Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rits by Mariken Jongman

For Rits's 13th birthday his parents gave him a writing journal and pen and a video camera --that way he could still choose what he wanted to be, a writer or a filmmaker. That's one of the funny things about Rits: whenever he finds out about a type of career, he starts to think that maybe he'll become that, too. For instance, when he meets his new friend Rita's dad, who's done lots of different thinks like sailing the ocean, working in a cafe and working on the scrap heap, he thinks the scrap heap is especially appealing because "you get a torch and you have to wear goggles, and then you get to burn big hunks of metal to pieces." This book, which is translated from the Dutch, is written in diary format as Rits records his thoughts and things that happen to him during the summer he has to live with his Uncle Corry. It takes a while to find out where Rits's parents are, and it takes most of the book for Rits to find things that he likes about Uncle Corry. I found Rits to be a very appealing character --he's funny and sad, and even though he tries to make the best of things, he often feels like he's suffering from "sagging brain," a condition he tries to research at the library. Rits's parents have let him down, but other people step up to help him, and things turn out pretty well in the end. Review by Stacy Church

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan

Here is a wonderful horse story in the tradition of Marguerite Henry's Misty and Walter Farley's Black Stallion series. In alternate chapters we meet Artemisia, a wild mustang who is very protective of her new foal, and Maya, who lives with her overly strict and controlling grandmother. After her grandmother dies, Maya is sent to Wyoming to live with her grandfather on a horse farm. To Maya's surprise and delight, she takes to the horses easily and quickly learns to ride. Maya discovers that she is very much like her mother,who, before she was killed in a car crash along with her father, loved horses. One day when Maya is far away from the family's summer camp, disaster strikes, and Maya is seriously injured in an earthquake. Artemisia is caught in the same valley. As Maya begins to communicate with Artemisia, both child and horse realize that they need each other to survive. They learn to trust each other as they overcome many obstacles on their way out of the devestated valley. Paint the Wind will take you on an amazing journey and an exhilarating "wild ride." Review by Trudy Walsh