen" as a person.  Probably upper middle schoolers will enjoy this better than elementary readers. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

WOWZIE!    Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys
2013-2014 Iowa Teen Award nominee~

Summary from Amazon.com:

Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life--until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

My 25 cents:
First of all, I am not a fan of historical fiction.  I usually am bored or feel like I need to go learn about the time or event they are talking about and then read the story (okay, because truth be told, I was not a great history student??!).  So I was not planning on liking this book because I knew it was historical fiction (based on the Author's extended family's real events).  But--I COULD NOT PUT THIS DOWN.  I read it in two days-338 pages.  The story is AMAZING and in a way so sad because these things really happened in our world.  The strength of the main character (15 years old) and her younger brother is remarkable and kept making me stop and think "could I have survived that? would I have thought to do that?".  I think this is a FABULOUS book for older elementary, high school students and even adults!  

My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian

My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian
This 2013-2014 Iowa Children's Choice nominee

Book description from Amazon.com:
Summer’s finally here, and Derek Fallon is looking forward to pelting the UPS truck with water balloons, climbing onto the garage roof, and conducting silly investigations. But when his parents decide to send him to Learning Camp, Derek’s dreams of fun come to an end. Ever since he’s been labeled a “reluctant reader,” his mom has pushed him to read “real” books—something other than his beloved Calvin & Hobbes.  As Derek forges unexpected friendships and uncovers a family secret involving himself (in diapers! no less), he realizes that adventures and surprises are around the corner, complete with curve balls.

My 25 cents:
Derek hates reading and now his teacher expects him to read over the SUMMER???  Because of the "diary" format of this book, complete with cartoons in the margins to help show what certain words mean (drawn by author's son!)--this book is a fun, quick read!  It's not just complaining about parents and school (though there is plenty of that!!) there is a little "mystery" to this story as well.  Looks like there are two more books in this series too--My Life as a Stuntman and My Life as a Cartoonist.  This book will be a big hit will upper elementary and middle schoolers both! Boys and girls alike will relate to this story and read the entire book in no time!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm 
Nominee for 2013-2014 Iowa Children's Choice.

Book description from Amazon.com:
In Jennifer L. Holm's New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor winning middle grade historical fiction novel, life isn't like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She's smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle's mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she's never met. Florida's like nothing Turtle's ever seen before though. It's hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what's happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she's spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart, Turtle in Paradise is an instant classic both boys and girls with love.

My 25 cents:
Okay, first of all can you imagine waking up one day and your mother saying, "I have a new job, you need to go live with _______________"(some family members that you have never even met before?!!).  This was not unusual in the times of the Depression as families had to do what they could when work came available.  Something I found odd though is that the story never really tells why the main character is named Turtle, except for the small explanation more than 1/2 way through the book that "mama said I had a hard shell like a turtle...."  Really?

I will say that  given the summary on the back of the book, I wasn't sure the story was going to be very....exciting.  I was happily wrong!  Based during the depression, readers get an idea of how different things were during this difficult time and may find themselves asking themselves (as I did) "what would it be like to live like that"?  Simple story about learning family is family and that's what matters!
Troublemaker by Andrew Clements (author of Frindle
provides us with another school story that we can relate to!

Book description from Amazon.com:
Clayton Hensley is accustomed to trouble: There’s a folder of incident reports in Principal Kelling’s office that’s as thick as a phonebook and growing daily. Most recently, Clay’s art teacher told the class to spend the period drawing anything they wanted, and Clay decided to be extra “creative” by drawing a spot-on portrait of Principal Kelling…as a donkey.
It’s a pretty funny joke, but Clay is coming to realize that the biggest joke of all may be on him. When his big brother, Mitchell, gets in some serious trouble, Clay decides to change his own mischief-making ways…but he can’t seem to shake his reputation as a troublemaker. From the master of the school story comes a book about the fine line between good-humored mischief and dangerous behavior—and how everyday choices can close or open doors.

My 25 cents:
When I picked this book up to read, I had a couple of surprises.  First of all, the main character draws his principal as a donkey, but refers to the picture as a different name for a donkey...a little surprising so just be aware.  I was expecting for this story to knock my socks off like some of his others stories.  This one I think was a little more on the "serious" side. Is a well known troublemaker able to shake his reputation and turn over a new leaf?  It's a good story, but more serious than his other school tales.