Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Postcard by Tony Abbott - A trip to Florida during summer break sounds pretty great, right? Not to Jason. He's stuck helping his father clean out his deceased grandmother's house, who he's never even met. The weather is unbearably hot and the neighbors are weird, making the whole trip seem like a chore until Jason discovers a postcard.
After receiving a strange and anonymous phone call about the postcard, Jason decides to follow the clue listed on it in hopes of finding something more entertaining than packing boxes. Through various clues on other old postcards that Jason finds, he discovers a manuscript written by a man named Emerson Beale, detailing a wild adventure and an ill-fated romance with his grandmother. Could Emerson be Jason's unknown grandfather?
The adventures and discoveries that ensue from this mystery are entertaining, though sometimes a little far-fetched and contrived. Even so, tweens and teens will enjoy this story, especially as summer begins to arrive. Recommended for ages 9 and up.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr - Jennifer Harris grows up as a lonely girl who is bullied by her peers for being overweight. None of her classmates at her elementary school will even talk to her -- except for Cameron. They become best friends and share every moment together, until Cameron and his family suddenly disappear. Though her mother tries to convince Jennifer that they likely moved away, she knows that Cameron wouldn't leave without saying goodbye, leading Jennifer to believe that he is dead.
After losing Cameron, Jennifer Harris switches schools, gains a new stepdad (and a new last name), and becomes Jenna Vaughn, a pretty and popular girl without a care in the world. That is, until Cameron suddenly shows up at her school, years later.
Zarr eloquently switches between past and present tense, giving great background into the reasons Cameron suddenly disappeared. It would be easy to make a story about childhood sweethearts seem trite or fluffy, but the character depth included in this novel will have teens relating to the difficulty of Jenna/Jennifer faces when she isn't accepted by her peers for who she truly is. Recommended for grades 6 & up.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Creature of the Night by Kate Thompson - Despite his mother's good intentions, 12-year-old Bobby can't help getting in trouble and running with a bad crowd. Bobby is soon stealing cars, drinking booze and getting noticed by the Dublin police. In a desperate attempt to save Bobby from ending up in juvenile custody, his mother moves the family to the Irish countryside.
But there's something not quite right with the house they move into. Bobby's little brother claims to see fairies and the last tenants mysteriously disappeared. Thompson's latest novel is sure to please teens that are looking for a creepy, hair-raising tale to read late into the night. Recommended for grades 7 and up.
Monday, May 11, 2009
My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow - School segregation has always been taken for granted by Louise and her mother, as well as the majority of the white residents living in the Ninth ward of New Orleans in the 1960's. And when it is ruled that schools should become integrated, Louise is pulled from school to protest and her mother becomes part of a vocal group, the Cheerleaders, which disagrees with integration and harrasses the school's first black student. Louise doesn't have much of an opinion either way until a visitor arrives at their boardinghouse, questioning their beliefs and way of thinking. Will Louise and her mother see the issue of integration in a new light once this Northern visitor shares his life with them?
This novel is thought-provoking and was hard for me to put down once I started reading. The issue of integration and racism during the 1960's is shown in an interesting and eye-opening way which will make the subject material appealing to teens. This title was nominated for the 2008 Michigan Thumbs Up! award. Recommended for grades 6 and up.