Archive for January, 2010

All of the Above – Out of Order

All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall

This is a story based on a true story of a group of  middle school urban kids who decide to start a math club and create a giant tetrahedron to break the Guinness World Records. Of course, they really aren’t so gung ho…but are flunking math, or need a place to go after school. The story is told  from different points of view from a least seven characters…some adults and some kids. I believe the teacher is the only “white” character in the book. It is easy to read and amazingly easy to keep track of the characters. The writing is simple, spare, yet a few illustrations and some recipes are thrown into the mix. I really liked the book .

I just finished Every Soul a Star and I am going to review Out of Order next….so funny….alll three of them are written with different point of views in alternating chapters. Kinda strange I read them all in a row.

Out of Order by Betty Hicks

This is a story of a family who blends together through a second marriage….a mother and her two elementary children and a father and his teenagers. (the other parents are out of the picture for the most part) When they become a family, they discover that their personalities start to change in the mix…and later refers to the study of personality based on birth order. Anyway, they have some trouble adjusting….but come together as they organize a Rock Paper Scissors tournament to earn money to send soccer balls to children in Iraq. Again the chapters are told  in alternating voices by the kids in the family. Since the characters are elementary age and middle school/high school, I think this would be good for upper elementary and middle school. I enjoyed the book and couldn’t put it down. 🙂 (Still in my pajamas at 10:00 on Saturday)

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January 11, 2010 at 12:45 am Leave a comment

Every Soul a Star

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass

Ally, Bree, and Jack meet at Moon Shadow, an isolated campground, to watch a total eclipse of the sun; but soon they begin to learn a great deal about themselves, each other, and the universe. I loved this book! The novel is told from three different points of view as they experience changes in their lives. A lot of information is given about astronomy and star-gazing as a hobby and it may pique more interest in the subject matter for readers. This is the third book I have read by Mass and I think she may have a bit of difficulty with her endings because they take a while to tie up. I think this one would be a good middle school book but I would purchase for elementary as well.

January 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm Leave a comment

January 1, 2010 Recommendations

Found by Haddix

A great time travel – Science Fiction – Suspense story.  A plane filled with 36 babies lands at an airport and no one noticed it coming or leaving for that fact. No adults on board. 13 years later the babies from the plane (all were adopted out and everything was hushed) are being gathered together. The masterminds from the future are bringing them back…several of the main characters have figured some of this out and do not want to go back to their previous lives…(15th century) but they are sent back anyway. Then the story ends…what a cliffhanger. You have to read the next book in the series to find out what happens. I hate series books that have cliff hangers since you have to wait for the sequels!  I recommend this series!

Trap by John Smelcer

What an intense read! I had to stop and check the ending because I just couldn’t take the suspense. The setting is in Alaska and an elderly man is checking his traps and accidently steps into one of his traps and is caught and unable to escape. He is left stranded. His grandson is in the alternating chapters and begins to worry about his grandfather. Eventually his grandmother asks him to find him. The book is beautifully written and a real gem. I would have classified it as a high school and adult read and I am not sure about middle school readers. It reminded me of To Build a Fire by Jack London.

Saturday Night Dirt by Will Weaver

Will Weaver grew up in the area of Minnesota where I am from and so it was fun to read this book and relate so easily to the area he writes about. The setting is near Bemidji at a racetrack on a Saturday in the summer. All the area racetracks are rained out but it seems as if the Headwaters Racetrack will be able have races. The story brings in many characters and how they fit into a short time period of preparing and racing in just hours. The book has both female and male characters and is perfect for middle school. It is also appropriate for upper elementary–the language is clean. I do not know anything about racing and even though I didn’t understand all of the car lingo…the story kept me fascinated. Since we didn’t get to know the characters deeply, afterall it was a short time frame and pretty short book, I still connected with them. It reminded me of reading a series of related short stories. Thumbs up for this book.

Someone Named Eva by Joan Wolf

This is an amazing story.  Joan Wolf researched this part of the Holocaust history in the  Czech Republic.  A small town in Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Nazi’s and most of the people were killed or sent to concentration camps. Some of the young girls who look Aryan (Scandinavian with blonde hair) were sent to a school to be recreated into a perfect German girl.  The little girl in this story becomes Eva and is eventually adopted by a family in which the father runs one of the concentration camps.  Eva finds she can hardly remember who old life, her name, or even her language. She is eventually rescued and the end of the war and reunited with her only living family member – her mother. The author leaves us with some good notes about the historical significance of this story. I think it is a very good addition to Holocaust fiction for children.  I would recommend this for 5th grade and up.

January 1, 2010 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment


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