Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another Caudill and a new Clements

Flygirl by Sherri Smith is one of the historical fiction titles from this year's Caudill nominees. Many of our students purchased this title at the Book Fair and they will not be disappointed.  Louisiana native, Ida Mae Jones has inherited her father's love of flying. It's World War II and she wants to do her part by joining the WASPs. Only one problem: Ida Mae is African American and there is no room for her in the WASPs. Ida Mae is also so fair in complexion that she can "pass" and she decides to do just that. The rest of the story enfolds with Ida Mae heading for training, meeting other women pilots, making lasting friends and connections. Back at home her family is torn by her decision, her brother is missing in the war in the Pacific and her friendships are strained. Readers will experience many little known facts about the WASPs and women's roles in the military as well as African American life in the 1940's. Flygirl is full of aviation action, thoughtful personal exchanges and a unique part of American history. Do not pass up the excellent afterword by the author.

Andrew Clement continues his winning ways with realistic school set fiction. His latest entry is Trouble-Maker. Meet Clayton Hensley, 6th grader, who's file in the Principal's office is several inches thick dating back to first grade. More than the average cut-up, Clayton has made a career of causing trouble of varying degrees his entire school life. Clayton's older brother comes home early in the story from a month stay in the county jail. A tough love discussion from the older brother he idolizes, sets Clayton on the path to redemption. Or does it? Clayton soon realizes that changing your ways and changing your reputation are not so quickly achieved. Engaging, believable characters will draw any reader along to see how Clayton manages his last year in elementary school.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another Baseball Caudill 2011

MJ Auch's One-Handed Catch will appeal to many readers even non-baseball fans.  Set right after WW II in a small town in New York, 6th grader Norm Schmidt loves playing baseball and drawing. His life takes a huge unexpected turn when he loses his left hand while working in his dad's grocery store. You would think that this would be a sad story but quite the contrary.  Norm's story, based on true events that happened to the author's husband, is a realistic, funny journey that you will take with Norm and his friends Leon and Carl. There is plenty about baseball, drawing, life at school, scouting and family.  You will learn a lot about post-war America but many of Norm's feelings and experiences will ring true for you today.  You will cheer Norm's determination. You will relate to his frustrations and then understanding about his mom, his dad and his sister, and ultimately about himself.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gary Paulsen's Caudill 2011 will thrill his fans

There are a lot of Gary Paulsen fans out there. You are use to his wonderful style and ability to get you right into the story no matter the setting or the characters, or the genre.  With Woods Runner you will be transported to the American Revolution where 13 year old Samuel lives in wilderness Pennsylvania. The war seems very distant and unimportant to teenage Samuel until his parents are attacked and kidnapped by British and Iroquois soldiers.  Samuel's life is turned upside down but his natural tracking abilities and love of his family drive him to risk everything to find them.  Unlikely friends and alliances develop over the course of his journey that brings him to British occupied New York city. Fast paced, rich in detail, and gripping action will keep you turning pages while experiencing war through the eyes of this young boy.  Each chapter is separated by short informational pieces about aspects of the Revolution most history classes fail to mention.  Do not skip them or Gary Paulsen's brief author's note at the beginning of the novel that explains why he included them. If you are not yet a Gary Paulsen fan now is your chance to change that. This book is available in the LTC in paper and at the Winnetka Library in paper, ebook, audio CD and podcast.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another two great Caudill choices!

Various peoples' lives converge in this modern day story of transitions. Aging Aggie Duncan can't keep her Sleepy Time Motel now that her husband Harold is gone. As she realizes that she must sell her little motel in the Smoky Mountains, she and her cat Ugly welcome several families who decide to stay at Sleepy Time. Willow and her dad Clyde who wants to buy the motel; Loretta and her mom and dad looking to find Loretta's birth mother's travels; and Kirby and his mom who is dropping him off at his "last chance" boarding school. Soon, every one's lives are overlapping and affecting each other in ways they did not expect. You will find yourself cheering for everyone in this quiet but satisfying story of family, friendship, loss and new beginnings. Greetings from Nowhere is by Barbara O'Connor.

Knuckle balls are like butterflies. Just ask 8th grader Molly whose ability to throw one lands her a spot on her school's boys baseball team. A great sports novel needs great sports scenes, language and emotion so you feel you are there with the players. A great sports novel also needs a great story with realistic scenes, language and emotion so you feel you are there with the characters. Not many sports novels do this successfully especially with girls as main characters but The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane does. Girl or boy, baseball fan or not, this is a story for everyone.

Friday, July 29, 2011

2 more Caudills for your consideration!

What if Ignatius is your name, you have 4 much bigger brothers and your nickname is Brother? What if you are left with your grandparents on your family's ranch while your dad goes to Iraq to lead soldiers in battle? You are in charge and you are 12! Beautifully written you will feel like you are in Oregon on this vast cattle ranch seeing the stars, feeling the weather and smelling the fresh open air. Brother is determined to show everyone he can do this even though ranching has never been his calling. This is a story of outdoor action, family faith and the realism of the impact of war on a community. Heart of a Shepherd is Roxanne Parry's first novel.

In 1977, Matt Pin has been living with his adoptive family in the US after being airlifted out of Vietnam at the end of the war. Matt loves his family, is a great pitcher and now is playing the piano but all is not well. Matt cannot forget his past. He remembers his mom and his little brother back in Vietnam. He is haunted by sounds, smells and guilt. He is struggling to make sense of his life, old and new. His piano teacher with his parents approval decide to have him visit Vietnam vets at a local community center who meet to support one another.
Told in free verse you will hear all the voices of Matt's life including his own a he tries to cope during this unique time in our history. You will be amazed at the richness of the images and depth of emotion told with few words. A beautifully threaded story about healing any reader will long remember. All the Broken Pieces is by Ann Burg.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Caudill 2012 - Powerless by Matthew Cody

I am going to kick-off this year's Caudill nominees with a modern fantasy! Powerless is a story about being the "new kid" in junior high but just not any junior high! Meet Daniel Corrigan who had to move from Philadelphia to small town Noble's Green because his grandmother is very ill. It doesn't take long for Daniel to decide that something is up in this town with the kids under the age of 13! A big Sherlock Holmes fan, Daniel puts his detecting abilities to work. Why is Noble's Green called The Safest Town on Earth? What happened years ago when a meteor struck the orphanage in town? Did it have some lasting effect on the children who survived? How do you explain the near tragic accidents that don't quite happen somehow? Daniel soon learns about the secret but that's just the beginning of what is really going on. A deft combination of fantasy, realism, action and mystery, this thought provoking story of friendship, bravery and fitting in will keep you involved right to the end of the story!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

If you liked Hunger Games try Divergent!

Set in post apocalyptic Chicago, society in and around the city has been segregated into 5 factions. Each faction delivers important structure and resources to the city inhabitants. Beatrice Prior, like all 16 year olds, will need to choose the faction she plans on staying with her entire life based on the results of a grueling virtual test. Usually the test results are clear and make the choice relatively easy, unless you are "divergent"! This revelation, a dark secret that Beatrice is told to never mention to anyone for fear for her and her family's lives, drives her decision to leave her family's faction and join a seemingly opposite one. You will experience heart stopping, risk taking action set in Chicago full of intrigue, romance, betrayal, battles virtual and real - your typical teenage day, right? What faction would you choose?
And, of course it's a trilogy. "Insurgent" is slated for Spring 2012. Veronica Roth, the 22 year old author, wrote this book while a senior at Northwestern! She majored in English. A great choice for northshore readers.
And, the movie rights have been signed, too!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The 39 Clues series continues!

Just when you thought Dan and Amy were done running for those clues and their lives, here they are again! This time around four of your favorite authors team up to write this 11th entry (you can consider this the introduction to Series 2). You will travel back in time to three separate key moments in the history of the Cahill family. How the family split into its various factions will fascinate you. The last fourth of the book will bring you back to Dan and Amy with all the high speed, page turning adventure you have come to expect. Of course now that the Vespers are clearly the new nemesis, you know there are more installments coming! August 30th Book 1 of Cahills vs Vespers: The Medusa Plot

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Mrs. Balyiet is done with her terrific book talks! All those books are now in the LTC on display for you to come see. If you are not going to make it to the Book Stall next week be sure to come by and consider some of these great titles. There are hard cover and paperback books available.
If you do plan to come to the Book Stall I will see you there after school. You have the entire store to consider and there will be help if you need it!

Two great choices!

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs by Ron Koertge is the sequel to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup. If you like poetry, baseball and realistic fiction both these books are for you. I feel that they are gender free meaning boys or girls will enjoy these books. In Playoff main character Kevin Boland is in 8th grade and really enjoying life including playing baseball, having a cute girlfriend and still writing a lot of poetry ( a skill he developed in the first book). Then along comes Amy. In ways you would not expect and told in prose poetry you will laugh, sigh and ponder right along with Kevin while he navigates baseball season, and his friends. Kevin's relationship with his dad continues to be a wonderful part of the story as well. It is always good to see great dad characters show up in realistic fiction!
Sorry but no cover art for the next book.
Bystander by James Preller is also modern realistic fiction but this time the topic is much darker. 13 year old Eric is the new kid in town. He quickly meets Griffin and his band of friends who make it clear that they are in charge of a lot of what goes on at the junior high. Eric is befriended by Griffin but soon begins to regret the decision. At first he is a bystander to Griffin's cruel behaviors but being new he is not sure what to do or who to trust. Before long Eric realizes that if you go against the flow with Griffin you will soon become the next target.
This bullying story rings completely true. As tensions rise and more questions about Griffin's behavior trouble Eric, the story careens along faster and faster. You will want to know what is Eric going to do and how will it all end.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Guest reviewers Will D. and Phillip E. on The Hunger Games Trilogy

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. She has a lot of other books and book series like The Underland Chronicles. This novel is an action packed book that brings you into the futuristic world of what used to be called North America, but is now called Panem. The main character in Catching Fire is a girl named Katniss. She narrates through out the novel and keeps the story very exciting. This is an amazing novel and I recommend it to anyone at any age. This is the kind of story that will keep you turning the pages no matter how late it is at night.
From Will D.

I would rate Mocking Jay a seven out of a possible ten points because it had some good action, but the story line was more difficult to follow compared to the first book in the trilogy, Hunger Games. I also did not like it as well as the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire. This book was more explanatory instead of the action-packed first two books. It also seemed the author was more trying to wrap up the series instead of write a good story line. I definitely recommend the first book in the trilogy. The second and third books in the series were okay, although I enjoyed the second more than the third. In all three she did a great job developing the characters so I had a very strong connection with them.
From Phillip E.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sachar new one is about a card game?! It's great!

Only Louis Sachar could write a boy's novel about the game of Bridge and make it work. This is one you have to go with. Start and keep going. Let the voice of the main character, Alton, take you on this emotional, humorous trip. Told in the first person, Alton, is charged with becoming his blind uncle's "cardturner". His uncle is a champion level Bridge player and to continue to play he needs to have the cards read to him. Alton, pressed into service by his mom because his uncle is rich, accepts the job but not for the reasons his mom has in mind. There's lots about Bridge here but Alton is nice enough to tell you when to skip parts but you may not want to. Add to the adventure a dual love story, impersonating dead people, channeling and manipulation of various sorts and you have the makings of great read.The pace is slower but the pay off is worth it. If you liked Stanley Yelnats, you'll want to know Alton.