Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Following Baxter

Jordie is so excited when someone moves in next door.  She becomes even more thrilled when she finds out that Professor Reece is taking care of a dog and later decides to keep the dog.  Baxter, the dog is huge and friendly and seems to have this magical ability to understand and respond to Jordie.  

Soon Jordie finds out even more about Professor Reece and her experiments - she is figuring out how to teleport things.  The weird thing is that the hat she teleports does not end up where it is supposed to.  Even weirder?  Baxter can find the hat after it is teleported.

When Dr. Reece decides to teleport herself to see if she can figure things out she ends up disappearing.  Can Jordie, Baxter, and her brother figure out how everything works and find Dr. Reece.

I liked this so much better than I thought I would.  Fun science and dog story.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Doughnut Fix

When Tristan's parents decide to move from NYC to the middle of nowhere, none of the kids are happy.  But while his older sister still seems able to connect with friends from the city and his younger sister is just having fun, Tristan is floundering.  That is, until he hears about some mysterious chocolate cream doughnuts that a local store owner used to make.  Now, with time on his hands until he starts school, Tristan decides to recreate the recipe and go into business for himself.  Along the way he starts making his own friends and learns a bit about business as well.

This was a pretty cute story.  Nothing overly flashy but a solid middle grade book.  I was a bit confused about the cover - the raccoon makes a brief appearance right before the end of the book and that's it.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Key to Everything

So darn sad.  The book starts with Tash angry at her uncle and her neighbor who watches over her.  She has to go to camp while her uncle is in New Zealand and she takes her anger out on the neighbor, Cap'n Jackie.  Through a series of letters from camp everything seems resolved and forgiven but Cap'n Jackie is gone when Tash gets back.  She fell, broke her hip, and is in rehab refusing to talk to anyone.  Tash and her uncle go visit several times, and while there are a few instances where everything seems forgive, there isn't much communication and then Cap'n Jackie dies.  In between it all there is a mysterious key, Cap'n Jackie's imaginary dragon, and memories.  

It just wasn't enough.  Maybe if we had seen their relationship more before the going away to camp, etc but that was all through memories.  Didn't work for me.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Aru Shah and the End of Time

This book was a lot of fun.  With Rick Riordan's new imprint we are getting similar books - tone, gods and goddesses, young heroines - but expanding the cultures.  This book features Aru and Mini must find 3 keys and prevent the "Sleeper" from destroying the world.  Kids who have enjoyed Percy Jackson and other Riordan books will find a lot to like in this new series.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mapping the Bones

This book appealed to me initially for three reasons

  • Jane Yolen!!!
  • A tie in to Hansel and Gretel  - intriguing
  • A Holocaust book with twins
Oh, I wanted to like it but...

The tie in the Hansel and Gretel was really thin.  I had hoped for a book more similar to Briar Rose by Yolen which was fabulous.  This just didn't have the same punch.

The twin angle really didn't kick in until the last 100 pages of this 400 page book.  It was a horrifying aspect of the story but it took a long time to get there.

The story is mainly about Chaim and Gittel who start in a ghetto, escape with their family and another family to join the partisans, get separated from all the adults, and end up in a camp working with munitions where they meet a doctor inspired by the terrible Mengele.  

In the end I did like it but not as much as I hoped.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Out of the Wild Night

The ghost of Mary Chase has awoken and is to become the town crier and narrator of the the tale.  But she is not the only ghost in Nantucket.  Many have arrived and they are not happy.  Houses are being sold to be restored but instead they are being gutted destroying memories and maybe even the way of life in Nantucket.  The ghosts are back to stop the destruction and with the help of a gang of kids and an older man maybe they will be successful.

This was an interesting story with a real focus on culture and history - maybe more than most middle grade readers will be interested in.  The ghost aspect was slightly scary but then became a bit violent.  An unexpected twist at the end may leave readers either scratching their heads or going back to look for what they missed.

Verdict:  For areas where Blue Balliett's books are popular or where Nantucket life and history rings true this would be a good purchase.  For others it may be a struggle to stay engaged long enough to get to the spookier parts and the surprise.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Possibility of Whales

Natalia's life is a bit odd.  She is the daughter of a famous actor (think "The Rock") but she doesn't know who her mother is.  They have recently moved to Canada to get away from the paparazzi due to an incident in San Francisco.  Natalia still writes to her friend there but it is complicated because her friend was the reason they left.  She also still talks to "The Bird" - a woman she randomly called on a phone she found and now talks to regularly.  In Canada, Natalia meets Harry.  Harry is going through his own stuff.  He was born Harriet and his parents are struggling with accepting him as Harry.  In the midst of it all Natalia is trying to figure out life, friends, puberty, and changes in general.

This was a decent book - some humor, some angst.  I thought there was a bit much that coincidentally happened around the same time.  Kids won't mind as much as I did.  Not sure yet how I am feeling about this overall - I think it needs to sit with me a bit more.