Saturday, March 17, 2012

Remarkable, by Lizze K. Foley

Remarkable is a town that is filled with remarkable people and remarkable things.  Everyone is pretty much the best at what they do, and special talents abound.  As the front cover reads, "Welcome to the town of Remarkable where every day in this remarkable place filled with remarkable people is positively remarkable for absolutely everyone except Jane".

Poor Jane.  Born to remarkable parents and wedged in between a remarkable older brother (Anderson Brigby Bright Doe III - excellent painter in the style of photo-realism) and a remarkable younger sister (Penelope Hope Adelaide Catalina -- a remarkable mathematician) Jane is an average kid.  She is used to being overlooked and underestimated, and she takes this in stride.  Only her Grandfather Jonathan is less remarkable than she.

Jane is spending her lonely days as the only student at the public school (the rest of the children go to the Gifted school) when a couple of events start some big changes in motion.  First off, there are the Grimlet twins.  They are a nefarious brother/sister duo who are always up to no good.  They adore loud noises and chaos, and always have a plan in the works.  They have been trying their darnedest to land themselves in public school, and their latest prank proved just the thing.

Next is the arrival of the pirates.  First came Captain Archibald Rojo Herring, who seems rather obsessed with the new bell tower that is being constructed as a part of the post office to keep it from being so ordinary.  Following the Captain,  stinky Jeb, Ebb and Flotsom land in Remarkable making the pirate population quite unacceptable.

What follows is an adventure exploring the idea that things aren't always what they seem.  With a missing composer, unrequited love, a lake serpent, a public school teacher with a secret identity, and plenty of shenanigans, readers will have a rip roaring time figuring out what makes Remarkable tick.  Over-the-top characters will have you laughing out loud, and readers are sure to cheer for Jane and those Grimlets in equal measure.  Fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society as well as Lemony Snicket should approve.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Humming Room, by Ellen Potter

Roo is a crafty kind of girl.  When she doesn't want to be found, she heads beneath her father's trailer where she can look at her treasures and put her ear to the ground and listen to the earth.  It is here where readers are introduced to Roo, as her neighbor Mrs. Quick is talking to the police about what happened above her.  The officer tells Mrs. Quick that Roo has an uncle (a rich one) who is willing to take her in. This is news to Roo, as she has never been told about any's always been Roo, her father and a various string of girlfriends.

After a short stint in foster care, Roo is gathered up by her Uncle's assistant Ms. Valentine.  They travel to the island of Cough Rock on the St. Lawrence where her uncle lives in the old St. Theresa's Children's Hospital.  Roo is not so happy with the boat ride as she has never learned to swim.  Once she arrives, she realizes that the water is the least of her worries.  Her uncle wants nothing to do with her, she is forbidden from entering the East Wing of the building, there are the unexplainable sounds, and before long she is under the eagle eye of her tutor Mrs. Wixton who loves to gossip about Roo's family.

But Roo is a wily one, and rules have never really applied to her, and she soon learns to evade Mrs. Wixton and uncover some of the secrets of Cough Rock.

Inspired by The Secret Garden, The Humming Room is a ghost story of sorts coupled with Roo's coming of age.  Ellen Potter has written a creepy story that ultimately has hope at its heart.