Wednesday, August 16, 2017

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Simon is the most hated person in school.

As the creator of a gossip app called "About That," he regularly posts school rumours that often expose people's mistakes or secrets.

When four students find themselves in detention for something they all deny doing, they aren't surprised to find Simon in there with them.

Then, the unthinkable happens, Simon dies in front of them and within minutes they are all suspects. Each student has a reason to want Simon dead.

Each student is holding a secret that might uncover the truth, and the creepiest thing? Simon's "About That" app continues to run after his death. Rumours and gossip continues to spread and as the police and news reporters swarm their lives, the students find themselves pushed to the breaking point.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Posted by John David Anderson

x500.png (500×757) Disclaimer: My oldest son is going to middle school in the fall and I am concerned about bullies and general meanness. I know I am not the only one, quite a few parents had questions about bullying in the open house last month.

Middle school is an awkward time for kids. They are coming into their own and finding a tribe to protect themselves from wolves. The schisms between tribes are usually difficult for middle schoolers to navigate since they haven't experienced anything like that before.

John David Anderson's Posted explores what occurs in one such tribe at Branton Middle School when the principal bans cell phones. The story is told from the viewpoint of Eric, an awkward, somewhat nerdy but decent kid who hangs out with fellow misfits nicknamed Bench, Deedee and Wolf. They eat at their table every day during lunch period and play Dungeons and Dragons on Friday nights.

The cell phone ban at school forces the kids to go old school to communicate and they start using post-it notes in class and worse, on lockers. Anderson explores what happens when kids say things that are downright mean and also what happens when kids unintentionally hurt others. Eric's tribe must deal with turmoil in their own family life, mean kids at school, a new kid called Rose and the sudden stratospheric rise of one of their own on the sports field.

Anderson's characters are ones you root for instantly and the antagonists made my blood boil although I couldn't help wondering what they were dealing with in their own lives. This is a great little book although some of the themes explored might go over the heads of younger readers. I recommend it for fifth grade and up. If you have read every Wonder book and spin-off try this novel.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Gork, The Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson




Size matters. No dragon wants his horns to be too small or his heart too large, especially during the awkward teenage years. Suffering from both of these maladies, our hero Gork must navigate the toxic dragon masculinity of WarWings Academy and Planet Blegwethia.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Guys Read: Funny Business

Guys Read is "a web-based literacy program for boys founded by author and First National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka." Mr. Scieszka has put together several books collecting different types of stories, including this. Guys Read: Funny Business is the first that he published.
I've been enjoying reading the stories, though I haven't finished it yet. One of my favorites so far was written by editor Scieszka and Kate DiCamillo (who wrote the amazing Because of Winn-Dixie). "Your Question for Author Here" is told as a series of letters between middle school student Joe Jones and author Maureen O'Toople. Joe contacted her for a school assignment he considers "lame." She agrees to answer his questions if he will answer some she poses to him. I imagine that Scieszka and DiCamillo have received letters from students regarding "lame assignments," and they have fun with this story. Quoting from it won't work very well, so I'm going to just recommend you get the book, and see how it works out. The other stories are worth your while, too. Funny Business!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

CASTLE IN THE STARS: The Space Race of 1869 by Alex Alice

"Gory Gods of Gaul!" It's a steampunk alternate history involving Mad King Ludwig, King of Bavaria, some nasty Prussians (including one with a sword hidden inside his cane), a boy named Seraphin and his father, plus two Bavarian servants. In this book, the characters are concerned with the notion of aether, as proposed by the Ancient Greeks, and seek to make their way into space using hydrogen balloons and "aether engines". Those balloons are used to ascend nearly into space, with suggestions being made of future space travel.

The format of this graphic novel is an oversized hardcover picture book measuring 8-3/4" x 11-1/2". It contains 62 oversized pages in full color throughout. It is Book One of what will be a two-part series (that was originally released in France in 2014 in newspaper format). The French text and illustrations were by Alex Alice; the English translation of the text contained in the new First Second edition is by Anne and Owen Smith.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

It's always just been Lynn and her mom in their house with their barn and most importantly their pond. She's never had any real contact with other people, except at the business end of the rifles they carry. Lynn lives in a world where those who have water live and those who don't, don't. They have it, and they mean to keep it. It's a hard life with a to do list that never ends. The two must purify their own water, gather firewood enough for a freezing cold winter, grow and can enough food to last through that same cold winter, and of course protect the pond from all who would like to take their water from it. 

Two new fires can be seen in the area and they make Lynn's mother edgy. who is out there? How many of them are there? When will they come for the pond?

McGinnis gives us a lot to think about in a world where weather is becoming more severe, oceanic water levels  and worldwide temperatures are on the rise, and the number of humans continues to increase with every day that passes. What would I be willing to do to protect what is mine? Would I be willing to share with anyone else? I'm thirsty just thinking about it...

This is the first of two books to keep you on the edge of your seat and see who survives. 

A great recommendation for fans of Divergent, The Hunger Games, and Article 5.