Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata

Willie loves his German Shepherd, Cracker. They are a team. Then Willie's father loses his job and the family has to move to an apartment, where no dogs are allowed. Willie wants a good life for his intelligent dog and is willing to give him up to the military to be trained as a bomb-sniffing dog. The Vietnam War is raging, and Willie hopes that his German Shepherd , properly trained, can save lives, including his own. Cracker is teamed up with Rick, a young, energetic soldier. Together they train for survival in Vietnam. Can they become a team and trust each other and protect each other in the worst of circumstances? If you like adventure and survival stories, this is the perfect book for you! Review by Trudy Walsh

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn

I didn't like this book as much as The Old Willis Place, the last ghost story by Mary Downing Hahn. The mystery starts off well enough. 13-year-old Ali finds a photo of her mother and her mother's sister, her aunt Dulcie, and a third girl who's been torn out of the picture. Her mother, who is a nervous and/or sickly person who spends most of her time in her bedroom, denies knowing who the third girl might have been. Then Aunt Dulcie invites Ali to spend the summer babysitting her 6-year-old cousin at the old lake house where the picture was taken, a house that Ali's mother refuses to return to. Ali's father convinces her mother to let her go, and Ali is eager to get a break from her overprotective mother. Ali loves the lake, and she loves taking care of her cousin, but she doesn't think much of the strange girl, Sissy, who appears and makes befriends Emma. Scary things start to happen, and Aunt Dulcie doesn't believe Ali when she tries to explain. The book is kind of creepy, as it should be, but the characters are not quite believable. Review by Stacy Church

The Rising Star of Rusty Nail by Lesley M.M. Blume

This is a very entertaining book about a girl growing up in a small town in Minnesota in 1953. Franny, who's 10, and her best friend Sandy get into lots of mischief, because there's not a lot else to do in Rusty Nail, Minnesota. When Franny's not getting into trouble she's playing the piano. She's talented, but her piano teacher is a cranky old woman who sleeps through her lessons, and her parents don't have enough money to pay for a better teacher. Then a mysterious Russian woman moves to town. Everyone in town shuns her, claiming that she's a Communist, but Franny and Sandy are intrigued, and spy on her. When Franny figures out that the Russian is a pianist, she won't give up until Madame Malenkov agrees to teach her. The book gives a good idea of what life must have been like in the mid-west in the 1950's. Review by Stacy Church