Posted tagged ‘Mystery’

Mia’s Book Shout #5

May 21, 2012

Fifth grade book lover Mia shares her favorite books

Skellig by David Almond

So what would you do if you had just moved into a new, really old, house and there was a really old, about-to-fall-in garage?  Would you or would you not go in it?

Well, Michael does; I mean what eleven-year-old boy could resist?  As Michael shines his light all around, he sees thousands of dust bunnies, blue bottles, and spiders.  As he shines his flashlight into the corners of the garage, his light falls on something pale, something dead looking;  could it be the previous house owner?  It moves its dusty, pale face, blinks in the light.  “What do you want?”  the voice asks.  Michael steps away in shock.  How could this… this thing be alive?   Michael’s wonderment and disgust are broken by his mother’s stern voice telling him to stay out of that garage.  Then she returns to the baby, the ‘stupid” baby.

In this mysterious and stunning book, Skellig, eleven-year-old Michael finds love and beauty in a man with no life, only a memory of one.  Two kids, Michael and Mina, change his life completely.

I found this book sad.  It was as if Michael was searching for happiness when there was none to be found except in his friend Mina, and sometimes in the baby’s face when she smiled.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves adventure and magic beyond your wildest dreams.

WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick

November 5, 2011

I just finished reading WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick. Like his last book, THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET (which won the Caldecott Award), it is a huge book  (600+ pages) that is half gorgeous pencil drawings (not a graphic novel: rather, an illustrated novel). The book tells two different intertwined stories – one in words and the other in pictures –  that the reader just knows are going to come together somehow. Ben’s story is in 1977 and Rose’s is in 1927. Both Ben and Rose are unhappy children who make a daring decision to change their lives, and the way their two stories come together is something I wouldn’t want to spoil for you. Let me just say that it is a beautiful book, both the story and the illustrations, and the ending, which celebrates friendship and family,  will leave you WONDERSTRUCK.

TRUE (…sort of) by Katherine Hannigan

September 16, 2011

Delly Pattison is always looking for adventure.  She has  a fun, loving family and the most colorful, invented vocabulary ever.  But she also gets into trouble.  A LOT.  When even her mother is about to give up on her, Delly gets some help from her very mature younger brother and a newcomer to town, Ferris Boyd.  Ferris doesn’t talk, and Delly is fascinated enough to stop her troublemaking and befriend Ferris.  Can a troublemaker find the good in herself?  What is Ferris’s secret?  This book is full of believable characters, warm family moments,  and lessons about friendship that make the difficult secret, when it comes out, easier to bear.

New chapter books added recently

March 15, 2011

Here are some new chapter books recently added to the CPS library collection that I have read and highly recommend:

Nature Girl by Jane Kelley

A 12-year-old New York City  girl is reluctantly spending the summer in Vermont with her nature-loving family.   After an argument with her friend, she decides to hike 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail with her dog.  Her journey is both physical and emotional, as she has plenty of time to think about her life along the way.

Out of my mind by Sharon Draper

Born with cerebral palsy, 10-year-old Melody has never said a word.  She is a brilliant fifth grader trapped in an uncontrollable body.  What happens when she starts to be included in “normal” classes – will the other fifth graders accept her?  Will they understand she is actually the smartest student in the school?  Read this moving novel to find out how Melody finds her “voice”. 

The year money grew on trees by Aaron R. Hawkins

A young teenage boy and his siblings spend the summer running an apple orchard with no adult assistance, because an elderly neighbor has promised to GIVE it to them if they can make a success of it.  An interesting look at family, hard work, determination, and the pride that kids feel when they are working toward a goal.  Suspenseful and inspiring!

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

Seven fifth graders in Vermont learn a variety of life lessons, not necessarily from their textbooks, with an inspiring new teacher who really understands them and is always on their side.  Short chapters told in the different students’ distinct voices give the reader many perspectives on the events of the school year, including the accident that teaches them the most important lesson of all.

Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

Set in England in the winter of 1347, this suspenseful and spooky story  is about fourteen-year-old William, whose family perished in a fire 18 months earlier, and who now works as a servant at the local monastery in exchange for his room and board.  While gathering firewood  in the forest,  he discovers a creature – a hobgoblin – caught in a trap and saves its life.  As the hob recovers from his wounds, Will encounters a mystery that shakes him to his core.  This book’s fascinating attention to detail draws the reader deeply into the story, and you get a real sense of life in medieval times.

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

March 6, 2011

Wow.  I just finished reading this year’s Newbery Award Winner and I LOVED it.  Set in Kansas in 1936, the story contains flashbacks to 1918 as 12-year-old Abilene tries to piece together the story of her father’s life.  The reader of this beautifully written novel will learn about some interesting aspects of American history:  the Depression, immigration, Prohibition, orphan trains, the KKK, and World War I.  All of these topics are woven expertly into the story of Abilene’s “summer of discovery”.  This book has humor, sorrow, mystery, and excitement. If you’re up for a challenging but extremely satisfying and unusual story, check out this new addition to the CPS Library.

THE SECRET SERIES by Pseudonymous Bosch (A student book review)

January 7, 2011

I’m Julia, a fourth grader in Mrs. Jerome’s class, and I want the school buzzing about this series.  I want students standing in line waiting for another person to finish the next book!  The series is called “The Secret Series”.  It is about a secret society and two young heroes.  They have to beat an evil group called The Midnight Sun in order to save their friend Benjamin Blake.  Midnight Sun lives forever and people have tried to stop them for years but all has failed.  There are killings, living forever, spying, kidnapping, disguises, and friendship.  Our heroes are odd and you might think weirder than weird, but they have found a place where they belong.  There are four books in the whole series:  The Name of this book is Secret, If You’re Reading this it’s too Late, This Book is not Good for You, and This Isn’t what it Looks Like.  Just let me warn you:  these books can get a little confusing, but I think a good reader can figure them out.  I hope you love the series as much as I do!

Newbery Award Winner!

February 8, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is this year’s Newbery Award Winner.  That’s a big deal in the children’s book world:  it’s like winning the Academy Award for the Best Movie of the Year.  I quickly drove to the nearest book store when I heard the news, purchased a copy, and sat down to read the book in one sitting.  The book is a quick read, exciting and mysterious but also rather confusing because it’s about TIME TRAVEL, a concept that can be difficult to understand, even for adults!

The book’s setting is New York City in 1978.  Miranda, a sixth grader, is learning to navigate school, friendship issues, and life in her city neighborhood.   Her favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time, a classic children’s book from the 60’s about time travel.  One day when walking home from school, her best friend Sal gets punched in the stomach by an older boy who hangs out down the street from their apartment building. Sal pulls away from Miranda after that and stops hanging out with her. Miranda feels completely lost without him.  Walking home alone is no fun, especially as she must pass the crazy old man by the mailbox.  Then, the notes start arriving, notes that tell her things about the future.  Here’s the first one:

I am coming  to save your friend’s life, and my own…

First, you must write me a letter….

You will keep reading to find out WHO is writing the notes, and HOW the puzzle is going to be solved.   Though I’m not sure I would have voted for this book to win the Newbery Award, it is well-written and thought-provoking. I particularly liked the positive relationship Miranda has with her mom, the lessons Miranda learned about friendship and caring about others, and the connection to A Wrinkle in Time.