Monday, August 31, 2009

Elephant Run

This is another book that is nothing like I expected it to be. It was VERY good. It is a story about ick, a boy living with his mother in England, who is sent to live with his dad in Burma because they feel England is not safe with the bombs being dropped in London. The story takes place in 1941 when Japanese soldiers invade the teak plantation that Nick's father runs. The overtaking of Nick's father's elephant village leaves Nick stranded on the plantation forced to work by the new Japanese rules after his father is taken to war work camp. Nick's new found friend, Mya, has a brother that is also in the work camp, and as things get worse for them on the plantation they plan an escape. They risk their lives on elephant back to save their family members.
I didn't want to put this one down. I found myself wanting to go back to it and finish the story so I could find out what was next.
Read this one. It's great.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Naked Mole-Rat Letters by Mary Amato


I really enjoyed this story from beginning to end. I love the real life events that happen to the main character who is a middle school girl with two younger brothers. Their mother passed away, thus the narrator feels the extra pressure of helping with the children and the house. Prior to the time of the story, "Frankie", the main character and narrator, is a straight A student who is well trusted and respected at school. Through the course of this story, she ditches school, shreds a library book, lies repeatedly, cheats on a test, badgers her brothers, loses her youngest brother, hacks into her father's email, starts the kitchen on fire, and runs-off her father's girlfriend. Frankie makes friends with a boy (Johnny) that is not accepted at school by her other friends. She struggles to decide whether or not to chance being friends with him at the risk of losing her other friends. As a reader, we also see the change of relationship and behavior between Frankie, her father, and her father's secret girlfriend.

My biggest complaint about this story is that I wanted more at the end. I want to see the outcome of the relationship between Johnny and Frankie, and the relationship between Frankie's dad and Ayanna ( his secret girlfriend that takes care of naked mole-rats at the zoo.)

The story is a very easy read, written in a combination of e-mail and diary entries.

You might want to have tissue available for the last 25 pages!! Hope you like this one. I did.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

I LOVED THIS ONE. This is an easy book to read and goes very quickly. I started it and found myself trying to find reasons to quit doing my hoursework etc. so I could finish it. It addresses many true issues that effect the middle school students. The characters many times will remind the readers of students in their class,

Emma- Jean is a twelve year old gifted girl who uses logic and critical thinking to evaluate every aspect of her life, friends or teachers included. Emma's father, Eugene, has passed, but not before teaching and convincing Emma that all problems, no matter how complicate, can be solved with critical thinking. Thus, when Emma-Jean for some unknown reason decides to taken upon herself nto help a fellow classmate solve a "social problem", she finds that sometimes even the best layed plans backfire.

This is a good story about being different and being okay with who you are even though it might not be what everyone else can handle you as. It very graciously deals with grievance of loved ones as well as dealing with bullies, and accepting change.

Couldn't make myself put this one down. I LOVED IT!!

Shooting the Moon by Frances O'roark Dowell

The narrator of this story is the daughter of a colonel in the Army. She and her brother have been raised as army children and are very intrigued by the aspect of war. They spend much of their childhood roleplaying the war and when her brother signs up for service, the author is extremely confused when her father and mother are not overly thrilled. She can not wait to live the life of the war through her brother and his letters.

Although her brother does not convey the war life through letters, she gets more than enough information through pictures that her brother sends for her to develop. Suddenly, the reality of the war is not as wonderful and exciting as she had expected it to be as not even her powerful father the Colonel can guarantee her brother's safety.

Good story. Rather slow moving but definitley can start the "Gagnor Waterfalls" toward the end of the story.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Small White Scar by K.A. Nazum

Again... a story I believe I have not desire to read has shown me that I can't always tell a good book by its cover. This is a touching story about the love and animosity of twin brothers, and of a father and son. It is set in the 1940s in the west. It is going to be a favorite of horse and rodeo lovers. The description of the setting and the rodeo events is very detailed and captivating, the story of a strong bond between a man and his horse is heartwarming, but the story between the brothers is what caught my attention.

Denny and Will are twin brothers, but having the same birthday does not make them the same. Denny, born feeble minded, becomes Will's responsibility after the parents chose not to institutionalize him at birth, and their mother drowns in an accident. Will has learned to be a superb rodeo competitor and ranch hand is not really given the chance to do his thing at home as he Denny's stability and his dad pushes him to be the "nursemaid" rather than do a "man's job". After turning 18, Will decides he is going to leave the ranch and make his own life with the rodeo and another ranch. Unfortunately, Will's bond is too strong and Will follows him when he sneaks out.

Through the journey, Will continues to protect Denny, but can not talk him into returning to the ranch. There is a very dangerous river to cross ( a problem after mother drowning), a coyote scare, and a rattlesnake bite. The ending is not fully predictable, which makes the ending just unexpected enough that is enjoyable.

Have you read it? What do you think?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Mozart Question

This is not one of the books I was looking forward to reading. Figured it wouldn't carry a lot of plot since it was so short. Sure glad I had a half hour to kill while waiting to leave on the field trip, because the story was great. I was very disappointed to read after the author note that is fictitious, as I truly wanted to believe it was a true story.

A young journalists gets the opportunity to interview Paolo Levi ( a famous violinist). The only requirement is that she can not ask the Mozart Question. No problem...maybe... She has no clue what the Mozart question is. The real story though is the story that Paolo tells her about how he first started to play the violin. It's a very heart warming story about Paolo's family secret and what they go through to survive through World War II.

Have a dictionary handy... For a short book, there are a lot new vocabulary.
Have you read it? What do you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The White Giraffe

This is another good story!!! Wow... so far this year's Rebecca Caudill Nominations are definitely earning their nominations. The White Giraffe is about a young girl who loses her parents when they die in a house fire. The 11 year old, Martine, is sent to live in Africa with her grandmother that she has never met. The two of them don't hit it off well, but nevertheless Martine has a strong sense that she belongs there. The Grandmother (Gwyn) is the director of an wild animal reserve and is helped by Tendai and Alex. Martine hears of a legend about a White Giraffe and begins to search for the animal even after her grandmother insists it to be legendary. Martine finds the white giraffe but realizes the importance of keeping the existence secret as she distrusts one of the helpers within her grandmother's reserve. Martine begins to understand many of the feelings she has been having after meeting Grace, medicine woman, and learning the reasons her family left Africa originally. The existence of the White Giraffe becomes known and it is captured by poachers. Only one person can save it! The question is... does Martine have the courage?

Have you read it? What do you think?