Thursday, September 24, 2015

Almost Home by Joan Bauer
(2015-16 Iowa Children's Choice nominee)

Book description from twelve-year-old Sugar's grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home in Missouri. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren't so easy to come by for the homeless. Nevertheless, Sugar's mother has taught her to be grateful no matter what, so Sugar does her best. With the help of a rescue dog, Shush; a foster family; a supportive teacher; a love of poetry; and her own grace and good humor, Sugar comes to understand that while she can't control the hand life deals her, she can control how she responds.

My 25 cents...I will admit it was a little sad in the beginning, but it does have a happy ending!  Sugar is a strong young lady that has to go through many things most adults would have a hard time dealing with. 
I think she handles her challenges with courage and help from others (a message that it's OKAY to ask for help!!) and ends on a note of hope! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
(2015-16 Iowa Children's Choice Nominee)

Book description from Lucy's family moves to an old house on a lake, Lucy tries to see her new home through her camera's lens, as her father has taught her -- he's a famous photographer, away on a shoot. Will her photos ever meet his high standards? When she discovers that he's judging a photo contest, Lucy decides to enter anonymously. She wants to find out if her eye for photography is really special -- or only good enough.
As she seeks out subjects for her photos, Lucy gets to know Nate, the boy next door. But slowly the camera reveals what Nate doesn't want to see: his grandmother's memory is slipping away, and with it much of what he cherishes about his summers on the lake. This summer, Nate will learn about the power of art to show truth. And Lucy will learn how beauty can change lives . . . including her own.

My 25 cents...This is a quaint story about friendship.  The beginning of the story introduces us to Lucy who has just moved (again!) to a house on a lake.  Her father travels quite often so she misses him and tries connect to him by photography, her hobby--his business.  As Lucy meets a family at the lake, she has to learn the delicate balance of following her passion for taking pictures and being a good friend.  I thought the book was a little boring in the middle, but if you stick with it, there is a great lesson in the end. 
Duke by Kirby Larson
(2015-16 Iowa Children's Choice Nominee)

Book Description from World War II raging and his father fighting overseas in Europe, eleven-year-old Hobie Hanson is determined to do his part to help his family and his country, even if it means giving up his beloved German shepherd, Duke. Hoping to help end the war and bring his dad home faster, Hobie decides to donate Duke to Dogs for Defense, an organization that urges Americans to "loan" their pets to the military to act as sentries, mine sniffers, and patrol dogs. Hobie immediately regrets his decision and tries everything he can to get Duke back, even jeopardizing his friendship with the new boy at school. But when his father is taken prisoner by the Germans, Hobie realizes he must let Duke go and reach deep within himself to be brave. Will Hobie ever see Duke, or his father, again? Will life ever be the same?

My 25 cents...One of my favorite books I have read this summer.  Who doesn't love a great DOG story, but especially his one (spoiler alert!!) where the dog DOESN'T DIE!!!  This is another historical fiction book that taught me about the amazing Dogs for Defense organization I knew nothing about.  You can feel the love and dedication that Hobie has for Duke as he struggles to loan Duke to the military.  A great book to read before seeing the now popular movie "MAX" that also is about Dogs for Defense!