Archive for February, 2010

African American Slavery/Seminole Indians

My Name is Sally Little Song by Brenda Wood

I have wanted to read this book for a while and picked it up last night when I couldn’t fall asleep.  I read the entire book!  It is the story of a slave family who finds out that their children will be sold so they decide to run to freedom. Instead of going North, they go to the South to Florida swampland in hopes of finding safety with a Seminole Indian tribe who may take them in.  They run and of course face danger and near mishaps along the way.  Tragedy does strike but they eventually make it to the safety of an Indian village where they find a home which fits with their own desires.  The story is from the eyes of Sally May Harrison who is 12 years old and is known for singing and making up songs.  A poem of one of Sally’s songs starts each chapter.  They are simple but lovely.
This would make a great read aloud during the study of slavery or during Black History month.

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February 22, 2010 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

Scholastic Book Fair Reads – Girl Power!

One of my schools had a book fair this past week so I chose a few books that I thought I would personally like and they all were winners.

Finally 12 by Wendy Maas
This is the story of a girl who is just counting the days until she turns 12 and can finally do the things all her friends already are doing: cell phones, ears pierced, babysitting, staying home alone, etc.  After her big day she finds that as she checks each thing off her list she meets calamity and mishaps as well.  This is a fun story for the tween ager girl who frankly likes chick lit!

Franny Parker by Hannah Roberts McKinnon
What a beautifully written story about a 13-year-old girl who is not ready to grow up too fast.  She has a loving but interesting family, lives in a small town in Oklahoma and befriends the new boy next door.  Franny has a project for the summer that she did not plan but is supported by the entire town. She takes care of orphaned and sick animals in the family barn.  There is somewhat of a mystery in the boy and his mother who move in next door and Franny and her family have opened their hearts to them and are dismayed when things don’t seem right.  Great book!

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forrester
Piper McCloud can fly and she has to do it in secret because her parents forbid her from flying.  One day at a church picnic baseball game she forgets herself and flies to catch the ball.  The whole town is abuzz and fearful.  Then, Dr. Lettitia Hellion comes to the door and takes her away to a place where Piper meets other children, animals and plants with amazing gifts.  However, these gifts are not valued but all effort is made to make the people, plants, or animals become normal again.  You can imagine this book as a movie and I did find out that the author had originally written this as a screenplay for a movie.  Lots of action as well as thought-provoking moments.  Another great read.

Liberty Porter First Daughter by Julia DeVillers
Liberty is a feisty 3rd grader whose father is the new president of the United States.  This story is perfect for the 2nd-4th kids and takes you through the day when Liberty’s father is sworn in and she gets to live in the White House.  Liberty has studied the kids and pets that have lived in the White House in history and is full of information and she gets to know her new home.  Liberty reminded me of Clementine in the Clementine books.  I think this would be a great read aloud when studying Washington D.C. or presidents.  Great story for the younger kids.

February 22, 2010 at 1:01 am Leave a comment

The Lightning Thief – (The Book)


I wanted to go to the movie on President’s Day so I read the book last weekend.  It was a very good story and the only reason I haven’t read it already is that it is always checked out.  I don’t always read the popular books since they seem to be checked out without my promotion.  This book also was chosen last year as the winner of the Division II Minnesota Book choice award by middle school kids in Minnesota.  Anyway, I am glad I read the book before I went to the movie and recently.  They changed quite a few details and plot lines so it was nice to be able to notice it.  They book is about a 6th grade boy who discovers that he is the son of the Greek god Poseidon who had met his mortal mother and he was the result of the union.  The action starts when he discovers he is a demigod and he in then accused of stealing the lightening bolt from Zeus.  Apparently, when you become of age, the enemies and monsters came come and bother you and now it is Percy Jackson’s time.  The book really pulls in the Greek stories but I think explains most of it enough so you don’t have to have too much background knowledge in order to enjoy the book.  It is full of action which I know kids really appreciate. Good book for upper elementary as well.

February 20, 2010 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

Rochester Reads

This is the selection for the adult read for Rochester Reads program this winter.  Masha Hamilton will be coming to Rochester to speak on the 22nd of February and I always look forward to meeting an author.

Although this is a fiction story, the premise of sending caravans of camels bearing library books to nomadic villages in Kenya.  A librarian from New York adventures to Africa to help with the endeavor. She is looking for adventure and experiences while doing something worthwhile.  The book involves several points of view including many from the village featured in the book.  Most villagers are not convinced that reading will benefit them.  The teacher, a young girl, and an independent grandmother are fans of the bookmobile.  Because the library from Kenya, who is the base for the bookmobile, doesn’t have lots of books they set up a very severe fine if books are not returned or damaged. The entire village will be boycotted and another village will be visited instead.  Of course the villagers are very upset when someone doesn’t return his two books. Some are just upset because it may bring bad luck to their village.  The American librarian visits the village for a series of six days and as she is there begins to understand the people of the village and how they operate.

I enjoyed the book because it let me see a new culture.  Sometimes the book dragged because the point of view changed so much and I felt that I didn’t get to see the character developed as I would have wished.  Of course the subject matter of the bookmobile was interesting to me since I am a librarian.

February 20, 2010 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Sophie Trace Trilogy

The Real Enemy by Kathy Herman
Brill is starting a new job in Sophie Trace, Tennessee as the chief of police.   Hoping for less stress, she immediately encounters 7 disappearances/kidnappings in the town and gang like messages.  The community is convinced that is part of an Indian legend and that the red shadows are responsible.  Meanwhile, Brill is dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s infidelity while they lived in Memphis.  I was very intrigued by the disappearances and it kept me reading.  Brill was also very disconnected from her husband until almost the last few pages. I found her sudden change very unbelievable. Overall I enjoyed this first book.

The Last Word by Kathy Herman
Brill’s past comes back to haunt her.  A former prisoner is out and determined to kill her and others who put him away.  Thus begins the suspense and more than one person in the police department is attacked.  Meanwhile, Brill’s daugher comes home from college and surprises the family with her secretive pregnancy. Vanessa’s boyfriend has disappeared and she is faced with some tough decisions.  Brill hires a detective to find Vanessa’s boyfriend is is eventually told to back off.  I found this second book to be interesting and an enjoya

February 20, 2010 at 12:50 am Leave a comment

Sugary Connections!

The House On Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
Helene grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in Liberia, Africa.  This country was the place that many freed slaves from America came to to start a new life.  Helene’s family could be traced back to these families and she led a very élite lifestyle as a result.  In her teens, a coup overthrew the government and her family fled to the United States.  Helene became fascinated with journalism and eventually got a job with the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post.  She traveled the world and also became a US citizen.  But she needed to go back to Liberia and see what happened to her foster-sister and the world she knew as a child.  She connects with her past as a result of this trip.  This memoir of Helene’s childhood is interwoven with the history of Liberia.  It is at times complicated and horrific.  It is a fascinating story and helped me to understand the nature of civil war and coups in African countries.  Recommended Reading! 

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler
This is a good young adult novel for the 5th grade and up set. Although set in the high school, it is quite innocent and tame especially when discussing boys and dating.  I think lots of 5th grade girls are looking for this kind of story, yet often not quite ready for a mature romance. Or perhaps they think they are but their parents aren’t!   Penny and her  mother move from the city to a small town where her mother grew up and now opens up a cupcake bakery.  Penny has trouble fitting in at school and finds herself the target of a group of mean girls who pull endless pranks on her.  Meanwhile, Penny is using her creative side to create cupcakes for her mother’s store while she hides out from the social scene.  She finds a friendship in a wonderfully quirky character named Tally and they begin to figure out life together.  An impending divorce is also part of the drama as well as a mysterious cute boy who just may find Penny interesting.  This book may not win awards but it is a sweet read.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
I recently bought a brand new copy of this 1957 Newbery Award winning classic for the Washington library and it looked so inviting that I had to read it .  I have to admit that I usually read the new books and have not read a lot of the older books.  This book was a delight and so this is a lesson that I  have to keep reading the older copyrights too. 

 Marley who is 10 years old and her older brother and parents are arriving at Maple Hill in the early spring in Pennsylvania to live in their grandparents farm. The house had been empty for the past 20 years but Lee, the mother, has fond memories of spending time here. As they arrive,  they get stuck and have to be pulled up the hill. It is sugar maple season and their nearest neighbors are working in the nearby maple woods.  The father in the family, Dale, has come home from the war (Korean?) where he had been a prisoner and endured some difficult days.  Since being home he has been depressed, angry, and tired. They are hoping time in the country will be a healer.  The book completes an entire year as the family learns that friendship of neighbors, the beauty of nature, and a time of slowing down is a miraculous healer. The process of harvesting maple sugar is interesting and central to much of the story. The kids also learn a lot about the signs of the seasons as they learn from their neighbor and naturalist Mr. Chris. This book would be historical fiction at this point but when it was written it was contemporary.  The words queer and gay are often descriptions used in the writing yet seem so strange to our modern eyes.  This book captures life in a different time yet invites us to step back and find it for ourselves. Highly Recommend!

February 7, 2010 at 9:43 pm Leave a comment

Recent Reads

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1. White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner – Christian Fiction /Family Dram –  Teenager Tally is left by her father in Arizona with her grandmother while he travels to Europe to find a treasure.  While he is gone, her grandmother dies and she is put into temporary custody with her Aunt and Uncle’s family because they have not a way of reaching him.  Family drama surfaces about a fire and death from their older son’s early childhood, also a marriage in trouble, and school research on the Holocaust. Good story and enjoyable read. Most of Susan’s books are very different from each other. She is not a formula writer.

2.  U is for Undertow by Susan Grafton – Mystery Series – Woman PI – I haven’t read a Kinsey Milhone book for a while.  Kinsey seemed a bit depressed.  Well, she has perked up and seems to be enjoying her life again.  This was a pretty good mystery. I don’t like the details of the criminals lives…especially their evil sides…so I have been more picky about mysteries.  There was a bit more detail than I care….but not as dark as other books. This is a mystery about a missing/kidnapped girl from the 60’s.  So interesting how Kinsey figures out the crime without technology/phones/internet – but the library reference area.   (set in the late 80’s)

3.  Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka – autobiography for kids by children’s author – Jon writes about growing up in the 60’s in this book. He writes in a kid style which reminded me of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  A bit of the gross out, crazy humor that makes Wimpy Kid so popular.  Jon has 5 brothers and write about their childhood and the crazy things they did as boys.  Would recommend it to boys.  Short chapters and a quick read.

4.  They Never Came Back by Caroline B. Cooney – Young Adult Mystery – Murielle’s parents run away and out of the country to escape embezzlement charges. Murielle was ten at the time and it was arranged for her aunt to bring her to the airport..but she turned around and didn’t do it.  Murielle’s parents never came back for her and she became lost in the foster care system.  Things change five years later when she is recognized by her cousin. Another page turner by Cooney and given enough twists so that it wasn’t predictable.  I enjoyed it very much.

February 2, 2010 at 1:15 am Leave a comment


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