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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Small as an Elephant

Imagine being abandoned on a camping trip by your mother? To make matters worse, you cannot tell anyone in fear that they might take you away from your mother, because they would see her as being unfit. Eleven-year-old Jack Martel regrets having an argument with her the night before she left him all alone. He accepts the fact that his mom is just having one of her episodes - she isn't like other mothers, but she is all he has. He is now on a journey through Maine to find her and his way back home before anyone realizes what has happened. With very little supplies, Jack faces many trials along the way - extreme hunger and having no means of getting in touch with his mom. His only comfort is a small toy elephant that he carries with him...he and his mother shared a love of elephants. Those good memories keep Jack going. Read Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson - the story of one young boy's determination to survive and save the only family he knows.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Came from the Stars

Gary D. Schmidt crosses over to the fantasy genre with his What Came from the Stars. This novel is told in two alternating stories. One in a faraway galaxy where the Valorim people make a last ditch effort to save their culture's arts from the evil Lord Mondus by creating a chain that holds all the beauty of their world and casting it across space where it ultimately lands in sixth grader Tommy Pepper's lunchbox. The second story describes the hurts that Tommy, his little sister, and his father have endured due to his mother's death. Only Tommy knows how badly things ended the last time he saw his mother. He feels like he caused her accident. When Tommy slips the chain necklace on, he can miraculously paint pictures with moving objects and play the beautiful music that his mother loved. Even more special is that he sees his mother and hears her voice clearly. Horrible things begin to happen in his seaside town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Someone from a distant planet is searching for the necklace and will stop at nothing until he gets it. He is leaving destruction in his wake and things become desperate when people end up missing as well. Will Tommy give the necklace back to stop the devastation or will he fight back like a warrior with the help of his close friends? Other great books by Gary Schmidt include Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, First Boy, Trouble, The Wednesday Wars, and Okay for Now (one of my favorite books).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pinch Hit

Tim Green's Pinch Hit is told from two perspectives in alternating short chapters that leave the reader anxiously turning the page to find out what happens next. Trevor is a rich actor that has been given every opportunity in life except the chance to play baseball on an organized team. Sam, the son of a loving single father, is a star baseball player hoping to win a place at USC's Elite Training Center. Both boys knew they were adopted. When they meet by chance, they realize that they are twins. Trevor convinces Sam to switch places with him so he can have the chance to play baseball like a normal teenager. Both boys learn things about themselves in the different households as things begin to unravel. The storyline reminded me of Parent Trap - both boys and girls will love this one. Other great books by Tim Green include Unstoppable, Deep Zone, Best of the Best, The Big Time, Rivals, Football Champ, Baseball Great, Football Hero, and Football Genius.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fake Mustache

Tom Angleberger is known for his popular Origami Yoda series which includes Darth Paper Strikes Back and The Secret of the Fortune Wookie - my students (especially the 6th graders) love them. Fake Mustache is an action packed humorous story that begins with two boys (Casper and Lenny) shopping at a novelty store. It's Casper's birthday and he purchases a valuable, unique handlebar mustache. He, also, purchases a "man about town" suit to wear. The next day Lenny sees on the news that someone who looks just like Casper dressed in the suit and wearing the mustache has robbed a bank. When he goes to Casper's house, he finds a lot of money. He calls the police and everything backfires. Casper's new mustache gives him the power to brainwash people - he keeps robbing banks and assumes power in the community. He, also, convinces everyone that Lenny is the criminal. Lenny is the only one who knows the truth and must stay one step ahead of Casper or be destroyed. The only who believes him is a has-been movie star named Jodie O'Rodeo. Can the two of them convince society that the mustache is cursed and Casper must be stopped before it is too late? This entertaining read will make you want to go out to buy your very own fake mustache!