Sunday, August 31, 2008


Mississippi Beaumont is awaiting her 13th birthday. That's the birthday when the savvy comes for her family. Mibs can't wait to figure out her savvy. Her brother Rocket has electricity, and her brother Fish has a powerful weather savvy.

The other good thing about 13 is homeschooling. Until the kids learn to scumble their savvies, Momma thinks it's best to keep them home. No more Hebron Middle School, and no more snarky comments from Ashley Bing and Emma Flint.

Then they get word about Poppa. Mib's world comes crashing down.

While Momma and Rocket speed away to Salina, Miss Rosemary -the preacher's wife - comes on over with her kids Roberta and Will to take care of the Beaumont clan. Mibs' little sister Gypsy has gone and told Miss Rosemary that Mibs is turning 13. Miss Roberta is determined to whip up a birthday party at the church for Mibs, and she won't take no for an answer.

When Mibs awakens on her 13th birthday, a couple of strange things happen that make her think she has figured out her savvy, and she knows more than ever that she has to make it to Salina and lay her hands on her Poppa. At the church, Miss Roberta's husband is yelling at a Bible salesman, and Mibs starts to hear some other voices as well. She leaves the church and sees the Bible man's pink bus, with a Salina address on the side. She knows how she will get to Salina. What she doesn't count on are the other kids. Roberta, Will, Fish, and little brother Samson are all aboard Lester's Bible bus when it leaves the church parking lot, and makes a turn away from, instead of toward, Salina!

What follows is a road trip adventure of the best sort. Friendships, families and savvies are at the forefront, as the children try to get Lester to speed up his trip to Salina and avoid the police who are soon looking for them at the same time.

I have to say, that this little book may be my favourite of the year thus far. Countrified charm, magical realism, a dash of romance, and a family that left me envious, all make for an utterly charming read. Ingrid Law's Savvy is a sweet book that will leave readers wanting more. Fans of Horvath and Wiles take note!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat is a book that I have always meant to read. In fact, I was supposed to read it this summer since I had the arc of Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls in my hot little hands. Well, it didn't happen, so I took a leap of faith and jumped right in to the second installment.

Emmy's life is back to normal, and she is trying to distance herself from the rodents. Afterall, who is going to want to hang out with a girl who talks to rats? She knows that it is thanks to the rats that she is back home and away from her awful Nanny Miss Barmy who was only interested in making off with her parent's money. But, Emmy wants to do regular 10-year-old things...things like sleep-overs, parties, going to the park, and make new friends. So when Emmy and best friend Joe are invited to a reception in Rat City, she isn't as happy as she could be.

First of all, she has to get bitten by a rat to shrink down to fit in Rat City. And there is the nasty business of old Miss Barmy being a rat herself now. Unlike Emmy, however, she cannot change her form back to human. What if Emmy runs into Miss Barmy? What will happen?

Now, Emmy isn't the only girl who Miss Barmy took care of. There was Priscilla, Ana, Berit, Lisa, Lee and little Merry. In Miss Barmy's care, they disappeared and their parents mysteriously died. But where are the girls? Closer than you may think.

Before Emmy knows it, she is smack dab in the middle of a mystery and a rescue mission. Lynne Jonell has done the difficult deed of making a second book comfortable to dive into. While I feel like I probably do not know Emmy as well as I would if I had read the first installment, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Readers will feel Emmy's growing pains, and the scenery of Rat City is painted in rich detail. From friendship to nail-biting rescue missions, to a hilarious gopher named Gus, adventure loving kids will not only eat this title up, but will most likely take a second look the next time they see a squirrel in the park!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Waiting for Normal

Addie has it tougher than most other kids, that is for sure. Her parents have split, and she is living with Mommers in the trailer that her step dad Dwight has given to them. When you think of trailers, you would probably think of a cute little trailer park with those wind daisies and picket fences? That's what Addie was thinking of when she heard about moving to the trailer. She was quite surprised to see it on an urban corner of Schenectady, with a gas station on one side, and an empty lot on the other. Not exactly paradise.

But Addie is the kind of kid that makes the best of things. She befriends the workers at the gas station (Soula and Elliot), and manages to make some friends at her new school.

She's not too surprised when Mommers starts staying out late. Sometimes she's gone for days, but Addie knows that her mom is working hard at getting a job. It's better than having her in the trailer chain smoking, surfing the Internet or watching Jeannette for the Judgement on TV. Addie also knows how to take care of herself. How to make food stretch. How to fool her Grandpa when he comes checking in.

Every now and then she gets to see Dwight and her half sisters. The thing is, they are all living in a mansion up in Lake George with Hannah. It's hard to Addie to be there for the weekend and then come back to an empty trailer.

Leslie Connor has written a touching story about a neglected girl who gets by. Addie's attitude is almost to good to be true. She rarely gets angry with her mother, even when a big old rage might be good for her. The outer characters of Soula and Elliot are scene stealers and really made this title come to life. I'd love to hang out in their gas station any day!

Waiting for Normal is a moving tween read. Many readers who think that their lives are "too normal" or "too boring" will curl up with this one and end up with quite a lot to think about.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Pull of the Ocean

This is why I love visiting the public library. This little gem of a book leaped off the shelves into my heart.

Yann Doutreleau is dragged home by Nathalie a social worker with the best intentions. He doesn't speak, at least not with words, so most people do not understand his wants and needs. One of Yann's older brothers (three sets of twins) tells the social worker that Yann's father threw his book bag down the well.

Upon arrival at the rundown homestead and meeting Yann's mother, Nathalie realizes that she has made a mistake. Yann's eyes tell her as much. Yann is yanked into the house and the door is firmly closed.

What follows is a person by person account of everyone who comes into contact with the seven Doutreleau boys on their quest to run away to the ocean. Tiny Yann, though the youngest, is the obvious leader of the group, and he leads his brothers out of their home into the rainy night.

From truckers, to writers, to nosey old women, to loafers, the story of the escape of the Doutreleau's comes forth.

Jean-Claude Mourlevat's Batchelder Award winning title is a gem of a story. This reworking of the Tom Thumb story is magically lyrical and sure to please. Each character as well as the French countryside come to life in the prose.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

All-Season Edie

Meet Edie. She's eleven years old and heading to the lake with her mom and dad, but without her sister Dexter. This summer Dexter's ballet camp conflicts with the family vacation, so she will be staying with Mean Meagan for the 2 weeks that the family is gone. Also, the lake is not exactly the Grand Canyon, but Grandpa just had a stroke, and Edie's dad doesn't want to be too far away.

The lake seems a bit boring at first, but soon Edie's imagination has her in swimming like a whale, and becoming Neptune. She also meets Robert. A fat kid who is at the lake with his mom and a man who is not his dad. Edie and Robert are soon on fishing expeditions, and watching movies. They are just starting to get to know each other when Edie's parents get a call and they leave the lake a whole week early.

Edie is distraught about her grandfather and decides that learning some magic might help him out. Not the bunny out of the hat variety, but the kind of spells that can make people sick or well.

We watch Edie navigate a year in her life as she discovers that the things she always thought were true, suddenly seem less than. Maybe Mean Meagan isn't so mean. Maybe grandpa really is sick. Maybe Edie doesn't hate dancing after all. And maybe Dex isn't so perfect.

This is a wonderful tween book. Annabel Lyon has written a character driven story that is authentic, charming and spot on. Bits of text had me laughing out loud...

"Wow," Robert says for the third time, and I see he's finally starting to believe me. "No kidding?" He squints at me, and I can tell he just thought of something else. "Do you always get caught?" he asks. "Don't you ever get away with anything?"
"No," I say. I figure getting away with something would be like catching a fish: it never really happens, not really.
p. 34.

The relationship between Edie and Dexter grows nicely throughout the book, as does Edie's relationship with herself.

A fun read for those who like to get to know their characters.

(And hey, I managed my first title on my Canadian Book Challenge!)