Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Guest reviewer Ella H is back with a graphic novel!

From 35,000 feet our guest reviewer lets us know about this new graphic novel in the LTC:

I wanted to let you know that I just finished Ghostopolis. I'm on the 9 hour flight to Ohau so I have plenty of spare time. It is a pretty fast read but I still liked it a lot. The book is about a boy named Garth who is zapped back to the afterlife when a ghost hunter named Frank Gallows sends a skeleton horse back. This happens because Garth is trapped under the horse's rib cage. In the afterlife Garth meets his grandfather and they travel through the world of Ghostopolis in search of a way for Garth to get back home. This is just the beginning though. Soon after Garth disappears a rescue team is sent after him and Frank and his ex, who is a ghost, named Claire also go to rescue him. The novel is full of action and adventure, and is sure to keep the reader turning pages.

Forge (Pt 2 of Seeds of America)- Laurie Anderson

Chains, which is a 2011 Caudill nominee, reviewed on lebrisary in May 2009, was an amazing view of the American Revolution in New York City told through the eyes of young teen Isabel Gardener. As a slave in colonial America Isabel transports the reader to a new interpretation of freedom. In part 2 of the series, Isabel's friend and accomplice, Curzon Smith, also a young teen slave, takes the reader to another famous time during the Revolution: the winter at Valley Forge. Forge is predominantly Curzon's story. Told in short, detailed chapters, the reader will experience the cold, deprivation and hardships of what so many endured waiting to fight the British in the spring. Curzon's strong will and bright mind as well as his sense of justice are well developed. His spirited character drives the compelling tale of freedom. Famous figures from our history pepper the story and add to the authentic ring of this historical fiction. Be sure to read the quotes of real people that head each chapter as well as the questions and answers at the end of the book. All add to the richness of this story. Laurie Anderson brings history alive. You don't want to miss it! Part 3 - Ashes will complete the trilogy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rick Riordan's New Series - The Kane Chronicles #1

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan is the first installment in his new series The Kane Chronicles. Following in the steps of his enormously popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, this new series takes the reader into the world of ancient Egypt. Told as though the book was the transcript of a digital recording made by Carter Kane (14 years old) and his sister Sadie Kane (12 years old), the chapters switch back and forth between the two telling the story of their experience. It all starts with them being reunited after six years of living apart. In short order an explosion at the British Museum causes the disappearance of their father, world renowned Egyptologist Julius Kane. From this point on the siblings are on a non-stop roller coaster of an adventure. This time instead of Greek gods, its the Egyptian gods that are battling it out. As the young heroes try to find their dad, they begin to discover their real link to the ancient House of Life and their role in a race to stop the most of dangerous of the ancient gods. Fast paced action, loads of mythological creatures and a good dose of humor will keep any reader turning pages.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Caudill 2010- Yellow Star

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy is another Holocaust story based on real people among this year's Caudill nominees. Jennifer Roy listened to her Aunt Sylvia's (aka Syvia) stories of surviving the Lodz ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Poland. She decided to write the story from the point of view of her aunt who was one of only 12 children to survive and four years old when her journey began. Told in free verse, this fast paced historical fiction manages to balance the tension, fear and uncertainty of those horrible times by telling the story through Syvia's youthful hope and optimism. The Holocaust is never an easy story to tell and Syvia's is another part you may not have heard a lot about. Be sure to read the introduction and the appendix because they both extend the true history of the story in ways you will appreciate.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Caudills filled with Nature

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost is an unusual adventure story because it has two styles of narrative: Concrete free verse and short chapters. Concrete poetry is poetry that has a significant shape that relates to the content of the poem. In this case the free verse poems are shaped liked the diamond shapes that appear in the bark of the diamond willow tree branches. The story is about 12 year old Willow who is a young musher and helps her father with the family sled dogs. While Willow is worrying about her life at school and making friends, she makes some bad decisions that result in a serious injury to her favorite dog. Willow is a brave and resourceful young person. In the face of this tragedy she is determined to make things right. In the process, she discovers parts of her life she never knew about, challenges her own parents have faced and the real meaning of friendships both human and canine. A great read for anyone who likes adventure and dogs. This one flies like a dog team on new snow.

If snow and cold are not for you, come join three bothers on a sailing adventure sure to leave you on the edge of your seat. Personal tragedy sets the stage for 15 year old Ben, 11 year old Dylan and 5 year old Gerry. The boys' father over come with the accidental loss of his wife and the boys' mom, decides to take them all on a sailing adventure through the Bahamas for an entire year. Each boy must learn to handle not only their nautical duties but their own grief as well the increasingly erratic behavior of their dad. Soon the boys find themselves completely alone on board their small vessel battling a huge storm, lost at sea and then castaway on a deserted island. Told from the point of view of Ben the oldest, you will come to understand his strong feelings about his father and his younger brothers, boys you will learn to admire. The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong is a modern survival story full of intense action, emotions and plenty of sailing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Caudill 2010 - two more great reads!!

A Friendship for Today by Patricia McKissack and Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy are both about young girls with important issues going on in their lives. Both stories are fast paced with a real strong sense of setting, one in 1954 St. Louis and one in modern 2009 rural Ireland.
Scarlett, 13, has been sent to live with her dad in Ireland having been kicked out of yet another school in England. Her mother is at the end of her rope and hopes that this change may make a difference in her rebellious, angry daughter. But why is Scarlett so mad? Maybe she has very good reasons. Living with her dad and his new family will force Scarlett to confront not only her own feelings but those of others including the mysterious boy on a black horse that she meets near her dad's home.
Rosemary, 11, is an only child who is about to be the first African-American student at a new school in her area. JJ, her best friend, was supposed to go with her but he is now battling Polio instead. Rosemary's story follows her first full year in Robertson Elementary. She is not only faced with the challenges of integration but she also has plenty of things going on at home: her parents are not getting along and it is only getting worse.

Any reader will have plenty of action, up and downs, twists and turns to carry them through to the end of both of these realistic stories.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Caudill entry: 11 Birthdays

If you ever watched the movie "Groundhog Day" then you will have a better understanding of 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass. This realistic comedy-fantasy tells the tale of two very close friends, Amanda and Leo. Born on the same day, at the same hospital, Amanda and Leo end up celebrating their birthdays together for ten years. Now about to turn 11, they have not spoken for a year due to an unfortunate incident at their last birthday party. Told from Amanda's point of view in the first person, the reader will experience some very strange goings-on as Amanda wakes everyday to discover that it is the Friday morning of her birthday, over and over again. She tries to understand what is happening to her and in the process discovers that she is not alone experiencing this time warp issue. Adventure, disasters, confusion, detective work, friendship and family issues abound as an old legend of her town turns out to be more than just ancient history. A great read for anyone looking for well drawn realistic middle-schoolers stuck in a time rut.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Caudill entry: The Boy Who Dared

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Bartoletti, is a powerful story based on the true experiences of Helmuth Hubener, a young Mormon German growing to manhood in Nazi Germany. Helmut is 17 in October of 1942. He is in Plotzensee Prison awaiting execution for high treason and plotting against the state. Through memories told in the third person, Helmuth tells his story. He grew up with his mom, two half brothers and his grandparents. Extremely bright and bold, he begins to question the Nazi regime and Hitler after becoming a Hitler Youth. Through his eyes the reader will see how the Nazis came to power. The reader will gain understanding as to how regular citizens were lied to and bullied in order to restrict freedoms and to gain control over them. When Helmut gets his hands on a real radio he begins to hear German broadcasts from England about the war. This information is Helmut's tipping point. He must act to get the truth out. He hatches a bold and dangerous plan. Helmut's bravery and strong moral compass will carry the reader through this difficult but important journey. Don't miss the author's notes at the end about Helmut's friends, family and the memorial for him in Berlin.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Caudill entry: Trouble by Gary Schmidt

Trouble by Gary Schmidt is set in present day Massachusetts and Maine. Much darker and more serious than his previous books (Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy), this book explores themes as varied as family, friendship, refugees, car accidents, grief, the power of love and redemption. 14 year old Henry Smith's family dates back to the 1600's. Henry's "father always said that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you". Henry has grown wealthy and privileged. His older brother, Franklin, is the "perfect son", accomplished scholar athlete destined for greatness. His older sister, Louisa, equally accomplished lives with Henry in the shadow of this brother. A terrible car accident, plunges the family into a turmoil that sets young Henry on a course that will change them all forever. Early in the story, Henry saves a drowning dog that he keeps. Her high spirits and zest for life will prove an important part of Henry's personal growth. Coupled with "Black Dog" as she gets named is the welcome comic relief of Henry's best friend, Sanborn. Both these characters buoy Henry and the reader along through a richly written adventure not soon forgotten.

Monday, July 5, 2010

2 Caudills for 2010 - Found and Notes from...

Found by Margaret Haddix is the first in a series (The Missing) that already has a real fan following. Non-stop action with cliff hanger endings to the chapters will keep you turning pages. An airplane carrying 36 infants mysteriously appears at an airport. Jump 13 years later and a group of teenagers begin to receive cryptic messages full of foreboding. Boy and girl main characters make this a fast-paced read for any science fiction/fantasy fan out there. If you liked Haddix' Shadow Children, you will definitely like this series.

Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick is the second post. You already know how much I like this author, so it won't come as any surprise when I tell you that this is another sure thing in the reading dept. Alex Gregory gets himself in some very deep trouble at the beginning of this story. Told as a flashback, in the first person (a Sonnenblick specialty), you will follow Alex' personal journey of soul searching community service. That community service takes the form of 100 hours spent with the very unique Solomon Lewis at the nursing home where he lives. You will not only enjoy getting to know these two people but also Alex' friend Laurie, his mom and dad and various supporting characters who all add to an amazing experience. As you might have come to expect, Sonnenblick will take you on an important ride while making you laugh, cry and turn pages.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's Caudill 2011 time!!

Many of this year's nominees have already been reviewed here on LeBrisary. If you would like to read reviews of the following titles here are the posts you need to go to on the home page, lower left hand side.
The Hunger Games was reviewed in Feb. 2009
Chains was reviewed in May 2009 (look for 1776)
Scat was reviewed in July 2009 (look for Hoot)
Waiting for Normal was reviewed in May 2009
More of this year's nominees will be reviewed all summer so keep looking here for information. You can also go to http://www.rcyrba.org
Under the menu called 2011 Award look for Resources. It is the best list and has hyperlinks of all sorts as well as cover art to help you pick titles you will really enjoy!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Latest 39 Clues entry is worth the wait!!

Gordon Korman is back again with installment #8 of 10 of the 39 Clues and really delivers with non-stop action. The Emperor's Code takes Amy and Dan, our entrepid brother/sister duo, to China. No sooner do they arrive that a huge argument results in their separating and then not being able to reconnect for a variety of incredible mishaps. Dan actually ends up with his rock star relative Jonah and begins to see another side of this young man. Amy, distraught and frantic, makes every effort to find her brother in several remote locations of China including the Great Wall. More clues are uncovered as the siblings end up on a collision course on Mount Everest!! Gordon Korman adds a nice touch to the general mystery by clues throughout the novel that when jotted down leave you with three very interesting sentences. Don't miss #8 - it is one of the best in the series so far (of course I am biased because I like Gordon Korman so much!)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

oh.my.gods and goddess boot camp by Childs

If you can imagine Percy Jackson mixed up with the southern California high school scene, you can get a sense of Tera Childs' two part series. Phoebe Castro, happy high school senior, pretty, unpretentious, serious athletic runner, is sure she has a cross country scholarship to USC all wrapped up until her widowed mom surprises her with an engagement and a move to Greece. The surprises just keep coming when Phoebe finds out that her soon to be step-father is the head master for a high school for the descendants of the Greek gods, complete with special powers. Adjusting takes on a whole new meaning for Phoebe as she leaves behind her dreams, best friends and senior year. New friendships, new step-sister, new country, new school, new romance - could it get any tougher for Phoebe? Yes, it will. In this fast paced, realistic fantasy full of believable characters and emotions, you will experience Phoebe's ups and downs, laughs and tears as she navigates a whole new world with help from her California pals, her mom and some unlikely allies. (Looks set up for Part 3 BTW)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jordan Sonnenblick does it again!!

There I was trying to make my way through Cosmic which is by the same author as Millions and should have been just flying along but I wasn't. There across the room sat Jordan Sonnenblick's new novel, the sequel to Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, saying "Read me!! No, read me, now!!" like some young Labrador with a tennis ball. Well, Mr. Sonnenblick did it again. I could not put this book down until I finished it.
DGADP was mostly Steven's story and now seven plot years later we get Jeff's story. Told in the classic Sonnenblick first person narrative, the reader will travel through Jeff's 8th grade year in his head.
It wasn't enough to survive cancer as a seven year old now Jeff has to survive being a survivor. With his best friend Tad, a two time cancer survivor himself, and Lindsey the new girl from LA, Jeff has loads to contend with not the least of which is passing the new all or nothing state standardized test that could keep him out of high school. A fast paced blend of narrative, IM's and emails, Jeff's realistic voice will carry you through an important story full of laughs and some tears. This is realistic/contemporary fiction at its best. A genderless story for anyone looking for a well written novel. If you have not read DGADP you might want to do that since it really adds to the whole experience but it's not absolutely required.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

State Results for 2010 Caudill!

Congratulations again to all the students (4th-8th) who qualified to vote and all the teachers who supported their students in this year's program. This is Sears School's 22nd year of participation through the LTC.

The results are in for the state on the 2010 Rebecca Caudill Award.

The 2010 winner: All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn

2nd Place Someone Named Eva by Joan Wolf
3rd Place Elephant Run by Roland Smith (our 1st place winner)

For additional details see the Caudill link on the LTC web page of the school website or go directly to http://www.rcyrba.org
The total voting results for each title at Sears and for the state are posted in the LTC on the Caudill wall across from the circulation desk.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2010 Caudill Award Results

The in-school results are now in. Congratulations to all our 4th - 8th graders who qualified to vote!!

In first place: Elephant Run by Roland Smith
In second place: Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
In third place: Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs

All votes are recorded online. Every vote counts. We will have the state results very soon so stay tuned.

You can also see the results and additional information on the Caudill link on the LTC webpage of the school website. http://www.kenilworth38.org

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hunger Games Fans!! New Flash!!

Great News for all our Hunger Games fans (myself included)! The third and final installment (see cover art to the left) Mockingjay is due in bookstores on August 24th, 2010. The LTC will plan to have three copies ready for checkout in the fall. No early release copies will be made available to keep the plot from leaking out ahead of the book. This happened with the final Harry Potter book as well.
In addition, and some of us have talked about this already in the LTC, the film version of Book 1 The Hunger Games has a 2011 release date and currently in development. I will keep you posted if I hear, see, read anything else.
PS The film is being produced by the same people who made The Diary of a Wimpy Kid film due out in April - Nina Jacobson of Lionsgate Films.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

2010 Newbery winner - When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (author of Caudill nominee First Light) is this year's Newbery winner. Set in 1979 NYC, 12 year old Miranda and her best friend Sal know their way around their neighborhood, where it is safe and where it is not. Miranda's hard working paralegal mom is getting ready to be a contestant on the $20,000 Pyramid. Cryptic notes written on very small pieces of paper begin to appear in Miranda's things. It is clear that the person writing them knows a lot about Miranda and needs her help to save a friend of hers' life. Miranda's favorite book is Wrinkle in Time, and as she rereads that time travel story, it becomes clear that the messages may be coming from the future. The setting of this evenly paced fantasy adventure keep many of our modern conveniences out of the plot (computers, cell phones, the Internet). Because of that Miranda's experiences have a timeless quality. The connections with Wrinkle in Time (1963 Newbery winner), will captivate and intrigue fans of that story but prior reading of that story is not necessary to the enjoyment of this tale of friendship, family and personal growth.

Monday, January 18, 2010

This one is for Jurassic Park fans!

If Jurassic Park appeals to you because you love realistic science fiction and dinosaurs, then you will fly through Z. Rex by Steve Cole. Teenager Adam is trying to locate his missing scientist dad when a real live tyrannosaurus shows up in his life and turns it upside down in more ways than one. The story quickly moves location from southwestern US to Scotland, UK as Adam befriends the very dangerous, destructive and talented Z, as he calls the dinosaur. Fast paced action has both boy and dinosaur being ruthlessly pursued by various people who seem to want to stop them at any cost. Adam has a hard time telling friend from foe but soon realizes that the highly intelligent dinosaur is no fluke of nature and that his dad had something to do with its development.
This is Part 1 of a series called The Hunting, so stay tuned for Part 2 as the action story will continue.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Kick things off with KiKi Strike!

KiKi Strike Inside The Shadow City by Kirsten Miller is the first in a series about KiKi and the group of friends she turns into the team called The Irregulars. If you liked the Molly Moon, or Percy Jackson or Alex Rider or Maximum Ride series, you will really enjoy KiKi. All the elements are in place for a non-stop reading roller coaster adventure: modern setting (NYC), mystery (who is Kiki anyway), suspense (so many interesting coincidences or are they?), smart, talented, edgy good characters, really evil but believable bad characters and in case that wasn't enough there are unique, surprising how-to lists at the end of some chapters including some wonderful details about the hidden parts of NYC. You may have to go along with some of the fantastical sides of this story about the underground city below New York and the quietly dangerous KiKi herself but if you like your stories sharp, fast and adventurous, this one is for you. Don't miss the website http://www.kikistrike.com

Friday, January 1, 2010

Richard Peck's latest is fantastic: Grandma Dowdel is back!

A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck covers August - December of 1958 in rural Illinois. Like its predecessors "A Long Way from Chicago" and "A Year Down Yonder" ( Newbery Honor and Newbery Award winners respectively) Mrs. Dowdel plays a crucial role in the lives of these realistic fiction characters. Characters like Mrs. Dowdel take on a life of their own, staying with readers long after the book is finished. Mr. Peck gives his readers a third encounter with this larger-than-life person. 12 year old Bob Barnhart retells the months in his life when his minister dad, his mom and two sisters moved to a small rural town in Illinois. It does not take long for the irrepressible and astute Mrs. Dowdel to come into Bob's life. As the laugh out load story zips along, Bob will slowly come to understand the wisdom and power that is Grandma Dowdel as will the rest of his family and probably you, the reader. One not to miss!

If you liked the first Al Capone story you will really like the second one!

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko, is the second story about Moose Flanagan and his friends living on Alcatraz Island when it was a prison in the 1930's. Picking up where the last story left off, Moose is worried that his connection to the gangster prisoner Al Capone may come back to haunt him and his sister, who now attends a special school for autistic children. This time around the none stop action centers around friendships, secret notes and meeting places, crushes, baseball and some very dangerous criminals who will stop at nothing to get off that island. Sophisticated plot elements, realistic characters young and old, and plenty of suspense will keep the pages turning.

Kick Off the New Year with some great reads!! Start with Slob!

Slob by Ellen Potter centers around Owen Birnbaum, inventor and bully magnet at his private school in NYC. Nothing is quite what it seems in this fast paced, humorous/serious story. Owen needs to see into the past to figure out the details of a crucial event in his and his sister's lives. As things go from bad to worse at school, Owen turns to various unusual friends in the city to help him with his invention, and finds some new friends where he least expected them. Slob, like the title, will surprise you in many ways and you will not be disappointed.

Guest blogger Jeffrey M. recommends Wednesday Wars

Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt is a great book that takes place in the 1968 United States, during the time of the Vietnam War. Holling Hoodhood, a seventh grade boy, is not excited to spend every Wednesday afternoon with his teacher, Mrs. Baker. Everybody in his town is either Jewish or Catholic, but he is neither. So on Wednesdays while everyone else went to Religious Ed, Holling would stay with Mrs. Baker in the classroom, reading Shakespeare. The book portrays many things that happened during the 1960s including the assassinations of Martin Luther King Junior and Bobby Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and of course, movements to stop the war. It is a great book which is also very funny and portrays the adventures of Holling with his friends Doug, Danny, Mai Thi, ad Meryl Lee. Their adventures include camping out in the wilderness, running in cross country, and catching Mrs. Baker’s pet rats who have escaped and were originally given to Mrs. Baker by her husband, who is fighting in the Vietnam War. This book is an easy read, too! If you are looking for a book filled with comedy and lots of exciting situations, then I would recommend this book to you.