Friday, June 27, 2014

The Last Wild


In this dystopian fantasy all the animals have dies from "The Red Eye".  Now there is also no food except for the "Formula".  People have been moved to the cities to make it easier to receive this "food:.  Kester has been kept in a school for years but escapes with the help of a coackroach and some prisons.  Although unable to speak he can communicate with the last remaining wild animals and their leader, a stag.  They set off on a quest to find a cure for the disease and in the process find Kester's dad.

As usual I thought this was a bit long and lagged in the middle.  The last 100 pages were good.  There will be a sequel...Polly's parents are still missing and the company that created the formula is not going to be happy witht eh cure for the animals.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor


I really enjoy Jon Scieszka's books especially in light of the intended audience.  Is this the best book ever written?  Newbery worthy?  No, but it was fun, relatively easy to read, and even had some good science mixed in.  Truly it is a perfect book for 3rd and 4th graders - especially boys and girls who like science, robots, and your basic hero vs villain with a chimp thrown in for fun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Divided We Fall


I received the ARC of this book back in January and finally got a chance to read it.  Can I say I really liked it :)  Good action, realistic enough to be scary...  Unfortunately it will not be appropriate for my school library of grades 1-5 and not appropriate for the Maine Student Book Award but I will recommend it to students and adults you like YA books.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sharks and Fleas


Davey is on vacation with his family on an island.  He can't sleep and so decides to go for a walk and find a place to read.  After meeting several people he finds a secluded beach area.  The water looks inviting so he decides to go wading.  Unfortunately he loses tracks of time and distance and finds himself in a riptide and gets carried out to sea.  Will he be rescued?

There was some decent action and feelings especially from Davey as he was driftng out to sea, missing his family, etc.  The story was told from alternating viewpoints...what was happening with Davey, what was happening with his family and the search, and what was happening with a girl who saw him before he disappeared.

So my took a long know he is going to be surrounded by sharks...that's the title.  It just seemed to take a long time to get there, so it was kind of frustrating in the middle.  The ending was good...


The year is 1952.  Franny is recovering from Polio and struggling to walk again and fighting the stigma of having polio.  Charlotte's Web has just been published and she loves the book and particularly Charlotte.  What if she could have her own friend like that?  Well, she can because Fleabrain is a miraculous flea who managed to survive the flea powder given to the dog Alf and what didn't kill him made him not only stronger but super smart.  He can now read long novels, take Franny on fantastical journeys, and love deeply.  

I get the premise of the book.  The idea that both felt small and that their friendship made them feel stronger.  I get the homage to Charlotte's Web and I liked the discussions about polio and the historical aspect.  But...when Fleabrain started taking Franny out at night magically floating around on the horse, Lightning, it was a bit much for me.

I feel like I want to give the ARC to a student first and see how they like it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Time to Catch Up

Yes, it is summer vacation.  While I have a lot I want to do this summer to get ready for next school year and classwork for my last class for my Masters Degree what I really want to do is read...I love that boxes of MSBA books are showing up.  Between that and NetGalley I have lots to read.


I have read one or two of D'Lacey's other books so was pretty excited about reading this one.  This one is quite a bit different and there is a lot that is left unexplained but I felt like it was a satisfying start of a series.  Michael discovers he has a unique gift when he rescues a dog in a dramatic fashion.  This leads to him joining a mysterious organization called Unicorne which his father, who is missing belonged to.  In this book Michael sets out to discover why the dog he rescues is so attached to a withdrawn Goth girl.  There was a lot of action, mystery, and unanswered questions.  I liked it...


This is a picture book about Joe Dimaggio's hitting streak.  While it was sent to me as a member of the MSBA committee it is too young and short for our list.  I did find it quite good.  I like the idea of pairing a shorter biography like this with a longer biography.  I will add this to my collection.


I really liked Endangered by the same author but this one did not grab me in the same way.  It was interesting but it moved slowly and I just didn't feel as connected.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied


Hmmm...What to say about this book.  I liked the way it started.  The idea of a family of zookeepers who get to live in a zoo as part of a research project.  Ana seems to enjoy the work of the zoo but at the same time is embarrassed by it. This seems to be mainly because of the Sneerers - a group of girls bullies.  I think this is where the book didn't work for me.  As mean as the girls were...especially posting a picture of Ana's butt on the lockers...and they never got in any trouble?  Didn't work for me.  And of course Ana's best friend moved away, made new friends, and she realizes her crush was a jerk and discovers she actually likes her twin brother's best friend.

I guess all in all the bullying without consequences and then some all too familiar plot ideas made this book kind of a fail for me...

The Butterfly and the Violin


I typically review books that could be eligible for the Maine Student Book Award, but there are times when I really want to read an adult novel.

This book was set during World War II.  Adele was an adored violinist whose father was a wealthy Nazi leader.  However when Adele fell in love with Vladimir, a poor cellist, and became involved in his attempt to rescue Jews her father did not protect her from being sent to Aushwitz.

This historical story is interspersed with a modern day search for a painting of Adele, a family inheritance, the struggle to find love again, and the quest to find out what happened to Adele and Vladimir.

Truth be told I liked the historical aspect of the story and got bogged down by the modern day aspect, especially the romance but overall I enjoyed the book.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer


Okay, confession, I picked this up because it had the name Orion and that's my favorite constellation.  Lame I know :)  I really enjoyed the beginning of it...starting in Maine, action, adventure.  As it continued it reminded me of Shakleton's exploration and I really thought it would get interesting and then...

Once they got to the hidden village run by the lost explorer's grandson I lost interest...really?  All this to keep their town secret?  I don't know...that part just didn't work for me.  So when Orion and his fellow seamen tried to escape it was ho hum.  Lots of death.  I didn't really end up connecting much with any of the characters...even Orion...too bad...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Wanderville by Wendy McClure


I have read all the Little House Books and always loved the first Boxcar Children book so this reminded me a bit of both of them.

Through tragic circumstances brother and sister Francis and Harold and also Jack find themselves on an orphan train headed from New York to Kansas.  When rumors of the conditions in Kansas reach them they decide to escape.  Once they get off the train they meet Alexander who has created a "town" called Wanderville "where all children in need of freedom are accepted".

Up to that point I enjoyed the book and liked the concept but when all their food and supplies had to be "liberated" from the nearby town I wasn't as interested - call me old fashioned I guess but I'd like to see more in the way of them figuring out how to survive without stealing. 

There is a sequel planned and maybe that will result in better choices for them...this just didn't work out for me.