Thursday, September 17, 2009

Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen

The things I didn’t like about this book mostly have to do with notes implausibilities.  I don’t really buy that a graduate student in her early 20’s would spend her money (if she had it) to pay a 14-year-old to spend the summer making a garden in his own backyard  (I have a 23 year old, so I do have some experience in this area).  I also don’t buy that someone who says about himself, “It’s not that I don’t like people, but they make me feel uncomfortable.  I feel like an alien dropped onto a strange planet and that I always have to be on the lookout for clues and cues on how to act and what to say…” would have as many different types of friends as Finn describes himself as having: Carl, who’s his best friend; Jamie, who’s his oldest friend; Christopher, his fun friend; and finally, Matthew, his only true friend.  Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are the things that I did like about the book.  It’s pretty funny, especially when Finn uses all of the fertilizer on his back yard because, if a little bit is good, a lot is better, and when he transplants poison ivy into the yard from the woods.  I like the parts about Dylan, the dog. “Dylan sat up as she got closer and looked at her with that teeth-baring border collie grin that scares people who don’t know that dogs can smile.”  And, when Finn starts getting anonymous notes, delivered by Dylan, “He pushed at my hand with his nose to get me to take the piece of paper from him and wiggled his whole body in excitement, as if he know what the words said.  Dylan’s a border collie, so the whole note thing is not as out-of-the-realm-of-possibility as it first sounds.”  The book is a good read about a teen dealing with death and mortality for the first time.  Review by Stacy Church

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Solving Zoe by Barbara Dee

There are two really interesting things about this book, and the first one is touched on so briefly that if you didn’t already know about synesthesia, you still wouldn’t know about it because the author never puts a name to it. Synesthesia is when a person’s sensory wires get sort of crossed, so they might, for instance, see a certain color when they hear a particular sound, or in the case of Zoe, see certain colors associated with particular numbers. I was so disappointed that the condition was never named, even though Zoe’s color/number association plays a part in solving an ancient cipher. And that’s the other interesting thing about the book: the plot revolves around codes and ciphers and the main character’s previously undiscovered natural talent for them. Other than that it’s a pretty good story, entertaining and kind of funny. For a great book about synesthesia, read A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass) Review by Stacy Church

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Slob by Ellen Potter

Owen Birnbaum is above-average in two things: his IQ and his weight. slob He’s smart enough to know that he’s 57% fatter than the average 12 year old boy - not that his classmates, or gym teacher, would ever let him forget. He’s also really good at inventing things. One is a trap to catch a cookie thief, and the other involves outfitting his TV with a receiver to receive signals from the past. He’s trying to see a day two years ago that changed his life forever. As the story progresses, we learn what it is that Owen wants to see, why a certain store in the city makes him upset, and why he cherishes a piece of paper with the word “slob” on it.  Owen is a very likeable and real character. There are other likeable and interesting characters, like his sister who goes by the name Jeremy and joins the group GWAB (Girls Who Are Boys), and his Tibetan neighbor Nima, who gives him advice on his inventions and life. It’s been awhile since I read a book that was so funny and sad at the same time. This book will have wide appeal for boys and girls. Review by Katie Corrigan