Posts Tagged ‘junior fiction’

Half a Chance

July 8, 2014

Half a Chance CoverHalf a Chance

By Cynthia Lord

12-year-old Lucy loves photography and longs to have her talents noticed by her father, a famous nature photographer.  When the opportunity to enter a photography contest for young people arises, Lucy eagerly grabs it. Unfortunately, as Lucy discovers, there is one problem….her father is the contest judge which will probably make her ineligible.  However, with her father away for the summer on assignment shooting photographs in Arizona, Lucy decides to take this opportunity anyway and chronicle her summer at the lake in New Hampshire where they have recently moved.   Along with her new friend Nate, the boy from the cottage next door, Lucy captures photos of the family of loons on the lake, as well as, Nate’s family and their adventures kayaking and hiking the beautiful New Hampshire outdoors.  As Lucy comes to know Nate and his family, her camera unexpectedly reveals truths that his family doesn’t want to see – his beloved grandmother’s slow decline into Alzheimer’s.

The sweetness and honesty of Lucy’s captured moments on film emphasizes the importance of savoring every moment and enjoying it in the present – a lesson no one is ever too young to learn.

Recommended for grades 4 through 6.

Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)

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The School For Good and Evil

July 4, 2014

91g5CWQ+J+L._SL1500_The School for Good and Evil

By Sonan Chainani

I never liked the black and white generalizations for ‘good’ and ‘evil’, so the author made several points to ‘not judge a book by its cover’ and look deeper into the individual characters. This is a book makes YOU, the reader, come to the conclusion on the true meaning of good (friendship, loyalty, etc) and evil (selfishness, vanity, etc). This book has romance, jokes, lessons, imaginary worlds, and adventure. I enjoyed the jokes, laughed at the characters, and cheered on for the ‘villain(s)’.

Recommended for preteens and teenagers (10+) and for those who like books like Harry Potter.

Look out for part two in the series by Soman Chainani: A World Without Princes.

Dorothy S. (Schimelpfenig)

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Cool Beans – The Further Adventures of Beanboy

July 3, 2014

Cool Beans – The Further Adventures of Beanboy

Lisa Harkrader

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the second book about Tucker McBean and his superhero creation, Beanboy, because I enjoyed the first one so much.  No one gives the Art Club any respect at school, so Tucker and his friends try to prove their worth in an all-school assembly.  Then Tucker decides that the Art Club will enter the annual dodge ball competition at his school and their team name will be The Artful Dodgers.  He really enters the competition because his younger brother, Beecher wants the helmet that is the prize for winning the competition.  In order to generate some enthusiasm, Tucker creates a new Beanboy superhero comic strip and uses it to recruit more players for the less-than-athletic art club team.  This is another great story with memorable characters from Lisa Harkrader.

Cool Beans is great to recommend to kids who have outgrown Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate.  It is also a great transitional book between graphic novels and traditional novels.

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Under the Egg

June 27, 2014

large_Under_the_Egg-copy[1]Under the Egg

by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Thirteen-year-old Theodora Tenpenny doesn’t have it easy. The sudden death of Jack, her beloved grandfather, has left Theo with less than $500.00 in the bank account and no chance of more money coming in, and Theo’s mother is well on her way to blowing it all on expensive teas. So Jack’s dying words to “look under the egg” and a mention of “treasure” spur Theo to discover the secret behind her museum security guard grandfather’s very first painting–an egg, which has been displayed above the mantle in their house as long as she can remember. Does she have a valuable long lost painting by a master on her hands? And if so, where on earth did it come from and how on earth did Jack get it?

With some help from a couple of new friends, Theo explores New York and delves into her grandfather’s past and the history of one of the most famous artists in the world.

Part mystery, part adventure, and part tale of friendship and family, art and history, Under the Egg is well worth a read for fans of The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler!

Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)

 

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The Miniature World of Marvin & James

June 13, 2014

The Miniature World of Marvin & James written by Elise Broach and illustrated by Kelly Murphy

This beginning chapter book (with really large text size and plenty of sepia-toned drawings) is quirkily charming and perfect for a reader just starting chapter books.

It features characters from the author’s novel, Masterpiece, which I have not read, so this was my first introduction to the boy James and his best-buddy beetle named Marvin. In this story, James goes away for a week so Marvin is forced to play with beetle cousin, Elaine. Their adventure inside a pencil sharpener where they frolic in pencil shavings and nearly get caught, is great fun!

This is the first in a new series.  I am looking forward to reading more.

If you think you or your child would like this book, leave a message in the comments section below for a chance to win a free, hardback copy of the book!  One winner will be chosen at random on Friday, June 20, 2014.

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The Islands of Chaldea

June 12, 2014

The Islands of Chaldea

Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones

The Islands of Chaldea is a fun adventure about a girl named Aileen who comes from a magical family. As a part of initiation she is to go into a cave and have a vision but alas no vision comes. She begins to believe she lacks magical powers. However, she soon finds herself on a quest with her Aunt Beck, Prince Ivar, Ogo (the servant to Prince Ivar) to find Ivar’s older brother and Aileen’s father who have been kidnapped. In order to get to the fifth island they must take at least one person from each of the other four islands. Along the way Aunt Beck gets cursed, they meet Aileen’s father’s relatives and have a grand adventure. This is a story that will make you laugh and read until you finish!

For ages 8-12 years old

Reviewed by April (Parr Library)

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A Snicker of Magic

June 5, 2014

A Snicker of Magic Cover

A Snicker of Magic

By Natalie Lloyd

Do you have a favorite special collection?  12-year-old Felicity Pickle does.  But it’s not a typical collection. Not coins, not baseball cards, not stamps or even cute stuffed animals.  Felicity Pickle collects words – not just any words but magical words. These are words that she can see everywhere…on people, in the trees, in the air, even in food.  The words she sees sparkle and curl and dance through the air. They can be polka dotted and even have wings! They can hover over family, friends and even strangers.  Some are real words and others are imaginary but Felicity collects them all in her little blue book.

Felicity, her mother and sister are wanderers.  They move from place to place until her mother gets the “itch” to move on. Felicity and her sister hate moving all the time since they never stay long enough in one place to make friends. This changes for the better, however, when their van rolls into Midnight Gulch, Tennessee.  Midnight Gulch feels like home…not just because their mother grew up there but because they finally have family and new friends.  This is a town that used to be “magical”, much like Felicity. It’s residents had “magic in their veins”. Unfortunately, a curse caused by 2 dueling magician brothers drove the magic away leaving only “a snicker of magic” behind.  What’s a “snicker of magic”?  According to Jonah (Felicity’s new best friend and my favorite character!), it’s “magic that’s leftover”. It’s wonderful and happy magic – magic that can be found in such places as an ice cream flavor that will enable you to remember the memories and emotions of the past.

A Snicker of Magic is an example of storytelling at its best.  It is packed with quirky and loveable characters with remarkable stories, unusual language and, and heartfelt emotions.  It is a tale of wonder and hope and the magic that can be found in the human heart.  It is hard to believe that this is the author’s first novel!  I highly recommend it to students in grades 4 through 6 especially to fans of Savvy by Ingrid Law.

It’s “SPLENDIFEROUS”!

Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)

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Sure Signs of Crazy

June 4, 2014

Sure Signs of Crazy

By:  Karen Harrington

 

Eleven-year-old Sarah Nelson is a survivor.  She survived her mentally ill mother’s attempt to drown her and her brother, Simon when they were two.  Simon was not as lucky.  This story is told in the first person in Sarah’s strong, humorous, and honest voice.  As the story opens, Sarah’s teacher challenges the class to keep up their writing skills over the summer by writing to someone in a journal.  Sarah decides to write to Atticus Finch, the father she always wished she had.  Her father does the best he can, but he drinks too much and usually forgets her birthday.  As her twelfth birthday approaches, Sarah is hoping to make some changes in her life.  She and her father have moved from town to town to escape the gossip that follows them.  Sarah wants to stay in one place and she convinces her father to let her escape her usual boring summer in Houston with her grandparents in favor of staying in Garland for the summer.  She spends her days with her college-student neighbor, Charlotte and Charlotte’s brother, Finn.  Sarah doesn’t remember much about her mother and fears that her insanity is genetic, so she carefully monitors herself for “signs of crazy.”  She wonders if writing to Atticus Finch or talking to a plant qualifies as crazy.  Despite the sad premise of this book and the difficulties faced by Sarah, the story is surprisingly funny and upbeat.  Sarah is resilient and hopeful and readers will root for her until the end of the story.

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Operation Bunny

June 3, 2014

operation bunnyOperation Bunny (Wings & Co., Book 1)
by Sally Gardner
illustrated by David Roberts

Emily Vole has always been a little bit different from most girls. You could say it all started when she was mistaken for a bomb. But no bomb was she, just a little three-month old baby left abandoned with a cuckoo clock in a hatbox at the main terminal of the Stansted Airport. Life since has been nothing but a misery. Adopted by a dreadful couple who relegate Emily to the cooking and cleaning once they have their very own triplets, Emily has never really known love or friendship. Emily passes the time dreaming up stories of her real parents, and thinking on the day when she will run away to find them.

Then, on a Very Wonderful Day, while outside collecting the laundry from the clothesline, Emily takes a topple into the next door neighbor’s garden only to meet a man-sized, standing-on-two-legs, talking cat named Fidget, and the magical Miss String. Life after is nothing but an adventure, full of mystery and magic, dangerous witches, flying keys, fairies, and a bounty of pink rabbits!

With its charming pen-and-ink illustrations, magical elements, and dim-witted and sometimes mean-spirited adult characters, Operation Bunny may remind some readers of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Happy readers will find themselves looking forward to the next adventure in store for the Wings & Co. Fairy Detective Agency, which is due out mid-September 2014.

Recommended for ages 7 to 12.

(Jocelyn, Davis Library)

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The Riverman

May 27, 2014

indexThe Riverman

By: Aaron Starmer

Alistair Cleary lives in a small town where everyone knows each other.  One day, Fiona Loomis, a neighbor girl his age, shows up on his doorstep with a peculiar request: she would like him to write her biography.  She tells him the story of Aquavania, a place she found once when she was in the basement of her house.  Aquavania is almost like Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland or C.S. Lewis’ Narnia.  However, in this story it is a place where stories are born.  The rules of Aquavania depend on the child, but it is not until reading further that one realizes that Aquavania has a darker subtext.  Even more perplexing to Alistair is a creature Fiona describes, the Riverman, who is stealing the souls of children.  Fiona fears she is next.  Will Alistair believe her or will he find out the truth behind the stories?

This book is categorized within junior fiction.  However, as a disclaimer, I think those that are middle school age and older would be the ones to truly appreciate this ambiguous and original story.  If you like Neil Gaiman’s Coraline or The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, you will enjoy this book.

Note: this book is considered the first in a trilogy.

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

 

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