Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor

sparrowNo music. No TV. No computer. No telephone. And every day, silence until supper. Those are the rules of Sparrow Road, an artists’ retreat set in an eerie mansion in the countryside of Michigan, where Raine O’Rourke is forced to spend her summer. Raine can’t figure out why her mother agreed to leave their Milwaukee home and her Grandpa Mac to work there as a cook. “Not everything’s a mystery,” her mother tells her when Raine pesters her with questions. But Sparrow Road is full of secrets. The mystery of why her mother took the job is solved when 12-year-old Raine meets Gray James, the father she has never heard about. The mysteries of the mansion take longer, but Raine and Josie, a quilt-maker, piece together the history of the former orphanage, and Raine uses clues she finds in the attic to write the story of a former orphan, Lyman Chase, which she shares at the end of summer festival, the Art Extravaganza. Review by Stacy Church

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Angel in My Pocket by Ilene Cooper

angelIt is common knowledge and mathematically proven that there are many dimensions in this world. The first dimension is expressed through one value, which defines a point. The second dimension is expressed through two values, which define an area. The third dimension is expressed in three values, which define a space. The fourth dimension includes time in the measurement. If you measure a room in the winter or in the summer, you will get two slightly different measurements, due to the time factor (In the cold winter time, when most matter contracts, it would give a slightly smaller value to the room’s measurements). Through mathematics we can explore higher dimensions, like the fifth, sixth, seventh and so on. What do these dimensions look like? What exists in those dimensions? Many people think that angels, spirits or other higher energy forms of life dwell in those higher dimensions and that sometimes they can take on our physical form and visit us. Angel in My Pocket is about such visits. Shortly after seventh-grader Bette finds a golden angel coin, things begin to change for her. She meets a mysterious new neighbor called Gabi, which is short for Gabriel. Gabi helps Bette come to terms with the losses and changes in her life and to move on. As the golden angel coin passes on to three other classmates of Bette, their lives are changed too. In time, all four become friends and marvel at what has happened to them. Angel in My Pocket is a wonderful story about finding friends, when you desperately need them. Review by Trudy Walsh

Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice

wild life12-year-old Eric rushes home to show off the certificate he just earned for passing the hunter safety course, only to find that his parents have both been called up to serve active duty in Iraq. After that, things happen very quickly.  Eric is sent off to North Dakota to live with his grandparents.  He finds life with his grandparents unbearable, so he runs away off onto the prairie, taking only his gun, and a dog that he rescued, along with him. Eric is determined to make it on his own, and live off of the land. Wild Life is a fast-paced story of adventure and survival.  Review by Trudy Walsh

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan

small actsSmall Acts of Amazing Courage takes us to India, where Rosalind lives in a beautiful home with many servants.  Her parents are English, and they are expected to send their children back home to England to get proper educations.  Independent-minded Rosalind doesn’t want to go to England, a country she feels no connection to.  Rosalind loves India.  She loves to explore the bazaars of the city with a native friend.  Her father returns from the war in 1918, and finds out that Rosalind has become involved in the lives of beggars, and has gone to listen to the rebel Gandhi speak at a street demonstration against the British.  He is livid and, over the protestations of Rosalind and her mother, books a passage for her to London.  He plans for his daughter to live with her aunts while getting a good English education.  Free-spirited Rosalind has other ideas.  She sees the whole world as a place to discover.  She wants to learn by getting involved rather than by just sitting on a school bench.  This, or course, gets her into all kinds of trouble, as you can well imagine. In Small Acts of Amazing Courage we read about Rosalind growing up in luxury in an exotic country, exploring bazaars, buying a baby from a beggar to save his life, always letting her heart guide her rather than her head.  It is a beautifully written book.  Review by Trudy Walsh