In An Unexpected Adventure, Harley and his friends are looking for thundereggs (the state rock of Oregon) on the coast when they stumble across a large egg. Confiding in their science teacher at school, they agree to hide and protect it … and the dragon that hatches … from a suspicious lurker claiming to be a university professor. In Chasing Helicity, a young girl has always been fascinated by weather. When her hometown in Michigan is torn apart by a tornado, she’s in a unique position to capture the devastation. Her photos bring her to the attention of a storm-chaser who’s willing to become Helicity’s mentor. The Legend of Sam Miracle is a trilogy-starter. Sam is often a little lost in his own head, where memories seem so real, even if the don’t make any sense. But then a strange guy comes to the Arizona farm where he lives with a passel of other fostered boys, threatening to cut out Sam’s heart. A smart story that mingles intensity (heaps of action) with introspection (thoughtful, often lyrical prose), two reasons Wilson is one of my favorite authors.
In The Secret of Nightingale Wood, Henry’s family moves to a big house in the country so that her mother can recover in peace and quiet from the shock of losing a child. A wistful story with a helpless sort of tension. Her family has lost so much, and yet there is so much more to lose. Well told, with a satisfying finish. In the same vein as Jungle of Bones, Touching Spirit Bear is a survival story. Cole is an angry, defiant boy, always in trouble with anyone in authority. His misdeeds escalate until the day he beats a classmate into the ground. Prison is inevitable. The courts want to try him as an adult. But his patrol officer steps in with a suggestion, a Native American tradition that has long been used to help and heal. Their decision puts Cole on an island off the coast of Alaska, where he must survive alone for a year. Montmorency has an interesting setup, but my overall reception was so-so. A burglar falls through a glass roof into the gears of a machine and is horribly mangled, so he spends much of his prison life in the infirmary, undergoing a long series of surgeries, then in lecture halls, undergoing the humiliation of being on display. All the while, he plots. One day, he wants to be a fine gentleman. And to do this, he’ll become an even better thief.
Wonderstruck has so many illustrations, it’s an easy read. After the death of Ben’s mother, he finds a clue to the possible identity of his father. So he runs away from his aunt’s house in northern Minnesota and takes a bus to New York City. Alongside Ben’s story, Selznick presents a parallel storyline through his illustrations, about a runaway girl who also finds her way to New York City. Overlapping and intersecting, their stories complete each other. The Search for Wondla is another illustrated adventure. Sci-fi this time. All Eva Nine has ever known is the Sanctuary and Muthr, her robot caretaker. But when an alien hunter breaks in and makes Eva his prey, she’s forced out of her home and into a world that doesn’t match anything from her lessons. And in The Door to the Lost, two exiles trying to eke out a living in a world that resents their existence run into a mess of trouble when a simple mistake exposes their existence to the authorities. Portal fantasy, anyone?
The Wingsnatchers is the first in an exciting new series that mingles sleight of hand with the magic of the seelie courts. Carmer is a magician’s apprentice (the sleight of hand variety) and a dabbler in invention, so he has trouble believing his eyes when he meets a one-winged fairy named Grit. In The Voyage to Magical North, two orphans run away from their employer, only to be captured by pirates. Fanciful world-building and little comedic twists. An ensemble cast who are vividly themselves. And just enough temptation and peril to keep the voyage zinging long nicely. And I finally got around to reading the much-acclaimed Amulet series of graphic novels. When Emily’s family moves to the middle of nowhere, to live in a house that’s been in the family for years, she discovers a strange amulet, which triggers a startling series of events. Monsters in the basement. The entrance to another world. A confusing legacy. A dangerous rescue.
Autumn Busyness. I haven’t been posting much or reading much. (This happens whenever I’m deep in another project.) But I’ve skimmed past my looming deadlines and landed on my feet. Daily walks have increased my reading time. Let’s see if I can scrape together a BINGO this month!
Nab your own BINGO board over at Middle Grade Carousel >>
The Stonekeeper’s Curse is volume 2 in the Amulet series of graphic novels. Walking houses. Elf kings. Clever foxes. Talking trees. And the dangers of trying to do everything on your own. Exciting installment! In the graphic novel Ghosts, Cat’s family moves from sunny Southern California to a foggy little town up the coast, where everyone seems to really love the traditions surrounding Mexico’s Day of the Dead. But all this talk of ghosts make Cat uncomfortable. Especially since her little sister has cystic fibrosis. In Wish, Charlie believes in making wishes. But her dad is in jail, her mom won’t get out of bed, and her big sister can’t take care of her on her own. So when Charlie is shipped off to live with her Aunt and Uncle in a teensy town tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina, she makes good and sure to make her wish every day.
Josh and Jordan, twin sons of a professional basketball player, are a couple of phenoms on the court. But as the twelve-year-olds get older, their synergy turns to friction. In The Crossover, the story unfolds in verse, with a patter and pounding and slide that fits young Josh’s voice.In the graphic novel Smile, Raina shares some of her middle school experiences, especially as they related to having (surviving) braces. Dental trauma, fitting in, and finding reasons to smile. In Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, Armani’s tenth birthday falls on the same day Hurricane Katrina hits Louisiana. Like many other families in the lower nines, they didn’t evacuate. And then the levies broke.
All in a Row. I haven’t updated my BINGO board for August here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. This is an admittedly busy month for me, so I chose my titles with more strategy than usual. Lined them right up:
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil L. Frankweiler is a classic. Sure that she’s unappreciated at home, Claudia makes a carefully detailed plan to run away from home, with her younger brother Jamie for company. They take the train to New York City and “move in” to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In Marco Impossible, Stephen and Marco are best friends and fellow detectives, solving (admittedly silly) cases which they write up in their casebook. As middle school draws to an end, Marco plots one final scheme before they’re all off to different high schools. Addresses homophobia, hate crimes, cyber bullying, physical attacks, and the fear that comes with coming out … and falling out with your best friend. And in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Hugo has always had a knack for clockworks, so after his inventor father passes away and his timekeeper uncle disappears, Hugo maintains the many clocks at the train station. Quietly. Alone. But petty theft gets him into serious trouble. Lavishly illustrated!
Welcome to Berrybrook Middle School! Peppi, who loves to draw, regrets her first day of school, when she hastily distances herself from Jaime, a nerd from the science club. She was mean. He must hate her. Could anything be more Awkward? After the art club (his only friends at school) overlook Jensen, he begins spending more time with the newspaper club. But doing odd jobs for them isn’t really friendship. In Brave, Jensen’s beginning to realize that most of the stuff he puts up with on a daily basis is … bullying. Finally, Jorge has baseball, his friends, and his route. He patrols the halls between classes, making sure no one’s being picked on. (Love that some of the kids call him Sheriff.) It’s all good … until he’s blindsided by his first Crush.