Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor

Georgina is quite happy with her life. She has a best friend and gets along just fine in school. Then, in an instant, everything changes. Her father walks out and leaves the family penniless. Even though her mother works long hours, she doesn't make enough money to pay the rent for their apartment. In desperation they move into the family car. Georgina tries hard to keep it a secret that she now lives in a beat-up old car. She washes up every morning in a gas station lavatory before going to school, but her clothes are not freshly washed and they show signs of having been slept in. After she loses her best friend, she sees a poster offering a $500 reward for a lost pet, and she comes up with the brilliant idea to steal a dog from a rich person, and then to demand a large "finder's fee." Since Georgina is now in charge of taking care of her younger brother Toby, she has to include him in all of her plans. Can Georgina find the perfect dog to steal? When practical Toby asks her where they are going to keep this stolen dog, and how they are going to feed it and exercise it, Georgina is silent. But then, she tells her little brother not to worry, that big sister will take care of everything! To find out if Georgina suceeds with her "brilliant" plan to help her homelss family, read How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor. Review by Trudy Walsh

Friday, August 24, 2007

Finn's Going by Tom Kelly

There were things that I really liked about this book, but I found the writing style distracting. The characters are interesting: the main character is Danny, who has an identical twin Finn, their little sister Angela is deaf, and the parents are not your typical parents. You know from the beginning that something terrible has happened to Finn, and that Danny feels responsible, but you don't get the full story until the very end of the book. There are some funny scenes, like when Angela, after getting knocked over by a big kid on the playground, makes use of some of the rude words Finn and Danny have taught her to sign, signs to the kid, "Bog off, you stupid git!" Wanting to find out what happened kept me reading until the end, but I have to confess that I skimmed over some of the weirder parts of the book. The author uses devices that didn't work for me: lists, footnotes and long rambling sections of Finn's thoughts. Review by Stacy Church

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett

If you like your science fiction with a large dose of humor, then this is the book for you. Johnny Maxwell is addicted to his new computer game, “Only You Can Save Mankind”. He is about to achieve a new high score when something completely unexpected happens: the aliens he is shooting at surrender! And they want Johnny to grant them safe-conduct back to their home! It is difficult enough trying to save mankind from the aliens, but the other way around proves to be an even greater challenge. The only bright spot comes with Johnny’s realization that this is just a game – or is it? This book is highly original, very funny and suspenseful. Johnny gets completely lost trying to figure out what is real and what is just a dream. His friends think he has lost his mind, but when their copies of the game start flashing weird messages, they rally round Johnny and his charges. This is the first book in a trilogy followed by Johnny and the Dead and Johnny and the Bomb. Review by Jane Malmberg.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is such a funny book! Greg Heffley is starting middle school and finds himself “stuck…with a bunch a morons.” His mother suggests he keep a diary, and Greg complies, detailing his day to day existence with a much younger brother, clueless teacher, and the usual class nerds. He finds himself in a series of complicated situations, brought on by an innate need to act like an idiot despite his best intentions. His retellings of these events are hilarious, and the accompanying line drawings add to the humor. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading this book – it’s a great choice if you are looking for something to make you laugh. Review by Jane Malmberg.

Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent

Have you ever felt out of place in your own family? Have you wondered if there is any place where you really do fit in? 14 year-old Joseph Calderaro knows these feelings well. While he loves his Italian-American adoptive family, the differences between them and his native Korean culture are becoming more and more apparent. Then, his social studies teacher assigns an essay on ancestry that becomes an impetus for Joseph to search for information about his birth family and the events leading to his abandonment. His adoptive parents are not much help, (they don’t have much more information themselves), and at first his father seems threatened by Joseph’s questions. So Joseph decides to pretend that a famous Korean Olympic athlete was his grandfather, and writes an essay that wins a school award. His lie is discovered and he is forced to rewrite the paper, prompting Joseph to make a more thorough search for his birth family. This is a great book, I really liked Joseph right from the beginning, and although his father has a hard time understanding Joseph’s confusion, it is clear that he loves him. This book hits home in communicating Joseph’s need to have his own identity, separate from that of his family, and does so with humor and warmth. Highly recommended. Review by Jane Malmberg.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Wonder Kid by George Harrar

In 1954 no one knew how polio was contracted, but many people were afraid that it was from swimming in contaminated water, or being in public places. The main character of The Wonder Kid, Jesse James MacLean (named after the famous outlaw Jesse James), is spending a boring summer indoors because his mother is trying to keep him from catching polio. His father is a not-very-nice guy who is away from home most of the time on business (which Jesse is grateful for), and Jesse's grandfather, who Jesse is very close to, has come to live with them. Even when Jesse becomes ill, his father treats him like it's his fault, and he's a weakling to be sick. I really liked this book. The characters are believable, and it gives a good picture of what life was like for a kid growing up in the 1950's. Review by Stacy Church