Thursday, August 1, 2013

City of Orphans

By: Avi

Maks is a newsboy living in 1893 in New York City.  His parents and siblings must do a
variety of jobs just so the family can pay for their tenement space and food.  On the way home from selling his newspapers, Maks is cornered by rival newsboys who want to steal his money.  He gets backed into an alley, but is suddenly helped by a girl using a long stick as her weapon.  Maks invites the girl, Willa, home for supper - a thank you for her help.  However, when Maks gets home and finds out his older sister has been arrested, Willa and he both find ways to help each other and their family.

Mrs. Senechal says:
Since seeing the movie, Newsies, I have been interested in learning more about the immigrant children of that time who worked to help their families survive.  Through the many characters, you will see how people lived in New York City in the late 1800's - some slept in the street while others could afford to stay at the fancy Waldorf Hotel.  Even thought this is historical fiction, the author made the setting and characters very true to the facts of that time in history.  This was a great book!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Clockwork Three

By: Matthew J. Kirby

This story is set in the late 1800's when many immigrants were arriving in the northeastern
United States.  Three characters, Hannah, Giuseppe, and Frederick have had difficult circumstances even though they are young.  As their paths cross, they realize that they can all help each other meet their goals.  Their adventures include, a clockwork automaton, finding a treasure, and outsmarting adults who seek to harm them.

Mrs. Senechal says:
Each of the character's stories will draw you in!  Then, I love how the author ties their stories together in unique ways.  There are some realistic descriptions of how difficult life was for orphans or children who had to work to support their families.  I like the friendship that develops and how the children learn to trust in the adults who care for them.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

By: Ally Carter

Cammie's mom is the head of the all-girls school she attends.  This presents some challenges,
but those are minor compared to the classes she takes at this secret school for spies.  Cammie also finds that all her training has not prepared her for her first crush - a regular guy named Josh.  Cammie and her friends use many spy tactics to find out his background and help Cammie get to know him.

Mrs. Senechal
This was a really fun book!  I am looking forward to reading more books in the "Gallaghar Girls" series.  I especially enjoyed all the spy strategies the girls used to do normal activities.  I think readers who like Nancy Drew will definitely enjoy this book, too.  Thanks to my sister, Katie, for recommending this book!

Monday, July 22, 2013


By: Tony Abbott

Tom is a typical seventh grader who enjoys comic books and cool cars.  As school starts, his
class gains a new student - Jessica, a girl who has severe burns from surviving a fire.  Tom and his classmates aren't sure what to say or do, because Jessica looks so different.  When Tom's teacher asks him to drop off some homework for her, he gets a chance to get to know Jessica.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This book was hard to read because you never want to think of someone suffering, like Jessica did.  However, I think the story is a great reminder that we cannot decide how to treat people just based on their looks.  The author realisticly described Tom's thoughts and feelings, and I liked how the story developed.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The 39Clues: Cahills v. Vespers, Book 6 - Day of Doom

By: David Baldacci

This book ends the Cahills v. Vespers series of The 39 Clues.  Amy and Dan have desperately traveled the globe trying to meet the demands of the evil "Vesper One" who is holding members of their family as hostages.  Now, Amy and Dan must stop him from using his Doomsday Device which could destroy the entire world.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I really liked how this book tied together many different aspects of the series.  The author did a great job of bringing back characters from previous books.  And, as I would expect, the story was filled with non-stop action and suspense!  There were some surprises, but I thought the end was very fitting.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Walls Within Walls

By: Maureen Sherry

After their father creates a successful new video game, CJ, Brid, Patrick, and their family
move from their cozy home in Brooklyn to a fancy apartment in Manhattan.  The children are not excited to leave their home, friends, and familiar surroundings.  However, they soon discover a painting behind a grate in their new apartment.  As they look closer, the children find that their are clues all around their new home that point to a long-lost inheritance.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This book caught my attention because I always wished that I could have had a mysterious adventure like this when I was growing up!  I liked how the author incorporated descriptions of current New York City along with historical information.  It was fun to read about famous NYC people and landmarks and the impact they had on the city we know today.  I also enjoyed reading some of the famous poems that provide clues to help the children solve the mystery.  If you like The 39 Clues series, I think you'll like this book, too.  Thanks to Kimberly for suggesting this book to me!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

By: Trenton Lee Stewart

Nicholas only knows life as an orphan, and he is being transferred to a new orphanage.  Because Nicholas suffers from narcolepsy (a sleeping disorder), he has often been teased.  He hopes this new orphanage will be a fresh start.  Unfortunately a group of bullies targets him immediately.  Thankfully, Nicholas is very clever, and is able to avoid these boys by staying on his toes.  In the meantime, Nicholas finds out that his new orphanage might be home to a lost treasure!

Mrs. Senechal says:
This story is a prequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society.  I was so excited to see another book about these characters!  It was fascinating to hear about Nicholas as a child and how his experiences shape him for the future stories.  However, you can read this book first and then enjoy the series!  It was fun to read about the many ways Nicholas was able to outsmart the bullies and outwit the adults that tried to get in his way.  I also liked that Nicholas used his cleverness to help himself and others.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Best School Year Ever

By: Barbara Robinson

The Herdmens are the six children most well-known for taking over the Christmas Pageant in the story The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  But, their meanness and awful behavior take place all year.  This story follows the family through an entire school year.  While the students try to stay out of their way, there are hints that there might be a tiny bit of good in the Herdmens after all.

Mrs. Senechal says:
Each December, I look forward to reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever each year to my class.  I still laugh every time!  This book is just as good.  I love reading about all the dreadful things the Herdmens do - and how they get away with them every time!  I also like how the Herdmens also end up surprising people, too.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

By: Shannon Hale

In the sequel to The Princess Academy, Miri, Peder, and several other girls from Mount Eskel have the opportunity to travel to Asland, the capital city.  While there, the girls will stay at the castle and help prepare for Britta's wedding, Peder will apprentice with a stonecutter, and Miri will be able to attend school. While there, Miri finds out about a brewing rebellion hoping to help provide for the poor.  However, this new cause will force Miri to make some difficult choices.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I was so glad to find a sequel to the original book!  The author does a great job of describing the city of Asland and contrasting it with what the characters are used to in their simple village on the mountain.  I really enjoyed the many tough issues that Miri had to think through, and it reminded me that many challenges are more complicated then you might realize.  I'm looking forward to reading more books by Shannon Hale!

Beyonders 2: Seeds of Rebellion & Beyonders 3: Chasing the Prophecy

By: Brandon Mull

Jason is back home after his first experience in Lyrian.  Life is not the same, and he can't stop wondering what is happening to Rachel and his many other friends there.  Jason returns to the zoo hoping a portal will open and take him back - and it finally does!  Once he arrives and eventually reconnects with Rachel, they begin to see the possibility of defeating Maldor will take more then they ever imagined.  They find that there is a slim hope based on a complicated prophecy, but this requires Jason and Rachel to split up and face almost insurmountable odds to take down Maldor.  These books complete the Beyonders series

Mrs. Senechal says:
I purposely waited until book #3 was available before I read book #2!  I couldn't bear to be left in such suspense as I was after book #1!  I was thrilled as the story continued through many other parts of Lyrian, and fascinating new characters were added.  There were many surprises as characters showed their loyalty or betrayal.  In my opinion, the world and characters created by Brandon Mull in this series could be used in many other books!

Monday, March 11, 2013

No Other Story

By: Cuthbert Soup

As suggested by the title, this is the third and final book in the series.  The Cheeseman family has been heroically trying to use the LVR, a time machine, invented by Mr. Cheeseman, to go back in time and rescue their mother before she is poisoned and dies.  In this book, the three children and their father get stuck in "sometimes" - a world that changes location and time right before their eyes.  They see civil war soldiers, dinosaurs, the Grand Canyon, and a blizzard within just a few hours.  Then, the Cheesemans meet a relative from the future who may have the technology to help them leave "sometimes", rescue their mother, and save their family.

Mrs. Senechal says:
Picking up the tale told in the first two books, this story continues the funny adventures of the Cheeseman family.  I love how the author includes characters from the past, present, and future.  There were also great twists and turns in the plot that I hadn't expected.  The best part about this book is that the author retells how he became part of the Cheeseman's story!  The worst part is that this is the last book in this series.

The 39 Clues: Cahills v. Vespers, Books 4-5

Book 4 by Roland Smith
Book 5 by Linda Sue Park

Amy and Dan continue to do the bidding of Vesper One, but only because he holds seven members of their family hostage.  At least they have added Atticus and Jake to their team.  Unfortunately, there is still trouble at every turn, and each time they think they have accomplished something, Amy and Dan are met with a new challenge.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I've been holding off reading these books because every time I finish one, I can't wait to read the one that follows.  So, with a snow day following a weekend, I thoroughly enjoyed reading these two!  As you can expect from this series, the suspense and adventure never slow down.  I love the detail that goes into each historical item or new city they visit.  And now, Book 6 - here I come!