Boy, it’s been a while!
But I haven’t been slacking. In fact, that might be why I haven’t been blogging–reading too much. Very brief notes:
Earthquake at Dawn by Kristiana Gregory tells the fictional account of the experiences of a real young woman, Edith Irvine, who took some amazing photos of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. This one was more literary and a higher reading level than The Earth Dragon Awakes (see below). What I found fascinating was the fact that officials tried so hard to suppress and manage the truth about the event, to lessen the financial impact on San Francisco and California. Also, the confusion in the city and the fear of not knowing what had happened to loved ones. A good read.
Basketball or Something Like It by Nora Raleigh Baskin –another great book by Baskin–this one tells the stories, through various narrators, of a bunch of kids and how their parents can mess up something that’s intended to be fun: basketball. Competition for court time, over potential scholarships, between siblings for family time and attention, all figure here. But this is more than just a rant against insensitive, selfish parents–the kids’ stories are compelling, and they find a way to take the game back and become friends. Mostly male players, but one (really good) girl. Nice basketball action.
Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen. This one is really memorable–Twelve-year-old Holly runs away from her creepy, abusive foster parents and heads for California, living on the streets and snagging food and shelter anywhere she can. As she travels, she keeps writing in the journal that her teacher gave her. She even writes poems, almost against her will, ranting against the teacher the whole time, but finding that the writing helps her survive. Gritty and unforgettable–makes you appreciate the everyday luxuries of a roof, dry clothes, and a bed. Great character–feisty, unflinching, smart. And a great cover.
Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst joins The Great Good Thing, Inkheart, Magic by the Book and other books about books. In this one, Julie bemoans the fact that her family is so weird–she has a shoe-eating, ravenous vine called the Wild under her bed, her brother is a boot-wearing cat, her father is missing–oh, did I mention Julie’s mother, Zel, owns a hair salon? Yeah–that Zel , as in Rapunzel. This is a very creative take on the idea that fairytale characters might want to control their own destinies and not have to follow their destined plotlines. The devious and invasive Wild wants the old stories to be played out–so who will win? Julie learns more about her mother, her father and herself than she ever imagined. Funny, suspenseful and original. A bit more telling v. showing than I like, but I’m looking forward to more from this author. My 10-year-old daughter highly recommends it.
Shift by Jennifer Bradbury–a great mystery for older teens. Chris and his best friend Winn set off on a last, pre-college adventure, a cross country bike trip, but they get separated near the end. Chris heads off for college, followed by a detective–Winn has disappeared. What really happened on their trip? You will not be able to put this one down. Note: there is nothing inappropriate here, but the tone is just better for 14+
Swim the Fly by Don Calame is inappropriate in all the right ways: Fifteen-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Coop and Sean, always make up a goal for their summers together, and this year it’s a biggie–see a LIVE woman naked. Their odds, since none of them has ever even asked a girl out? Pretty slim. To make matters worse, Matt has volunteered to “swim the fly” to impress a cute new girl on the swim team, since their team has no one to compete in butterfly. One small problem–he can’t swim butterfly. Full of adolescent language, obsessions and humor, this is a book to hand to a high schooler and get out of the way. BTW, girls will like getting inside boys’ heads with this one. Hilarious, sweet and wise–Screenwriter Calame may see this in a multiplex someday soon.
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