Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby

I think the thing I liked best about this book is that the strange things that characterize the world where the story is set are never really explained: people can fly (well, most people - those who can't are called "leadfeet"); cats are rare and shunned; birds are worshipped. "In a vast and sparkling city, a city at the center of the universe, one little man remembered something big." So the story opens. The man is The Professor, an eccentric man with a head full of long green grass, who wears ladies' snap-front housedresses because he doesn't like clothing, and who takes advice from The Answer Hand, which he bought on eBay. What he's trying to find out has something to do with Gurl, a 12 year old girl who lives at the Hope House for the Homeless and Hopeless. Of course, life at the orphanage is terrible, until Gurl finds a kitten to adopt, and makes friends with a new orphan named Bug. Well, they're not really friends at first, but they team up to escape from the orphanage, and eventually to find out the truth about Gurl. The book is funny, inventive and reminds me in some ways of the Molly Moon books. Review by Stacy Church

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

This book is written by a middle school English teacher (but that shouldn't keep you from reading it!), and you can certainly tell that he knows kids that age - the characters and situations they face are true-to-life. I enjoyed the book so much I couldn't put it down. It's very funny, and also tragic. Written in journal form, the book chronicles a year in Steven's life. One morning while he is making oatmeal for his little brother Jeffrey, Jeffrey develops a nosebleed that won't quit. It turns out that he has leukemia. Their mom has to quit her job to take Jeffrey for his treatments, so their family income is cut in half, and Steven is left with just his father (who doesn't communicate very well) a lot of the time. He feels neglected and also guilty for feeling neglected. Meanwhile, he's going through all the normal teenage stuff like having a crush on a girl who doesn't notice him at all. Steven is a talented drummer, the youngest ever selected for the All-City High School Jazz Band, and the book is also full of music. This is a great story of a funny, engaging boy whose family is in crisis. Review by Stacy Church