- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
Best books reviewer Peggy Sharp ranked Sarah Week's Pie (AR 5.0, Level 5.6) as the number one book that she read in 2011. To find this title, try our wonderful Link+ system!
The cover is captivating for children. I know of a child who selected this book from the Scholastic book order because of the cover. This same child highly recommends this book; she could not put down the title until she finished it.
Don't be fooled by the funny cat cover because this book is definitely a page-turner. Well, I guess I should amend that since some adult mysteries do have funny pictures of animals on the cover! At its core, Pie is a mystery, but a non-traditional mystery. Don't expect spooky-doings!
Alice is heartbroken. Her favorite Aunt Polly is full of love and insight. However, Aunt Polly's untimely death leaves a void in Alice's life. Her Aunt knew that the path to happiness lay in finding one's true talent and sharing that talent with others. Alice's bitter mother has yet to learn this truth. Jealousy eats at Alice's mother, who makes everyone else miserable. Alice's mother is especially angry about the recipient of Aunt Polly's pie crust recipe: Lardo the cat! Alice and her friend Charlie seek to find out what is behind several disappearances through various hilarious misadventures.
Sarah Weeks is best known for her young adult novel, So B It. Personally, I have enjoyed her picture book series about Mrs. McNosh, beginning with Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash. I love authors who like to dabble in writing for different age groups. Ms. Weeks is especially gifted at knowing what will entertain different age groups. Read Pie not only for the story, but also for the pie recipes as well!
Early in their lives after the death of both parents, Homer and Harold, his older brother, are left alone, except for an uncle. This uncle, Squinton Leach, who is the husband of their mother’s late sister, hated everything and everyone.
When Uncle Squinton illegally sells Harold to the Union Army, conscription as it is known at that time, Homer is left to fend for himself. He knows he can’t stay with his uncle, so relying on his wits, telling many lies and some truth, Homer leaves the farm to try to locate his brother.
As he searches for Harold, Homer meets quite an assortment of people, both good and bad. There are the men trying to locate runaways slaves, the good rich Quaker helping the runaway slaves, a naïve minister, and two con artists. And that’s just the beginning of the story behind The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading (AR 5.0, Level 5.4) by Tommy Greenwald is a tribute to the author's three sons, who are all NOT fond of reading. This title is in the format of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: black and white cartoons, snarky main character, and offbeat secondary characters. While I read the book, I found it difficult to believe that Charlie Joe was able to get away with not reading for so long. However, after seeing his inventive genius, one can easily believe that he talked his way out of doing many things.
Charlie Joe's characterization is quite different from Greg Heffley, Nate Wright, etc., however. Charlie Joe is one of the popular kids who has a nice family and friends. The amusement in Charlie Joe's life derives from his list of ways that one can avoid reading.
The book is sure to reach reluctant readers in addition to avid readers who will find Charlie's tips hysterical. This book will reach readers who did not care for the uglier aspects of Greg Heffley's or Nate Wright's personalities. Charlie Joe is a good kid; he is just misunderstood.
Susanna and Pina, both eleven years old, live in an orphanage in Italy. The story takes place years after the end of the Second World War, while the country is still recovering from the devastation caused by the battles. Some of the girls living at the Istituto di Gesu Bambino (Institute of the Baby Jesus) are actually orphans, others have parents or relatives who could not care for them.
The nuns at the Instituto care for the children as best they can under difficult circumstances. There is little money. The nuns seek donations from the Allies who now occupy the city. The girls sing at funeral services and they crochet berets and baby blankets for the nuns to sell.
Things slowly begin to change at the Instituto when visitors come to watch the girls, some of whom are then adopted. Pina finds out she has a mother, here in Italy. Susanna learns that her own Italian mother died, but her father is an American! Will one of them be leaving soon? As Susanna and Pina learn more about their birth parents, each of them must find a way to accept that reality and realize that they may soon go their separate ways.
A glossary at the end of the book provides translations for the Italian words used throughout the book.
Raisha and five other members of her African tribe are kidnapped by a rival King and taken to a ship called “God’s Adventures.” Misnamed for sure, the ship is taking them from their home in Africa to the West Indies island of St. John. During the six month long trip, Raisha learns to speak Danish from the ship’s captain. Many of the captives die along the way, some from illnesses, others due to the poor food, still more washed away by the violent storms. But Raisha survives.
Upon arrival in St. John, Raisha and two fellow captives, Konje and Dondo, are sold to a Danish land owner. All three are given new names, Raisha is now known as Angelica, Konje is named Apollo and Dondo is called Abraham. And so begins Raisha's new life.
Mr. O’Dell based this novel on events surrounding the 1733-1734 slave revolt on the islands of St. John and St. Thomas.
Jeff Kinney's new Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever (No AR rating yet, but most likely in the 3.0 points and 5.2 range) will not be released until November 15, but kids are already chomping on the bit to find similar read-a-likes. This librarian must admit that I am also chomping on the bit, as well. Kids, you are so lucky because there is a whole range of similar titles!
Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants' novels are an old favorite (starting with Captain Underpants, An Epic Adventure (AR 1.0, Level 4.3), and very similar to the tone and style in the Wimpy Kid series. Follow fourth graders George and Harold and their transformed principal, Captain Underpants through various hilarious adventures.
Cressida Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon (AR 5.0, Level 6.6) series is about Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, a somewhat scrawny Viking, who somehow manages to succeed despite larger peers and opponents. Aided by his trusty sidekicks Toothless the dragon and Fishlegs, Hiccup can do no wrong!????
Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid (AR 3.0, Level 5.3), Lincoln Pierce's Big Nate (AR 2.0, Level 3.1) started as an online daily strip. This series is probably the most similar to Jeff Kinney's novels in style and tone. Nate Wright has a somewhat elevated image of himself that does not match reality. Kids will enjoy the problems that sixth grade faces. In the first novel, Nate finds himself getting detention for ALL of his classes. Find out why in this hilarious book!
Rachel Renee Russell has created a girl-centric series called Dork Diaries (AR 5.0, Level 5.4), which is like Jeff Kinney's books, except for girls. Personally, I did not find this title especially funny. However, my sounding board at home assures me that this is a very funny series of books. Some other girl-centric series include Dear Dumb Diary (AR 1.0, Level 6.1) and Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls (AR 6.0, Level 5.0).
Previously, I reviewed James' Patterson's Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (AR 4.0, Level 4.5), which is another title reflecting about the downsides of middle school.
It's been about 2.5 years since The Last Olympian (AR 13, Level 4.3) came out. Since then, a mediocre movie and two books in the Kane Chronicles (Red Pyramid AR 18, Level 4.5; Throne of Fire (AR 17, Level 4.8) have come and gone. Carter and Sadie Kane are good characters, but I sure did miss the spunky adventures of Percy, Annabeth, and his friends!
As revealed in The Lost Hero (AR 19, Level 4.5,) there is a Roman camp. The Roman camp is the counterpart of the Greek camp, Camp Half-Blood. Camp Jupiter is where Percy soon finds himself after being chased by several undying monsters in The Son of Neptune (AR 17.0, Level 4.7). Like Jason, Percy has been mind-wiped by Juno. Joined by Hazel and Frank, Percy must save Death. The heroes venture to our northern-most state to find Gaea's minions, who are confident that the great Percy Jackson will finally be conquered! Once again, Riordan has created a "can't put it down" novel that Percy Jackson fans will enjoy.
The Lost Hero was the first Riordan children's novel told from the third person point-of-view. I was used to the first person point-of-view in the original Percy Jackson series, so I had to quickly adjust my perspective! Riordan is also using another storytelling technique he used in the Kane Chronicles: multiple points-of-view. If you enjoy fan fiction (fanfiction.net,) this is a technique commonly used to tell stories from the point-of-view of secondary characters. This technique is especially useful in this series because there are seven heroes who are central to the guiding prophecy. Through this storytelling device, I have become familiar with the perspectives of Jason, Piper, Leo, Hazel, and Frank. In the upcoming third book, we will finally see the story from Annabeth's perspective.