Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Case of the Missing Marquess

I was never an avid reader of mysteries when I was younger, but now I find myself drawn to them time and time again. The Case of the Missing Marquess is one of the best I have come across in a while!
Imagine your mother leaving you. On your birthday. With not so much as a goodbye. This is the situation that Enola is facing.
Enola's mother is not the typical Victorian mummy. She does not see why Enola should be corseted up, and thinks that she can do perfectly well without male companionship. She even named Enola because of this (Enola is alone backwards).
Once it is clear that Enola's mother is not to return, the girl summons her much older brothers for advice. Mycroft and Sherlock. Perhaps you have heard of one of them?
That's right. Enola's brother is none other than Sherlock Holmes. If he can't find Enola's mother, who can?
There are more mysteries within the story than just the missing Mrs. Holmes, but this is the story that crosses the entire book. (And into the next, I am sure). The beauty in this title is in the details. Chock full of feminist thought, class issues, as well as adventure, The Case of the Missing Marquess is an easy sell to mystery aficionados, but a likely crossover to those kids who like adventure as well. And maybe a small sized step to take before some Sherlock Holmes!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Hugo lives in the train station in Paris, and is the time-keeper. The only thing is, nobody knows. After his own clockmaker father died in a tragic fire, Hugo's gruff Uncle pulled him out of school, and made Hugo his own time-keeper apprentice. Hugo's uncle starts disappearing for longer and longer stretches of time, until one day, he doesn't come home at all.

What can Hugo do, but continue setting the clocks, and living in Uncle's tiny apartment in the station? He collects Uncle's paycheques so that the Station Inspector is none-the-wiser to the situation.

Everything changes for Hugo when one day, while stealing a wind-up mouse from the toy booth, he is caught. The man who runs the toy booth threatens to call the Station Inspector and takes from Hugo the one thing that he has left from his father - his notebook with the illustrations of the automaton that his father found in the museum attic. The man who runs the toy booth, and Hugo, are connected in a way that neither could fathom. With twists and turns too intricate to describe, Selznik takes readers on a journey about history, cinema, and the meaning of family.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret looks like a daunting book. It is as thick as J.K Rowling's works. The pages of Hugo, however, are filled with Selznick's amazing illustrations that call to mind the work of Chris Van Allsburg. Part of the story is actually told through the illustrations, quickening the pace of reading considerably. A beautiful and enchanting story that is destined to become a classic.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Aurora County All-Stars

I love Deborah Wiles' stories. The Aurora County All-Stars is no exception! She has this incredible way of making me feel the small town in such a way that makes me yearn for a sleeping porch, and want to start canning some fruit!

This is a story about baseball, poetry and family. House Jackson is sitting in the room with 88 year old Mr. Norwood Rhinehart Beauregard Boyd when he takes his last breath. House calls the town doctor, and then high tails it out of there. Why did he leave so quickly, and what was he doing there in the first place?

House's first love is the baseball team that he and best friend Cleebo Wilson head up. Every year they have one official game against the team from the neighbouring county. Last year House had to miss the game. His arm was broken, you see. Broken because of none other than Frances (call me Finesse) Schotz and her modern dancing. This year, House is ready and he can't wait for the game.

But the town Mamas have another plan. They want all of their sons and daughters to be in a pageant celebrating the town's history, because golden son and soap opera actor Dr. Dan is coming back into town. And who is going to direct this play that just happens to fall on the same day as the annual baseball game? Miss Finesse Schotz, that's who!

What follows is a beautifully layered story about family history, death, memories, poetry and baseball. And all of the characters cast : House, Cleebo, Honey, Frances, Ruby Lavendar (!), Leonard, and all of the townsfolk, have a magic to them. This is a quiet sort of story that will stay with the reader for a long time.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


I have posted a question over at Booktopia.

I would love the take of any reader's over here as well!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake

Thanks to Brad, her mother's new boyfriend, Gilda is now all set to attend the swanky Our Lady of Sorrows private school. Gilda had wanted to apply on a whim. Now that the pink uniformed experience is right in front of her, she isn't sure she really wants to go!

After a tour of the school, she changes her mind. From creepy Velma Underhill, to the fact that the school looks like an old castle...there are things about this place that give Gilda that hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck feeling that can only mean this is the perfect place for a psychic investigator such as herself.

Turns out, one of the students drowned in the lake on campus 3 years earlier. Gilda knows that she is the one to solve this mystery. But what if there are girls around who do not want the mystery solved? Girls that may have had something to do with poor Delores' demise?

Add to the mystery Gilda's unwanted, school chosen big sister Marcie, her mom's loser boyfriend, and an English teacher with the amusing name of Mr. Pante (pantay....not panty!), and readers are in for another Gilda adventure that is sure to please. There is just something about Gilda that I love. She is her own girl, wonky yet somehow sophisticated.

I am definitely looking forward to more in this series.