Thursday, August 16, 2007

Diary of a Fairy Godmother

Who can resist a cover like this?

Hunky Dory is, according to her mother, going to be the "wickedest witch wherever the four winds blow" . She is at the top of her class at Harbringer's Charm School for Young Witches. Not for long if Frantic Search has anything to do with it. That witch wants to take Hunky Dory down, and will stop at nothing to do so.

When Frantic gets wind of Hunky's soft spot for undoing spells, she exploits it by penning a wish fulfilling chain letter. Before Hunky knows what's what, she is out of her mom's home and on her own. And she is only one hundred years old!

So, Hunky is off on a search to find herself. Is she truly a witch at heart, or is she a bit more of a fairy godmother after all?

Esme Raji Codell has written a fun little romp of a fairytale send up. Any book that sites Hogwarts is okay with me. I wasn't sure if the witches name's would get to me (Hunky Dory, Frantic Search, Velvet Underground, Acid Reflux, Belladonna, Sinus Infection, Twisted Ankle), but after a bit of reading they didn't stand out as I had worried. Readers will recognize enough of the fairy tales to feel a connection, but will delight in Codell's departure from tradition.

Drazen Kozjan's illustrations are spot on, and if I were a tween, these girls would be doodles in the margins of most of my schoolbooks!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Home, and Other Big, Fat Lies

Whitney is trading in buildings for trees. She is headed from the city to Northern California, and foster home #12. #12 because of the top five complaints about Whitney from foster parents...

1. Big, sassy mouth

2. Too hyper

3. Doesn't always stick to the truth

4. Thinks she knows everything

5. Climbs everything (p.19)

A funny thing happens when she gets to her new school. There are 7 other foster kids in 6th grade alone. There is something about Forest Glen...the "downtown" is pretty much boarded up, and when Whitney hides in the closet listen to the social worker and her new foster mom talking, she gets the feeling that maybe she is just a paycheque after all. The logging industry that allowed Forest Glen to survive has been on the decline, in a large part due to environmentalist pressures.

Striker, her new foster brother, is very much an outdoorsy kid, and even though he threatens her, Whitney follows him into the woods. She has never felt so at home anywhere before. There's just something about the woods and the trees. Even the yellow banana slugs are kind of interesting if you pay attention to them! And there is one huge tree, Big Momma, that speaks to Whitney in a way that a city kid never imagined...scary but homey at the same time.

Soon Whitney is back in full foster mode. She has discovered over time that standing out is much better than blending in. Adopting her foster mom's nickname for her, Termite quickly tracks down the other fosters, and convinces them to take part in an after school science club. They explore the woods, and adopt a piece of highway to care for themselves.

All of a sudden, the down trodden parents of Forest Glen seem to be getting happy again. The kids soon learn that the logging is to start again. Looking at the maps, Big Momma is on the chopping block. Can a bunch of outsiders save a tree? Will the residents want to keep trouble making foster kids around once that $700 and change per month doesn't make such a difference?

I love Termite. She's an ADHD bundle of energy. She's annoying, loud-mouthed, and brash, but there is something endearing about her. She is a survivor, and really, she's got nothing to lose. She landed in the right family this time. Sometimes folks need a bit of shaking up.

I found this title by Jill Wolfson on the shelves of my local library, and will definitely be purchasing it for my school library. What a great companion to Joey Pigza, and a great read for girls or boys.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Plain Janes

badgeWhich PLAIN Jane Are You?
Brain Jayne
You're the brain of your BFF operation, but don't feel cornered into being just a smarty pants -- you've got way more to offer the world (and your crush!).
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Thanks, Liz!