Thursday, November 04, 2010

Boom! By Mark Haddon

boomThis is a story about Jim and Charlie, two curious friends who decide to spy on their teachers by bugging the teachers’ lounge. They unknowingly stumble upon a much bigger mystery than just which student is the biggest troublemaker –they hear Mrs. Pearce and Mr. Kidd speak in a strange secret language! But what does “spudvetch” mean, and why do Mr. Kidd's eyes flicker with fluorescent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Are they bank robbers speaking in code? Perhaps they are aliens, or maybe spies? Whatever they are, Jim and Charlie are determined to find out. So from the moment Jim and Charlie hear their teachers speaking in this strange language and see strange violet lights flash from their eyes and finger tips, things start to go downhill. When Charlie goes missing and an attack is made on Jim and his sister, Jim must use all his wits to save not only his best friend, but the whole world. This is a fun and funny adventure that, as it gathers speed and begins to spin out of control, can only end in one way…. with a boom! Review by Lizzy Healy

The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

reinventionSIDE NOTE: “Moxie” used to be a soda beverage that was known for having a powerful kick along with its sweet and bitter taste. The word moxie today derives from the soda name, and refers to someone with energy, pep, courage, determination, or know-how.

Moxie Roosevelt Kipper has one unique name –a name that conjures up a person full of spunk, energy, and zip. But to Moxie, her name is burden and a constant taunt. Moxie doesn’t think she’s spunky, or full of energy and zip; rather, she feels like an ordinary boring thirteen-year-old. But Moxie realizes she may still have time to transform or reinvent herself into an un-ordinary lively girl when she transfers to the all-girls’ boarding school Eaton Academy. Before starting at the new school, she has narrowed down her personality choices to the following:

  • DUCKI= a Detached, Unique, Coolly Knowing Individual
  • MEG= Mysterious Earth Goddess
  • HHSE= Hale and Hearty Sports Enthusiast
  • ARA= Assertive Revolutionary Activist

Instead of picking one new personality, Moxie opts to mold herself to her audience, adopting a different personality with each of the many different groups of girls at the new academy. She has to keep a logbook just to remember which personality she's been using with whom! But as the story progresses, she finds it increasingly difficult to remember what she has said to whom and which role she needs to fill. It becomes exhausting, and she’s just barely holding it together until she realizes that her journal is missing. She's terrified it might land in the wrong hands. You can probably relate to Moxie –at one time or another we all tend to believe that other people's lives are more exciting than our own, and we want to make ourselves special, too. This book is filled with hilarious misadventures as Moxie embarks on her quest for identity. In the end, she realizes that true friends like you for who you are, and enjoy differences as well as similarities. Review by Lizzy Healy

The Tilting House by Tom Llewellyn

tiltingJosh isn’t happy about his family’s move into a new house, where life becomes strangely unbalanced. First of all, the floors all tilt at precisely 3 degrees, and scribbled notes of mad science cover the walls, ceiling, and floors. But those aren’t the only mysteries: rats talk, pocket knives grow to the size of swords, and walls disappear with the flick of the light switch. Brothers Josh and Aaron and their neighbor Lola try to unlock the secrets of this uneven house, starting with the diary of its original owner, a brilliant but deranged inventor F.T. Tilton. Join the kids as they struggle to solve riddles of mad science, love lost, and bodies buried in this tale full of strange occurrences and crazy hi-jinks, all ultimately connected with the titling house. This story is similar to Neil Gaimen‘s The Graveyard Book –it’s filled with episodic stories that converge in the end. At first Josh and Aaron are none too pleased with their tilting house, but over time, begin to love its strange quirks and its mystery. The episodes involving the talking rats, oversized pocket knives and dogs, and a buried secret treasure make for amusing anecdotes. Who wouldn’t want to have an adventure while solving the mysteries of your strange, but pretty cool, house? Review by Lizzy Healy