Monday, September 19, 2011

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

I recommend this book for:  grades 4-7

Tess loves living on a small island in Maine - catching lobsters on her father's boat, attending a tiny school, and knowing everyone by name feel like home to her.  Unfortunately, her school is so tiny that the state wants to shut it down, which would force Tess and her family to move to the mainland and an entirely different way of life.  The residents of the island decide to increase the school's population to reverse the state's decision, and several families take in foster children.

Tess thinks she knows all about foster kids after reading Anne of Green Gables and The Great Gilly Hopkins, but her new foster brother Aaron (although red-headed) is not what she's expecting.  A 13 year old musician, he's been in foster homes since his grandmother died, and he hasn't seen or heard from his mother since before that.  It's hard for him to relate to Tess and her happy family, and just when it seems she's getting through to him and gaining his trust, her plan to make him want to stay with her family threatens to get him taken away for good.

I loved Lord's Rules, so I was very excited to see this one on the shelf.  There are some similarities, but instead of rules for behavior, Tess is governed by superstitions about luck.  I liked the local color of Touch Blue - the details of the place really made it shine.  Another thing I really appreciated was that, although religion wasn't a major theme of the book, church was a part of life for the characters.  That is a rare thing in books for young people, and it was nice to see kids involved in church activities and thinking about God without it being a heavy-handed thing.  This is a nice, uplifting story about family and what it means to belong somewhere.

Reviews and an excerpt

Monday, September 12, 2011

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I recommend this book for: grade 7 and up

I read this one months ago, promptly devoured the sequel, and have been waiting impatiently for the third ever since.  In this adventure full of steampunky goodness, WWI is just about to explode in Europe.  Alek, the teenage son of Archduke Ferdinand, is on the run to escape those who want to kill him.  Deryn, a young Scotswoman who passes as a boy to serve in the Royal Airforce, gets her dream assignment aboard the Leviathan - a living airship created from a genetically modified whale, among other creatures.  These two are theoretically on opposite sides of the conflict, but they are forced to cooperate when Leviathan crashes near Alek's hideout and Deryn takes him prisoner.

A little background knowledge on WWI would help with understanding the story, but Westerfeld's world-building is so good that it's not necessary.  And the history of Alek and Deryn's world is definitely different anyway - did I mention the mechanical walkers and the giant floating jellyfish?  Fast-moving and fascinating, I would recommend this one to a wide variety of readers.

But don't take my word for it - check out the review and excerpt!

And if you like this one, try:  Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remember me?

Why yes, it HAS been two years since I posted to this blog! Life has been insane - my daughter was born, and then insisted on growing into a very energetic toddler, which I am informed is the only kind of toddler that exists. I started taking two classes per semester to finish up my master's degree and served as a Cub Scout leader and then in the Primary (the children's organization) for my church. I've been a busy bee! Amazingly, I have still had time to read, just not to post (and it's been my loss, because I can't keep it straight and occasionally bring home a book, start it, and realize I read it last year!)

Anyway, that time is at an end. The lack of homework has left me wondering "Gee, what do I do now?" and I thought that blogging might be a constructive way to use that time. So, new book reviews are coming soon - hopefully that's good news for someone other than me!