Friday, May 29, 2009

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree

Emma-Jean is strange. She is undoubtedly the smartest girl in the seventh grade. She also thinks that every question or problem can be figured out logically. She finds herself in an unusual (for her) situation. A fellow student pours out her heart to Emma-Jean, who sets out to solve the problem logically. This sets a series of events in motion that spiral out of control. Fortunately, everyone learns something along the way.

Just remember: the dictionary says "strange" means extraordinary, remarkable and singular.

This is the first novel by Lauren Tarshis, the editor of Scholastic Storyworks magazine. If you click on the book title above, you can read about how Lauren became a writer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Trouble Begins

The Trouble Begins by Linda Himelblau

Du is a young Vietnamese boy who comes to the U.S. with his grandmother to join the rest of his family. He wants to fit in, but because he doesn't speak much English, he is misunderstood by kids at school where he is a new fifth grader. His family just wants him to be a "good boy", but they don't understand what he is going through either. It seems everything he does gets him in trouble. This enjoyable story, told from the point of view of a young immigrant, can help make you aware of what it might be like to be new to a totally foreign place.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Every Soul a Star

Author Wendy Mass weaves together the stories of three young teens, a campground called Moon Shadow and a total solar eclipse.

Ally has lived for most of her life at the remote campground her parents own - a place where amateur astronomers gather every year for the Perseid meteor shower. For years the whole family has been planning for the rare event of a total solar eclipse. Jack, who is slightly overweight and lacks confidence in himself, accompanies his science teacher and a tour group to the campground for the eclipse. Bree, a popular pretty middle schooler, finds her world turned upside down when her family decides to buy and run the campground. Ally's family has decided that their children need to spend time in the city, where they can go to normal schools. Both Ally and Bree are devastated at the thought of leaving the home and life they each love.

They only have twenty-two days until everything will change when the eclipse occurs. After that, nothing will be the same. Along the way we have a little sadness, adventure, a momentous discovery, humor, and friendship. And then it arrives - the incredible experience of a total solar eclipse. Join the story in Every Soul a Star.

Click on the title above to hear Wendy Mass read the first chapter of Every Soul a Star. Later, check out to find out more about the people who travel the world to watch a solar eclipse. I was also fascinated by the SETI at Home project, where over three million people are using their home computers to analyze signals from space, searching for intelligent life.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jolted: Newton Starker's Rules for Survival

The Jeremy Potts Academy for Higher Learning and Survival is located in Moosejaw, Canada. The students wear traditional Scottish kilts and take some really unusual and dangerous classes. Newton Goddard Starker believes that this is the perfect school for him. After all, for hundreds of years every member of his mother's family has been killed by lightening.

Newton is raised in a very protective environment (and one that does not attract lightening) so it is natural that he finds himself something of an outsider. Following his mother's death (zapped, of course), Newton is determined to succeed and survive at his new school. Jeremy sets out to overcome his fears and deal with his sadness. Along the way he makes some real friends and acquires an adorable and strangely intelligent, truffle-hunting pig named Josephine.

Hang on! This is a fast-paced and funny ride with lots of unusual characters. I really hope the author, Arthur Slade, brings Newton back for Year Two.

Click on the title link to visit the author's website and listen to the Jolted podcast.
Click here to view the book trailer video.

The London Eye Mystery

The London Eye is the name of the huge observation wheel on the banks of the Thames River in London. The London Eye is not really a Ferris Wheel but a unique structure. Eight hundred people can ride in the thirty-two capsules as they make their slow thirty minute circuit up and around. Londoners call this experience "flying the wheel." The Eye is a fascinating location for a puzzling mystery!

The main character, Ted, is also unique. As his parents say, his brain runs on its own operating system. Ted and his sister Kat take their visiting cousin Salim to ride The Eye. They watch him get on, but he doesn't get off! It seems an impossible mystery. How did he disappear?

Ted and Kat come up with thier own list of theories but their parents and the authorities don't really want to listen to them. When Salim remains missing, Ted and Kat decide that they have to investigate. The London Eye by Siobhan Dowd is a terrific mystery for people who like puzzles.

Go Big or Go Home

Will Hobbs is certainly one of our favorite authors of good outdoor adventure books. Go Big or Go Home is his newest book and it will appeal to fans of extreme sports as well. Cousins Brady and Quinn are enjoying another summer filled with mountain biking, caving and fishing when something new comes crashing in. And it really crashes in!

Brady had crawled out his bedroom window to watch the Perseid meteor shower when an ear-shattering explosion filled the night and a flaming meteor crashed into his house and right through his bed. Underneath the wreckage Brady found the culprit - a fist-sized meteorite.

Possession of this meteorite sends Brady and Quinn off on more adventures, especially as something seriously dangerous begins to overtake their lives. Eventually the boys discover that the meteorite has brought a threat to Earth.

Go Big or Go Home is a fast, exciting read. I know you will enjoy it.

Click on the title link to read an interview with the author, Will Hobbs, and learn where he got his ideas for this book.