Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Everything On a Waffle by Polly Horvath

This is an older book and I have read it before. I came back to it because I wanted to compare it to a book I was reviewing for SLJ. It got a lot of attention 10 years ago when it won a Newbery Honor. Polly Horvath's books are a little quirky, but she is good at making memorable characters. Somehow she makes the characters familiar without being stereotypical. In this story Primrose lives happily with her fisherman father and her mother, until one day when both of her parents are lost at sea in a storm. Everyone believes her parents to be dead, accept Primrose who knows deep in her heart they are alive. Primrose goes to live with her bachelor uncle in a new town. There she meets all kinds of interesting characters, including Mrs. Bowzer who is the owner, and cook at a local restaurant. Mrs. Bowzer's no nonsense advise, and yummy recipes (included at the end of each chapter) helps Primrose cope with her quickly changing life. This is a quick and amusing read with a happy ending. (150 p)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Savvy by Ingrid Law

This book received the Newbery Honor award back in 2009, but somehow I missed it until just this year. Benjamin suggested it might be a good read aloud, so we read it a chapter a night as a family. It was a great chapter a night book, because the chapters are quite short, and we are pretty busy people. In this version of reality, there is a family in which each person has a special Savvy. One of the family can cause electrical activity, while another can capture radio waves in jars. The people of the family "get" their Savvy on their thirteenth birthday, and the main character of the story, Mibs, is excited as her birthday approaches, and wonders what her savvy will be. Then, just two days before her birthday, her father is in a terrible car accident and is in a coma. Mibs and her siblings are left in the care of a neighbor who doesn't know about their special gifts. When Mib's birthday comes, she believes that her gift will help her father, so she stows away on a bible delivery bus to try to get to the city where he is. Most of the book consists of the crazy bus trip with Mibs, her older brother, her younger brother, and two neighbor kids. The bus takes some unexpected detours, the kids meet some interesting people, and learn more about each other and themselves. I can see why this was a Newbery contender. The story is fast and funny, the characterizations are rich and fully developed, and the story contains some thought provoking philosophical questions . (342 p.)

Brixton Brothers: Ghost Writer Secret by Mac Barnett

I enjoyed the first Brixton Brothers novel so much, I checked out the second one. In this book, Steve has become famous because of his first case. As a result an eccentric millionaire asks him to guard a precious diamond. Then he receives a letter from the writer of his favorite detective series saying he is in trouble and needs Steve's help. Along with his "Chum" Dana, they have to try to find the kidnapped author, keep the diamond away from the "B"syndicate all while trying to hide the fact that they are ditching school from their parents. This book turned out to be just as much fun as the first. It has some fun chase scenes, and unexpected plot turns. Once again, the author is totally making fun of the Hardy Boys every chance he gets. (226 p.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Penderwidks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall

I was trying to remember if I have ever blogged about the Penderwicks before. I checked and I haven't so here is a chance to introduce my fans to a delightful series. The first book is called The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy and it won a National Book Award in 2005. When I first read it, I was enchanted. It reads like an old fashion children's book like Anne of Green Gables, or Five Little Peppers and How they Grew. It is about a family of sisters who live with their widowed father. In the first book the family goes to stay in a summer house for vacation, and while there they meet a boy, Jeffery, and are able to save him from being sent to military school by his domineering mother. The relationships between the sisters are so sweet and the girls have fun and different personalities. It is great to read a book where siblings look out for each other and are kind to each other. In the second book, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, the girls and their father are back home, and their aunt is trying to get the father to start dating. The girls have to deflect undesirable girl friends, while looking for the perfect match for their father. This one has some very funny scenes and some sisterly conflicts that have to be overcome. I liked the second and I like this third book as well. In this one it is summer again, and the three younger sisters go to a beach house for a vacation, but the oldest sister is invited to vacation with a friend. It is an interesting study of how family roles change when one person is absent. This series is a good low/ high series. If there were a little girl, maybe second or third grade, who was a really good reader, this would be a great series for them. It is also fun for nostalgic adults who grew up on the older children's classics. (295 p)

The Case of the Case of the Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

I guess there is one advantage of being up in the middle of the night. I can get caught up on my reading blog. ; )

After the Sorceress, I was ready to not read fantasy. I was also ready for something short. This is what I came up with and I am so glad I did. In this story, Steve (not Steven) is an avid reader of children's detective stories. When his teacher assigns him to do a report on American Needlework, he suddenly finds himself involved with his own mystery in which he is everyone's top suspect. To clear his name his must use all the sleuthing skills he has learned from the 50 year old detective novels and their accompanying handbook. This is a clever satire of the Hardy Boys books and a total hoot. The author is spot on with every Hardy Boys cliche ever written. I don't know how funny it would be for someone who hadn't read the older stuff, but for those who have, it is loads of fun.