Saturday, October 31, 2015

Peddler's Road

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Max and Carter are in Germany with their father who is researching the tale of the Pied Piper and a mysterious missing story by the Brothers Grimm.  Everyone in the little village of Hamelin knows the story.  But is the story over?  After a myserious rat infestation, Max and Carter are lured away by beautiful pipe music and find themselves in New Hamelin with the mising children from the tale.  Now Carter finds out he is the key to a prophecy that could set things right.  But who can the children trust amid dangerous rat, Grandma Yaga, and the Peddler?

I like the story well enough but it lagged at time.  I was disappointed with the ending - lots left unexplained and a sequel obviously on the way.  Not sure my students will find enough interest in the Pied Piper to stay interested.

Friday, October 30, 2015


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Interesting short story about Disney who has been brought out of his cryogenic state in the year 2031.  Things have certainly changed and not all for the better.  After awhile Disney decides to go back into the cryogenic sleep but not before writing a new movie.  He hopes to wake up sometime in the future again to a better place. 

Interesting concept...not quite right for my students.

Kiki and Jacques

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So I am a first round Cybils judge.  I think there are about 111 books in the Middle Grade Fiction category.  Fortunately, I have already read over 40 of them and have another 20ish at my house either from the library, from my work on MSBA, or on NetGalley.  Unfortunately, I also have other books on NetGalley that I needto finish. My a bnch of Cybils books this weekend - at least the 50 page requirement.  For MSBA we have to read the whole book but I plan on reading 50 pages and if I am not liking it I will take notes, rate it on Cybils, and maybe finish it later for MSBA.  If I don't finish the book, I won't blog about it.  I don't really think I have many people who even read this or are stalking the Cybils nominees.  I guess if you are and you don'tsee a book reviewed on here then you can make the jump.

Which brings me to Kiki and Jacques.  I planned on only reading 50 pages.  Obviously I didn't. Here's the thing - it is set in Maine and with reference to the Somalis, it is also relatively short.  The book is about Jacques - a boy who likes soccer, but whose family is going through sometough times. Jacques is tempted to get easy money by doing what the local bully, Duane wants himto do.  Kiki is a new girl in school, a Somali.  She is learning to adjust.  Her brother also plays soccer.  The two become friends.  

While not a complex plot I did appreciate the realism. I think some might find it too realistic but my particlar students could probably relate.  I liked this.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Waiting for Unicorns

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Talia is heartbroken. Her mom recently dies of cancer and she didn't even get a chance to say goodbye.  Not her dad is taking her to the Arctic where he will leave her with a stranger while he goes on a whale expedition.  It is not fair.  To cope Talia keeps a wishing jar - she is waiting for her wishes to come true and especially longs to see a unicorn because they are known to fulfill wishes.  When Talia hears about beluga whales in the area, unicorns of the sea, she tries to find one of those as well.  But in waiting for some big wishes to cometrue she almost misses the small miracles everyday.

This was a nice story...not too long, good characters, interesting plot without some of the drama and angst of a typical middle grade book.  Too quiet???  Curious to see how this appeals to readers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Boy Who Knew Everything

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This book ended well but it took a long time for me to get there.  I felt like the beginning of the book was so rushed.  To me it felt like a summary of a previous book and that I was somehow missing something.  As far as character development goes - ugh.  I liked Conrad and Piper and then the character of Max - after awhile - but none of the other characters were developed at all and just felt loose.  I couldn't remember who J was.  Just felt disjointed overall.

Amendment:  Okay - it is a sequel, that explains it then.  Sorry...doesn't stand alone well.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Handful of Stars

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Lily's dog has become blind and one day he starts running across a blueberry field.  Lily is worried he will get hurt or lost and runs after him.  Although she is unable to stop her dog, Salma, ayoung migrant worker is able to help out.  Thus begins a friendship between the two girls.  Lily and Salma quickly becomeclose and even plan a booth at the upcoming Blueberry Festival.  But when Salma decides to enter the Blueberry Queen pageant neither is sure how the town or Lily's friends will react.

I love Cynthia Lord.  She just gets it.  The book isn't overly long - but it doesn't have to be.  While there is the usual middle school drama of 2 best friends and one is growing up and starting to develop an interest in boys there was enough originality and freshness to overcome that.  Really enjoyed this.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dream on, Amber


Starting middle school is tough and Amber is taking it especially hard.  She is struggling more now with the fact that she is half Italian and half Japanese.  She looks more Japanese but since her Japanese father left she feels no connection to that part of her.  To make matters worse she is short, her sisiter is writing letters to her missing dad, and she incurs the wrath of the school bully.  With the help of her dream Dad, Amber works on slaying her dragons and figuring out where she fits in.

This wasn't a bad story and I liked the way it came together at the end.  It wasn't too long which was good.  While okay it doesn't rise to the top though...

Listen to the Moon

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Kensuke's Kingdon is one of my favorite books and I used to read it to my students when I taught 5th grade.  I always look for his books and this one was a treat.  Cool thing is - he already had another great book which I reviewed here...

In this book, set during World War I, Albie and his father find a girl on a deserted island.  All they know is that she has a teddy bear,a blanket with a German name on it, and she said Lucy when they find her. Other than that she won't speak.  Bit by bith the family is able to help her physically and emotionally but when others on the island find out about the possible German connection they are angry and scared.

Meanwhile, we hear the story of Merry and her mother who are on their was to visit Merry's father who was injured fighting in WWI.  On their way, the boat they are on, the Lusitania is hit and sank.

This reminded me quite a bit of Kensuke's Kingdom.  I,of course, figured out the connection early on but it was a treat to watch everything unfold.  There was one part I wasn't getting, Lucy, but then it became clear.  Great story ;0