Sunday, November 14, 2010

Six Cybils Book Reviews

Wishing For Tomorrow - Hilary McKay

At the end of A Little Princess, Sara and the scullery Maid Becky are take away form Miss Minchin's boarding school.  This sequel tells us what happens to the girls left behind.  It is told through the eyes of Ermengarde, who feels betrayed by Sara.  She thought she was Sara's best friend, yet Sara left and took Becky with her.  True friendship never dies.  I loved the book and now must go back and re-read A Little Princess to fill in some of the blanks I have.  Great story.  I could not put it down.

Mockingbird - Kathryn Erskine

This was another book with a protagonist that has Asperger's Syndrome, that you can't help but like.  I don't know why these books resonate with me.  Maybe it is because I have seen many kids like this in my teaching career.  For a child with Aspergers, any major change can be traumatic.  The trauma in the story comes in the form of a school shooting that takes away Caitlyn's brother Devon.  He helped keep her on the right path and now he is gone.  For anyone that would be horrible.  Add in the fact that Caitlyn has Aspergers and you've cranked it up a notch.  She is trying to find a way to get past it all and ends up befrinding a first grader named Michael who has suffered a loss in his life.  Maybe this is the path they need to take for healing.  Definitely a book I will recommend to our librarian and my students.

My Best Frenemy - Julie Bowe

Wow!  That is the first thing I though when I finished this book.  I work with middle school kids and there is so much peer pressure to fit in.  The middle grades are a time of drama, especially for girls trying to find their place.  The characters in the book are fourth graders.  Ida wants to fit in.  Her parents won't let her get her ears pierced, her friends are changing before her eyes and she is trying to figure it all out.  Should she go along with teh "in" group or be herself?  When are freinds not really your friend?  You can find answers to these questions by reading the book.

Gaff - Shan Correa

When I read the synopsis of this book I immediately thought about the book, "Wringer" by Jerry Spinelli.  Both discussed what I deemed cruelty to animals for the love of a "sport".  The deeper I got into the book the more I realized how important this book is with students.  I've heard many of my Hispanic students weigh in on the issue of cockfights.  I learned a lot from reading this book.  I had never known that this happens in Hawaii.  It is still illegal.  This wasn't just a story about cockfighting but a story about a young boy trying to help his family and at the same time trying to stand up for what he believes is right.  I am glad I had the opportunity to read this book.

The Fizzy Whiz Kid - Maiya Williams

No one likes to be the "new" kid.  When Mitch Mathis and his parents moe to Hollywood, California he really feels like an outsider.  All of the kids have parents who are involved in one way or another with the movies.  That is all except Mitch.   His father is a professor and studies cockroaches.  To fit in Mitch auditions for a commercial and quickly learns that there are two sides to everything.  One of the things I really liked about this book was the lists that Mitch was constantly making.  When I told my family about this book and Mitch making lists, they reminded me that I still make lists.  No matter what the age, everyone who has ever been the "new kid" will relate to this book.  There are subtle lessons for kids on the price one pays for fame no matter where it comes from.  What price you ask?  Read the book.

Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders - Kevin Sylvester

What could be better than a good mystery?  Throw in a pinch of history, a cup of humor, a dash of food knowledge and an obnoxious, yet talented fourteen year old chef and you have a well rounded book.  Someone is killing chefs all over Vancouver.  The police are stumped so they call in "The Nose", also known as 14 year old Neil Flambe.  Neil checks out each crime scene and finds small bits from Marco Polo's journal as well as a smell that even his nose can't figure out.  it is up to him to figure out who is killing the famous chefs and why, before he ends up like the rest.  This was a very funny book.  It keeps the reader laughing and guessing from beginning to end.

(The opinions expressed here are mine and not those of the other panalists)

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