Book talk:You just never know what you're going to get when you pick up a book written by Gary Paulsen. Action? Adventure? Mystery? Humor? One thing you can always count on in his books are interesting characters. There's really not a lot of action in this book, unless you count planting a garden for the neighbor as action. Fourteen year old Finn would say that since his plans for summer vacation were to read as many books as he could and talk to fewer than a dozen people for the entire summer, putting in a garden was definitely more action than he had hoped to see between no wan when he graduated high school (when he hoped to find a job where he would always work alone). As to adventure--well, there was an incident of vandalism when they broke the lock on the gate to get to the beach so some could go skinny-dipping--that was quite an adventure! Mystery? Yeah! Who is writing the notes to Finn that are being delivered by his dog Dylan? They don't come very often, but when they do, their simple messages are meaningful: "You're not as ugly as you think," "You're wrong about you and girls." Uhhh, Finn can barely hold a conversation with his dad, let alone anyone his own age. So who is it that Finn becomes friends with a twenty-something college student that moves in across the street for the summer and ends up making a garden for her? Expect a little Gary Paulsen humor, probably more humor than action, adventure, or mystery. Oh, and maybe some sad parts, because, well, that twenty-something new neighbor has cancer. And cancer doesn't have to break apart families; sometimes it makes them.
Book talk: It's not that Rosie is an ungrateful, materialistic 15 year-old. In fact, I would bet most girls her age, given the same gifts as Rosie, would think this was the year that Christmas sucked the most. Her mom did spend $700 on her, but now she has a treadmill in her bedroom to further remind her that she is fat. And like Rosie will tell anyone willing to listen (and there aren't many), "I don't walk three blocks when I actually WANT to get somewhere, much less run three miles on a strip of black rubber only to end up where I started out in the first place." Then her meddling aunt Mary gave her "two stupid diet books" and tickets for the three of them to go to the "Healing the Fat Girl Within" conference. Talk about a waste of $150! Her mother refuses to take her side in the battles against nosy Aunt Mary because, as she puts it, "She means well."With no friends at school to turn to, Rosie finds comfort in the "secret lovers" hidden away in her room, actually, stashed under her bed: Mr. Hershey, Mr. Reeses, and Mr. M&M. When she is not working at her mother's beauty salon, she is suffocating her misery with food. What could make life worse for Rosie? The cruel taunts by the popular girls in the Bluebird Club? Having a crush on the star of all the high school athletic teams and knowing he could never like you? No, it would have to be finding out her mom has cancer.
Book talk: The mystery really starts with Sophie screaming in her seventh grade English class, and that was page one. Yes, the mystery really does get off to a great start that quickly. Sophie and her friends are not your ordinary seventh grade girls. They go to a private Catholic girls' school in New York City on the upper east side of Manhattan. These girls may all dress alike in their uniforms with the red blazers, but each brings something unique to the story. Margaret is über-brainy, and Rebecca is pretty quick with the wisecracks. Then there is the new girl, Leigh Ann. She's perfect, in every way, and she's probably after Raf, the guy that Sophie has known, like, forever, but whom she now seems to like in a different way . . . though she won't admit it. Then there is the mystery to solve, complete with a scavenger hunt that takes them all around the church in places they aren't supposed to be. You see, that scream led to Sophie meeting a wealthy, elderly lady trying to solve a 20-year-old puzzle. But there are other not-so-trustworthy people also trying to solve the puzzle. The Ring of Rocamadour is priceless; it's part of a pair of rings said to be a gift to a young couple centuries ago. In fact, the young couple's rings touched the famous veil used to wipe the face of Christ. the rings were passed down through the centuries, and those who wear the rings, it is said, are visited in their dreams by St. Veronica, who answers their prayers. The groom's ring was found in the ruins of a twelfth-century chapel near Rocamadour, France, and was donated to a museum. Sophie and her pals are looking for the missing Bride's ring. Could it be buried in the church? Could the clues really be from a long-lost birthday card? Read The Red Blazer Girls book one, and whatever you do, don't miss the catchy chapter titles. (They were some of my favorite parts of the book!)
Book talk:I noticed this book at the book store because of the cover. Computer code is written in binary code, a series of zeros and ones, and it wraps around not only the front, back, and inside of the cover, but also inside the book. Then I saw the authors' names and was even more interested. Jay Asher wrote Thirteen Reasons Why, and Carolyn Mackler is the the author of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. Both books are very popular here at North Side, so I guess I judged this book by its cover and its authors. Of course, none of that matters if the story isn't any good. No problem. This book was so good I literally could not put it down. I sat at the kitchen table and read the entire book. Let me assure you, that doesn't happen very often!Jay Asher writes the voice of Josh, who has lived across the street from Emma since they were just little kids. Carolyn Mackler speaks for Emma, who misses the times when she and Josh were the best of friends. All that changes six months ago, and things have, shall we say, been a bit awkward between them at times, and he hasn't stepped inside her house since that day. But as the story begins, Emma has finished setting up a computer her dad has sent to her. It's 1996 and technology has a long way to go to catch up to our times. Josh's mom has insisted he take over an AOL America Online) CD-ROM that came in the mail. After setting up an email account, a small white box with a blue border asks her to reenter her email address and password. Though it takes awhile, another web page loads, and at the top it says Facebook, which will not be launched for another eight years. as she tries to make sense of what she is seeing on the page, Emma studies the pictures and sees herself, 15 years in the future! And she doesn't like what she sees. She looks up Josh and he is there too, but his life looks a whole lot better than he could have wished for. In fact, he's married to one of the hottest girls at his high school, a girl he has never had the courage to even speak to! As the two of them get drawn into the future with Facebook, they learn that small changes in their present lives can cause ripples of change in their Facebook lives. Where are they headed? You will have to turn the pages as quickly as you can, like I did, to find out. Whatever you do, fight the temptation to skip to the final page!
Book talk: (8th grade only)I'm kind of mad that I read this book because now I'm hooked, and I don't want to be hooked on a series; I have too many other books I want /need to read. But, darn it, I got sucked in to the mystery.First off, there is a YA label on this series because of strong language and kids being in adult situations. I will just tell you that these are not nice girls; even some of their parents aren't nice, which explains some of the girls' behaviors. In the beginning I had a hard time liking any of them. I felt like I was looking at a catalog of designer labeled, high priced items while I was becoming more and more engrossed in the mystery of what happened to Ali. Here is my 40 word review:Five friends, Hannah, bulimic, Gucci sunglasses, kleptomaniac; Spencer, overachiever, Kate Spade handbags, steals sister's boyfriend; Aria, loves her English teacher, Pigtunia, NOT a follower; Emily, the good girl, Vanilla Coke, questioning her sexuality; Ali, dominating, knows their secrets, she's MISSING. Don't expect your questions to be answered by the last page, and don't expect to understand what they mean when they keep mentioning "The Jenna Thing." After all, it's a mystery!
Book talk:Describe a typical 8th grade guy, (Allow time for student responses.) Yeah, Theo Boone is definitely not your typical 13 year old. I'm not even sure if he would even be a typical 18 year old. You see, Theodore, or Theo as everyone calls him, has grown up around the law: his parents are both lawyers, he knows everyone who works at the local courthouse, he'd probably rather watch a trial at the courthouse than anything on TV. Oh, yeah, and his dog's name is Judge. In fact, Theo knows the law so well that his classmates come him for legal advice; actually, even the secretary at school went to Theo for legal advice. So it's really not surprising when Theo gets involved in the murder trial down at the courthouse. He gets permission for his government class to sit in on the first day in court. There they all hear about the murder of Myra Duffy, and about the suspected murderer, her husband. For Theo, this is the Super Bowl in the criminal justice system. And the courtroom is already becoming his turf. Don't expect the mystery to end on the final page. Theo Boone, kid lawyer, is just getting started.
Book talk:You hear it on the news and you can read about it in magazines like Sports Illustrated. There's cheating at all levels in athletics. There was the 12 year old that pitched a perfect game in the Little League World Series. Unfortunately, his birth certificate had been altered and he was really 14 and ineligible. And at the high school level, a report that was based on interviews across the country with 5,275 high school athletes, concluded that too many coaches are "teaching our kids to cheat and cut corners." Then there is the problem of steroid use all the way from teenagers to professional athletes. So you can see why the main character in Payback Time, Mitch True, would want to do everything possible to prove there is something suspicious going on with the high school football coach, a coach who wants to win the state championship so he can get himself noticed and get a college coaching job. As sports reporter for his high school newspaper, as well as a contributing reporter for the Seattle Times, Mitch is told not to report on anyone on the team except the star quarterback. And that means leaving out reporting about the transfer student who is obviously the best athlete on the team. What is Coach McNulty hiding? Perhaps an ineligible player who is really too old to be playing on the high school team? With some persistent investigating, Mitch and the school newspaper photographer Kimi uncover some startling information just as their high school gets ready to play in the state championship game. A story this big could land Mitch's name in top newspapers all over the country and insure him acceptance at a top college of his choice. And along the way, quite a few people will have their lives change forever. If you like a good mystery with lots of game-time action mixed in, Carl Deuker's Payback Tine is a great book for you.
Book talk:(This is book one in the Wingfeather Saga.)There is no problem understanding the literary device of foreshadowing if you read On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. Even the title seems to be a hint of all the bad things to come in this story of the three Igiby children and their trusty dog Nugget. This family, and all the people who live in the land of Skree, has a pretty good life, except for the constant fear of death and torture, that is. When the eldest Igiby, Janner, is allowed to take his younger siblings to the Dragon Day Festival by himself, he takes this responsibility seriously. In a village that must worry about the Black Carriage that takes children in the night, as well as giant Fangs of Dang, this is no small feat. Just when Janner starts to worry, he thinks to himself, "Nothing ever happens in Glipwood. Here we are at the Dragon Day Festival, and I'm a nervous wreck since the minute we arrived. Over nothing at all. What could possibly happen in just a few seconds?" It's not long before the Igiby family is in one constant battle for their lives. Family secrets, hidden jewels, a secret map, and an unknown hero that keeps saving them from the Fangs of Dang, are just a few of the things adding to the suspense. Thank goodness Pete the Sockman has Water from the First Well, and that Janner, Tink, and Leeli's mother is able to create her own recipe and make a fabulous Maggotloaf for a Fang named Gnorm! (Most of the footnotes are not necessary to the story and could probably be skipped)
Book talk:Honestly, Patrice has so much she could complain about. Certainly I know many people who complain about their lives who could never compete with Patrice. Why is she living with her aunt in Chicago? She had a good life with her grandma, living down south; well, that is, until her mom came and got her and took her back to Chicago. UNFINISHED