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!