Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted was published many years ago, and I have read it several times before.  I read it again for two reasons. One is that we are going to be highlighting it next month for our Library Kids book activity.  The second is that Ms Levine is coming to the Library in May for our Children's Book Festival.  Of course, Ms. Levine has written many books since Ella Enchanted. Her latest is a collection of poetry called, "Forgive Me, I Meant to Do it: False Apology Poems" which I may review here at a later date.  Suffice it to say, it has the same scrappy, attitudinal, style we have come to know and love with Levine's writing.  Of all her books, Ella Enchanted is still one of my favorites.  I heard her talk about it when she was visiting Provo about 10 years ago.  She said that she was reading fairy tales to daughter, and the stereotypical portrayal of the helpless females  bothered her. She is a really spunky New Yorker, although only about 5 feet tall and 100 lbs, dripping wet.  Anyway, she set out create a fairy tale with a stronger female character and ended up winning a Newbery Honor.  It is a great retelling of the Cinderella story, and I recommend it to both boys and girls. (232 p)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

City of Lies by Lian Turner

This the second in the series that began with The Museum of Thieves. I like the first one, but it ended so completely, I wondered what Turner could do with the second one.  In order to make the second story work, Turner takes the children, Goldie, Toadspit and his little sister, Bonnie, out of Museum of Dunt and to a new city that has it's own quirky magic. In that city, there is a Festival of Lies where everyone has to speak and act contrary to their normal manner.There is also a magical "big lie"  floating around the city.  If a townsperson gets caught in a big lie, and asks the right question, and gives the right answer they can be temporarily transported into a state where the lie they said comes true. It is, again, and interesting premise and magic system and Turner comes up with, if not surprising, at least entertaining adventures for the children as they try to locate one another, and defeat the evil forces that have followed them to the new place. (274p)

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Mo's was named Moses when she was saved from a flooded river during a hurricane when she was just a baby.  She is taken in and raised by a quirky but lovable couple who own a diner in a small town in North Carolina.  Things in that town get pretty interesting when there is a murder and Mo's friend, Dale, becomes a suspect.  Mo and Dale form their own detective agency and take on the case to clear Dale's name.  As the kids get closer to solving the mystery the danger to them and their families grows until they find themselves in a race against the murderer, and a hurricane, to save their parent's lives. I like this book because the kids really do act like kids.  They don't do anything amazing and they aren't smarter than the adults.  They just kind of do what they can, and it all works out for the best in the end. This book is full of delightful and interesting characters and the plot twists and turns will keep young readers turning pages until the very end. (312 p)

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

This is a book one of my co-workers suggested for our after school book club.  I was a little hesitant to choose it, thinking that it wouldn't have much appeal for the boys.  After reading it, I think I am going to give it a try.  Piper McCloud is born on the same farm where her father was born, and her father's father.  The McClouds have been very predictable, no-nonsense kind of people for generations, that is, until Piper comes along.  She is a ordinary farm girl in every way, except one.  She can fly. Her parents, trying to maintain normalcy and protect her from public ridicule, encourage her to suppress your flying. Eventually her special ability is discovered, and she is whisked away to a school for kids with exceptional talents.  At first she is excited to develop her flying skills, but after a while, she begins to wonder if there might be a darker purpose for the school. This was a decent  fantasy.  The parents are well drawn, the relationships between the kids at the school are interesting, and there are a couple of unexpected twists along the way.  One thing that I didn't quite buy is the fact Piper ends up having way more social skills than she realistically would have, having been raised alone, with no friends, or even acquaintances her age.  I don't think kids will notice that small shortcoming, and I think there are some fun activities we can do with the book for the book club. (329 p)