Saturday, November 25, 2006

Kiki Strike

Ananka Fishbein is living a milk-toast life. She goes to the tony Atalanta School in Manhattan, but isn't rich enough to fit in with the rich girls, and doesn't fit the scholarship bill either. She just keeps her head down, and tries not to get noticed.

Everything changes during class one day, when the students get asked the perenial question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The answers are obvious. Then Ananka hears one girl say, "Dangerous!". Who is this pint sized, white haired girl that Ananka hasn't noticed before?

The answer is, Kiki Strike. Soon Ananka's life is anything but milk-toast, as she and Kiki and four other girls are off exploring Manhattan's underground, getting in scrapes with Chinatown gangs, breaking into warehouses and warding off rats!

This is an adventure story of the best sort. Lots of twists and turns. Self reliant, capable girls. Espionage. A bit of back stabbing. And a lovely dash of NYC history thrown in as well.

I enjoyed this book tremendously, and cannot wait to put it in the hands of some 6th grade girls I know!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Mysterious Benedict Society

Go, Trenton Lee Stewart!

Reynie is off to take a test. An important test. A test for gifted children looking for "special opportunities". Reynie's tutor, Miss Perumal, thinks that Reynie is just the child to take said test. Reynie lives at an orphanage in Stonetown, and could use some "special opportunities".

But the whole test set-up is unlike anything that Reynie had expected. The questions seemed a bit odd...especially the last one. "Are you brave?" Just what is this test all about?

Reynie soon finds out as Sticky, Kate and Constance are the only children left after the series of tests. They are soon in the home of Mr. Benedict and his associates - Rhonda, Milligan, and Number 2, where they learn that the four of them have a mission to complete. Being the brightest children around, they need to infiltrate the local private school, and bring down "The Emergency".

Sound cryptic? It is.

The four children each bring something to the mix, and must work together to stop the evil Mr. Curtain from taking over the world.

Trenton Lee Stewart has written a timeless story about friendship, family and trust. Perfectly plotted, The Mysterious Benedict Society calls to mind a combination of Dahl and Bellairs. Just enough evil adults, mixed with a creepy and mysterious situation. The characters are over the top without being unbelievable, and the storyline is just James Bondesque enough.

The story is perfectly timeless in that modern day technology, slang and pop culture are left out all together. This could take place anywhere and anytime. I love that in children's books.

When this title comes out in March, I plan on purchasing it to keep aside for my daughters.

What fun!