Sunday, November 29, 2015

Two Books by Carolyn Gold

Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

No one wants to move away from their friends, but that is the dilemma that Rusty Larsen faces. On the night of his biggest game he breaks his leg and ankle. That doesn't stop his parents from moving him halfway across the country to Connecticut. When they pull up in front of the most dilapidated house Rusty has ever seen, he's sure from the looks of it that it comes with a resident ghost, and he is right. This ghost isn't malevolent. He just wants them out of his house. The question is, can Rusty makes friends with the ghost? What about school? The book is full of quiet adventure, a little bit of history and some very funny antics. Mix that together with a kid who just wants to make friends in his new school and you have a book everyone will love.

I had not heard of this author before but I really love her work.

Dragonfly Secret
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

When the author asked me to review her book Ghosts Don't Do Homework I was all in. I love ghost stories. It doesn't matter if they are scary or funny. I've always loved them.  When I opened the package she had sent me another of her books as a gift. I am so glad she did. Dragonfly Secret is the story of a family who has their grandfather living with them.  Nathan and Jessie love having their grandfather live with them. On a visit to their aunt's house it becomes clear that their aunt believes their grandfather needs to be sent to a nursing home to live.  There are several things I need to say here about the characters. The author did a wonderful job of fleshing them out. The aunt and her daughter are snooty, have money and are not very likable. Nathan, Jessie, their grandfather and their mother are more down to earth type people.  The grandfather helps out so that his daughter can work and raise her two kids.  The grandfather owns an old farm.  Their aunt thinks it should be sold.  I immediately thought that she was in it for the money. I won't tell you if that is true or not.

On the way home from their aunts house, they stop at the old farm and look around. When they get home they see a lady talking to the neighbor, whose cat is in their flower bed. The lady is a social worker that the aunt had contacted to come out and determine if their grandfather should be sent away. He is angry and when he goes to wash the car he sees a dragonfly. Upon closer inspection they realize it isn't a dragonfly, but a tiny fairy.  Now they have a problem. They must try to save this fairy and at the same time they must keep this knowledge from the social worker. If she thinks their grandfather believes in fairies then she might send him away.

The story is full of real life problems.  I love this author's work and would gladly read other books written by her.

Author Bio from Amazon:
Born in New Mexico, Carolyn Gold grew up everywhere. Moving nearly every other year as her father followed a career in the Air Force, her life was filled with a wide variety of people and places, from Turkey to Labrador, Wisconsin to California. Her books reflect compassion, tolerance and curiosity, sadness and joy, and a deep love of nature. Her first book, Dragonfly Secret, was published by Atheneum in 1997 and nominated for the Sunshine State Young Readers' Award Program. She now lives in Idaho

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Annexed - Sharon Dogar

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I purchased a copy.

I grew up with the story of Anne Frank and her diary. I was thrilled when I was younger to discover we shared the same birth date.  For these reasons I decided to read this book that is wonderfully told from Peter Van Pels point of view.  It was interesting to note that Peter saw Anne as a very annoying child until they had shared the annex for a couple of years. We then find his opinion of her changing. He has begun to fall for her. I kept wondering, if they had both lived, would they have ended up together? Anne tried to look at the good in people and God, whereas Peter kind of took the other road. Anne always expressed herself through her writing. Peter liked to express himself through his drawing.  What is interesting about this book is that we look at Peter’s life once he is sent to the concentration camp. No, we don’t really know his story. The author has done a lot of research into what it would have been like. She based it on the accounts of survivors.  It is often hard to tell what is actually true and what is fiction because the writing has so beautifully intertwined the facts with fiction.  I did enjoy the end of her book where she tells the reader what happened to Anne and those who spent all of that time hiding in the Annex. This is definitely a book not to be missed. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Knights of the Square Table by Teri Kanefield

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Meet the Knights of the Square Table, San Francisco’s all-star chess team.
On their way home from a tournament in Europe, their plane makes a forced landing on a remote island in the North Atlantic.
Part survival story, part crime novel with a twist, here’s what happens when six teenagers act on their optimism and attempt the impossible.

My Thoughts:
Teri Kanefield is one of my new favorite authors. I have loved everything I have read that she has written. The story starts out very dramatic.  The Knights of the Square Table, a chess group is on a plane when it begins to experience problems.  The plane crashes on a snowy island about 200 miles off course. The brief description of what people were experiencing on the plane was so realistic that I felt I was on the plane as well.  The adults on this plane aren’t much help.  It is up to these chess champs to keep them all alive until they are rescued.  This is not the only problem they must solve. There is a problem of global proportion they must work on as well.  Like all of her books there is usually something to be learned.  I love the idea that my students will be able to see through this fiction that they can make changes in the world. After all, in our IB school we teach them to to be global students. I believe our students would be able to identify with these young people.