Wednesday, October 28, 2009

First Light by Rebecca Stead

Peter lives in New York with his parents who are both scientists. His father studies glaciers and global warming and for the first time ever invites Peter to go along on one of his trips to Greenland. Peter is excited to go but he's also worried because he has been having headaches. His mother has suffered from dibilitating headaches his entire life and she has always asked him if he has any. Peter is afraid that if he reveals that he has begun having headaches too his family will not take the trip to Greenland.
Thea lives in the town of Gracehope which is located underneath the ice in Greenland. Her people have lived there for generations after they fled from angry mobs that wanted to harm them for the special abilities some of them possess. Thea believes that it might be time for her people to return to the surface because space and food is getting tight but the elders of Gracehope are violently opposed to this idea. When Thea decides to take matters into her own hands and travels to the surface anyway she accidentally runs into Peter and they find that they have more in common than either could have ever imagined.

Notes From the Dog by Gary Paulsen

Finn is not a people person. His goal for summer vacation is to talk to less than 12 people during the entire break, not counting his best friend Matt and his dog Dylan. But when Johanna, a 24 year old breast cancer survivor, moves in next door Finn finds himself meeting new people nearly every day. Johanna hires Finn to make a garden in his own backyard and she has a way of making Finn feel more at ease around everyone he meets. Before long Finn finds himself talking to the girl of his dreams, setting his grandfather up with one of Johanna's aunts, and talking to all sorts of strangers to raise money for a breast cancer triathalon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Miss Spitfire by Sarah Elizabeth Miller

This book tells the story of how Annie Sullivan was able to teach Helen Keller, a blind and deaf girl, how to communicate with the world. As a baby Helen became blind and deaf due to a fever. Since she was not old enough to already know how to communicate before the fever she grew up wild. Her own family thought that she was probably not capable of learning even how to behave. But when Helen was six her parents sent to a school for the blind asking them to send a teacher. Annie Sullivan somehow found a way to tame Helen and teach her to understand language. This book is told from Annie's point of view and describes all the problems she had with Helen and her family on the long road to reaching the girl locked inside her own world.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Death's Acre by Bill Bass

If you enjoy watching show's like CSI or Bones then you would also like this book about a real life forensic scientist. Dr. Bass started the "Body Farm" where dead bodies are allowed to decompose and the scientists observe what happens and when. It's because of the work at his body farm that we know about the bugs that eat dead bodies and how long someone has been dead and what type of saw has been used to cut up a dead body. Dr. Bass includes real stories from his long career helping to solve crimes and put murderers in jail.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

London Calling by Edward Bloor

Martin is an outcast at the private school he attends. The school administrators cater to another boy, Hank, who is the great grandson of a World War II hero who also attended the school and who's family makes substantial donations to keep the school running. When Martin and two friends are beat up by Hank and his friends and the school takes Hank's side, Martin refuses to return to school and instead embarks on a course of independent study at home. He has inherited an old radio from his grandmother and while investigating it he finds himself in London in 1940 where he seems destined to help a boy named Jimmy who lived at that time. At first Martin believes that his time travel experiences are all dreams, but with some research he finds that everything he hears and sees during the "dreams" actually happened in the past. While trying to find out he he can help Jimmy, Martin also finds out some interesting facts about Hank's great grandfather and whether he was actually a hero or not.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Three girls from completely different backgrounds become good friends in this story set in New York in 1913. Yetta is an immigrant from Russia who lives with her sister in a tenement building. They both work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and are working to start a union that will protect the workers at the factory from the unfair work practices of the factory bosses. Bella has just come to America from Italy. She hopes to make enough money to send home to her family and save them from starving to death. She is living with her cousin in a boarding house and also gets a job at the shirtwaist factory. Jane is a rich girl who has recently become aware that not everyone has a life as easy as hers. She wants to help the workers who have gone on strike but her father and governess won't let her do anything other than attend parties. Jane, Bella and Yetta eventually end up living together and becoming close friends before their lives are torn apart by a fire at the shirtwaist factory.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

This retelling of the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" is lovely and light. In the original story twelve sisters are locked in their bedroom each night but in the morning their shoes are full of holes as if they have been dancing all night. Their father, the king, promises a reward to any prince who can solve the mystery of where the princesses go each night. This version follows the original story but it gives lots of other delicious details about why the princesses dance each night and where they go. Their story involves a decades long curse and an evil king. Luckily for the sisters, a young soldier has just begun working in the royal gardens and he has an invisibility cloak and some new ideas on how to rescue the princesses.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

When he receives an old riding lawn mower for his birthday the main character in this book finds himself suddenly offered more jobs than he can handle alone. With the help of a neighbor who knows something about the stock market and setting up businesses he is soon the head of his own company with several employees and more money than he ever imagined. When his lawn service operation grows large enough to attract the attention of some thugs he has to tell his parents about what's been going on and find a way to protect his employees. Luckily, he has just become the sole owner of a local boxer with a short temper...

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Mibs is two days away from her 13th birthday and can't wait to find out what her savvy will be. In Mibs' family everyone develops a magical ability on the day of his or her 13th birthday. Her older brother can control weather and her grandmother can capture soundwaves out of thin air. But on the day before her birthday Mibs' father is injured in a car accident and is in the hospital 90 miles away. Once she finds out what her savvy is Mibs feels that she can help to cure her father and decides to sneak aboard the van of a traveling salesman to get to the hospital. She is joined by two of her brothers as well as the teen kids of the town preacher. Unfortunately, the van isn't headed where she thought and the entire group is off on an adventure made even more complicated by police chases, unexpected passengers, uncontrolled savvy outbursts, and talking tattoos.

Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood

Everyone knows that American patriots won their freedom from England in 1776 and changed the course of history in our country. But what if the war had gone the other way? This book is set in 1777 just after the English won the Revolutionary War. Creighton has been sent to America to live with his uncle and ends up being captured by the patriots who are on the run and in hiding in New Orleans. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are all wanted men for standing up to the government. As Creighton lives and works with Franklin he finds that his loyalties to England are tested and he begins to question what is right.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Radiant Girl by Andrea White

Katya lives in her small home in the USSR and her father works at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. While in the woods one afternoon she sees a boy she believes to be her house elf who warns her that a huge fire is coming that will change her life. That night she sees smoke above the power plant and in the morning her father comes home sick. Within a day Katya, her family and her entire village have to leave their homes behind in order to escape from the radiation that is poisoning the area after the Chernobyl meltdown. Katya's entire life changes overnight as she makes a new life in the big city and learns that her old home has been completely buried in order to contain the radiation. At first she believes what the government is telling the public about the nuclear accident but gradually she begins to suspect that the effects of the accident are much greater than she has heard. And she also begins to worry that her father might be experiencing many of these problems since he is still working at the plant despite the dangers.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Miranda lives in New York City with her mother during 1978. Out of the blue Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes from an unknown person who claims he is going to save the life of one of her friends and asking her to write a letter with all the details of that event. As proof of his claims the notes' author sends her dates and times of specific events that will happen in Miranda's life and as each of those events come to pass, Miranda begins to believe that the notes are coming from someone in the future. What she doesn't know is whose life is in danger and which person in her life now could be future author of the notes.