- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
I absolutely adored The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. It reminded me of books that I liked to read when I was small of a slower-paced world, where children explored small towns riding their bikes around or visiting the lonely mansion. In this story, four sisters, Rosalind, Sky, Jane, and Batty, with their dad and dog arrive at the Arundel estate for a summer holiday. Here, they have the holiday of their dreams--no sand, no beach, but an imposing castle surrounded by a formal garden. With their dog, Hound, the girls just about tear down the estate at the dismay of its owner, the forbidding Mrs. Tifton; however, her son, Jeffrey, has the summer of his life. The girls' vivacity and energy transforms Jeffrey's world of stifling upper-class formalness to a world of play and spontaneity. This story is a great summer read. If you are interested, the story continues with two sequels: The Penderwicks at Gardham Street and The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. I recommend this book for girls from 3rd to 6th grade, because the book describes a range of girlhood experiences. This book qualifies as an award winner, for it received the National Book Award in 2005.
Grace is thirteen. She’s become withdrawn since her Dad, a policeman, was killed in a drive-by shooting about a year ago. Her sister, Regan, decides she needs Grace’s help with a project. Regan wants early admission to what she considers the best college, and with their Mother’s approval she drafts Grace to "help" her. The scheme? Adopt a shelter puppy and train it to become a service dog. The last thing Grace wants to do is help Regan with anything. She sees Regan adjusting to life without their father and Grace resents her. She feels that Regan is being disloyal to their Dad’s memory.
But here they are at the animal shelter looking at dogs in a totally chaotic setting, Grace can barely stand the noise, all the barking and scratching, when something strange happens – a dog talks to her! Not a very cute dog, actually a gray-and-brown-mutt, an "…unkempt, prickly coated mutt…" (page 5). Grace convinces Regan that Rex is the dog for them. Sure he’s no longer a puppy, but he tells Grace that he’s smart and trainable and cheap! As they leave the shelter with Rex she starts to think: "My mom and sister thought my coming here would help me get back to normal. Instead, I heard a dog talk. I think that’s either irony or payback." (page 9)
Is Grace really hearing Rex talk? Together can they solve the mystery of her Dad’s shooting before Rex leaves Grace to become a companion to a needy little girl? Can Rex help Grace to re-connect with her friends and get back to her “normal” life?
Randi Reisfeld and HB Gilmour are the co-authors of several books including the T*Witches series. The two began work on What the Dog Said several months before HB Gilmour died. Ms. Reisfeld completed this book in her honor.
Hal’s parents believe he is living the perfect life for a young boy. His parents are rich beyond belief, they give Hal everything he ever wants; at least they give him every toy or gadget or article of clothing he wants. More things than he ever needs, more than he ever asks for, in fact. In reality all Hal really ever wanted was a dog, and maybe a little more attention from his parents.
As his tenth birthday approaches Hal thinks about how many times he has asked for a dog. His Mother feels that dogs are dirty and smelly. Dogs need to be walked or they might make a puddle in her very perfect house. You see there are no bugs and not even a little dust in the house. And other than Hal, his Mother, his Father and the maids, who only come there to work, there is nothing alive in Hal’s house. No mice, no bugs, no plants. There weren’t even live flowers in the yard only raked gravel. Why you might ask? Well according to Hal’s Mother "…because flowers mean earth and mess" (page 2).
How do Hal and his dog finally find each other? In Hal’s town there is a place called Easy Pets where you can rent a dog for any length of time. Now I don’t think that renting a dog for a weekend is quite what Hal has in mind. But that’s where our story of One Dog and His Boy begins.
I’d recommend this book to all animal lovers. Author Eva Ibbotson died on October 20, 2010, making this her last book. All of her fans will miss her. Please read and enjoy her final heart-warming book.
Auggie was born with not one, but two rare birth defects. Because of this misalignment of his genes (or as some doctors explained it a “chromosome rearrangement” (page 105)) he did not look like other people. Some people were frightened of him, some stared at him, while others pretended not to notice.
All Auggie wanted was to be thought of as an ordinary kid. He’d been homeschooled all his life, but now as he prepared to enter fifth grade his Mother decided he needed to go to school with other children. Beecher Prep, Auggie’s new school, was a small private school within walking distance of his home. And that’s where this story begins as Auggie learns he has been admitted to the school. Fifth grade classes start in just a few days.
Wonder is not just Auggie’s story, though he’s the center of attention. It’s the story of his family. Of how they adapted to his special needs over the years and how now they try to help him adjust to school. It’s also the story of the other fifth graders in Auggie’s classes, especially the three students who were asked to help him acclimate to Beecher Prep. There are also teachers and the principal who must overcome their own concerns as they help students accept Auggie as just that ordinary kid.
This first novel by R.J. Palacio has received widespread positive reviews in many library and literary publications. An inspiration for this book comes from the lyrics to the song “Wonder” by Natalie Merchant.
Wonder Struck (AR 4.0, Level 5.4) by Brian Selznick is a beautiful book. This title follows the story of Ben and Rose. Ben's story unfolds in words and Rose's story unfolds in pictures. Both characters are connected by a desire to find people that are missing from their lives. After the death of Ben's mother, he yearns to find his father. Ben's mother, Elaine, has told him nothing about his father. However, after accidentally finding information that may lead to his father, Ben sets out for New York City, where his father last lived. Will Ben find his long-missing father?
Rose is desperately unhappy living with her father. She has been creating a scrapbook about the career of a mysterious actress, Lillian Mayhew. Feeling that Ms. Mayhew can help her, she sets off for New York City. What will she find there and how will Ms. Mayhew help her?
Both stories are set apart by fifty years. However, both characters are similar in that they are both deaf. What is truly remarkable about both characters is the lack of sadness or anger about their disabilities. Both courageously go to one of the largest cities in the world, sure of their purpose. The reader is immediately drawn into both stories because of the remarkably life-like drawings and compelling stories.
Brian Selznick, the Caldecott Medal winner for The Invention of Hugo Cabret (AR 4.0, Level 5.1) once again makes a movie-like book. Mr. Selznick has said that his interest in this story began when he learned about the new sound technology in 1927, which would affect the deaf community. Prior to 1927, both hearing and deaf people could enjoy the movies together. After 1927, deaf people were left out of the experience of enjoying film.
The Rancho Rosetta Trilogy: Millicent Min, Girl Genius, (AR 8.0, Level 5.8) Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time, (AR 9.0, Level 3.8) and So Totally Emily Ebers (AR 9.0, Level 3.9) are about the adventures of three VERY different kids during ONE memorable summer. Each novel is told from the point of view of one character. It is intriguing to witness events from different view points. And these three kids couldn't be more different!
Millicent Min is academically gifted but socially inept. She feels that her intellect is too intimidating for other kids. Feeling isolated by her peer group and by her classmates in high school, she is elated to find a kid who doesn't know how smart she is. Over the course of the summer, she becomes best friends with Emily Ebers. She also tutors the basketball jock, Stanford Wong. As the tutor and tutee get to know each other, she also inadvertently befriends him, as well. How long will she be able to hide her intellect from Emily and endure the juvenile jokes from Stanford?
Stanford Wong is the big man on campus at Rancho Rosetta. Admired by all, he is annoyed to find out that he must take a make-up English class over the summer. Embarrassed by his failure, he is further chagrined to have to be tutored by the hated Millicent Min! YUCK! In addition to his school troubles, he must also contend with his disapproving and distant father and with the removal of his Grandmother to the retirement home, Vacation Village. Another complication is his developing feelings for the incomparable Emily Ebers! Will Emily figure out he is not as great as she thinks he is?
Emily Ebers is the kind of person everyone wants to befriend. Sunny and light, Emily can't figure out why her mother has divorced her father or why her mother has moved them across the country to California. However, she is determined to meet new friends, so she is immediately drawn to Millicent because of shared interests. Stanford Wong also attracts her eye, when she notices him in the drug store, where her heart is immediately engaged! What will she do when she finds out about both Millicent and Stanford?
Lisa Yee has also written Warp Speed, which I have blogged about before. She has a keen sense of humor. Check out her blog for some of her funny insights!