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Archive for the ‘Juvenile Fiction’ Category

A Step From Heaven by An Na

Posted by hollybookscoops on October 3, 2011

The 2002 winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in Young Adult literature.

Young Ju comes with her family to America. As they fly in the plane, Young Ju thinks they must be going to Heaven. Her Uhmma seems so happy toa step from heaven go to this America, it must be as wonderful as Heaven. An Na’s language took me back to college days when I had 3 Korean roommates. Her subtle language reflects exactly the grammar idiosyncrasies of new immigrants (not in the whole book, but at appropriate places). We had so much fun playing around with different words and the sounds that were difficult for my roommates to pronounce. I remember helping with grammar on English papers and being frustrated because you can’t change a whole paper to sound all-American without taking out the personality of the author, and the heritage they carry.

So, back to the story . . . Young Ju is frustrated by the discrepancies between home life- and true ‘American’ life. Her parents have brought with them traditional Korean ways, which when contrasted with discussions at school, bring Young Ju much difficulty. Americans think it is okay to question everything, but at home Young Ju must not question, or she is disrespectful. This story drives home the importance of family togetherness and understanding. Definitely sad parts, and difficult topics (physical and alcohol abuse), but overall a story of hope in America and the American dream.

Posted in Books for Girls, Juvenile Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fiction | Leave a Comment »

Crispin The Cross of Lead and Crispin at the Edge of the World by Avi

Posted by hollybookscoops on March 4, 2011

crispin cross of leadCrispin: The Cross of Lead

I read and enjoyed this book many years ago, I re-read it just before reading the sequel, Crispin at the Edge of the World. A fascinating tale of murder and deception, the Cross of Lead traces the journey of a young boy struggling to discover who he is and why he has been proclaimed a “wolf’s head”, which means he can be killed on sight, no questions asked. Afraid to venture beyond the medieval village he has known his whole life, Asta’s son recognizes how little he knows when he meets the juggler named Bear. As Bear questions Asta’s son, and encourages him to use his own wit, Crispin learns that he has more potential than he ever imagined.

crispin edge of worldCrispin: At the Edge of the World

I enjoyed the sequel to the Cross of Lead, which follows the further journey of Bear and Crispin as they dare to sail away from England and escape the attackers who are hunting them without mercy. The people they find to help them along the way are genuine characters that add depth and perception to the story. Bear now acts as father to two children who trust him with their lives. Faced with impossible decisions and difficult situations, this is another successful spell-binding Avi tale. I look forward to reading the third and final volume of this planned trilogy!

Crispin: The End of Time

I was excited to find out what happened to Crispin in this, the last installment of the Crispin series. Crispin’s life has been one never-ending adventure since he left home as the wolf’s head in book one. The adventure continues in the foreign land he and Troth find themselves alone in. Set in a middle-ages environment, Crispin’s life story is fraught with danger and his life doesn’t slow down one bit in the last book! Once again escaping murderers and thieves, Crispin’s last tale will give readers the satisfying ending they desire and still leaves the door open for more tales, if Avi should change his plans. Avi has created a fun series for upper elementary students that will leave them with a great appreciation for the safety and security we enjoy in our civilized world!

Posted in Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Juvenile Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fiction | Leave a Comment »

We Made Out Like Bandits!

Posted by hollybookscoops on January 24, 2011

It’s been a busy new year, and before January is officially over, I wanted to mention how much we loved the books we got for Christmas! My family and I love books. We love to give them and get them. Well, except for my husband, who mostly loves to give them to me. After the wrapping paper was stuffed into bulging garbage bags, and we had a moment to breathe, I took an inventory: 31 Books! We had a Dragon book, a Flat Stanley book, 3 Star Wars sticker books, 4 Animorph series, some Beverly Lewis Amish books, and a few other adult books including Austenland, by Shannon Hale. Let’s see, what else? I knew I should have made a list. You can read about some of our very favorites below: Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth.

This one has been loved on as much as any little baby could love it. Literally! A few days ago, my little one was opening it and closing it, turning it upside down, trying to pull the ladybugs off one by one. And finally? I had to laugh when I saw him toss it on the ground and crawl across it, licking each ladybug to see how they tasted! Yes, I admit, he’s still under one, but this is some great hands on baby-lovin’ book reading! My 4-year-old  actually loves this book too, but he insists on reading it backwards, because he doesn’t think it’s proper to count backwards from 10. Never mind, that when the words say a ladybug ‘disappears’, and we turn back a page, one automatically appears. It’s almost like magic! I’ve tried changing the words, but it’s very hard to make them still go along with the pictures. Ahh! The challenge of reading to young minds who are determined to see the world their way. I highly recommend Gerth’s fun contribution to children’s literature. It’s definitely a top ‘flavor’ scoop at our house.

The really popular book with my 10-year-old was the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid

My two oldest boys were also thrilled to find that Santa Claus had given them each an LED flexible arm book reading light. I now have to confiscate them at night or else I end up finding out my little rascals didn’t go to sleep. Some nights I beg to borrow their lights so that I can read while I lay down by little brother to help him fall asleep. So far, my boys have been generous to share with me.

What books did you get for Christmas?

Posted in Board Books, Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Children's Literature, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Readers, News, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Posted by hollybookscoops on January 10, 2011

I recently enjoyed this poignant coming of age story about Lucia who grows up during the 1961 Communist Revolution in Cuba. Lucia’s innocent naivete is shredded bit by bit when soldiers come to her small town. Lucia and Frankie believe  their parents are being unreasonable in their demands that their two children stay home where they can be safe from the insanity that seems to have overtaken their beloved country.

Lucia’s best friend Ivette and her family fall hook line and sinker for the propoganda of the new Cuba, and Lucia struggles to find a balance between pleasing her parents and being a normal teenager who wants to hang with her friends and meet boys. Ultimately, Lucia and Frankie’s parents take drastic steps to save their children from the brainwashing that the government is performing on all young minds.

Readers will enjoy learning about this volatile time in Cuba’s history. I was very intrigued by the chapter headlines- each one is taken from a newspaper headline during that time period, adding significance and detail to Gonzalez’s first novel. I am impressed and look forward to what Ms. Gonzalez brings us next!

Posted in Books for Girls, Books for teaching history, Juvenile Fiction | Leave a Comment »

Gossamer by Lois Lowry

Posted by hollybookscoops on October 19, 2010

gossamerI wasn’t sure what to expect in this story about where dreams come from. I liked what I found. A quick, easy read but with two stories intertwined. One about the dream makers who gather bits and pieces of memories from the objects in our home and then bestow them upon us to give us the dreams we have. Littlest one is one of the dream makers in training and her touch is like gossamer. She defies rules and exceeds expectations to bestow dreams that offer hope and peace in the face of the Horde (the bestowers of nightmares). 

A quick note of awareness for parents and teachers: the boy in the story is in foster care and is dealing with the affects of an alcoholic, physically abusive father, and co-dependant mother, which will definitely offer great points of discussion for those who read the story.  I personally think Gossamer would give my fourth grader nightmares, but that it would be a great discussion book for junior high age kids. So, although some age recommendations go as low as 4th grade, I would rate it higher for content, and if you want to read it before your kids, it’s definitely captivating for adults as well.

Posted in Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Fantasy, Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction | 16 Comments »

The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley

Posted by hollybookscoops on December 3, 2009

folk keeper

It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I found it rather interesting. The Folk Keepers protect villagers from the scary, creepy cave-folk. Corinna has disguised herself as a boy so that she can become a Folk Keeper, a position reserved for males. When Corinna is recruited as the new Folk Keeper for Mablehaugh Park, Corinna learns a lot about herself and her power to hurt or help others. I was intrigued by the last few chapters of the book, and wished for more detail, but found it a bit elusive where I wanted it and more prolific in areas I wasn’t expecting.

This one didn’t hit the top of my list and I almost stopped reading a few times- I’m not sure really why, boredom factor or if I just wasn’t getting the whole folk keeper thing at first. It isn’t really until the end of the book that you get a handle on what the ‘folk’ really are, but then I guess that was supposed to be part of the whole mystery/intrigue part. I hate to sound like this is a negative review, because it really isn’t, it’s just not my favorite book, although I feel that it’s a better way to pass the time than watching tv.

Posted in Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Fantasy, Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Posted by hollybookscoops on October 21, 2009

hattie big skyHattie Brooks is full of hard work and determination. Orphaned at a young age and forced to bounce among relatives, Hattie is surprised when an uncle’s will appears and offers her a new start- on her own in Vida, Montana. Hattie rolls up her sleeves and digs into the dirt to prove up her uncle’s claim. I always love a good pioneer story and this one did not disappoint. I was amazed by the fact that Hattie’s story is based on the author’s own step great grandmother. What an amazing woman!

Well researched and superbly written, Hattie Big Sky is a pleasure to read. What a disappointment to turn the last page and realize the story was over. I found myself wishing that there was a sequel! I’m pretty sure I will be reading this one at least one more time. I didn’t even know it was a Newberry Honor book until I was writing the review- it definitely deserves the recognition! This book would be a great family audio book for a trip, I think I just might get my second reading in that way. . . I’m off to put a hold on the audio. . . yeah!

Posted in Audio Books, Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Books for teaching history, Juvenile Fiction, Newbury, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fiction | 7 Comments »

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce –winner of the Carnegie Medal

Posted by hollybookscoops on September 24, 2009

tom's midnight garden

1958 winner of the Carnegie Medal in Literature. I thought originally that I had a hard time getting into this book because it was old, and then I realized I liked a lot of old books, so I started thinking about what was wrong. I finally figured out that the Carnegie Medal is the UK’s prestigious literary medal, and so, I simply needed to turn my brain towards England, instead of Canada, and the book started to make more sense to me.

When Tom’s brother is taken ill with measles, Tom has to go live with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in a small apartment, in quarantine. As Tom yearns for the outdoors and playmates, he stumbles upon a secret world as he travels back in time each night to when the ancient estate was a home with a garden. Tom gets more and more entwined in the friendship he forms with a girl named Hatty until he is determined to change times forever and live in the past.

I enjoyed this read, although I think that young readers of today, especially American, might have a hard time making the transition to this foreign and byegone era. I realized how much immunizations have changed the way we live. When was the last time you heard of someone being in quarantine? I’m sure glad that I’ve never had to be in quarantine, but it really makes you think about flu epidemics and other things that could lead to the return of quarantines. I guess it’s best to be prepared to not be able to always get everything we want right when we want it. Boy what a change that would be for our immediate gratification society!

As an interesting note, I read this book and wrote this review before H1N1 quarantines at the beginning of the summer, but believe me I sure was thinking about this book when the virus first became known. How do you think books can prepare us for major health epidemics, as some scientists have predicted will inevitably occur?

Posted in Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Carnegie Medal, Juvenile Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fiction | 2 Comments »

The Frog Scientist by Pamela S. Turner Photographs by Andy Comins

Posted by hollybookscoops on August 17, 2009

the frog scientist by pamela turner nad andy cominsMy kids love to hunt for frogs! We have an ongoing family catch and release program at the local pond. So, it came as no surprise that my three boys were eager to get their hands on The Frog Scientist. I thought I might get trampled in the stampede for the couch! There was something for everyone inside- beautiful captivating pictures and short, concise picture descriptions that enticed my 3 & 6 year olds. Attention spans of young ones being what they are, my 8, almost 9, year old was my only child with the fortitude to read the whole book (although my 6 year old hung on the back of the couch and checked in frequently). We read it together and I don’t know who was happier to have such a fascinating book to read- him or me.

The Frog Scientist is written like fiction, with a fascinating storyline, alternating between frogs, and the frog scientist (aka Berkeley’s own Tyrone Hayes). Turner’s wonderful writing style sets a great tone for learning and is augmented by Comins’ beautiful, detailed photographs documenting the scientific process. The Frog Scientist satisfies various learning styles- the pictures draw you to read the story and the story keeps you turning pages to figure out exactly what pesticides can do to amphibians.

I highly recommend The Frog Scientist for grades 3 and up while allowing for the fact that children younger than this will really enjoy the pictures and could easily sit still for a chapter at a time. A thoroughly engaging introduction to biology and the scientific method, this book would be especially useful in classes where frog dissection will take place- I can almost smell the formaldehyde!

Posted in Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Books for teaching Math and Science, Juvenile Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult | 2 Comments »

izzy’s place by Marc Kornblatt

Posted by hollybookscoops on May 2, 2009

izzys-imageWhen Henry’s parents have trouble getting along, they send him to spend the summer in Greenville with his Grandma. The only hitch is that Henry’s Grandpa died in the last year, and he can’t imagine being there all summer with his Grandma, who is all alone. Grandma Martha can’t seem to let Henry be by himself, which appears to be an overreaction to his grandpa’s death- or maybe she’s always been that way and Henry just has outgrown it.

This story had some good topics to discuss- bullying, death, divorce. Difficult topics that kids deal with. Henry learns that his parent’s relationship is something he has no control over. Although sometimes he wishes he could make it all go back to how it used to be. This is a very common theme for children of divorce, who often feel out of control and angry because they don’t have a say, and even when they express their thoughts, it doesn’t make a difference.

I appreciated Grandma Martha’s neighbor, Mr. Fine, reaching out to Henry despite his own life challenges.

This book is a heavier read, although nothing offensive, just heavy topics to deal with that I think middle readers will appreciate knowing someone is out there who understands.

Posted in Books for Boys, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Readers, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction | Leave a Comment »

 
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