Thursday, October 29, 2009

Clipboard Thursdays - What Our Tweens Are Reading

Enola Holmes, by Springer

Warriors, by Hunter

The Name of this Book is Secret, by Bosch

Pippi Longstocking, by Lindgren

The Supernaturalist, by Colfer

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Sisters Club: Rule of Three

Middle sister Stevie Reel knows that there really is a rule of three. Everything seems to come in threes. There are three sisters in her family, and that’s not all. As she says, “Think about it: Red, white, blue. Snap, crackle, pop. Bacon, lettuce, tomato.” (p.1) Sometimes Stevie is a bit jealous of her friend Olivia who doesn’t have to live in the midst of a three sister family, since she is an only. She doesn’t have to worry about living up to the idea of herself just because that’s who people think she’s supposed to be.

For example, Stevie’s older sister Alex is the actor of the family. The Reel’s are all dramatic in their own ways, but Alex typically gets the lead in every school play. Her whole existence seems so scripted that she even acts out dialogue with her Sock Monkey in order to work through her personal drama.

Little sister Joey is a bit of an instigator as well as a list maker, a girl with a cause (Locks for Love), and currently is obsessed with the book Little Women. She is also in the unique position as the secret keeper, since both older sisters come to her to complain about each other!

Stevie is the baker. Her frustrations and worries get channeled through the creation of such recipes as “Don’t-Bug-Me-I’m-Baking” cupcakes, or “I-Hate-My-Sister” cupcakes. She likes baking so much that she is hoping to enter her local cake off, and maybe even win a prize.

So there they are: three sisters, with three roles to play.

But identities have a way of shifting, and when the new school play is decided to be Once Upon a Mattress, Alex decides she is sick of musicals, and Stevie, who loves to sing, thinks that this might be the time that she wants to stick her toes in the waters of acting. After all, she does have the voice, if she doesn’t have the acting skills. When Stevie decides to go out for the play, and Alex decides that she wants to audition after all, the family will be facing sibling rivalry like never before!

Megan McDonald has written a fun and breezy read for tweens. Chapters alternate and highlight each sister’s unique voice. Alex’s voice is shown in script form, Joey’s is lists, diagrams and statistics, and Stevie is given the voice of straight prose. There are all kinds of magazine style fun facts throughout (like the fact that a bunch of gnus are called an implausibility), and Little Women related quizzes. It’s a quick read, and the age range of the sisters mean that readers will most likely find somebody to identify/sympathize with.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Diary of A Wimpy Kid 4: Dog Days

Greg is back and this time he has to survive summer. He has no real problem with summer since he is a self-described “indoor person”. He’s ready to spend his days with the curtains closed playing video games. Unfortunately, his mom has other ideas.

Greg has already spent part of the summer with Rowley at the country club, talking to the ladies and ordering up fruit smoothies. But he got uninvited as soon as he let Rowley’s dad know just what was wrong with the place (like the time the waiter forgot his little umbrella in his smoothie!). Now his mom is trying to convince him to come to the town pool with her and Manny. The problem with the town pool is the showers. You have to walk through them to get to the pool. And they tend to be filled with naked old guys. Greg would rather pass.

Mom’s next big idea is a reading club with all of the neighbourhood guys. When she asks them to bring books they would like to discuss, some of the titles that arrive are: SUDOKU INSANITY, ULTIMATE VIDEO GAME CHEATS, GREEN WASP, AND XTREME POP-UP SHARKS! Greg’s mom deems all of these too violent and suggests some classic titles, like Little Women, The Yearling, Old Yeller, and Anne of Green Gables! Guess how many guys make it to the second meeting?

Jeff Kinney has once again written a laugh-out-loud funny book that appeals to such a broad spectrum of readers. My adult self was laughing out loud as are the tweens that I see reading this. We all have had endless summers that include chores, car trips, and family drama. The vignette style keeps reluctant readers going and voracious ones satisfied. The illustration to text ratio is perfect, and Kinney’s illustrations are spot on as always with my favourites being of Greg in the beauty shop!

Fun, fun, fun.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clipboard Thursdays - What Our Tweens Are Reading

Checked out on the clipboard this week:

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, by Messner

Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire, by Ferber

NERDS: National Espionage Rescue and Defense Society, by Buckley and Beavers

The Twilight Zone: The After Hours, by Sterling

Twelve, by Lauren Myracle

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cybils 2009

I am happy to once again be a part of the Cybils Awards! This year I am going to be judging middle grade fiction, along with the folks from Shelf Elf, Educating Alice, The Excelsior File and Wagging Tales! I've been keeping track of the nominations, and I have to say, I am very excited!

If you haven't nominated any titles yet, head on over now!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dani Noir

"What would Rita Hayworth do?" is a question that Dani often asks herself. She is spending the summer in her upstate New York town where she often has no bars on her cell phone and is dealing with her own family drama which is including her parent's recent divorce.

Dani loves immersing herself in the noir movies that are being shown all summer at the Little Art theater. She adores Rita Hayworth's ways, and loves the predictability of the shadow laden stories up on the screen. As soon as the credits roll and Dani is back to reality she finds a certain amount of dissatisfaction with her life, until a bit of a real life mystery presents itself. Dani's friend and former babysitter Elissa is dating the projectionist at the Little Art, so why is there a girl with polka-dotted tights who is definitely NOT Elissa, hanging around?

Dani clings to this new real life mystery as a way of escaping her weepy mother, and the reality of her cheating father. Her focus zooms in so tightly on figuring out the polka-dotted tights girl's identity that she doesn't think about who might get hurt along the way.

Nova Ren Suma has written an interesting and thoughtful novel that is character driven in the best way. Dani is very much 13 years old, and her resentment of her father is real and raw. As a reader, I found myself hoping that she wouldn't make some of the choices that she did, but they were the choices that a 13 year old would make. The integration of today's social networking technology fit the story and does not feel forced at all. I read this book in arc format a month or so ago, and it has been on my mind. Nova Ren Suma has managed a certain authenticity with Dani, and while this isn't a title that I found myself gushing about, it has been simmering and simmering. Certainly a sign that it will stand the test of time.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Clipboard Thursdays - What Our Tweens Are Reading

A few titles from this week's clipboard!

Rapunzel's Revenge, by Hale

The Thief Lord, by Funke

The Transall Sagg, by Paulsen

If We Kiss, by Vail

Huge, by Paley

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Luv Ya Bunches

On the surface, Violet, Katie-Rose, Camilla and Yasaman seem to have little in common outside of the fact that they all are in fifth grade at Rivendell Elementary School. Katie-Rose is a film buff who if truth-be-told, tries a little too hard. Violet in the quintessential new girl with a bit of a secret. Yasaman is the only fifth grader who wears a hijab. And Camilla is just on the edge of the queen bee crew next to Modessa and Quin. But school life has a way of throwing people together, and soon their lives are indeed intertwined.

Katie-Rose went to pioneer camp over the summer with Camilla (Milla for short), and is hoping that they can be friends inside school as well. She knows that Milla hangs out with queen bees Modessa and Quin, but Katie-Rose is sure that Milla doesn't really belong with them. After all, Milla is the nice one of the bunch.

Yasaman is the kind of girl who keeps to her self and stays out of trouble. Over the summer, she went to a computer camp and actually came up with her own social network. Kind of like facebook, but private to those who join. Too bad she doesn't have anyone to join. And too bad she can't come up with a better name for it than!

Katie-Rose meets new girl Violet the very first day. As she is directing Violet to her next class, she accidentally causes a big collision between Milla and Yasaman. Violet gets a taste for the school hierarchy as Modessa and Quin come by calling Yasaman Spazaman while they help Milla gather up the contents of her spilled knapsack. Violet is surprised when Katie-Rose disappears instead of helping Yasaman out.

Milla soon discovers that something from her knapsack is missing. Her favorite toy turtle named Tally is gone! He's a bit of a security blanket for Milla and she's devastated by the discovery. Will she ever get him back? Or a better question to ask is whether or not Tally is actually "lost".

Soon all four girls are tangled up in the push-pull of fifth grade friendships. Milla isn't really happy with Modessa and Quin's nasty ways, but she's not sure she's ready to be friends with Katie-Rose and Yasaman, who by now have found each other. Violet is playing it cool with Modessa and Quin while she tries to figure out what to do about the predicaments that she is in at home and at school. Will these four manage to get together to shield each other from the mean girls?

Told as only Lauren Myracle can, Luv Ya Bunches is a pitch perfect tween read. Told in alternating chapters and using screen play and IM format as well as traditional prose, readers get a bird's eye view of each of the girls as they muddle their way towards one another. I sat down and thought to my adult self if four such diverse characters were a little too convenient, if you know what I mean, and I decided that convenience was not a factor. These girls are all geeked out in their own way, whether it be over computer code, film, pioneer camp, bobble headed toys or just being the new girl. There's a definite connection between the characters that shines through. Myracle will also have her audience in fits of giggles over things such as bewitching girdles and dingleberries.

In stores 10/09.