Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Maze Runner

By: James Dashner

Thomas wakes up in a steel box that is moving upwards like an elevator.  When the top
opens he sees the faces of many boys near his age.  While Thomas seems to have some memories, he has no idea what is going on.  It soon becomes obvious that he and the other boys are trapped inside a deadly maze.  Some of the boys have been trying to get out for two years.  The day after Thomas arrives, a girl is sent in the box - the first time kids have arrived on back-to-back days, and the first girl, and they know nothing will be the same.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I have seen the previews for this movie, and I wanted to read the book first.  If you like mystery and suspense, you will really like this book!  From the first moment, I was trying to figure out what was going on.  This is the first book in a series of four, and I look forward to continuing the series.  I would recommend this book for students in junior high.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Name of this Book is Secret

By: Pseudonymous Bosch

If you choose to read this book, you will know secrets that could put you in danger.  But, if
you are brave enough, you will become part of the team trying to protect the secret from many enemies.  Cass and Max-Ernest find out quickly that trying to solve a magicians codes will lead to great adventures and great dangers.  Their adventure begins by finding the "Symphony of Spells" and leads to spying, kidnapping, and more!

Mrs. Senechal says:
Thanks to Nick, Ella, and Will for encouraging me to read this book!  The mystery will draw you in to the story from the beginning!  The author does a great job of telling you just enough information to make you more curious about what will happen next.  I will definitely continue reading the series!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Cheshire Cheese Cat

By: Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright

Skilley is a street cat who wants to become a mouser at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese - a well-
known London inn that attracts cheese-lovers and authors.  However, Skilley does not really want to catch the mice - he wants something else and is willing to make a deal with Pip, the leader of the mice.  Along the way, there are other problems and mysteries to be solved.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This was a fun story with great animal characters!  In addition, the reader gets a different perspective on the famous author, Charles Dickens.  I like how the different events and characters tie together, and there is plenty of suspense to keep your attention.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis

By: Barbara O'Connor

Popeye lives in a small town in South Carolina, and it is boring.  But after a long rain,
Popeye finds an RV stuck in the mud on the street by his house.  He meets Elvis who lives in the RV with his family - finally something interesting!  But, when the two boys go on a "small adventure" and find someone floating boats down the river, then they have a mystery to solve!

Mrs. Senechal says:
Every single character in this book is very unique.  The author does a great job of creating a whole story full of unexpected characters.  This is a fun summer story and may even give you a few ideas on having a "small adventure" of your own.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

About Average

By: Andrew Clements

Jordan feels average in everything - not tallest or shortest, not fastest or slowest, not the
best or worst student - she usually gets C's on her report card.  But, Jordan wants to be great at something that matters!  When a girl at school picks on Jordan, it actually helps Jordan realize that she is a pretty good problem-solver.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This book is just over 100 pages, so it is a great book if you're looking for something shorter and easier to read.  The whole book actually tells the story of one day in Jordan's life, but the author uses her memories to help you get to know her and learn more about how she feels.  This story reminds us that God has given each of us special talents - even when we don't notice them ourselves!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The School for Good and Evil

By: Soman Chainani

Sophie and Agatha are opposites.  Sophie wears pink, has a detailed beauty routine, and
dreams of princes.  Agatha wears black, likes to be alone, and has a creepy black cat.  Yet, when the two of them are kidnapped and dropped into the School of Good and Evil, Agatha is on the "Good" side, and Sophie is on the "Evil" side.  Both girls are sure there has been a mistake.  However, no one will believe them or help them!

Mrs. Senechal says:
This is one of the more creative fairy tales I've read in a long time.  I really liked the opposing sides of good vs. evil.  And, the author does a great job of showing that things are not always what they first appear.  The characters and events are fun, funny, and unexpected.  The ending is a huge cliffhanger for book two!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Spy Princess

By: Sherwood Smith

Lilah, niece of the King, has noticed the anger of the townspeople, but her father tells her
they are peasants and she should ignore them.  Instead, Lilah dresses like a peasant boy, sneaks out, and makes friends with the kids in town.  While she loves her new friends, she also finds out that they hate her family!  Before too long, Lilah has become a spy for the revolutionaries, but she is too bold and gets caught.  However, Lilah finds an ally in her brother, and together they make plans to make things right in the kingdom.

Mrs. Senechal says:
Even though the book's title includes the word "princess" there are plenty of boy characters and lots of action and adventure - this is a book boys and girls will like.  The author weaves medieval settings and characters with a bit of magic to keep the story really fun.  I also liked how the author had characters  with many different perspectives on how to solve the problems - just like problem-solving in real life - there often are many possible solutions.  When I read the author's note at the end, I found it especially cool that the author began writing this story when she was 8!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

House of Secrets

By: Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini

Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor are struggling with life after their father lost his job as a
doctor.  Things aren't as easy, and they see the stress their parents have to face.  And, they have to move.  The kids know it will be to a crummy little house, but suddenly their realtor shows them an amazing house!  It is a large old home with plenty of room, but it feels a little creepy.  Before they can even spend their first night, a witch arrives, kidnaps their parents, and sends the house spinning into another world.  Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor now have to fend for themselves and try to rescue their parents.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This book definitely kept me in suspense!  Sometimes it reminded me of "Inkheart" - being transported into the world of a book.  I liked the variety of characters and all the creative ways the three children figured out how to win out over the bad guys.  This is a darker fantasy with evil and scary villains - I would recommend it for older readers.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Battle for Wondla

By: Tony DiTerlizzi

When Eva Nine uncovers the plans to destroy the homes of her alien friends, she flees New
Attica to warn them.  Eva's life is constantly in danger, and she continually has to decide who to trust.  Eva Nine also learns that there are many perceptions and opinions on what is the best or right thing to do.  Will she be able to save her alien friends and human friends?

Mrs. Senechal says:
This book is the conclusion to the trilogy.  The author continues to introduce new creatures and write detailed descriptions to help the reader picture this new world.  There are also unexpected twists and turns to the story.  I like all the lessons Eva Nine learns and how she learns to share them with others.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Hero for Wondla

By: Tony DiTerlizzi

Eva Nine can hardly believe she has been rescued - and that other humans still exist!  The
boy who found her is taking her back to a human settlement, and it feels like a dream come true.  But, when Eva Nine reaches New Attica, she quickly realizes that the humans have no idea what life is like beyond their small city.  Even worse, the leader of New Attica watches and controls everyone!  Even when Eva meets her older sister, Eva Eight, things are not as she hoped.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This book follows "The Search for Wondla".  It was really interesting following Eva Nine from the alien landscape back to what should have felt more like home to her amongst the humans.  The author does an amazing job of describing settings, new creatures, and high-powered technology.  If you like science fiction and books that imagine life in the future, you will continue to enjoy this series.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Klipfish Code

By: Mary Casanova

Marit and her family awake to the bombing of their town in Norway in 1942.  Her parents
send she and her brother to live with their aunt and grandfather in a safer part of the country while they stay to try and help the "Resistance" - Norwegians trying to secretly fight the Nazis.  Marit tries to be strong, but she hates not doing anything.  Her grandpa believes it is safer to do what the Nazis ask and don't cause trouble.  Marit believes that if no one stands up to the Nazis things will only get worse.  When Marit gets a chance to help the Resistance, she realizes what a huge responsibility it is.

Mrs. Senechal says:
The book starts with immediate action!  There are many suspenseful moments as the people of Norway struggle to survive as the Nazis invade and take over their homeland.  I have Norwegian ancestors, so I really enjoyed learning more about some of things these people did in the midst of World War II.  I also have many students who have read "Snow Treasure" who would like this book, too!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dead End in Norvelt

By: Jack Gantos

Jack is ready for summer vacation fun, but then he is grounded to his room "for life".  His
only relief is when his neighbor, Miss Volker needs his help to write an obituary.  Little does Jack know how many adventures this will lead to.  Jack is used to his town being boring and dying out with lots of people moving away.  But Jack quickly learns that his town and its citizens are not as boring as he had thought.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I wasn't sure what to expect as I began this book, but it was great!  There are many unique and interesting characters and lots of funny adventures.  I especially enjoyed the unexpected friendship that develops between Jack and Miss Volker.  I also liked how historical facts and trivia were woven throughout the story.  This is an all-round good read!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spirit Animals: Book 1 - Wild Born

By: Brandon Mull

In Erdas, children have the rare chance to call a spirit animal when they turn 11.  This spirit
animal will  become their lifelong ally and companion.  Suddenly, four children are able to call legendary spirit animals known as the Great Beasts.  Two opposing forces want the children to join their side as they prepare for war and other uncertain threats.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I enjoyed this book!  There are great descriptions of the wilderness, the animals, and their special relationships.  The book is first in a series that I think will be exciting and suspenseful.  Also, the book is not too long which makes it a fun read.  And, if you like computer games, the book gives you a code so that you can play an online game related to the book and characters!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Serafina's Promise

By: Ann E. Burg

Living a simple life in Haiti, Serafina dreams of becoming a doctor.  But she knows that she must first be able to go to school.  Her family does not have enough money to buy the school uniform, so Serafina decides to start a garden and sell the vegetables.  However, their home is swept away in a terrible flood.  The family relocates, starts again, and then an earthquake rocks the land.  Will Serafina's dream ever come true?

Mrs. Senechal says:
After two mission trips to Haiti, this book really touched my heart.  The author does an excellent job of describing the life that most people in Haiti must live - working hard just to survive.  However, the people of Haiti are also full of hope!  This book is written in verse which make it easy to read.  It also has words from Haitian Creole woven throughout the story.  This is a wonderful book - you will enjoy reading about life in another country.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Sasquatch Escape

By: Suzanne Selfors

Ben is used to the Los Angeles lifestyle, but he is sent to spend the summer with his Grandpa in the small, rundown town of Buttonville.  Within the first day, Ben realizes that things may not be as bad as he had thought.  He meets a girl named Pearl, and the two of them discover a very strange veterinarian has moved into the old button factory.  The vet claims to be a worm doctor, but before long, Ben and Pearl have discovered a baby dragon and are assigned to catch the escaped sasquatch!

Mrs. Senechal says:
This is the first book in "The Imaginary Veterinary" series, and I am definitely curious enough to want to read more!  This book has humor, adventure, and lots of great characters.  If you like stories where the author has a great imagination, you will really like this book.  Thanks to Justin for recommending it!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Just Grace

By: Charise Mericle Harper

Due to several girls named "Grace" in her class, Grace Stewart gets the nickname "Just Grace".  This really bothers her.  Add to that an annoying boy in her class, some interesting neighbors, and a missing cat, and you will see why Grace has to be a special kind of problem-solver.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This is a fun book that is not too long and is the first in a series.  Fans of books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid will enjoy the illustrations that go with the story.  I really enjoyed the main character's creativity and the other unique characters that the author used in the story.  Thanks to Ella K. for suggesting this book!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Heroes of Olympus Series: Books 1-4

By: Rick Riordan

This series follows Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.  The author introduces many new characters but weaves their stories to include the main characters from the original series.  One of the biggest challenges is that a Roman group of demigods is discovered - and they consider the Greek demigods their enemies.  However, to save the world, these two groups will be forced to work together and trust each other.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I almost enjoyed this series more then the first!  I love all the new characters, and I continue to learn a lot about both Greek and Roman mythology.  In typical Riordan style, there is plenty of action and suspense.  There is one book left in this series - to be released in October 2014 - and I can't wait to read it!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The 39 Clues: Unstoppable: Book 1: Nowhere to Run

By: Jude Watson

Dan and Amy Cahill have traveled the world to find their family's secret and protect it from being used by many villains.  They thought they had finally found peace, but a new villain has stolen the secret serum and has made Dan and Amy the target of a terrible media smear campaign.  Once again, Dan and Amy find themselves trying to solve a mystery while running from their enemies.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I continue to love this series!  This new twist in the 39 Clues plot is definitely exciting.  I like that some of my favorite characters are back and many new characters keep the story interesting.  You will like this book if you like action, adventure, mystery, and suspense.  I'm looking forward to each upcoming book!